Riding a motorcycle is an experience that is second to none. You are sitting on a fast machine and moving at a rapid pace while your body is perilously close to the tarmac. While no doubt thrilling, this also introduces a fair element of risk and physical harm to motorcycle riding. The antidote to that is motorcycle armour. The best motorcycle armour reduces the risk of injury and death dramatically. Here we look at ten areas of your body that should be protected when astride a motorcycle.
1) Elbows & Knees
When you lean into a corner with your bike, your elbows and knees extend outwards and come really close to the pavement or tarmac. Even during an impact or when you tumble, these two joints take a real beating. If you’d like your elbows and knees to remain safe when riding a motorcycle, protecting them with armour them is a must. Make sure the riding apparel you buy has specially reinforced zones for elbows and knees. If you feel the apparel is not thick enough, invest in a set of discrete elbow and knee armours and wear them under the apparel. This ensures you skid a greater distance before the tarmac tears through to your skin.
2) The Chest
Unlike your back or neck, which need to be protected from bending, your chest needs to be shielded from the force of a direct impact. The armour for the chest area should reflect this requirement instead of making your torso look like that of Adonis. The best motorcycle protective gear for the chest has enough padding underneath to distribute and dissipate the force of an impact. Your choices when it comes to chest armours and protectors are wide-ranging. Regardless of what you choose, make sure it has a hard shell and adequate padding to distribute and absorb the force of impact respectively.
3) The Neck
Did you know that the collarbone is the bone that’s broken most often in motorcycle accidents? Also known as the clavicle, the bone takes most of the impact when you push your arm out during a fall or when your shoulder rams into a car, street sign or tree. It’s in the latter scenario that a neck collar proves useful; it saves your clavicle from breaking because of direct impact. Of late, a lot of efforts are being made to improve protection for the clavicle/neck system. BMW and KTM are even collaborating to find a way to stabilise the cervical spine, which is often cited as the weakest link in the chain between a good helmet and a sturdy armoured jacket.
4) The Hands
Your fingers are fragile. Even a small crash is enough to snap a finger or two. Thankfully, gloves offering excellent finger protection are available across a wide price range. The safety net offered by a good pair of gloves extends beyond the fingers and includes the palm area, knuckles, scaphoid, and if you opt for full-gauntlet gloves, even the wrist. Many of today’s higher-end gloves sport a leather and Kevlar construction that is reinforced with carbon-fibre in areas that are susceptible to abrasion during a fall. While protection is necessary, it’s important to pick a glove that sits light and allows free extension and movement of your hand.
5) The Legs
We’ve all seen (either in real life or on video) how a motorcycle rider goes airborne after a high-speed crash, their limbs flailing and snapping upon impact. Armour technology has come a long way from the time an exoskeleton was used for the lower body, which resulted in severe injuries because of rider ejection and torso pitch. Modern-day motorcycle armour for the lower body is made of abrasion-resistant material like thick leather, polyester or even Kevlar. And as with chest protectors, armour for the lower body should be capable of distributing and absorbing the force of an impact.
6) The Feet
Nothing can divide a group of passionate motorcycle riders like the debate over armours. There are scores of riders who argue for Kevlar over leather as the ideal riding apparel material and vice versa. But if there is one aspect that unifies opinions, it’s the motorcycle boot. Here high-grade plastic is a clear winner over leather. Boots made from good quality composite or plastic shells slide across the tarmac while keeping your feet safe and comfortable within a softer liner. Motorcycle boots also tend to be less flexible and supple when compared to armours like gloves and jackets. But that is not an issue since their primary responsibility is to keep your ankles and feet safe. To sum it up, high-grade plastic and composites are the way to go as far as motorcycling boots are concerned.
7) The Hips
In the order of bones that break most often in motorcycle accidents, the hip follows the pelvis and the collarbone. That is because whenever your lower body is hit by an impact, the force gets channelled to your pelvis. Furthermore, a rider involved in a motorcycle accident tends to skid, roll or bounce along the surface on their hind parts. This makes motorcycle hip armour an absolute must. So, buy a riding pant that features either hip armour inserts or spaces where you can insert your own hip padding.
8) The Torso
A jacket to protect various parts of the torso is the quintessential piece of motorcycle riding armour owned by every rider. From simple denim jackets with leather patches on the elbow to chunky leather ones with molecular CE armour inserts at vital places, the choice is huge. However, it’s the latter kind that we recommend. Thick leather offers good resistance to abrasion while molecular armour is excellent at absorbing the forces of impact. Normally, molecular armour is soft and supple only to turn rigid when slapped with pressure during a crash.
9) The Back
Most of the body areas we’ve talked about till now are capable of healing after a crash, with the appropriate medical attention of course. The spinal cord, however, is not that fortunate. For motorcycle riders, the thoracic region (the area stretching from the upper back to the lower rib cage) is the most injury-prone part of the spine in crashes. The ideal torso armour should offer protection for the thoracic and cervical regions of your spine and generous amounts of rigidity to the back. As previously mentioned, your back needs to be protected from bending too much, which means soft armour won’t cut it. The more rigid the protector, the better it is for your back.
10) The Head
The case for good-quality helmets does not need to be made anymore. You must wear one when on a motorcycle. Of all the fragile parts of your body, none is more so than your brain. Statistics show that almost 40% of the deaths from motorcycle crashes are due to head injuries. And whether you buy motorcycle helmets online or offline, remember to pick a high-quality helmet that adheres to safety standards like ECE, SHARP or SNELL.
So there you have it, ten critical areas of your body that must have protection when you are riding a motorcycle. Once you protect these areas with the right armour, your motorcycle riding experience improves by leaps and bounds. How? Well, doesn’t your mind perform better when it knows it’s safe!
If you are looking for motorcycle clothing in Essex that protects your body in the ways mentioned above and is CE rated to boot, take a look at our collection of motorcycle riding apparel. S&D Motorcycles is based out of Essex and offers motorcycle repair services in addition to retailing motorcycle accessories and motorcycle helmets from renowned brands.