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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The intent of this information is to educate you on safety efficacy related to clothes you wear on the motorcycle. Ultimately we all make risk to benefit analysis everyday, and riding gear is no different. Armed with this knowledge you can be better prepare to assess what you think is adequate for protection with your riding. The link is a short (3 pages) blurb from the US Marine Corps on injury potential with certain clothing on. There are much more in depth studies, but this one is relatively to the point and pretty spot on with others I have read.

https://archive.defense.gov/home/pdf/0412_militaryrider/DYK_USMC2.pdf

HELMETS are NOT included in this study

In the event the above link does not work, the spoiler contains the content, minus images, of the article.


NEW STUDY DISSECTS MOTORCYCLE PPE USE AND EFFECTIVENESS

“Protect your whole body, wear body armor, wear boots not shoes, and ride safely.” – Liz deRome

Increases in injuries and deaths from motorcycle crashes are not unique to the Marine Corps, but represent a worldwide problem. Our mates “down under” conducted the first major scientific study of motorcycle Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) effectiveness since Europe established standards for motorcycle protective clothing. What’s that got to do with Marines? While these standards are not mandatory outside Europe, they have had a major impact on the design and selection of motorcycle clothing worldwide. Manufacturers compete in worldwide markets and there are advantages to applying a uniform standard to all products in a particular line, not just the products heading to regulated markets.

The European standards focus on two major areas – the resistant of the clothing to tears, cutting or abrasive failure, and the use of body armor to distribute impact forces across a wider area in order to diminish impact injuries from a crash. The deRome study1 can help any rider make good decisions about gear that will get the most protection for dollar spent.

What makes this study different is that it did not look only at crashes reported through the police and emergency services, which tend to be the most serious, but instead sought out referrals to individuals through motorcycle repair shops based on repairs to bikes that were dropped or otherwise damaged in an accident. This led to interviewing the riders who crashed and did enough damage to their bike to warrant repairs, but did not do enough damage to their person to warrant a hospital stay or burial. The results show how different types of PPE worked, and whether the PPE sustained damage or failed in the crash. This is especially important because the value of PPE is realized to a much greater extent in lower energy crashes that do not result in death. Higher energy crashes on the other hand impose forces on the body and internal organs that are not substantively mitigated by PPE. This study also does not address helmets, which are already well proven in reducing head injuries, and subject to more proven standards of design and testing.

Semper Ride the movie executes an intentional low side crash by professional stunt man and trainer Teach McNeal at approximately 35 mph. Teach wore a full leather track suit, as well as track quality boots, gloves and of course, helmet. The Semper Ride controlled test resulted in impact area failure of the leather exterior down to the protective Kevlar layer, but still presents only a single data point.

The deRome study measures the results of over 200 crashes at a range of speeds using a wide variety of PPE. The study included riders with minimal or no PPE as well as full PPE with body armor. The analysis shows the comparative risk of injury requiring hospitalization for each article of PPE as it relates to the part of the body it is intended to protect, compared to the rider not wearing that article.

THE DEROME STUDY

In the study, PPE use is broken down in three categories;
  • None means non-motorcycle specific clothing- for example a rider NOT wearing a jacket, or a long-sleeve windbreaker or a sweatshirt, are all considered to NOT be wearing a motorcycle jacket.
  • Motorcycle-specific PPE Without armor are articles of PPE that meet the EURO Standard for abrasion resistance but do not meet the standard for body armor.
  • Motorcycle-specific PPE with armor are articles of PPE that meet the Euro Standard both for abrasion resistance and for body armor.
The study also examines type of injury as soft tissue (cuts, bruises, lacerations, abrasions), open wounds (same as soft tissue but excluding bruises), or fractures. Results are provided in the study to show relative risk for each injury group and for any injury.

Looking at a sample of 200+ events, each of which contains a different mix of PPE, speeds, conditions and resulting injuries, there have to be enough observations of any particular result to make it count. It is fairly obvious that more gear is better, and the kind of PPE worn by racers and track enthusiasts is clearly driven by lots of experience and understanding of the risks involved. But for most of us, cost is an issue. Comfort and practicality matter too. You might want to invest in a $1,000 plus set of leathers for track riding, but you probably wouldn’t wear them to take a date to a movie.

The table below lists only the results that were considered statistically significant. The findings basically support the same message Jason Britton delivers in Semper Ride – “Go out & put as much gear on your body as you possibly can.” But there are a few surprises in the data.
Part of BodyPPE Relative Reductionin Risk of
Any InjuryOpen Wound Injury
Feet/anklesNon-MC Boots53%76%
Hand/wristMC Gloves + BA45%73%
Feet/anklesMC Boots + BA45%90%
Leg OnlyMC Pants + BA39%59%
Upper BodyMC Jacket + BA23%63%
Back/SpineRigid Foam Jacket Insert-116%NA

  • Wearing any type of boot provides a 53% reduction in risk of any foot or ankle injury, and a 76% reduction in risk of an open wound injury. But armored motorcycle boots make a much bigger difference in reducing the risk of an open wound injury (90%).

    • For gloves, pants and jackets, non-armored motorcycle-specific clothing does not give significantly more protection than clothing that is not designed for motorcycle use. For any injury category you can significantly reduce your risk by wearing gear with body armor incorporated.

    • For spinal injuries, foam back inserts actually correlated to an increase in risk of a soft tissue injury to the spine or back. This finding suggests that more study on the design of body armor for the back and spine is needed.
There are two basic take-aways for the rider who wants to pick the best gear, but needs to build their PPE inventory over time and at reasonable cost:

Protect your feet! Boots make a big difference. Durable high-tops, hiking, or work boots are a good alternative if armored motorcycle riding boots are beyond your current budget. But remember that motorcycle footwear is designed to give good traction on paved surfaces, be oil resistant, and not interfere with pegs, shifters, brakes and other appendages on your bike. Boots with laces, loops, hooks or flaps can snag on your bike and contribute to an embarrassing drop or a loss of control. Keep that in mind when shopping for lower cost alternatives.

Get Armored! More gear affords more protection, but body armor is the way to go. If you can’t afford the armored jacket or pants right now, spending less money on a non-armored product that has a “motorcycle” label or logo is not going to significantly lower your risk any more than even less expensive “mall leather” jacket and jeans. For gloves, armor also makes a big difference. Consider also that there might be big price differences on very similar glove products that are marketed for street motorcycles, off-road motorcycles or snowmobiles/ATVs.
 

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Thanks for the link to that study. It was interesting to see her data on the back pad actually increasing the instance of injury; I hope she does some follow up on that one.

The FortNine YouTube channel recently did an episode on, essentially, the bare minimum of gear and came to a similar conclusion about the boots. Motorcycle boots are a huge factor in injury reduction.

I have always been an ATGATT rider and it saved my skin, literally, in 2006. I live in Illinois, one of the few states with no helmet law in any form, so I am definitely in the minority around here, but also believe in personal responsibility for one's actions. I saw a FB post earlier this year with pics of a road-rashed guy who wanted to blame his injuries on grass that had been blown on the road by a mower. I badly wanted to respond that his injuries were due to not being properly geared and not paying attention to the riding conditions, but decided it wasn't worth being a jerk and what's the point of adding insult to injury.

I think deRome summed it up perfectly in the first sentence; “Protect your whole body, wear body armor, wear boots not shoes, and ride safely.”
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It's funny, the study shows for overall injury reduction Non MC specific boots were more effective, but for open injury the armor addition helped reduce an extra 14%. I took it ankle covering boots were as sufficient as MC specific, but the key is ankle coverage.
 

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It's funny, the study shows for overall injury reduction Non MC specific boots were more effective, but for open injury the armor addition helped reduce an extra 14%. I took it ankle covering boots were as sufficient as MC specific, but the key is ankle coverage.
The report seems to recommend MC specific boots.

Wearing any type of boot provides a 53% reduction in risk of any foot or ankle injury, and a 76% reduction in risk of an open wound injury. But armored motorcycle boots make a much bigger difference in reducing the risk of an open wound injury (90%).

I always wear study over the ankle boots when riding, and always feel more protected in my MC boots vs regular boots. I just feel they have armour in all the right places, provide greater resistance to ankle twisting, and have a great grip on the ground.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I would agree armored boots are a better choice.

That being said, with the data presented, Non-MC boot performance is better at reducing overall injury to the area. 53% vs 45%. Any Injury implies open is included in the statistic. One can infer that means with a 14% lead on open injuries, armored boots are actually less effective, potentially even a contributing factor, to other injuries of the foot region.

Of course there is a large lacking of information such as number of accidents and so forth. It was interesting because it was the only place where the numbers were comparable without BA, where everything other than the back has significant increase based on addition of BA.

I am hoping to look for more studies of this in particular.
 

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That is interesting. I would be curious to find out what way a non-MC boot was able to reduce injury to a greater degree than an armored boot; that seems to defy logic...kind of like the back pad findings. With the study's inclusion of non-police reported lower speed crashes, I wonder if it increased the "ability" of a regular boot to protect. Were MC boots less effective at general reduction because they were only worn in higher speed accidents and non-MC boots more effective because non-MC boots and regular footwear were worn in more of the lower speed accidents? The text of the study does indicate that the value of PPE is enhanced at lower speeds.

Thanks to the authors and researchers for their work, this would have been a tough study to compile data for, especially given the inclusion of non-reported" accidents.
 

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Non-MC boot performance is better at reducing overall injury to the area
One aspect of this may be that typical workboots have slip-resistant soles, great for not slipping but you kind of don't want much sole traction when you're sliding on the pavement. So the chances are that non-MC boots lead to bone breakage or soft tissue damage further upstream.

There is also the active safety argument to be made about what unquantifiable amount of crashing was prevented or by boots with better control feel and easier clearance or caused by the lack thereof.
 

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I wonder how much correlation there is with the type of people who choose one style over the other ... Ie the non mc boot may be a more casual rider and the rider with the full gear being a bit more aggressive in the twisties and taking more risk.... Not to say there is, just wondering if that may skew.the results at all.
 
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