Performance Technic Tip: Everything you should know about your jacket and trousers


Performance Technic is the new technical facility in Kyalami, run by the same team behind the phenomenally successful Fire It Up and Bike Buyers. Every Tuesday, they will be providing some technical know-how that could make your biking life a better and easier one. Today, we talk about your riding jacket and trousers and all the important things you should know about them.

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Everyone who rides a bike has one – your riding jacket. The thing is that bikers just don’t look biker enough without a cool jacket. Walking into any establishment with only a helmet just doesn’t cut it – you look like you’ve quickly popped down to the shop on your moped to get some milk. You need a jacket to be taken seriously.

That’s The Bike Show fashion advice out of the way, we now move on to the sensible bit – believe it or not, your jacket is hugely important to your wellbeing, but then so is your riding trousers. It’s the second bit that many people take for granted, riding weekend runs or trips in their casual jeans. If you’re scoffing at the idea of having to wear anything more below the waist, here are some statistics.

For years, scientists have been using a machine called the Cambridge Impact Abrasion Tester that is a machine that turns a belt usually at a speed of 30 km/h, and various materials are then pressed onto the belt at a specified pressure to measure how long it takes to wear through them. There are other more modern tests, and the are other newer materials, but most of these tests are done in secret by the manufacturers, and their results are closely guarded secrets, but these public results should be enough to provide a general picture.

The material that held up best against the Cambridge Impact Abrasion Tester was leather, in this case, leather that was two millimetres thick. At the standard 30km/h, the leather took 9.0 seconds to wear through. A double layer of Kevlar with a nylon outer layer and an inner cotton layer – the standard get-up for your everyday motorcycle jacket – lasted a slightly less but still impressive 5.6 seconds.

Slightly worn denim cotton, as found in most sets of jean trousers, on the other hand, lasted a somewhat shocking 0.22 seconds. They pretty much tear apart the moment you touch the ground. And that’s at 30km/h; a speed considered walking pace for many a motorcyclist.

And thus we conclude that a full leather suit is the best answer to your biking safety needs. However, we also understand that not everyone can always wear leather, especially when the temperature drops or the heavens start bucketing down.

Modern textile clothing also offers excellent support in accidents, helping many a crasher able to walk away from the scene of the accident. Some other things to look out for when buying your kit – make sure they come with sturdy zips as a broken zip, or a zip coming apart during a crash will ruin your day.

Make sure your kit has sufficient protective padding. There are various sorts that protect elbows, knees, shoulders, backs and backsides. Most are made of a type of foam, some examples holding up better than others. Open/closed cell foams are your usual, average foam that comes in various levels of hardness depending on the preference for comfort or protection. The problem with this foam type is that it will compress after one impact and then stay compressed, thereby losing its protective ability. Memory foam, on the other hand, with slowly return to its former state after an impact making it preferable.

The best kind of protection, though, is made out of something called viscoelastic materials. What makes them unique is that in normal conditions, they are soft and pliable, making them comfortable for everyday use. However, as soon as they are subjected to a hard impact, they become rigid and offer a tremendous amount of protection. Afterwards, they return to their normal, compliant state, ready for re-use.

As with most things, the quality of the protective gear is down to reputation and price – buy the stuff you know and spend as much as you can afford. Remember, when trying it on, to test it in a riding position, making sure it doesn’t tighten anywhere, pull up or cause discomfort.

Performance Technic Contacts:
Tel: 010 880 2849

Performance Technic

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