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Why does riding gear fail abrasion tests?

Motocap Motorcycle clothing rating system launched abrasion tests

Motorcycle jackets and pants tested in the MotoCAP safety and comfort ratings have failed in the abrasion tests, but could easily be made safer, says a technical expert.

Back in 2015, Deakin University fibre science and technology senior researcher Chris Hurren warned that eight out of 10 of the most commonly worn motorcycle suits in Australia had failed their abrasion tests.

These tests were the precursor for the development of MotoCAP, the world’s first safety ratings for motorcycle protective gear which launched in September 2018.

Over the past few years, motorcycle clothing does not appear to have improved.

In recent MotoCAP ratings, leather and textile pants and jackets have failed dismally in abrasion tests.

Textile abrasion fail

Chris says textile pants and jackets are typically made of 600 denier woven nylon or polyester fabrics.

“These have relatively low abrasion resistance when tested on the Cambridge impact abrasion tester,” he says.

Motocap Motorcycle clothing rating system launched target abrasion tests
MotoCAP testing equipment at the Deakin Uni Geelong campus

“Where these fabrics are used as the shell fabric in important protection areas such as the elbow and shoulder of a jacket they generally do not provide the levels of protection desired in a protective motorcycle garment.

“These jackets could be improved in their protective performance by manufacturers by adding further protective layers or by use of a heavy shell fabric in these critical protection areas. 

“These garments are still capable of providing better protection to a rider than if they were to ride in normal clothing especially when they are worn with their shoulder and elbow impact protectors in place. This is the class of garment that will benefit the most from improvement in protection levels into the future.”

Leather abrasion tests 

Motocap Motorcycle clothing rating system launched The world’s first motorcycle clothing safety ratings program, MotoCAP, has given only half a star to two stars to eight more pair of textile pants. abrasion tests
A dummy dressed in riding gear is tested for abrasion resistance

More interestingly, leather appears to be not much better than textile gear.

“A number of the leather garments reported in (the latest tests) were made from thinner, supple leather,” Chris says.

“While this is more comfortable for the wearer, these leathers typically do not provide the same level of abrasion protection of a thicker leather.

“Where a thinner leather is used there needs to be additional protection put into the critical abrasion risk areas.

“The high level of impact protection seen in some of these garments was quite encouraging.”

Motorbike Writer publishes every new release of gear tested by MotoCAP, so stay tuned for more updates.

  1. I think what is more relevant is how many crashed riders suffered road rash because of abrasion coming through their gear, my guess would be (and based on my own experience) very few indeed.

    After all real world results are what matter in the end, if you have your skin then your jacket or pants have done the job, yes there is always room for improvement but let us not lead people to think that current jackets are worthless and you may as well be wearing a T shirt.

  2. Personally, I don’t see abrasion as the biggest enemy anyway. Sure it’s not fun, but for me personally, the most likely accident i’m having is at relatively low speeds and with lots of stuff to be flung into, such as cars, kerbs and walls (given i commute in Sydney more than anything else).

    a 4 -5 second slide is a pretty high speed epic slide, and I would be willing to bet most people are leaving the road surface before that’s a problem.

    I would like to see more stock put into the performance of garments with ‘real’ world scenarios, such as launching a human sized and weighted dummy off a motorbike at similar to real world forces and measuring how well the armor protects the dummy from the forces. Weather the dummy even lands on the armor, and if it does, did the armor reduce the shock to less than bone shattering forces?

    Did the garment protect the skin the ‘rider’?

    Does it do what it’s advertised to do?

    What is the likely out comes for the rider at a 20/60/80/100kmh crash?

    Who gives a sh*t if you can slide for 6 seconds if your knee caps are shattered and your hips broken? Does the boot protect my ankle from impact forces, abrasion and being jerked in the wrong way? I would say pretty much anything past a denim jacket is gonna give you the abrasion resistance required for most crashes.

    How often on a straight highway road at 100kmh do you fall off and slide ? Probably not a lot.

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