The best moto gear turns heads when you fly by, it feels good, fits right and steps up to save your sorry ass when shit goes south, which shit almost certainly will at some point, be it a tree stump or car door or greasy tram lines or crumbly berm or unexpected cow pat on a tight bend, or – point made – stacks happen, even to the most experienced riders.
We recently spent the evening with Professor Chris Hurren, the scientist behind MotoCap testing, to demystify the science of protective gear and lift the lid on marketing propaganda. Chris is a lifelong rider who puts a heck of a lot of miles on his machines and practices what he preaches down to the last stitch. The questions on everyones lips were:
How to different brands stack up against each other?
What summer gear do you recommend?
What do the safety ratings actually mean?
How do you test the gear featured on MotoCAP?
Anyone can throw a leg over and rip on the gas but that takes no brains and no one else really cares how loud your pipes are or how quick you make it off the lights. The most undeniably badass thing we can think of is walking away from a slide or smash. Now, that might be the result of sheer luck, karmic credits, or advanced riding skills but a lot of the time you’re still standing ready to regale your mates with a cinematic frame-by-frame rundown of your stack because you had the right gear on to save your skin.
Everyone who showed up clearly got the MotoCAP memo because there was as many different varieties of gear on show as bikes out the front. We had technical textiles designed for off-road adventures in all weather, classic leather jackets in hefty cow hide and modern street savvy denim with hidden armour.
Proceedings kicked off with a bit of a shown ’n tell involving battle scars and tall tales of when good gear has prevented serious injury or fatality. It was like a casting call for extras for the beach landing in Saving Private Ryan and proof that while moto gear doesn’t guarantee you won’t get hurt, the right gear puts the odds in your favour of living to tell the tale.
A strong narrative that emerged over the course of the presentation went something like this: you don’t have to look like a goof or feel uncomfortable or even spend loads of money in order to be protected in your riding gear and we can prove it. Anyone who was worried the presentation might be too science-y or preachy was quickly put at ease as Chris was superb in his delivery of technical information and data analysis, which in the wrong hands could be exhaustive or confusing to the layman. However, his passion was abundantly evident and his explanations were crystal clear, prompting a lot of questions amongst the group, to the point where Randy started cooking up plans to craft his own line of bespoke jackets!
GREAT OCEAN RD RIDE: Chris suggested that if we wrangle a crew of around 20 he’d be happy to run a MotoCAP open day at his lab (exclusive to KK crew, separate to the existing open day on 19th March), which would double up as a good excuse for a weekend jaunt down the Great Ocean Rd. If we get enough interest, we’ll roll out the details on here and social media nearer the time.
A big eye opener for the group as whole was the piece around the different road surfaces across Australia, NZ and Europe, which a lot of us had never really considered. It was fascinating to learn about the relationship between impact and abrasion on different surfaces and we all took note of the fact that certain motorcycle-heavy routes in Victoria aren’t allowed to be graded with super coarse grit unless it’s a last resort, so it would seem the authorities have got our back too! The biggest revelation, however, was the discussion around the relatively tiny amount of extra effort manufactures would have to make to bump their gear up a level when it comes to MotoCAP certification, instead of cutting costs at our expense. Far from being dictatorial with his findings, Chris’s number one intention is to make it easy for manufactures to rate high on MotoCAP – all the information is out in the open and the first brands to proudly sport the MotoCAP swing tag in their garments will undoubtedly be market leaders.
Cheers Chris and thanks also to Wade from TAC who made all this possible with a pit-side introduction at the Philip Island MotoGP last year. High five as well to Jason Lau for taking the time to shoot some content, he’s a busy chap but always goes out of his way to check in with the Kommune crew, so thanks a lot mate!