Motorcycle apparel is just another sector directly effected by rapid advancements in materials and technology.
The days of "a leather jacket & kevlar jeans" being the go-to option for every rider are now behind us. Don't take that the wrong way, we love a leather jacket just as much as the next rider, but it's not always the best option.
In fact, as a road rider it’s generally not the best option thanks to advances in the way textiles are woven, garments are constructed and armour is integrated new and old riders are faced with options that reduce fatigue and discomfort without sacrificing safety. You can read more about layering and comfort on the bike here.
So, step one is understanding how motorcycle garments are rated. In the case of all our products, they are tested under the European CE Certification. You can read more about how that works here.
So, this all sounds great but what are these mystery materials. Let’s start with the one we’ve all heard of.
Aramid fibres are a light weight, strong and tough polymer fibre, the most popular of the Aramid fibres in motorcycle apparel to date is definitely Kevlar. This fibre was made popular by DuPont and is used in a range of industries from Military, Motorsports and even in construction.
Generally speaking, Aramids like Kevlar are used as a secondary liner inside a pair of jeans made from traditional denim. When built well, these jeans will also feature stronger and more foolproof stitching and construction as well as a reduction in catch points externally. In most cases this will be used solely in high impact zones as a complete liner can be too hot or restrictive.
Companies have now learnt to work around this by combining aramid fibres with other fibres to create hybrids that excel in warmer climates. I’ll talk more about that below.
Dyneema, Armalith & UHMWPE
The most hyped abrasive resistant material of the last few years is definitely Dyneema, and with good reason. So what is Dyneema, it is extruded UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) that is then woven with cotton fibres to make an incredibly abrasive resistant denim.In high quality garments, like the Pando Moto Men’s Steel 02 & Women’s Kissaki the ratio is approximately 25% UHMWPE.
Armalith shares a similar composition as Dyneema however the weave is quite different. Strands of UHMWPE are extruded and are spiral wound with cotton, this wound cotton is then woven into denim. This difference in spiral winding allows for a different garment feel and an integration of more Elastene for increased stretch.
This year has also seen UHMWPE find its way to market outside of Dyneema & Armalith through products like Pando Moto’s Shell Top and Skin Leggings a base layer of Lycra mixed directly with UHMWPE. In this case the ratio of UHMWPE is as high as 65% as the garment is much thinner and more flexible.
An absolute staple of single layer riding garments, Cordura sees a fibre of cotton that is woven directly with Nylon strands in order to deliver a material with a very similar feel to traditional denim but with substantially increased abrasion resistance. Manufacturers like Pando Moto have taken it one step further in jeans like the Robby and have added Coolmax into their denim mix giving you a protective garment that has an incredible ability to draw moisture out and allow airflow into the garment.
The first of our “hybrid” materials, XTM is the modern take on the traditional “dual layer” kevlar jean. Utilised as a secondary layer inside garments like John Doe’s Jackets & Jeans it is made up of a 50/50 combination of Dupont Kevlar and Coolmax.
Due to its superior comfort vs traditional Kevlar, this liner is soft to the touch and doesn’t require the liner to be separated from the skin through a third mesh layer. Add to this that by separating it from the outer denim John Doe is able to use a denim with a much higher stretch level, this material leads to some of the most comfortable AA rated jeans on the market for men and women.
New for 2021, John Doe has created its latest advancement in XTM Mono. Used in John Doe’s new AAA rated garments it is a combination of Cotton, Nylon & Aramid as well as some other goodies giving us a single layer denim that surpasses all expectations of comfort and protection! This is one you really need to see to believe.
Now that you know a bit more about these materials, take a look through the range of riding gear here at Rider Collective to find the garments that suit you best. If you’ve ever got any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to Nathan or Nico at email@example.com
So, why are we talking about layering.
“Shouldn’t I just be buying an all-season jacket, it has a waterproof liner and a thermal liner all in one garment?”
This is a question we get all too often from fellow riders here at R.Co, we thought we would take the time to explain the benefits of layering on the bike and you might be surprised to find some of what you need already in your wardrobe!
Before we get into the “nuts & bolts” of layering on a bike, I’ll start by saying there are many ways to approach layering and today I’ll just be covering the basic principles and providing some examples of how I use layering on the bike here in Australia. I’m based in Sydney but these principles are applicable anywhere, its just a matter of adjusting material weights to suit where you live!
If we simplify it, we are looking at three key layers. These layers are the base layer, the mid layer and lastly the outer layer.
Base Layer - Moisture Wicking & Core Temperature Control
Summer or Winter, base layers are your friend. In the warmer months they assist with pulling sweat away from your body and aid in evaporative cooling. In the cooler months, it keeps moisture off your skin and reduces that cold clammy feeling you might get with a cotton or polyester shirt.
You’ve got two main choices in base layer, Merino Wool or Synthetic. Synthetic is the cost effective choice as they are cheaper and last longer. However, Merino Wool is still my go-to choice, its big benefit is that it is naturally anti-bacterial and odour resistant which means its the better choice for those trips where carrying less matters.
These garments are available in different GSM’s (think of them as thicknesses), 150gsm is fantastic all year round in the northern end of Aus but stepping up to something 200-250gsm in the cooler months down south is often a great choice.
Now that we have covered the base layer, things get interesting. My approach to Mid Layer changes based on the time of year, so let’s see how it looks for me.
Think Lightweight. Think Breathable.
Mid Layer - Abrasion Resistance & Impact Protection
Generally speaking for the summer months, my mid-layer is actually my outer layer 90% of the time. This could be a vented textile jacket or a Motoshirt, anything that provides me with around CE AA protection and has level 1 protectors in it. I really want this garment to breathe and allow a healthy airflow whilst covering my protective needs.
Outer Layer - Wind and Water Control
In summer, this layer rarely comes out for me. A laminated waterproof or waxed cotton throw over that only comes out for 2 reasons.
- It’s raining sideways and I don’t want to get wet, quite self explanatory.
- Early morning departures and late night arrivals. Nothing worse than being out on a long ride and wishing you had something to knock off the wind chill. A throw-over is the answer. (If you don’t have specific motorcycle wet weather gear, use a sports/hiking wind stopper jacket over top in the mean time)
Time to rug up.
Mid Layer - Thermal / Insulation Boost
Now that it’s winter time, I am looking for a mid layer that is easy to take on and off throughout the day with a sole purpose of regulating my core temperature. In a lot of cases this will be a vest as I don’t struggle with cold arms but this may be a long sleeve merino jumper (250gsm+) or even a regular sweater for you.
Outer Layer - Abrasion, Impact, Wind and Water Control
Being winter, I am happy for my protective layer to be a little on the warmer side. This presents itself in a few different ways depending where I am headed and how long for but 90% of the time it will be a Motoshirt or Leather Jacket (I’ll change my mid layer based on which outer I have on).
These are both warm enough for the speeds I’ll be travelling at and although they don’t offer waterproofing (Motoshirt is actually Teflon coated but in heavy enough rain you’re getting wet) I can always throw a waterproof over the top.
The end result is that every day in the saddle is different, by locking yourself into a “do it all” jacket you’ll never be happy. Set yourself up with some good quality base layers, a mid layer or two and a couple of shirt / jackets and you’ll be unstoppable!
Now get out there and show us how you do layering.
Before we get started, put away the bleach, solvents and heavy cleaners, we won’t be needing them any time soon!
Caring for Textiles (Dyneema, Cordura, Aramid & XTM)
When it comes to looking after your textile clothing, be it a riding shirt or your latest riding jeans there can be a lot of misconceptions out there on how to look after them.
So, let’s look at the basics for these garments.
- Start by removing any armour that might be present in the garment, we don’t need this banging around in the washing machine.
- Always wash at 30 degrees celsius or cooler, exposing these garments to higher temperatures can impact their integrity.
- Always wash garments inside out, this can be done in a regular washing machine.
- Only use a small amount of liquid detergent. Avoid Powder Detergents, fabric softeners, stain removers and bleach as these can also impact the integrity of the garment and any surface treatments it may have.
- Always hang to dry (remaining inside out), no tumble drying! And avoid drying in direct sunlight.
- If your garment has a water resistant coating like Teflon or Goretex it is important to “re-activate” this post wash.
- Turn your garment back to right side out.
- Turn on an iron to a low/medium no steam setting. (Steam is not good for water-proof/resistant coatings)
- Place a towel or cloth between the garment and the iron.
- Iron the garment out without remaining stationary on any point for extended periods.
At some point in the garments life cycle, its water resistance will wear away. When this happens, DWR (Durable Water Repellency) sprays are available online and from outdoor / camping retailers and can be applied to restore the garments water repellency.
How to love your Suede.
What do you need?
- A Suede Brush (I personally love a brass bristled suede brush)
- A Suede Cleaning Block or Spray (Personal choice for removing spot stains)
- A Suede Waterproofing Spray
Caring for your Suede jacket starts from the moment it leaves the shop. Before you take your stunning new piece out on the road, there’s some foundations to be laid.
- Brush your jacket down with your trusty suede brush. This will dislodge any loose material on the surface of the jacket and make sure the nap is brushed in a nice direction.
- Apply your Suede waterproofing spray following the manufacturers direction.
- Breathe a sigh of relief knowing your investment is protected.
Now that your jacket has a base layer of protection, it’s important to keep an eye on the jacket and own its ageing process. (If you don’t like change, look away!)
If you’ve got bugs, dirt or general grit on your suede here’s what to do.
- Get your trusty Suede brush out and brush the whole garment down. Every time you tackle cleaning your Suede its patina will change, this is why its important to tackle the whole garment.
- If you’ve got any stubborn spots on the jacket reach for your cleaning block or cleaning spray. (Always test cleaners on a hidden section to see how it effects nap and colouration)
- Now that she’s looking stunning again, apply another coat of waterproofing and get out and enjoy!
Keep in mind if you don’t love the ageing process or want a garment that will always look the same, suede may not be the material for you. Embrace the change and own that sexy suede jacket!
How to love your Leather.
Caring for your leather garments can take a multitude of different approaches, and it’s about finding the one that works for you. The two main schools of thought for protection and waterproofing are wax (in my case beeswax) or spray on waterproofer.
No matter which way you decide to go for, the important thing is to start with a clean surface. In most cases a horsehair brush is a good starting point to loosen and remove any debris. If there’s anything further, try a damp cloth to remove the last of it.
The wax route.
- I’m a sucker for a beeswax based leather conditioner and wax combination.
- You’ve cleaned your leather boots up and they’re looking nice and tidy (or you’ve just pulled out your brand new babies!)
- Start off by lightly warming your boots with a hairdryer, if they were just cleaned this will ensure no remaining moisture on the surface of the boots and will open up the pores of the leather.
- Apply your wax with a soft cloth ensuring its gently rubbed into the leather. Work your way all over the boots, re-apply some warmth if needed.
- After a couple of coats have been applied, let them relax for at least an hour or so.
- This is where you get to choose your style, buff lightly or heavily based on the desired sheen and enjoy.
Your boots are now waterproof and moisturised and will love you for it, keep an eye on them and repeat this process as necessary. For me, that’s every 4-6 months but it will depend on what they’ve been exposed to.
The waterproofing spray route.
If you like the clinical approach, waterproofing spray is for you. Generally speaking it is easier to get right and is less art, more science.
- As with the wax route, its important to start with a clean and dry boot. If you’ve had to use a damp cloth to clean, use a hairdryer to ensure any moisture is gone.
- Hit the boots with your choice of Leather Waterproofing spray, there is plenty of options out there.
- If its their first application or you feel it’s needed, apply a second coat.
- Get out there and enjoy your boots!
Neither option is right or wrong, I love a softer and more aged looking leather and am willing to spend the time to develop this. If you’re looking for a no-fuss care approach, try the spray!
Either way, before you tackle your leather boots it is worth speaking with the shop you bought them from as they will often have a coating from the factory. In this case you may not need to re-visit water resistance until later down the track.
Here at Rider Collective, we are blessed to work with some absolute powerhouses in the European motorcycle apparel game, with a strong focus on modern abrasive resistant textiles and fibres.
But how can we be so comfortable in the product we sell? Simple, CE testing. A combination of Abrasion, Seam, Tear & Impact strength testing provides a clear case for the garment in question.
So, let's break it down.
Abrasion resistance test
Darmstadt method. This test simulates the stress that is placed on the protective garments when worn by an average rider with a body mass of 75kg and a height of 1.75m when sliding from variable initial speeds to a standstill on a real concrete road surface. To pass, no holes with an opening of 5mm or more in any direction are to be present on the layer closest to the body.
Strength of seams test
Three test pieces of each seam, including all layers of materials from the garment that are present in the stitching, are tested. The seam strength is calculated by dividing the braking force by the length of the tested seam.
Tear strength test
Six ‘trouser leg’ type specimens are taken from each material of the garment and are torn apart using a standard tensile test machine. Materials shall be tested in two directions – warp and weft.
Impact absorption test
Elbow, shoulder, knee and hip impact protectors are to be present in Class AAA and AA garments as a mandatory requirement, with the hip protectors being optional in Class A garments. Impact protectors must be positioned in the garment so that they cover the appropriate body part, according to the relevant impact protector standard. Class B garments are designed to provide the equivalent abrasion protection but without the inclusion of impact protectors.
Other required tests
Dimensional stability test
Fit and ergonomics
Thanks to the crew at Pando Moto for the fantastic illustrations and testing definitions.