What do you want from a jacket?
Motorcycle clothing has to be comfortable and provide protection from the weather while you are riding, as well as reducing injuries in the event of a crash.
The key to injury reduction is to have material that will not be worn away if you slide across the road's surface, nor be easily cut or torn by sharp objects in a crash.
There are European Standards that set performance criteria for the abrasion, cut, tear or burst resistance of motorcycle clothing. These tests can provide useful guidance even for assessing products from other countries where the EU standards are not applied.
Does it comply with the european standard for jackets, pants and suits (EN 13595)?
The only way to be sure is if the performance of the garment has been tested. Look for the number EN 13595, which says it complies with the European Standard for motorcycle jackets, pants or suits. There are relatively few CE* marked products available but the numbers are increasing.
Leather or textile?
Leather has natural qualities of abrasion, cut, tear and burst resistance to protect a rider in a fall, however not all motorcycle leathers are equal. Performance depends on the type and quality of the leather and the construction of the garment.
Modern textiles are now very competitive with leather. They can provide better weather protection in addition to having high abrasion resistance, but their construction is critical. Effective fabric products have to be made up of layers of different materials, each performing a different function (weather protection, abrasion resistance etc). A single layer of abrasion resistant material will not provide the equivalent protection of leather.
Comfort and fit
Try jackets on over the sort of clothing you would normally wear when riding.
Jackets should be close fitting but comfortable to wear when in riding position. Too tight will become uncomfortable. Too loose and your impact protectors may not remain in place when you most need them in a crash.
If a jacket is too loose, it may also billow and flap, which is distracting. Flapping will also force out warm air, reducing the jacket's ability to keep you warm in cold weather.
How is it designed?
Avoid short jackets that leave your hips exposed, unless you are buying a suit that zips together.
Stretch panels for comfort and mesh for ventilation should not be used in exposed or high impact areas. The safest areas for these materials are under the arms and inside legs.
Avoid straps, mesh panels or external pockets that could become tear or snag points. Avoid hard objects such as buttons, buckles or studs particularly in exposed areas and impact points.
How is it constructed?
Avoid seams or fastenings in the most exposed areas of your body. The fewer joins and seams the better, because they are the points most likely to burst open on impact or when sliding along the road.
Seams in exposed and high impact areas should have two or three rows of stitching. At least one row of stitching in these areas should be protected by a layer of material in case the exposed stitching is worn away on the road surface.
Additional layers should be double stitched and MUST be placed on top of the main protective layer - not inserted as a separate double section, which can be torn away. Check inside and feel through the material to ensure there is no gap in the main protective layer.
Stitching should be regular and continuous without any dropped stitches, which may weaken the seam.
Are all fastening points secure and protected?
All fasteners should be protected from the risk of exposure in a crash.
Zips should not be used in the high exposure and impact points. Where zips are used, they should be covered with a flap of material on both sides to prevent contact with the rider's body or the road's surface in a crash.
Wrist straps are essential to prevent sleeves from riding up, they should fasten on the inside of the wrists to prevent the fastening from being torn off in a crash.
Are impact protectors fitted over the elbows and shoulders?
Over half (56%) of all injured riders have injuries to their arms.
Impact protectors can only be effective if they stay in place. Pull the sleeves around your arm to check how well the protectors stay in place.
Straps to tighten the sleeve and hold the protectors in place can be a good idea, but be careful that they are not so tight that they constrict blood flow.
Can you move comfortably, use all controls, make signals and turn to look behind you while in riding position?
Spokes offers information on protective motorcycle jackets, leather jackets and Kevlar jackets for motorbike and scooter riders. Look good stay safe. Does your protective clothing meet the standard?