How to Choose the Best Motorcycle Body Armor

August 31, 2022
By Michael Padway

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motorcycle body armor

When we talk about motorcycles, safety is everything and should be the first thing that comes to mind. You should not skimp on costs or believe that it is not necessary for the daily use of your vehicle. A proper choice of quality protectors can make the difference between life and death.

The acronym ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) is a ritual and mindset most of us follow when we ride. Defensive riding can prevent most accidents, but protective gear, including motorcycle armor, can save your life when defensive riding isn’t enough.

Why Is It Important to Use Motorcycle Body Armor?

Motorcycle body armor is a piece of motorcycle safety gear that is often forgotten and rarely discussed. Yet, helmets are usually the most critical element because they protect your head and neck, the highest protection priority. Riding with the right type of helmet directly correlates with your chances of surviving a motorcycle accident, but what about other protective gear?

Jackets, gloves, riding pants, and suits are all items that contribute to saving your skin, protecting your bones, and preventing significant sprains in the event of an accident. Each of those items contains body armor in some fashion. However, high-density foam paired with carbon fiber or Kevlar composite abrasion panels is the most prominent body armor for motorcycle safety gear. They will provide impact and abrasion protection to all major and minor joints with the highest impact potential during an accident.

Can A Motorcycle Body Armor Really Protect You?

There will always be a question about the effect of motorcycle-specific riding gear and whether body armor does make a difference. Although there are not many studies about the effectiveness of body armor, there is no argument that motorcycle body armor does provide more protection than riding without. 

We’ve known riders that have walked away from high-speed crashes on a closed course with nothing more than a bruised ego. This is because they wore internal body armor that protected them from the initial impact and the following abrasion as they slid to a halt.

Riders Testimonials

Bohn body armor

Man, where should I start? I was involved in an incident on March 28, 2021, where I was launched from my bike 50 Feet and landed like a pancake. I was fully covered neck to ankles in my Bohn apparel which worked just as you said it would on your website.
The injuries I sustained have been isolated to deep bruising and about ten 1-inch scratches on my right leg which took the impact. Due to the mechanism of the crash, the fire personnel had to cut my lower half before transporting me to the hospital so I will be ordering a new shell…

Read Full Testimonial
Bohn Body Armor

Bohn body armor

Just a word of thanks. Out on the motorbike and got involved in a head on with a car crossing my path. No impact injuries to speak of. Snapped the ankle due to a twisting action.
Recovering now. Hope to be back on the road again soon. Will always reach for Bohn Armor…

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Bohn Body Armor

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Motorcycle Armor CE Ratings

Once you start shopping for body armor, you may see a tag on the protector or the packaging mentioning a CE rating or an EN European rating. Most international brands that offer protective gear in multiple global markets label their protective armor based on a CE rating. CE stands for Conformité Européene, which translates to European Conformity. CE Marking has been used since 1993 and conforms to European motorcycle safety standards. The United States hasn’t officially adopted these standards. Still, most authorities and organizations use them as guidelines to understand the safety standard of the gear in question.

You won’t need to ride in CE Mark certified protective equipment on U.S. streets and highways, but you may be required to wear them on a closed race track. That the track or sanctioning organization running the event you’re participating in will dictate.

how to read a CE marking

Manufacturers are starting to adopt an international standard that will encompass all standards worldwide. However, Europe and the U.S. have different rules and don’t completely coincide with Australia or Asia. This makes it costly and challenging to create protective gear globally, so adopting a design that would work anywhere in the world is best for the rider and the manufacturer.

Opting to buy protective gear with or without the C.E. rating doesn’t indicate that you’re buying better or worse gear. For example, an American brand that only sells in the U.S. may not design for an International brand but can still produce protective gear without additional certification. Just do your research on the specific protective equipment you are interested in, whether it’s certified or not.

Types of Motorcycle Body Armor

ARMORED VESTS

ICON STRYKER ARMORED VEST

Armored vests are designed to fit over the torso and offer protection for the front, chest, and back. These provide excellent impact and abrasion protection for your chest and back but do not provide any protection for your arms. Most feature a hard abrasion-resistant outer core and a padded interior that works well under a jacket or worn over a shirt or sweatshirt.

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ARMORED JACKETS

ALPINESTARS BIONIC TECH V2 PROTECTION JACKET

Motorcycle-specific jackets are typically armored at significant impact points such as the back, shoulders, and elbows. Materials can be leather, mesh, a Kevlar hybrid, or a textile better suited to all-weathers. In addition, they typically have internal and external pockets and tightening mechanisms around the neck and wrists (straps or snaps).

Jackets don’t have a predetermined replacement period; you may get many years of riding out of the gear. Use your best judgment on the condition of your jacket and protective armor and decide when is the proper time to replace it with a new one. Feel free to check out our other article about some of the best leather motorcycle jackets available.

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ARMORED PANTS

ALPINESTARS MISSILE V2 AIRFLOW PA

Armored riding pants come in leather or textiles, depending on where and what conditions you ride in. Both offer protection in the hips, pelvis, legs, and knees. So first, look for the best features that match your riding style, and then search for what is affordable based on your budget.

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ARMORED BOOTS

KLIM OUTLANDER GTX BOOTS

It’s arguable whether or not motorcycle boots are necessary for riding, as many riders prefer to ride in their hiking boots. However, according to the 1981 Hurt Report, a motorcycle safety study conducted in the United States, wearing any boot provided a 53% reduction in the risk of foot or ankle injury and a 73% reduction in open wound injuries. However, armored motorcycle boots reduced the risk of an open wound injury by 90%.

Motorcycle boots come in many different styles and functions. You can choose between a boot with more outer protection around the toe for abrasion, steel toe inserts for more toe impact protection, or an excellent over-the-ankle boot to offer ankle support. All motorcycle boots should have an oil-resistance sole to handle a slippery surface when you step in an oily puddle at an intersection. Some motorcycle boots offer a string enclosure that can be tucked inside the boot with a hook-and-loop closure, while others come in a slip-on version.

“Armored motorcycle boots reduced the risk of an open wound injury by 90%.”

The Hurt Report
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ELBOW AND KNEE GUARDS

SURLIM SR ELBOW KNEE PROTECTOR CE ARMOR INSERTS

Suppose you’re not looking for a suit or jacket but still want the protection offered by armor. In that case, there are options for just armor available. For example, some manufacturers offer a thin shirt or thin riding pants with protective armor padding, which you can wear under standard riding apparel.

On the other hand, you may have a set of riding jeans that you enjoy riding in and want a set of armored pads to wear underneath them. These guards are the perfect option for those occasions. In addition, external elbow and knee pads can go over a shirt, jacket, or pants if you prefer to wear them on the exterior.

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BACK/SPINE PROTECTOR

DAINESE MANIS D1 G BACK PROTECTOR INSERT

A back/spine protector may seem like equipment that only someone who races on a track or closed course should wear. However, although it’s a standard item for racers, it doesn’t have to be a race-only protective item.

The Hurt Report mentioned that back protectors reduced soft tissue damage on the back and sides of the body when the rider was involved in an accident. (Soft tissue damage can be associated with bruising only, not a broken back or cracked vertebrae.) In addition, most back protectors limit spine movement and will stop a puncture or abrasion from occurring. Therefore, in an accident, back protectors provide more advantages in terms of protection than not wearing one.

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HIP PROTECTION

BARHAR PROTECTIVE ARMOR PANTS

A back/spine protector may seem like equipment that only someone who races on a track or closed course should wear. However, although it’s a standard item for racers, it doesn’t have to be a race-only protective item.

The Hurt Report mentioned that back protectors reduced soft tissue damage on the back and sides of the body when the rider was involved in an accident. (Soft tissue damage can be associated with bruising only, not a broken back or cracked vertebrae.) In addition, most back protectors limit spine movement and will stop a puncture or abrasion from occurring. Therefore, in an accident, back protectors provide more advantages in terms of protection than not wearing one.

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TAKEAWAYS

Motorcycle body armor is essential to your safety during your motorcycle ride. Whether worn externally or internally, built-in or removable, on your jacket or all areas of your gear, its design will keep you safe in the event of an accident. Remember that ATGATT is a mindset you should engrain into your mind every time you take the bike out.

Take the actions to keep safe on the road and enjoy your ride! Please feel free to comment below, letting us know how you feel about body armor. If you enjoyed this content, check out more content on motorcycle gear here.

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Michael Padway

Michael Padway uses his expertise in personal injury and motorcycle accidents to represent a broad spectrum of clients dealing with life-changing and permanent injuries for the first time. His offices are located at 235 Montgomery St., Ste 668, San Francisco, CA 94104 and at 3140 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601. For more information, please call (800) 928-1511.

comments

18 Comments

  1. brancaleon

    ahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahah…oh god, oh god save america by Americans

  2. Sam Raws

    Professionals only should create on this issue as in any safety-related problem. Appropriate devices can create an tremendous distinction in many stances.

    Posted by: Sam | Up Your Imports

  3. Kristen

    Thank you for your article. It’s a quick simple rundown and the takeaway–WEAR ARMOR and be protected on every ride. At Bohn Body Armor we say “the only armor that works is the armor that you wear”. If it isn’t comfortable, cool, flexible and allows you to have range of motion on your bike, what good is it? It will end up on a hanger in the closet. We take pride in offering a wide range of products and fabrics to keep you cool and protected from shoulders to shins on every ride. Give us a shot! http://www.bohnarmor.com

  4. Chris Gilliand

    My track leathers and accessories were damaged in the recent hurricane “Micheal “ they were completely submerged, and roof fell on them. The CE armor is damaged and the entire suit is molded and wet and seems to have shrunk, helmets too took a large impact from debris. I say they must be replaced, my insurance company says they can be dry cleaned. They can’t dry clean the built in armor. Is there a site or reference saying damage like this is replacement only????

    • Doofus Amungus

      Really?

  5. Pete Bjerkelund

    The article refers to the 1981 Hurt Report continuously… nothing like a 38 year old materials and technology spec sheet to base a decision on…

  6. Stan Augustowicz

    Having just sustained a knee injury from lowside fall at 45kph, I think the CE 2 rating on the knee armour in my riding pants didn’t provide the protection I expected. The armor and pants move of optimum location to provide required protection, the soft padding armour needs to be wider than what is fitted to riding pants. I’m seriously considering cutting up CE1 armour and gluing extra on the sides of the main CE 2 armour pad. I think CE testing needs be improved to recognise real collision situations.

    • Ed Wilkes

      I couldn’t agree more stan! knee armour especially should be a full 270 degrees of protection, with some semi rigid component on the outside. The knee pads you get with things like motorcycle jeans are an absolute joke. I am currently fashioning my own, and also considering external armour such as Dainese Knee V E1, I really like my knees.

  7. Latham

    i need this website email anyone know please reply back

  8. Joseph Schott

    Thanks for the article. I live in Houston and ride and air cooled Harley. It can be incredibly uncomfortable and hot to wear armor during the summer with the heat and humidity. But I still wear it because any increase in my chance to walk away from an accident (even just 1%) makes it worth it to me to bear the discomfort. I love my bike and I love riding, but I love my wife and little girl more and I will take every advantage to come he to them in one piece.

  9. Lolo

    I glanced through a lot of the article as I am an ATGATT rider in any case but I couldn’t help noticing the egregious typo (I hope!!) saying that back protectors CONTRIBUTE to soft tissue damage! Should be contribute to “reduction of”? If not, please let me know!!

  10. Martin Michalko

    Wear this wear that… bullshit. It is all passive safety. In order to be safe, one must have safety in mind and behave accordingly. Safety is a result of one’s ability to manage risks. I squid all the time, and I’m aware of that shit may happen. That makes me a better rider, because I’m vigilant and actively participate to stay out of trouble. Full gear gives one a sensation of invincibility. That is more dangerous than not having any gear. In case of a serious accident, the gear will only make you look good in your coffin. The attitude is more important than equipment. Active safety, to avoid accident, not passive to reduce damage… I see this atgatt people dying every year, behaving like organ donors lol. At least those less fortunate in terms of health can come about spare parts.

    • Abel Goddard

      That’s your own bias against armor, Martin. “I squid all the time” “that makes me a better rider” “actively participate to stay out of trouble” – these are all the words of someone not smart enough to realize that there are times that you can’t predict or even imagine what’s about to happen. Even if you are the best rider and make zero mistakes on your bike, you’re surrounded by idiots in cages.

    • Howard Clarke

      Martin, you aren’t fully in control of all the possible events that could happen to you, yes be vigilant and careful, ride conservatively, but you can’t control the old lady that hits the gas pedal instead of brake, or the drunk driver, or the dog that runs out in front of you, all reasons to put the gear on. cr&p happens sometimes, wrong place, wrong time and your bouncing down the road like a sack of carrots.

  11. guest posting sites

    This blog is really great. The information here will surely be of some help to me. Thanks!.

  12. Mohinder Pal

    Really I appreciate this article.
    In future if new information about motor cycle riding safety, please send me.
    Thanks again.