By April 1, 2010

“Protective Equipment for Riders” by European eSUM

The European Safer Urban Motorcycling group put out a booklet recently entitled “Protective Equipment for Riders” (get the English language version here) which attempts to educate scooter and motorcyclists on the benefits of wearing protective gear.

There’s an accepted acronym among serious riders — ATGATT — which stands for “All The Gear, All The Time.” This phrase means wearing gloves, jacket, pants, boots, and a helmet specially made for motorcycling or scooters.

The real debate for us ATGATT folk isn’t “should I wear a jacket,” but “what’s the relative protection of textile versus mesh?” or “is nylon mesh more or less dangerous than wearing polyester mesh,” or “how long can one reasonably expect to slide in 1.5mm goatskin leather without wearing through to the skin?”

And boy would I love for an independent lab to test my old buddy Wayne’s MotoPort kevlar gear.

I hoped that the booklet by eSUM would address some of these questions. You might think buying “all the gear” to wear “all the time” would be the end of it, but in reality it’s just the beginning. There is a shitload of materials, types of armor, brand name materials, rebranded materials, and exotic stuff out there. My Rev’It Cayenne Pro has ceramic-plated textile in high skid areas. That sounds bad ass, but has anyone independently tested this?

Unfortunately, the “Protective Equipment for Riders” pamphlet only states the obvious: you should wear protective motorcycle gear. I hate to say this, but motorcyclists are in one of two camps. They either wear all the gear, or they don’t. No one really needs convincing, and motorcyclists are do-it-my-own-way as a bunch, and you can’t tell us what to do. We have to make up our own minds to do something. The decision to wear enough gear to be called a Power Ranger may be the result of research, or it might be because someone went down at 25MPH and had to deal with road rash for months.

The eSUM book is basically worthless. It either speaks on deaf ears to those who won’t wear gear no matter what facts are put in front of them, or preaches to the choir who has more detailed questions.

I’d hoped to put together an independent testing lab for motorcycle gear, and maybe someday I’ll do just that. In the meantime, motorcyclists only have anecdotal evidence from those of us unfortunate riders who “live tested” their gear.

Posted in: motorcycling

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