IAM calls for safety rating on motorcycle clothing

12.00 | 2 May 2014 | | 5 comments

The IAM is calling for protective motorcycle clothing to have “clear labelling for the amount of protection it gives”, and for a rating system similar to the SHARP system for helmets

The call comes after an IAM survey which indicates that motorcyclists find it “difficult and time-consuming to find the right clothing at the right price".

In the IAM survey of 700 motorcyclists, 85% of respondents said they consider protection the most important factor when purchasing motorcycle clothing, while 67% cited comfort and fit as important.

Nearly all respondents said they had spent time researching protective clothing but 43% indicated that finding the right information was not easy.

The survey indicates that motorcyclists are willing to pay for top quality clothing as only 30% of respondents considered price a priority.

Other research results included: 60% said the torso was the most important part of the body requiring protection, while 46% said hands and legs; 90% of respondents said that they always wear protective clothing when riding; and 48% said that protective clothing should be compulsory.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “The industry must introduce a safety labelling for clothing like the SHARP rating for helmets. 

“Not only will it provide better guidance on the best way to stay safe on the roads, it will give motorcyclists clear and unbiased information and advice that they need. 

“The current situation is confusing and relies too much on promotional information to be of any real use in making a judgement.”


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    What is clear from the results of the survey, and even from the current responses, is that there is a huge lack of knowlegde and confusion on the topic. Manufacturers are not allowed to suggest their garments offer protection as anything that affords protection must be CE approved. The result is that only a garment that meets the CE standard is able to offer any guarantee as to the protection it affords the wearer, unfortunately for the consumer there are only a few manufacturers that sell CE approved garments.

    I’m not sure how you can have a system that suggests levels of protection when there are laws preventing the manufacturers suggesting the same. The question that should be asked of the industry is why don’t they have all thier garments CE approved?

    Chris Harrison Gloucestershire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The end result of such standards or regulations as they have in the past ended up as, is that compulsion follows. Where does that stop? There are only so many preventative injury devices available, after which riding becomes more akin to dressing to take a space shuttle trip. But standards as they exist do not give a rider any idea of how items might fare in a slide on the tarmac. ‘Draggin’ jeans are reinforced, but the only ones I know of.

    Derek Reynolds, Salop.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    There is no legal requirement for motorcycle clothing to be of benefit, other than the armour placed at points within it that should be of various CE standards.

    That said there are a lot of cheap copies of full leather suits, cordura etc. and even helmets that are coming in from India and selling online that are of poor and dubious quality and action is being taken to try and stop this trade.

    The fact is that it’s only a helmet that is required by law and so any rider can choose to wear protective clothing or merely whatever they like. That said, if a rider wants to wear the most protective clothing then I would suggest that it remains up to the industry to provide him with the relevant facts.

    The helmet standards or SHARP doesn’t work as it appears up to the manufacturers as to whether they want a SHARP test done on their helmets and many apparently do not.

    Bob Craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I fully agree. I bought a jacket and after further inspection of the label, it said not Personal Protective clothing, does that mean it is not fit for purpose? I have no idea how much protection it gives, I just have to assume that because it was sold from a motorcycle dealer that it must meet some minimum level of protection. I’m probably wrong.

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    All safety clothing (including helmets) can be expected to protect against falls and slides, but never against impacts at energies higher than those that can be expected in falls alone. If I were to design a rating system then it would comprise of a drop rating and a distance rating. The drop rating would be the height from which the average weight rider could fall without sustaining injury and the slide rating would be the distance the product could slide (on Tarmac, at various speeds) also without injury. This would provide riders with an easily understood benchmark that they could use to compare similar looking products.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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