When you’re shopping for motorcycle gear, it can be difficult to separate useful information from marketing copy. That’s why the folks at Bennetts Bike purchase the gear that they then independently test and speak to unaffiliated experts about—and clearly explain their testing methods, as well as the end result.
Take this test of motorcycle jeans in 2022, for example. The battle here is single-layer moto jeans versus lined ones, how safe they are in general, and how they stack up against leather. While most riders are probably aware that leather is usually the best protection, it’s not always what riders want to wear. Track days are one thing, but leather pants can definitely feel bulky and more than a little like overkill if you’re just heading out to run a few errands in your neighborhood.
So, how do those single-layer motorcycle jeans stack up against the lined ones? First things first: The slide times that some brands reference on their websites are unfortunately marketing, and not particularly useful to real-world rider applications, says Bennetts. Furthermore, their independent testing of at least one pair of jeans in this video showed a failure time that was less than half of what its own marketing campaign claimed as its slide time. While most bike gear shoppers in 2022 expect that any company worth its salt is trying to sell you on how great its own gear is, it just goes to show that those claims aren’t always borne out by the truth.
Bennetts also spoke to Dr. Chris Hurren, senior research fellow at Deakin University, and one of the masterminds behind Australia’s MotoCAP motorcycle gear safety testing authority. Through MotoCAP’s extensive testing, a few things have become crystal clear over time.
One important thing MotoCAP has learned is that armor really does make a difference in your gear—and not only on impact. The level of protection may significantly change, depending on whether there's armor underneath it. Additionally, a comfort base layer between your skin and your protective gear can help to prevent skin shearing injuries, should you crash.
In the U.K. and E.U., all motorcycle jackets, pants, and leathers sold must meet the EN 17092 safety standards. The available ratings for this standard in 2022 are, in order from least to most protective: B, A, AA, and AAA. Levels A through AAA must have armor as well as abrasion resistance, while level B may have good abrasion resistance but does not have armor. Those of us who ride outside of places where these gear safety standards are required by law still benefit from this testing because a lot of motorcycle gear is sold in multiple markets.
The conversation and information presented in this video is interesting and informative—and confirms once and for all that a) Some gear is better than no gear at all, even if it doesn’t have the absolute highest safety rating, and b) Regular denim jeans are no substitute for motorcycle jeans with some level of protection engineered into them. The best motorcycle gear for you is always the gear that you’ll wear. Good information can help us all make the best decisions for ourselves, and maybe even help us point other riders in the right direction for their needs, too.