The importance of protection

I just found this on the X11 site I’m a member of, interesting reading:

"As some of you may or may not know I am heavily involved in the study of motorcycle protective clothing and have been for over 25 years with over 20,000 investigations behind me and as a result I act as a consultant to various bodies on what is good, what is bad and how clothing reacts in crash situations.

I have just been going through some old files, updating and adding to the reports and I came a cross a few cases which I thought you might be interested in, and which may convince or remind some of you the importance of being properly protected, but without the sales/racing/ publicity hype that tends to be rammed down the throat particularly to those of you who are perhaps new to riding. So, I hope you find them interesting and of some help.

Case study 1

An experienced rider having recently passed his RoSPA advanced riding test, is riding to work one morning on his Honda CBX550. He is wearing his leather jacket and leather trousers purchased a few weeks before, having previously not been convinced of the value of leathers!

As he commenced to overtake a slower moving vehicle on a main A class road, he misjudged the speed and distance of an approaching vehicle and collided head on with a closing impact speed of about 120 MPH. The rider was found lying in a ditch about 200 yards from point if impact suffering multiple fractures to his left leg, knee, right arm as well as severe internal injuries.

He was conveyed to hospital where his family were advised that if he survived they would have to consider the amputation of both his arm and leg, particularly his leg. He was admitted into theatre and as they commenced cutting of his leather trousers he lost in excess of three pints of blood in less than 30 seconds. They also found that his leg was more severely injured than they at first thought, but due to the close fitting of his trousers, they had actually acted as a splint and restricted the loss of blood giving him vital time to get Hospital treatment. Because both his trousers and jacket had fitted so well, the requirement to amputate either his leg or arm was eliminated.

An estimated 12 month stay in Hospital was reduced to 6 weeks, and within 10 weeks he was driving again, albeit an automatic, and within 16 weeks he was driving manual gearboxes.

His speedy recovery was attributed to good well fitting leathers. Had he been wearing anything else, as he had done in the past and only a few weeks earlier, it is thought that he would have bled to death at the side of the road.

Although he is now permanently disabled, he is for the main part able to live a normal life although he will never ride a motorcycle again.

Interestingly, his trousers were not armoured or padded, they were simple “Texas” style jeans, and given the severity of the impact it is thought that armour would not have made that much difference. What was his saving grace was the fact that he had leather trousers on which fitted well.

This accident occurred about 18 years ago! <BR ><BR >

This was my Brother in laws accident, and he now lives happily in Austria with his second wife and young son. I am delighted that I was able to talk him into wearing the correct kit.

Case Study 2

A Police rider was issued with a very expensive pair of black leather full length touring boots as part of his riding uniform. They took about 2 months to break in due to the hardness of the leather, but as soon as they had bedded in they started to collapse and fold reducing the support around the ankle. However this particular force only issued 1 pair of boots a year, and therefore the rider had no option but to continue wearing the boots until he received his next issue.

About 4 months after the date of these boots being issued, the rider was involved in a crash and received serious injuries to his left leg. Despite the high purchase price of the boots, they had failed to afford the full degree of protection that would normally be expected.

The sloppy fit had not held his foot together or prevented crush injuries. This accident caused 5 ligaments to become detached, calcifying of the bone amongst many other injuries, as a result of which he was pensioned off from the Police service with a registered 25% disability.

The rider to this day still walks with a limp, has a size 14 left foot instead of a normal size 11, is in constant pain and will require the foot to be amputated at some time in the future. there are also other associated back and joint problems as a result of this injury.

Specialist safety footwear manufacturers examined the boots worn at the time of the accident along with medical professionals, and confirmed that had the rider been wearing footwear even a cheap but protective boot, then the chances are that the rider would have made a full recovery and would probably still be serving to this day.

The rider in question was me!

Case Study 3

A young man was out riding his motorcycle (not me this time ) one sunny summer afternoon, wearing a pair of jeans and training shoes. He was travelling at a speed when the bike lost power despite the fact that the engine was revving quite freely. The rider coasted to a halt at the side of the road in order to investigate the problem. As he stopped, he put his left leg down to support the machine and promptly fell onto the floor with the motorcycle falling on top of him.

The mechanical problem was due to the final drive chain snapping. As it broke, it smashed its way through the left hand engine casing and then sliced through the riders lower left leg like a knife through butter.

As it had happened so quickly and suddenly the rider had not felt his lower limb being suddenly amputated and had tried to stop normally. His foot and ankle were found some 250 yards back down the road still wearing the training shoe and a rather bloodied sock.

The surgeons were unable to reattach the severed foot, but they went onto confirm that had the rider been wearing a good quality leather boot, it would have been unlikely that the chain would have managed to penetrate the leather, although he would have probably been very bruised, but! His foot would have remained attached to his left leg.

On the subject of gloves, for you then

A rider wearing proper protective clothing and lightly padded leather motorcycle summer gloves is travelling down a main road, when another motorcycle in front throws up a loose sharp stone chipping from the back wheel, hitting the following riders middle finger. The rider flinches at the initial impact but gives it no further thought until he arrives home an hour or so later, although he did find it increasingly difficult to operate the clutch lever.

On arriving home he notices that his middle finger is becoming quite painful and swollen, and severe bruising is starting to appear. Examination of his glove reveals a razor sharp cut from just below the knuckle of the middle finger to the tip of his finger with the cut extending through the full layer of leather and the lining, although the skin on his finger had not been broken.

The finger took about 10 days to heal properly, but the question is still asked to this day, how much more severe would the injury have been had the rider not been wearing gloves, motorcycle or otherwise.

Heavily padded gloves would have made no difference at it was the section from the knuckle to the tip of the finger that was injured
In another case relating to helmets

A Police motorcyclist with over 20 years operational experience (Not me I hasten to add, but a good friend) attended his annual audiometric test, only to be told that his hearing was at least 30% defective at certain frequencies.

During his service, he had never worn any form of ear defender, and in the days of issue open face helmets, no noticeable degradation of his hearing had been recorded, although he had been wearing a flip style helmet for the previous 3 years.

Because of the type of helmet, his helmet radio earpiece volume varied according to the type of riding. The two tone horns/sirens required the radio volume to be louder than would normally be expected, the wind noise passing through this particular style of helmet also increased the wind noise level well above that accepted as a safe level.

He was subsequently suspended from riding and his condition was recorded as an industrial injury.

It was then made a condition of appointment to the motorcycle wing that all riders must wear some form of ear defender, and flip front helmets were withdrawn from service.

The rider who first raised the problem is now retired and is currently in the process of suing his force for his disability which was ignored by health and safety experts within the force.

On the subject of riding without any protective clothing on at all.

One hot summer afternoon, a young female provisional licence holder who rode a 100cc machine decided to nip down to the local shop on her motorcycle for a packet of cigarettes. Rather than change into suitable clothing, she decided to put on her crash helmet as was required by law, but otherwise she was dressed in nothing more than a bikini.

about a mile into her journey, she was travelling at about 50 MPH on a national speed limit road. A car pulled out of a minor road into her path causing her to brake and lose control. She fell from the machine and slid for about 100 feet rolling over and over as she went. On arrival at Hospital it was found that not one part of her body had escaped being either torn, burnt, bruised or otherwise damaged. For three years after the accident she was admitted to Hospital on a regular basis for plastic surgery and skin grafts.

It is probably fair to assume that had she been wearing clothing a little more substantial than her bikini, whilst she may still have been injured, the long lasting damage would have been far less severe.

I attended this accident, and I have to say that the young lady had a body to die for, she was drop dead beautiful prior to the accident (and I don’t mean this in any sexist way, it is just a fact). I still see her from time to time even now and she still bears the scars of that horrible day.

Not surprisingly she has never ridden a motorcycle since, but before the accident she was a bike nut, but was one of those who believed that accidents always happened to other people, she learnt the hard way.

All too often riders will spend large amounts of money on the latest high specification motorcycle and pay scant attention to the equipment they wear. many times a rider may have nothing more than a plastic shell on his head, covering his body with a pair of jeans, trainers and a lightweight jacket.

Too many riders think that the helmet and jacket are the most important items of kit, rather than recognising that head, legs and feet are the parts of the body that receive 90% of all serious injuries, not the upper body.

It should perhaps be remembered that a motorcycle can be repaired or replaced, but your skin is a dam site harder to put right.

The advice should always be,

Buy the best quality at a price you can afford, not because it is a fancy label.

Ensure that it fits correctly.

If it becomes damaged or worn, replace it straight away.

If you have friends or family considering taking up motorcycling, then advise them to consider buying their protective clothing first, and then use the balance of their budget to buy the bike rather than the other way round."

Wise words. I’d never take a chance with my kit, and every spill I’ve had I’ve been able to walk away from, and thats down to good quality Halvarssons leathers, Knox gloves and TCX boots

Reads all too much like BS to me… far too descriptive. I’ll continue in my jeans and take the risk. :slight_smile:

Sound advice Scorch, bimbling around locally I usually wear jeans/low boots - but then I ride her like a scootah…but i know I could still have an off where I wished I used my leather trousers and high Sidis…

That chain story where it whipped his leg off …:sick:

wish I’d used protection 30 years ago…then I wouldn’t have kids :D:D

Might have been nice if you had asked if you could use my article :wink: I am also a member of that site as I was asked to join some years ago, although I do not visit that often these days.

(Joking apart, I have no problem with it being used here, but I have amended it a bit as there have been a few updates since I wrote that piece, which also appeared in a couple of national magazines I used to write for)

I wrote that about 4 years ago based on some of the case studies I have done over the past 30 years just on clothing and is part of the reason (apart from my regular job of investigating bike crashes) that I am also a consultant to various bodies and manufacturers on clothing.

Call it BS if you like, but given that one of the cases is actually me and I am left permanently disabled myself because of some very expensive kit I was issued with which did not do what it was designed to do, it is down to individuals to make an informed decision.

As for being too descriptive, that was the idea so it made people at least think about it, and as for continuing in your jeans, maybe I should post up some of the pictures I have of someone coming off in jeans. Not pretty, and pretty dammed stupid given that the majority of injuries are sustained by the lower body.

this is going to sound stupid to most of you but it can go both ways.

with my injury if i would of had a full length boot on the cut i think is just at the top of the boot line so might still have a slight cut cant say how bad, i would not of broken leg but the impact from the 4x4 would of shattered my knee and for me that is worse.

my textile trousers if i would of had them on i think what ever cut my leg would of cut straight throw them and still cut my leg if i would of slid down the road majorly then i would of wished to have them on but for my crash i don’t think they would of made a differences.

so for me im happy i was wearing what i was when i crashed, 6 weeks today im bending my knee, moving my ankle walked 5 or 6 steps yesterday without the aid from my crutches and plan to try and get back on my bike within the next few days.

if i would of had a broken knee i doubt i would even be bending my knee yet let alone trying to walk without crutches.

T.C. - Did you know that all of those case study examples, including yours, are used in the RoSPA Diploma course notes??..

It all comes down to the luck of the draw, and no 2 crashes are ever the same.

I can give you cases where a back protector has caused severe spinal injuries and more commonly, 1 piece leathers being used on the road actually contributing to the severity of the injuries sustained where a 2 piece would have actually helped reduce the severity.

Therefore it is all subjective.

The whole point of the article is to make people at least consider or think about what they wear on the bike rather than just take it for granted that it won’t happen to them, and don’t assume that because you are wearing a fancy label that it is going to afford you any more protection than something less well known or cheaper.

Many of the brand names were/are made in factories in Sialkot in Pakistan, and I still have some gloves which here with the branded labels cost over £60 a pair here in the shops, I paid about £3 for exactly the same gloves from the same factory but without the logo.

And because something has been tested on the track, does not mean it is going to afford protection on the road simply because the two disciplines are so different as the racers do not have poor road surfaces, hard objects or road side furniture to contend with, and on track medical help is on scene within seconds (minutes at most) which very rarely happens in road crashes.

Yes, because I wrote, set up and ran the original RoSPA diploma course with my friends and colleagues Stu Bullock and Russ Todd from its inception until my ability to ride distances because of my disability became severely limited. Although I am still certified as a diploma examiner.

But the version that appears in the diploma notes is actually the first version, it has been re-written several times now.

I thought you might have had something to do with it… :slight_smile:

it is true T.C i did used to take it all for granted and in my cause kind of glad i did but wile i was in hospital it all played throw my head, what if i was wearing these type of boots or mx boots or my textiles and so on.

i will be buying some kevla jeans and will be wearing my boots from now on. it is unlikely that i will be lucky next time and next time could be alot worse for me without any protection =]

i sell motorcycling clothing for a living.

one thing is common, you get 2 types of rider, those are prepared to listen to advice, and those that wont have any of it…

i’m a fairly experienced motorcyclist, and i have had a few offs, when i was younger it was 'peds, wearing nothing protective but gloves and helmet, never got inured badly, i was lucky, when i got a bit older i would ride around in all the gear…bar the trousers- normal jeans, i’ve had 2 nasty offs in jeans but always got away with bruising and swollen bashed knees.

i NEVER ride in normal, non armoured jeans, not anymore, not even to pop to the shop.

wherever i go i wear my gear, and it is down to luck of the draw sometimes ie you could be wearing the best gear avaible and sometimes it wont help you.

my younger brother snapped his femur clean in half earlier this year after a head on with a car, he had full protective clothing, he actually landed IN the windscreen and headbutted it, destroyed his lid, but it saved his life, his injury was just a few of inches above his knee Armour.

i drilled into him the importance of wearing the right gear, and i’m glad i did furthermore he listened to me, and i kitted him out.

fit is important, armour should have as little chance of moving as possible, i have a lot of debates on how something should fit, jackets, trousers, helmets, all the time.

i put some pics up on here before of my mate who came off in a t-shirt and jeans at 80+mph, a proper mess and a good reminder to never ride in a t-shirt.

even when i couriered, in the middle of a sticky sweaty hot day i would not ride in a t-shirt, it was considered! but i went and bought a textile air jacket instead:D

i just cant not wear the right gear, trainers are just an absolute no no, it just doesnt feel right! plus i quite like my ankles.

my gear saved me from a broken shoulder and two broken legs when i had my crash.

thats all i have to say.

Some of us need all the help we can get :wink:

My gear saved me fron broken or badly injured elbow and knee. And probably I wouldn’t pickup toys and continue riding without that gear (btw Thanks Ratty).


Didn’t know you had an alter ego TC :smiley: Given the nature of the article, I was fairly certain the author’s intention was to reach as many people as possible…
Good piece. :slight_smile:

If you had sent me a PM there and asked if you could use it (as is the usual courtesy) I would have provided you with the updated version.

I meant to add that I posted that article in 2009 which is why it is now to a certain degree out of date, and I use the same name there as I use here, so forget alter ego’s!!!

never ride without full protection… but one question I gotta ask… did you see a massively increased rate of arse injuries due to saggy leather bum syndrome? :slight_smile: