How safe are you on your motorcycle?
AMERiders knows that safety is very important when riding a motorcycle. Which is why we have put together this list of 10 motorcycle armor pieces for you. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statics from 2006 show that about 72 of every 100,000 motorcycles were involved in fatal crashes that year. For cars, the number was more than 13 per 100,000. The fact that driving a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car is nothing new.
What is noteworthy, however, is that because of increasing strides in technology, motorcycle riders can do something about the dangers they face on the road each and every day. High-tech Motorcycle armor, when worn, can drastically lower the risk of injury and death from a motorcycle crash. Below is our list of 10 armor pieces to wear that can help keep you safe.
Elbows and Knees
These pointy bits tend to poke into the pavement when a biker comes off their bike. If you want to keep them, place some armor on them. Or at the very least, ensure your outerwear has reinforced elbow and knee zones. If your leather jacket isn’t at least 1.2 millimeters thick, consider wearing armor over or under it to increase the distance you can skid before whatever surface you are skidding along wears through to your skin.
Look for “CE-certified” elbow and knee (and everything else) protectors, which means that when the testing body smacked the front of the armor, the force measured at the back of the armor averaged less than 35 kilonewtons (the standard measure of force).
Rather than protecting your chest from bending (like a back or neck protector does), chest armor is built to absorb the force of a blunt impact. While armor that’s molded into the appearance of chiseled abs might be awesome, what you want is a solid shell that distributes the force of impact across ample underlying padding.
Chest protector tech has a wide range of effectiveness from essentially what is a couch cushion on one end of the spectrum to aluminum composite on the other. Regardless of your budget, ensure your chest protector has 2 things: a hard shell to distribute force and padding to absorb it.
Your neck is an important part of the body to protect. most motorcycle armor for the neck not only protects your collarbone they protect your neck as well. In fact, a collarbone is the most commonly broken bone in motorcycle crashes — when extending your arm to break a fall, the impact force is channeled directly into your clavicle. Turning a shoulder into an onrushing car, tree or street sign can also break the clavicle from direct impact.
A neck collar can help you avoid the second — a clavicle break due to direct impact. And this neck/clavicle system is the focus of all sorts of emerging high-tech protection. On the low-tech side of neck/clavicle support is the traditional, neck-roll style collars. These are similar to an ox yoke, and can help pad impact and reduce the neck’s range of motion in a crash.
Let’s move on to the exoskeleton, even the simplest crash can break your hand or fingers like they were matchsticks. Finding a pair of gloves to protect your fingers and hands is not difficult, especially if they provide reinforcement to your fragile finger bones. The glove doesn’t have to be bulky as that can keep you from moving your hands and can also cause a crash.
Most of today’s high-tech motorcycle armor gloves combine Kevlar and leather, sometimes with carbon-fiber reinforcements in important areas that tend to be slide points. Tipping even from a full stop — you’re going to want something on your hands.
We have all seen those videos a high-speed crash followed by starfishing arms and legs, and limbs snapping on impact. In the early days of leg protection, motorcycle safety equipment designers looked to encase the lower body in what was basically an exoskeleton. This allowed the body to bend only how it was supposed to bend. But they found something interesting. Reinforced legs could lead to worse overall rider injuries due to rider ejection as well as torso pitch
A couple must-haves in your lower-body motorcycle armor. First, ensure it is made of a material that protects against road rash (duh). Thick leather and Kevlar are veery good. And, like the chest protector your lower-body armor should be made of a shell to distribute force and the padding to absorb it.
In jackets and pants, the debate rages as to whether Kevlar trumps leather. This is also true of whether you should reinforce bones with steel alloy inserts, or whether you should just pad them and allow your flapping limbs to absorb the shock.Big, bad plastic trumps leather where boots are concerned.
Racing boots vs street boots — high-speed racing boots almost always include plastic or composite shells for sliding across a surface and a more comfortable liner for your feet.Your boots do not have to be supple and flexible all the way around. They just need to take a licking and keep your feet and ankles protected. Look to high-tech composites and plastic. However, while high-tech plastic boots may come out on top, it stands to reason that classic leather boots can still provide good protection.
This question has been posed by some in the motorcycle community “Do I really need hip protection?” which is answered with the response, “You only need to protect the pieces you want to keep.” That is especially true with your hips. They are second only to collarbone fractures and broken pelvises in injury statistics. This is partly because of hard hits to anywhere in your lower body channel themselves into your pelvis, and partly because a rider tends to bounce and slide on the parts that usually sit in the saddle.
Any online video you watch of a sliding motorcyclist and you’ll see that in far more than half, the rider ends up skidding on his or her rump. Something else to note is that road rash that eats through jeans as if they were paper.
So armor up your hips! Either make sure your riding pants that include hip padding or layer up your own padding with hip-specific inserts.
This is a no-brainer! Every motorcyclist has their very own jacket whether it be made of leather or another material they have one. They will also come in varying degrees armored, simple denim, leather (thick or thin) and with or without carbon-fibre supports or molecular armor.
What’s Molecular armor? A mix of hard armor (like a plastic shell) and soft armor (like memory foam) that is flexible and soft like a liquid until smacked with pressure as in a crash, at which point they turn rigid. It’s like that cool trick with cornstarch and water: Push it gently and it’s a goopy liquid; smack it and it’s suddenly so solid that it rebounds your hand. If you don’t believe us try it yourself. It makes for great armor in a jacket.
Arms, legs, hips, collarbones, wrists, fingers and the myriad other bones that make up your skeleton will heal. But your spinal cord is not as resilient as they are. And until technology advances to repair a ripped spinal cord, you want to protect your spinal cord.
Start with a neck protector, then consider additional armor to beef up the rigidity of your back. The key word here is rigid. Don’t mess around with soft armor — go for the hard stuff. Back armor can be a strap-on backpack, or it can be built directly into a jacket.
When a helmet is worn it reduces the risk of death in a crash by 37 percent.
Riders with serious head injuries paid an average of $43,214 for hospital care, compared to $15,528 for riders with minor head injuries. As helmet laws were repealed, motorcycle deaths jumped from 2,897 in 2000 to 5,154 in 2007, a 78 percent increase.
Your helmet is your most important piece of motorcycle armor by far as it will protect your head from serious injury. Check out our article on why helmets are important here.
And as always….
~Live Free Ride Hard~
We at AMERiders are serious about safety so ensure your gear includes Motorcycle armor.
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