If you’ve ever had motorcycle gear fail through wear and tear or a crash, it could be covered by the Australian Trades Practices Act and/or the manufacturer’s warranty.
But first, click here to see the difference between a product failure and rider error.
If it’s a genuine product failure, then it is deemed “not fit for purpose” and the Act will offer consumer protection.
The problem is that “fit for purpose” can be difficult to quantify and prove.
However, if the garment makes a specific claim that is not met, then that is a pretty clear case of product failure.
Otherwise, if it fails to meet basic acceptable standards such as the zipper failing, you should be due a repair, refund or replacement.
Most protective motorcycle clothing brands vie for consumer dollars by also offering manufacturer warranties that go above and beyond the basic statutory requirements.
They can vary from one year to as many as seven years.
A one-year warranty may be sufficient to reveal any issues if you are a regular rider.
However, weekend warriors or monthly riders may require a longer warranty period to identify any problems.
Riders should also note that a warranty is only as good as the fine print exclusions and conditions.
For example, some warranties may exclude track use and even crashes which is strange since surely the main reason to buy protective motorcycle clothing is to protect you in a crash.
Interestingly, one company also offers a crash guarantee on some of their gear, promising a replacement if the damage cannot be repaired for half the cost of a new item.
However, they do not cover gear that has been cut off by a first responder.
Dr Chris Hurren who researches protective materials for a living and worked with Dr Liz de Rome and others to produce the protocol used by MotoCAP for testing says a suitable warranty should cover materials, closures and seams.
“It should cover defects from manufacture and use of faulty components during assembly,” he says.
“A warranty will also allow a manufacturer to see what is giving problems with their garments and allow them to find an alternative as they will see trends in components or seam failures.
“Most warranties will not cover general wear and tear or ageing from extended use but these are sensible as they are out of the control of the manufacturer.”
Link International product manager Ron Grant points out that a major benefit of buying European CE-approved riding gear is that once approved, manufacturers are not allowed to change material, stitch lines, manufacturing plant, etc.
If they do, the garment has to be re-submitted for testing at an average cost of about $10,000 per garment.
“This guarantees product consistency,” Ron says.
“Non-CE brands usually place an order for jackets, don’t actually go to the factories for quality control checks, cannot guarantee the material used is the same quality as last production, nor even guarantee who is making the gear as there is potential the factory the product was ordered from may sub-contract production to someone else,” he warns.
Ron says one of the biggest issues facing the industry is not just trying to teach riders what garment is better than the other, but also the necessity to actually wear safety gear.
“Recently I saw a guy on a new sports bike with brand new boots, leather jacket, gloves, top-of-the-range helmet and board shorts,” he says.
“Every day I see guys geared up on their way to work wearing runners or lace up work shoes. Or no jacket. Or shorts. Or normal jeans. The other day I saw a guy fanging over Mt G with a pretty young lady on the back with a string top and skimpy shorts.”
He says the onus is on experienced salesperson to expertly advise customers so they buy the right gear for their use.
“Of course, that is all negated when buying online,” he says.