Leathers Second To Helmets In Safety Survey

Leathers Second to Helmets in Safety Survey

July 18, 2012

Stan Lengele was cruising in the outside lane of a wet Oregon highway back in December 2001. He was on his 1982 1100 Goldwing that he had fully adorned with light bars, tree lights and spindle lights.

Despite his attempts at improving his conspicuity with the added lights, an automobile driver on the inside lane failed to see Stan, and moved into his lane. He was forced to lay his bike down that resulted in his landing nearly 100 feet further down the highway against a concrete rail.

In his survey response, Stan recalled: "I was wearing my leather chaps, my leather jacket, covered with a snow riding suit, riding boots and winter riding gloves and of course my helmet. When I laid my bike down I pushed my self off tucked and rolled..."

"I had very little road rash. My helmet was torn up, my gloves torn up and my boots torn up. The ambulance driver and the police were talking about how lucky I was, that I should of been dead. I was taken to the hospital with a sprained arm and five broken ribs. My gear and my training saved my life."

With safety being a number one concern for motorcyclists, Eagle Leather recently ran a survey asking Eagle Leather Riding Community Members what they felt was the most important piece of gear after their helmets. 48% said that it was their leather jacket, with 26% indicating armored and 22% indicating non-armored styles. Here are the totals:

  • 26% Armored leather jacket
  • 22% Non-armored leather jacket
  • 17% Armored textile jacket
  • 17% Riding boots
  • 13% Reflective piping or tape
  • 2% Knee & Shin armor
  • 2% Leather full-legged chaps
  • 2% Neck brace

This trend in biker perceptions is embraced by many organizations that are involved professionally with motorcycles. They advocate that riders should wear appropriately armored leather or Kevlar jackets that fit well and feel good. They also suggest that they have the ability to expand (to accommodate more under-clothing in colder temperatures) with vents to increase comfort in warm weather.

Sure, we've heard that before, but when you have big companies like Motorcycle Safety Info, most insurance companies and others all advocating the benefits of appropriate jackets, it makes you feel pretty good about your choices. Here's what Esurance* says about gear:

Wearing the appropriate gear — jacket, pants, gloves, and boots — is absolutely essential to your safety when you ride. While motorcycle gear comes in a variety of durable fabrics, leather is the toughest and the most ideal.

Leather pants or chaps and a leather jacket will protect most of your body against road rash (or worse!) in case of an accident. Leather boots with good traction and protective gloves are also a must. If you ride in the heat a lot, buy a jacket with zippered vents so that you can remain cool (and safe) at all times.


So it is no big surprise that, of those surveyed, 75% said they owned non-armored or armored leather and armored textile jackets. It does, however, make you wonder what the other 25% are wearing? Here are some of the results on what ELRC members own:

  • 75% Leather full-legged chaps
  • 55% Non-armored leather jacket
  • 53% Riding boots
  • 51% Armored textile jacket
  • 36% Armored textile pants
  • 35% Non-armored textile pants
  • 31% Armored leather jacket
  • 18% Reflective piping or tape

What are Eagle Leather's thoughts on this survey? With safety the a-number-one concern for riders, it is a good thing to see so many donning leather, armored leather or armored textile jackets. It also looks like many own multiple jacket types, which may indicate people are geared for changing weather, or maybe just a change in gear style.

Fewer have invested in riding boots, but this survey did not go so far as to ask folks what they wore if riding boots were not their first choice. Our thoughts: your feet are vulnerable too, perhaps more than any other part of your body. Hot pipes and accidental touch downs might be more of a threat to the individual over and above an accident. Be sure to protect your feet, and invest in appropriately rugged and protective footwear!

Although we asked about ownership of things like added armor (elbow/arm, spine, shoulder, knee & shin, hip, thigh, chest), armored leather pants, Kevlar lined under-gear and neck braces, less than 15% of survey participants said they owned any of these items (16% owned elbows/arm armor).

But what really surprised us was the 18% that registered having reflective piping or tape. Our thoughts are that increasing your conspicuousness is a good thing and that reflective piping or tape is an easy way to enhance your visibility. But there must be a reason so few have invested in this helpful material. Help us understand your thoughts on reflective tape by posting a comment on our Facebook page: why do you think reflective tape or piping is a good thing? Why haven't you purchased a jacket with reflective piping or why have you not applied reflective strips on your jacket?

In the meantime, Eagle Leather remains committed to your safety. If you have any questions about how your gear can help improve your riding experience, just ask!

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