The protective layer is the piece of equipment that everyone will call a "motorbike suit".
More or less the function of them all is the same. They have to keep the wind and bugs off and protect you from serious injuries in case of a fall or accident.
There are different types accidents of course and different types of injuries that are typically the consequence. Another aspect is where it happens.
- The impact accident
- The fall / slide
- On the highway
- On a gravel road
A typical accident on the highway will be a crash against an obstacle, another car or a tree. It is a hard impact at usually high speed.
Another very common case is just a slide on tarmac. This is causing abrasion wounds. Once again, we travel at higher speed and the slide can be very long.
The accidents on gravel do not really differ that much form accidents on the highway. But there are important differences. The speed is usually lower than on the highway and the surface is less hard and rigid. Your chance to hit another car or a concrete structure is lower and the gravel makes you "roll" more on it. But gravel is not smooth, consists of different sizes and can be combined with bigger rocks.
To narrow it down a little bit. What I mean are areas where you do not travel on any kind of road or manmade path. Grass, sand, rocky areas ... you name it.
Here we have a lower speed than in the other scenarios but our chance to fall and hit the ground, rocks, trees etc is much higher. Here we need more of a impact protection. A good example is protection gear worn in Motocross. The abrasion protection here is minimal compared to high speed racing on a race track.
The main difference is in the outer material. There are 3 basic materials that are used for this kind of gear.
I will try to show the differences, because this would be so detailed that it would fill more than one site.
- Wax Cotton
- Cordura / Nylon
This material is one of the traditional materials motorbike gear is made of and it in use for centuries. Motorbikes of course are not around for centuries, but this material was used for rain gear in the Navy. In German we call it "Ölzeug" (Oil-Gear).
As the name indicates it is made of cotton that has a wax layer as wind and rain protection. These jackets are available from 50€ to 500€. Depending on the brand and the material. The best ones are made by Barbour and Belstaff. Old English companies. The main difference in quality is the timing when the cotton thread is waxed. The good ones are waxed before weaving, the cheaper versions are waxed after weaving.
The abrasion protection with cotton is very limited, the impact protection is achieved with inner padding. Because of the very traditional style of this gear the protection is limited.
Leather is the typical material for motorbike gear and still used in racing. It is still the best material to prevent injuries caused by slides. And this is what is most likely on racetracks and on highways.
The impact protection is achieved by internal exchangeable padding.
Another advantage for highway use and high speed is the fact that it is more rigid and will not cause you any problems by moving in the wind.
A disadvantage is the leck of good ventilation. If it is hot you will sweat in this gear.
These are the material modern motorbike jackets are made of and the most versatile.
Motorbike traveller and touring riders will probably choose this version. I know almost no one in the travelling scene who is not using this combination.
The gear is made of different materials to combine the advantages. Slide and crash sensitive parts are made of more rigid material, other parts are made of mash or other fabric that gives you ventilation or more space to move.
The amount of versions on Cordura jackets it huge. Here it is possible to offer the highest versatility in use.
Often they are copying the Rallye design of the 1970s and 80s jackets. Ventilations, pockets, ticket pockets, map or glove pockets on the back. You name it and to be honest, they look the best, too.
For this trip I choose the Rukka Rough Road combination.
The outer fabric is pretty dense but has no membrane. So it gives you good ventilation in hot areas without keeping you unprotected when it is a little chilly.
The crash sensitive areas are enforced and the padding, that Rukka is using is one of the best on the market.
Thankfully I had no serious crashes with this gear and I hope that I will keep it this way. All small incidents were covered by this gear perfectly.
Advantages of this gear:
- The very good material mix of rigid and light materials
- Good ventilation
- Leather on the inside of your legs gives you protection for hot exhausts and better grip when riding upright
- Good and enough 3M reflective material
- Visible but still "dirt-resistant" colour
- Lots of good details
- 2 waterproof Gore-Tex pockets
- Removable Gore-Tex collar
- Suspenders at the pants
But I also had some problems with it.
- The front zipper is to fragile and is not covered.
- The combination with the waterproof inner jacked (that on itself is great) is not my favorite.
(see My Rain Layer)