Safety gear advice for motorbike riders
Jackets, pants and gloves rated for both safety and comfort.
Motorcycle and scooter riders are among the most vulnerable roads users, but they now have a formidable online resource helping to protect them.
MotoCAP is an Australian safety and thermal comfort testing and ratings system for motorcycle clothing.
The website lists items with a simple five-star rating so riders can easily check their protective qualities and suitability for our harsh climate before purchase.
The safety initiative launched in September 2018 with ratings for just 10 leather jackets and 10 pairs of riding jeans.
It has now rated 105 jackets, 50 pairs of pants and 47 pairs of gloves. That’s more than 200 items, providing a comprehensive resource for safety conscious riders.
MotoCAP is the first online ratings resource of its type in the world and in December 2019 it was honoured with a Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) road safety award.
The ratings service for riders has been a long time coming thanks to the tireless efforts of Deakin University senior researcher for motorcycle safety Dr Liz de Rome, a rider since 1969.
She and her team started randomly testing samples of motorcycle gear in 2010 with the help of the Australian Motorcycle Council.
In 2018, that research led to the launch of MotoCAP with funding and support from the RACQ and other state auto clubs, state transport authorities, road safety groups, the Australian Motorcycle Council and relevant New Zealand groups.
It has been lauded as a helpful resource for riders concerned about their primary and secondary safety.
Long before MotoCAP started, Dr de Rome recognised it was not just important to rate products according to their impact and abrasion protection or secondary safety levels.
She said comfort was also an important primary safety feature to avoid riders becoming too hot and uncomfortable in heavy riding gear.
Much of the highly protective motorcycle gear available in our market comes from Europe and can be too hot for many Australians, particular Queenslanders with our oppressive humidity.
Dr de Rome said if riders were hot and uncomfortable, their primary safety was at risk as it would reduce their concentration.
She said there was also the likelihood that riders would choose to not wear restrictive and hot motorcycle jackets, pants and gloves.
So, she began trials to find a suitable testing regime for the thermal comfort and breathability of motorcycle gear.
That work resulted in testing procedures and ratings for breathability that makes MotoCAP relevant, unique and earned it the much-deserved FIM award.
The website lists the products and rates them out of five stars for both safety and comfort.
Gloves do not get a comfort rating because there is not enough material in a glove to obtain a sample for the thermal comfort measure. However, they do test for waterproofing which is important for riders exposed to the elements.
Despite MotoCAP’s award and impressive tally of tested items, there have still been some critics of the testing and ratings procedures as well as the lack of women’s gear.
The exhaustive testing and ratings procedures are fully explained on the website and are supported by science, not objectivity.
All garments reported on the MotoCAP website have been purchased covertly by MotoCAP staff to guarantee integrity. None has been supplied by distributors or manufacturers.
As for the proportion of women’s gear tested, it is actually commensurate with the proportion of female riders.
So far, MotoCAP has tested eight women’s leather jackets, eight textile jackets, seven textile pants and three gloves which represents 12.9% of all gear tested while female riders are estimated to be about 10–12% of the riding population.
That also does not account for the fact that gloves are often sold as unisex, rather than for men or women exclusively.
So, if you are planning to ride, check out the MotoCAP website and gear up for a safe ride.