Last updated: April 15th, 2024

Protective Motorcycle Clothing: considerations when designing

Riding a motorcycle can be exhilarating, it can also be dangerous if proper protective gear is not worn. For us here at RST, getting the design of these protective garments correct, is imperative: to ensure the safety of all riders that wear our products.

In order to design effective protective motorcycle clothing, we look at several key considerations. These include the fit of the garment, the protective properties of the materials used in the construction of the garment, impact zones on the garment (and how these fit on the rider), and which type of construction is best for different types of riding. On top of all these, we consider both active and passive protection. Read on to discover more.

Fit of the Garment

The fit of the garment is essential when it comes to designing protective motorcycle clothing. For example a pair of motorcycle jeans should be snug but not too tight, as this can restrict movement and cause discomfort. Additionally, if they were to be too loose, the garment could get caught on parts of the motorcycle, potentially causing dangerous situations whilst riding. 

Designing of the garment to allow for a full range of motion is also key, as the rider needs to be able to manoeuvre the motorcycle without restriction.

What materials are used in motorcycle clothing? 

The materials used in protective motorcycle clothing must be carefully chosen to provide the best possible protection in the event of an accident. As such, for all products that we design at RST, we carefully consider and assess the protective properties of all materials we use: factoring in both active and passive safety (see section below for more detail on these).

Materials such as Kevlar ™, Cordura, and leather are often used due to their durability and abrasion resistance. However, the thickness and quality of the materials must also be considered to ensure that they provide adequate protection. Additionally, materials that offer impact resistance, such as armour, can be incorporated into the design to provide extra protection.

Impact Zones

The impact zones on a piece of protective motorcycle clothing garment are the areas most likely to be impacted in the event of an accident. These areas include the shoulders, elbows, knees, and hips. 

In order to provide maximum protection, we design all of our garments with reinforced material in these areas: some of our products combine ballistic material and armour underneath, our Maverick EVO jacket would be an example of this construction, whereas our Adventure-X Jacket is built with TPU shoulder cups on top of the CE rated armour.

The decision to construct our garments the way we do takes into account not just the materials, but also the type of riding and fit required: it is imperative that the impact zones be in the correct position to provide the best possible protection.

Designing for Different Riding Styles

There are many types of riding, and each of which require different types of protective gear, and therefore unique design consideration. 

Touring riding, for example, will likely require gear that is designed to withstand the elements and provide protection from off-road hazards. 

Road riding, on the other hand, would require garments that are designed for a more high-speed riding and protection from impact. 

Race riding requires gear that is lightweight and aerodynamic, the fit will be far more aggressive to ensure the garment stays close to the rider's body in the event of a crash, airbag technology is also a common requirement for this type of garment. 

Classic/Urban style riders will more often want garments that are both stylish (on and off the bike) and maintain high levels of protection.

View RST's 2023 Collection

Active vs Passive Safety

Active and passive protection are two different approaches to motorcycle clothing safety. 

Active protection refers to measures that help to prevent accidents from occurring, for example reflectors on our endurance jacket or the bright colours on our pro series suit can help you be seen on the roads. The thermal protection of our Paragon gloves ensure that you can stay focused on riding in bad conditions, rather than worrying if you can still feel your hands.

Passive protection refers to measures that help to reduce the severity of injuries in the event of an accident. Ideally, this is the last resort - hopefully the passive safety does its job and you never have a crash, however if the worst does happen and you have a spill, you can be assured that your RST product has been developed to offer you the best protection possible. 

Our Airbag range uses the in&motion software used in our factory rider suits, so you’ll be in good company with Ian Hutchinson, Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli (amongst others) all trusting exactly the same technology.

Other RST products meet the AAA CE certification: TracTech Evo 4 Jacket, Sabre Leather Jacket and S-1 Mens Leather Jacket would be some examples. Plus, our entire Pro Series collection including our Ranger Textile Jacket, Ambush Textile Jacket and v4.1 EVO airbag leather suit come with a full suite of armour. 

Active and passive protection are both important approaches to motorcycle clothing safety.

Conclusion

In conclusion, designing protective motorcycle clothing requires careful consideration of several key factors. From the fit of the garment, the protective properties of the materials, impact zones, how the garment fits the rider, and the best type of protective garments for different types of riding. ALL of these play a crucial role in creating effective protective gear. 

By taking all of these factors into account, the designers at RST can create protective motorcycle clothing that is both effective and comfortable to wear. Ensuring we are at the forefront of rider safety.

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Written by

Christopher Impey

A motorcycle rider and enthusiast; as the digital editor for RST, Chris is responsible for creating compelling copy and captivating digital experiences.