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When you ride a motorcycle, you want to be as safe as possible. The likelihood of being in an accident on a motorcycle is unfortunately high. As a result, some people wonder if they should go beyond a helmet and protect themselves with something like body armor.

So what should you know about body armor on a motorcycle? Is it worth having, or no?

What’s the Purpose of Motorcycle Armor?

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While motorcycle armor may be designed differently from other types of body armor, in the general sense, the purpose is the same. It can protect you.

If you’re in a motorcycle accident, then armor can protect you against abrasion. Armor can also absorb force and dissipate it. This means the least amount of force possible is transferred to your body.

According to safelifedefense.com, the more the armor you choose can reduce that force, the more protective it is for your body.

You may not realize it, but if you’re wearing things like jackets, riding pants, or riding suits, you’re already wearing body armor to an extent.

Just how effective motorcycle body armor is, it’s tough to say because there’s limited research on the topic.

It would be difficult to argue that body armor provides no protection, though. We just don’t know how much exactly.

Different Types of Body Armor

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The following are some of the types of body armor a motorcycle rider might wear:

  • Armored vests: An armored vest is most similar to the type of body armor you might wear to protect yourself from gunshot wounds and general personal safety. A vest protects your back, front, and chest. There offer you impact protection for your chest and back, but not your arms. The majority of vests can be worn under your shirt and jacket. They tend to have a hard outer core, and the interior is padded.
  • Jackets: Armored jackets will have armor at points of impact, including the elbows, back, and shoulders. You can find leather, Kevlar hybrids, mesh, or perhaps an all-weather textile.
  • Armored suits: Armored suits can be a one- or two-piece option. The armor is usually placed around the back, elbows, hips, knees, and shoulders. You’ll often find cinched wrists and ankles.
  • Pants: Armored pants are available in textile materials as well as leather. They protect the hips, the legs, knees, and pelvis.
  • Boots: Boots can also be considered armored riding gear. When you wear a boot of any kind, it can significantly reduce the risk of ankle and foot injuries. Some boots have outer protection around the toe, as well as a steel toe.

There are also types of armor that are for very specific body parts.

For example, if you’re someone who races on a closed course or track, you should consider a back/spine protector. These protectors can reduce the risk of tissue damage. They also limit spine movement.

Hip protection can be worn as padded shorts, and you can wear them under your riding pants.

Elbow and knee guards are a type of armor you can wear if you want protection, but you don’t want to wear full-body gear.

CE Standards

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Motorcycle armor is certified under CE standards. The goal of CE standards is to test the impact protection of armor.

The following are what you should know about CE standards:

  • A CE rating should be listed on body armor, or you might see an EN European rating. Most international brands that offer gear across the world will use the CDE rating, which stands for in English, European Conformity. The U.S. doesn’t officially use these standards, but you’ll see them listed on gear and armor.
  • Manufacturers are starting to work toward a more standardized international rating system.
  • CE standards certify armor as level 1 or level 2. Level 1 certification indicates less impact protection. That means essentially, if you can wear Level 2 versus Level 1, that’s best.
  • CE Level 2 armor used to much bulkier and heavier than Level 1, so many riders would only wear it if they were doing something like track or road racing, and there was a high likelihood of an accident. Now, however, it’s lighter weight.
  • CE Level 1 armor is estimated to be half as protective against crashes and impacts as Level 2.
  • There’s another designation to look for. Motorcycle armor is CE-certified based on size. There’s Type A which is small and Type B which is big. Type B is better in terms of coverage and protection.

Wearing Armor

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Perhaps one of the most important things to note about wearing motorcycle body armor is the fact that it needs to be worn close to the body. That’s the only way it’s going to work as it should and protect you the way it’s meant to.

There shouldn’t be any flapping or dangling off the pads that are part of the armor.
Wherever the armor pad is located, if you can rotate it or move it freely, this is a problem, and it’s not properly secured. The same is true of other gear such as helmets.

Avoid anything loose-fitting when you’re going to ride, such as pants that fit loosely or jackets. If you have too much room in these items, your armor won’t protect you the way it should.

So what’s the overall takeaway on armor? If you’re a casual rider, you may not need or want it, but because there’s an inherent risk factor in riding a motorcycle, it’s always a good idea to know what’s available to you in terms of safety and protection.

If you are going to ride a motorcycle without armor, at a minimum, you should have other safety gear such as a properly fitting and protective helmet, goggles, and boots. These items can go a long way in reducing the severity of injuries if you’re in an accident.

The gear that you wear on the back of a bike is for far more than just looks—your equipment is there to protect you in the event of an accident. Of course, wearing safety gear won’t completely prevent accidents from happening, so it’s a good idea to have a plan if that does occur. Seek legal help from Marks & Harrison if you find yourself in a wreck to help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.


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