Testing shows women being let down by unprotective riding kit


A pioneer of motorcycle riding kit safety testing, MotoCAP in Australia has found that women riders are being sold short in protection after seven out of ten pairs of motorcycle leggings it tested scored just half a star out of five for protection.

In some cases, the leggings were supplied with little or no armour, which is vital not only for impact protection, but also in adding to what was proven to be very low levels of abrasion resistance. Only the Motogirl Sherrie and Resurgence Sara Jane achieved the two stars that MotoCAP recommends for urban riding kit.

Testing on a ‘Cambridge machine’ is a consistent, repeatable method of assessing relative abrasion performance of riding kit, and many of the leggings lasted less than half a second on the rig, compared to just over two and a half seconds on the higher-performing models.

Seam and tear strength was also found to be very poor in many of the leggings, the stretch material failing much earlier than the benchmark figures for a lot of even average gear.


Style or safety

Watch how women are being let down by fashionable protective riding kit


Motorcycle riding kit should be comfortable and it should look good, but the choice of style shouldn’t come at the cost of safety. Only proper testing can show what you can’t see in a shop: how much protection you might have if the worst happens.

MotoCAP is a resource for motorcyclists that has been developed in Australia with funding from Australia and New Zealand,” said Professor Christopher Hurren of the Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin Universtity. “It tests a large amount of motorcycle clothing that is available worldwide, and is quickly becoming a valuable source of independent information for riders globally.

MotoCAP provides information for UK riders trying to determine if a garment just passed the standard, or if it exceeded it by a country mile.

“Most urban roads in the UK are asphalt (tarmac), and MotoCAP recommends two stars or better performing garments when riding in an urban environment where asphalt is the dominant road surface type. MotoCAP testing on women’s leggings shows that most would not be protective enough for a crash on asphalt due to poor seam strength, lack of hip impact protection and low abrasion resistance.”

“This leggings video is a perfect example of how MotoCAP can be used to select garments with the right level of protection for your ride. It can help you choose kit that will avoid your hip being like the chalk, and keep your skin away from the road during aslide. This is particularly important in pants, where the buttocks and the side of the leg are at high risk of abrasion and/or seam failure in a crash.

“Try using MotoCAP before you make your next purchase of a pair of protective denim jeans or leather jacket.”


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Professor Hurren with Dr Yao Yu on the left and Dr Weiwei Cong on the right


It's worth noting that while MotoCAP’s two-star garments might be deemed capable in urban environments, the majority of the UK’s out-of-town rural roads are surface dressed, which is up to four and a half times more abrasive than asphalt.

There is no law saying what you should wear when riding a motorcycle besides a helmet, and Bennetts would never suggest people should be forced to wear anything they don’t want to. However, if you’re buying motorcycle kit you’ll almost certainly be expecting it to be protective, so resources like MotoCAP can be a great way to find out just how much protection is on offer.

While leggings can offer women riders a unique style, many well-made riding jeans have been proven to offer greater levels of protection, so it’s worth considering where and how you’ll be riding when choosing what kit you want to wear.

Bennetts’ own High Performance Awards also help you identify the riding gear that’s reached the highest levels under current European testing standards, as well as those that exceed it.


How to buy the safest motorcycle riding kit

  • The more ‘A’s, the better – all jackets and trousers sold in the UK and Europe are tested for abrasion resistance, tear and burst strength under EN17092, giving you a valuable way to compare kit. It’s worth understanding that only AAA garments include the bum as a key impact area and are tested at an equivalent speed of 75mph on a tarmac analogue. On an A-rated pair of trousers, for instance, the bottom is only tested to the equivalent of a 16mph fall. In AA it’s an equivalent to 28mph.
  • Armour isn’t part of this testing, so make sure it’s fitted to the knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and back (and chest potentially), that it covers your limbs properly and that it doesn’t move around. Level 2 armour is more protective than Level 1.
  • Make sure the gear fits comfortably and that you can move around easily.
  • Check for independent testing from MotoCAP.
  • Look for the Bennetts High Performance Award. Not only does this help you choose the jackets and trousers that have reached level AAA with the Gold award, it also offers a means to test beyond for even higher levels of protection with Platinum and Diamond. The HPA also helps you find the highest protection in gloves and boots.
  • Ignore ‘slide times’, especially so-called ‘CE slide times’ as there is no such thing. If a manufacturer or seller is claiming exceptional safety performance, ask them to prove it.

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