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Protection

Frequently Asked Questions

What is MotoCAP?

MotoCAP, or the Motorcycle Clothing Assessment Program, is a consumer information program designed to provide riders with scientifically-based information on the relative protection and comfort on a range of motorcycle protective jackets, pants and gloves available in Australia and New Zealand.

Who are the MotoCAP member organisations?

MotoCAP is run by a consortium of government agencies, private organisations and motorcycle stakeholders. Current members are:

  • Transport for NSW
  • State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA)
  • VicRoads
  • Transport Accident Commission (TAC)
  • Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV)
  • Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR)
  • Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC)
  • Lifetime Support Authority (LSA)
  • Motor Accident Commission of South Australia (MAC)
  • Western Australian Police: Road Safety Commission
  • Department of State Growth
  • Insurance Australia Group (IAG)
  • Australian Motorcycle Council
  • Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

Why aren’t motorcycle helmets and boots rated?

Unlike motorcycle clothing, motorcycle helmets must comply with a specified standard to be sold in Australia and New Zealand, setting a minimum level of safety.

Motorcycle helmets are rated under Australia's Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets, which is supported by some of the same organisations that support MotoCAP. Ratings and results can be found on the CRASH website.

Boots are not included in the initial roll out of MotoCAP but may be tested in the future.

What is tested in the protection rating?

MotoCAP tests the materials and construction of garments on the three key factors necessary to protect a rider from injury:  impact abrasion resistance, seam strength (burst), and impact energy absorption.

Abrasion-resistant materials are essential to protect your skin and muscles when you slide on the road. Seams and fastenings must remain intact as abrasion resistance is only effective if the garment holds together during a crash. Impact protectors, or body armour, are also required for the most exposed parts of the body (shoulders, elbows, hips and knees), which are most at risk from direct impact forces in a crash. Further details on our test methods are available in testing explained.

Will wearing five-star rated gear prevent me from getting injured?

Riders wearing motorcycle protective clothing are less likely to be seriously injured and less likely to be hospitalised, but no clothing can guarantee full protection against all injuries. Motorcycle protective gear is designed to reduce the severity of the most common rider injuries, particularly from falling and sliding on the ground.

Effective gear will prevent or reduce the severity of abrasions, friction burns, cuts and lacerations, including having skin and muscle stripped from your body. The number of stars provides a comparison of how well specific garments resist the destructive forces in a crash.

Of all the garments tested, which is the safest?

The number of stars for protection indicates how well a garment will perform in a crash, but riders should consider all the information provided by MotoCAP before deciding which garment best suits their needs. Depending on your riding needs, it will be a balance between protection, thermal comfort and water penetration. Remember that being too hot or wet may affect your riding safety and increase the risk of crashing.

    WHAT EQUIVALENT TRAVEL SPEED are MOTOCAP GARMENTS TESTED TO?

    The performance of garments in crashes cannot be directly translated to an equivalent travel speed. Other risk factors, including the type of objects struck and forces in direct impacts to the rider’s body can affect the severity of injuries in a crash. The MotoCAP safety rating provides an indication of protection compared to other gear, so that under the same crash conditions, the gear with the most protection stars will mean a lower risk of injuries.

    WHY DO YOU TEST FOR COMFORT?

    Protective clothing can be uncomfortable in hot conditions because the materials used tend to have low vapour permeability, which prevents a rider’s sweat evaporating. The key for thermal comfort is for clothing to be breathable, allowing the body to expel excess heat.

    The evaporation of sweat is how the body maintains a stable core temperature. If sweat cannot escape, the level of humidity within the garment will increase, restricting the loss of excess body heat. Even relatively small increases in core body temperature can result in physiological heat strain with potential safety consequences for riders including distraction, fatigue, mood change, and reduced levels of attention and alertness.

    What does the comfort rating measure?

    MotoCAP tests for dry heat insulation and relative vapour permeability of garments. The comfort rating is based on how effectively a garment allows sweat to leave the body. Although the primary focus of comfort ratings is the suitability of the garment for use in a hot environment, breathability is also important in cold environments. Further details on the test methods are available in testing explained.

    Why isn’t the water resistance rating included in the comfort star rating?

    The comfort rating is based on a garment’s ability to allow sweat to evaporate away from a rider’s skin by passing though the material into the environment. It is relevant in all weather conditions, hot and cold, and is necessary for the physiological management of core body temperature.

    Water resistance is primarily concerned with protection from rain; it is a measure of a garment’s ability to prevent rainwater penetrating the material.

    The two measures are different and could not be combined into a single rating scale. Many garments are not designed for water resistance, so including their performance in the comfort rating would unfairly penalise garments designed for dry weather use only.

    The water resistance score is provided alongside comfort ratings to enable riders to make informed choices according to riding conditions and climate.

    Are the garments tested by MotoCAP the same as those available in shops?

    Yes. The garments used in MotoCAP tests are bought anonymously from stores and local online outlets available to riders across Australia and New Zealand. We test two of each jacket and pants and three pairs of gloves. Each test item is bought from a different outlet, with at least one of each being bought in a shop, and one online to ensure they come from different stock batches.

    How much of the market is covered by MotoCAP

    MotoCAP aims to test a minimum of 10 percent of the clothing market through random selection of gear available each year. Manufacturers and importers of gear may also commission MotoCAP to test their products.

    I’m interested in a particular product that doesn’t have a rating yet. What can I do?

    If you want a product rated, we suggest you contact the manufacturer or importer and request that they commission a MotoCAP rating of that product.

    Is there a minimum standard of protection that all motorcycle gear complies with?

    No. Motorcycle clothing sold in Australia is not required to comply with a minimum standard of protection.

    Is MotoCAP going to be a mandatory standard?

    There are no plans to make the MotoCAP testing a mandatory standard in Australia or New Zealand.

    How does MotoCAP compare with the European Standard?

    MotoCAP uses the same tests as those used in the current European Standards EN 13595-1:2002, EN 13594: 2002 and EN 1621-1:2012. While the current European standards use a simple pass/fail criterion, MotoCAP uses the actual test scores to scale star ratings so that consumers can make an informed decision by comparing similar products on their relative performance.

    MotoCAP is unique in also providing a thermal comfort rating, which is not included in the European standards for protective motorcycle clothing, but will help riders find clothing that is suited to our climate and riding conditions.

    Will changes to the European Standard affect MotoCAP?

    The adoption of a new standard for motorcycle clothing in Europe will not change the tests used as the basis for MotoCAP testing for the foreseeable future. These tests were adopted because they were developed and validated with data from real world crashes.

    How does MotoCAP compare with the Canstar rating of motorcycle garments?

    The Canstar rating is based on market research to determine public perceptions about particular brands of motorcycle clothing on a range of factors including their protection and comfort. The ratings are based on opinion rather than scientific evidence.

    The MotoCAP rating is based on tests conducted in controlled laboratory conditions and based on established standards. The ratings provide objective, repeatable results that may be used to compare relative performance of various garments. Discrepancies between Canstar and MotoCAP demonstrate that public perception may not be a reliable indicator of actual clothing performance.

    How do you identify which products to test?

    Products tested for MotoCAP are selected by conducting market surveillance to generate lists of each category of protective motorcycle clothing sold in Australia and New Zealand. Products are classified by type and material (e.g. leather jackets, textile jackets, denim pants, etc.). A computer program is used to randomly select products for testing from each class relative to their proportion in the overall market.

    Test garments are then randomly selected from stock by MotoCAP technicians to ensure test specimens represent those available to the general public.

    Manufacturers and importers are also able to commission MotoCAP to test their garments.

    When should I replace my gear?

    Gear should be replaced if it is showing any signs of aging. Leather has a longer life than textile garments, but impact protectors should be replaced every couple of years or after an impact. Textile deterioration could be indicated by significant discolouration of fabrics, discoloured seam threads, breaking of seams, difficult-to-operate zips and frayed or torn materials. Consider the amount of time that you have worn the clothing on-road, especially in hot and/or wet conditions, as both sun and water accelerate aging. Ensure that your garments are stored out of the weather and are never put away when wet or damp, which will also accelerate aging.

    Is it okay to buy my gear online?

    MotoCAP recommends trying on gear in a store before you buy to ensure it fits and is comfortable to wear in a riding position according to your type of motorcycle. This also allows you to check that the impact protectors are the correct size, fit over the relevant part of your body and cannot be moved out of position in a crash.

    If you decide to purchase online, check the returns policy in case the gear is not a good fit.

    How do I decide if my gear is a good fit?

    Clothing is generally made to a series of sizes, from small to large, but the actual fit of a garment will vary according to your shape and different brands.

    Try gear on over the clothing you would typically wear while riding, and ensure you are comfortable in the riding position and can walk, bend over, climb stairs and crouch comfortably. Check for fabric bunching behind the knees and in your elbows, as this will cause pressure and discomfort while riding.

    Clothing that is too tight in any area will become uncomfortable and may restrict blood flow causing loss of feeling. Clothing that is too loose can billow and flap, which is not only a distraction, but can also make you tired, and may cause chilling by forcing warm air away from your body. Check for straps that allow the fit of garments to be adjusted to your body. Straps should be on the inside of arms or legs or under the arms on jackets to avoid the areas where they would be most exposed and torn off in a crash.

    A jacket must fit snugly across your shoulders to ensure the impact protectors stay in place. However, for some riders a jacket that fits their shoulders will have sleeves that are too long, short or wide, so the elbow protectors are not in the correct place or will not stay in place, in which case you should choose a different jacket. Similarly, avoid pants that are too loose or ride low on your hips, as these can be dragged down or off in a crash. Check that the impact protectors fit over your hips and knees and cannot be pulled out of position.

    Fit is also important for gloves. Make a fist to ensure material does not bunch in the palm or fingers. Check that you can operate all the controls freely. There should be room at the tip of each finger when you are gripping the handlebar. Check that you can adjust your helmet while wearing the gloves. Gloves should have fastenings at the wrists that will prevent the gloves from being pulled off. If they can be pulled off your hands, don’t buy them.

    I find it hard to find suitable women’s clothing. Should I wear men’s gear instead?

    The choices for women are limited, so if it fits, then it is fine – or just a matter of fashion. The same basic rules apply with either women’s or men’s clothing: make sure that impact protectors can be adjusted into position to cover shoulders, elbows, knees and hips. Look for products that are designed to be versatile for different shaped bodies by providing adjustable straps. Straps should be on the inside of arms or legs or under the arms on jackets to avoid the areas where they would be most exposed and torn off in crash.

    Is second hand clothing acceptable?

    Second hand clothing may be perfectly fine to wear, but check carefully for crash damage or signs of degradation. Look for scuffing, tears or damage that may have been caused from contact with a road surface. Also look for signs of aging such as material discolouration and discoloured or damaged seams that may reduce protection levels of the clothing. Always replace the impact protectors with the best quality you can find. Impact protectors are like helmets and can suffer from compression damage that is not visible to the naked eye, but will reduce protection.

    Blurred Motorcyclist

    The testing process

    Find out how MotoCAP tests gear for ratings.