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April 13, 2022 8 min read

Whether you've been riding for a while or you're just getting into motorcycling, you might have some questions about body armor. Where do you need it? How important is it? Do you have to wear it for every single ride?


The truth is that armor is one of the most important pieces of protective gear that you'll need. It's great if you have a nice helmet, jacket and pants for abrasion protection, but skipping out on armor would be a huge mistake.


We'll go through the ins and outs of body armor to make the buying process as simple as possible. Things like armor levels and all the different types of armor can seem overwhelming to the uninitiated, but really, it's much less complicated than things might seem at first.


You'll want to be as well informed as possible when buying any type of motorcycle gear. Making the right choice now could not only impact your long-term comfort and convenience on the road, but save you from a nasty and preventable injury.


Does Motorcycle Gear Need Armor?

When shopping for riding pants or jackets, make sure it either has armor built in, or at least includes armor pockets so you can add some in yourself. You'll need to wear some good armor to prevent certain types of injuries.

Basically, there are two major types of motorcycle injuries: impact and abrasion.

Abrasion is when you slide across the ground during a fall, which can feel like it lasts forever, and happens quite a lot.

Materials like Kevlar and Dyneema are designed to minimize the damage this can cause to your skin. Even a few seconds of asphalt slide can seriously grate your skin without good protective gear.


Impact injuries are where you'll need body armor. These are the injuries that will break, bruise and fracture bones, and have the most chance of causing permanent damage.

Impact, as the name suggests, is the force your body takes when you hit the ground at high speed. In these situations, your most fragile body parts are at major risk without the right gear.

Your joints in particular don't cope well against massive collisions. Hips, knees and elbows are in serious danger during a sudden collision.

Your helmet will hopefully take care of your head, but only proper body armor will keep these other sensitive areas protected.

Knee guards and a chest protector will give you even greater protection on the road, if you're extra serious about protection.

In many ways, wearing riding gear without armor is an exercise in futility. While you're still somewhat protected, your body remains at serious risk from permanent damage.

Even if it's just a quick ride, you're selling yourself short if you skip putting on some proper body armor.

winding mountainside road


Motorcycle body armor is one of the most important pieces of protective gear

Are Motorcycle Jacket Pads Universal?

For the most part, motorcycle body armor can be swapped between pieces of gear. In fact, the actual swapping is quite a simple process.

What's important to note is the sizing of the armor pockets. Most pieces of armor will fit into pockets just fine, but you should definitely double-check this before making a purchase.

A good way around this is to buy your gear and armor from the same place as your jacket or pants, so you know that it will fit.

If armor is integrated into the actual clothing then you may encounter some trouble. If your jacket has elbow pads or a back protector that is integrated into the fabric of the clothing, for example, you won't be able to swap it easily.

If you're happy to buy gear with integrated armor then go for it, but keep in mind that you'll want to get many years out of your riding clothes, and the option to upgrade might be nice sometime down the road.

Consumers will often look for armor that is cheap and light, and many manufacturers will cater to this demand, but often at the cost of protection. Investing in some sturdier armor now will not only give you the right protection but save you from having to make an upgrade at all.

D30 body armor is a popular choice of protective gear

 

Are Back Protectors Worth it?

You wouldn't think of getting on the bike without a helmet, and you should think of back protection on equal terms to head safety.

Although back protectors are seeing more use in recent years, they're still an often neglected piece of gear. Consider the importance of your spine, and the fact that an injury can cause not only paralysis but damage to your vital organs, and back protectors probably starts to sound more appealing, no matter what your riding style might be.

Back protectors will either be built into a jacket or more commonly purchased separately. They protect your spine against impact during a crash through shock absorption. For this to be most effective, it should be worn snug enough to not move around when you ride, but you don't want it to be uncomfortably tight either.

Generally, it's a good idea to stick with armor from the same place as your gear. This will give you the best chance of finding something that fits well. As for types of armor, look for something that covers a wide area of your back, feels reasonably comfortable and most importantly offers adequate protection.

D30 armor is a pretty solid all-round choice for back protection. It's designed to be light and flexible while you're riding, but becomes hard upon impact with the ground. It also has air flow technology, which is quite important, because certain armors can get quite hot.

Whichever back armor you go with, just make sure it will fit into your jacket beforeyou buy it.

person wearing saint unbreakable moto jeans bending over their bike

 

Do Motorcycle Protectives Work?

Motorcycling is tons of fun and gives you an unmatched sense of freedom, but the reality is that this enjoyment comes with an element of risk. According to Motorbiscuit, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to have a fatal accident than car drivers. So does protective gear actually make a difference?

In short, yes.

Head injuries are the leading cause of deaths in motorcycle crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that a helmeted motorcyclist is 40 per cent less likely to suffer a fatal head injury during a crash, and 15 per cent less likely to suffer a non-fatal injury.

It's important to pick the right gear for the road. Having a helmet is great, but the type of helmet can make a big difference. An open-face or three-quarter helmet will not protect your chin and forehead, where 66% of helmet impacts occur, whereas a full-face helmet will provide that critical protection.

Proper motorcycle pants are a somewhat neglected piece of gear, but the abrasion protection they provide is huge. The Motorcycle Council of NSW says that four out of five motorcycle casualties (81%) have injured their legs while a third have broken bones (32%).

Surprisingly, there is actually more risk of injury to the legs than the upper body in a crash. Ordinary denim only has 0.6 seconds of abrasion resistance on the road, so you'll want a proper pair of motorcycle jeans to protect your skin. Sa1nt Jeans, for example, are made of Dyneema which is stronger than a normal carbon fiber, and have an AA rating for impact abrasion resistance.

Our crash stories are a testimony to the effectiveness of proper motorcycle gear. No matter what type of rider you are, when worse comes to worse, you'll be glad you have it on. 

Good riding pants can be fitted with body armor in the hips and knees

 

Is D3O Armor Good?

Good body armor should be comfortable, concealable and strong. D30 is a great combination of these factors. It's a high density foam that's thin and flexible as well as being CE certified.

D30 armor is made with unique, intelligent materials that respond to your body movements. It remains soft while you're riding but turns hard upon impact.

This is made possible by molecules that flow freely when you're moving slowly -like taking off your jacket or bending your knees- but turn hard during a sudden collision to absorb impact.

D30 is used for a range of capacities, including sports, industrial and defence applications. The unique combination of its' light weight and solid protection has garnered broad appeal.

You may see it referred to as 'ghost armor', because the design is so thin and breathable that you may forget that you're even wearing it.

So is it worth buying, or swapping out for your old armor? If you're looking for good protection but also concerned with comfort, then this is the stuff for you. D30 is also fairly concealable, so you can avoid those bulky lumps under your riding clothes.

You can read more about its benefits and applications on their website. Sa1nt offers D30 armor both as a back protector and sets for limb protection, which are CE certified for ambient and wet weather conditions. 

The best motorcycle r is light and flexible while still keeping you protected

 

Do Motorcycle Jackets come with Armor?

Most motorcycle jackets will either have armor integrated into the actual clothing, or include armor pockets so that it can be added separately. It is highly recommended that you don't buy a jacket if it doesn't include either of these.

More often than not, you'll find that jackets will include armor pockets rather than building it into the jacket. This actually has a few benefits, such as being able to upgrade your armor as needed and personalizing it to your specific needs.

It's always best to buy motorcycle body armor from the same manufacturer that you've bought your gear. This will ensure that it fits correctly, and they'll most likely complement each other.

Sa1nt's range of pants and jackets for men and women are ideally fitted with D30 Ghost Armor. Our gear is designed to be both tough and fashionable, and a slim armor like D30 is great for reducing those unwanted bulges that thicker gear can sometimes create.

 man revving motorbike engine in the dirt

CE Rating and CE Level in Motorcycle Armor

When it comes to motorcycle body armor, the safety ratings can be a little bit daunting. Don't worry about decrypting those lengthy armor codes too much. We'll go over what exactly you'll need to know when deciding on your protective gear, and what those rating levels actually mean.

CE Rating

CE stands for Conformité Européene, which translated means European conformity. If a piece of riding gear has these letters, it means that it has been approved according to European motorcycle safety standards.

Any item of motorcycle protective gear must comply to these standards before it can be sold. Proof of compliance means that the gear must be independently tested and certified. The manufacturer is then issued with a CE label that lists the rating and level of the gear.

There are three types of CE ratings:

CE Tested: This means that a manufacturer has tested either the whole gear or just a piece of it in their own facility, but not in a certified testing facility to meet officially accredited standards

CE Certified: A step up. This means that samples of the gear were tested in a certified testing facility.

CE Approved: Several parts of the gear were tested in certified facilities and meet or surpass the required standards in all zones.

While CE approved is obviously the gold standard, you'll be fine grabbing anything that is at least CE certified. Most pieces of armor will state the CE rating.

CE Level

When you look up the en european rating of body armor, you'll be confronted with a big number like this:EN1621-2:2014

You don't need to worry about deciphering those so take a deep breath. Most of those numbers are things you will probably already know like what part of the body the armor protects. The four numbers at the end are the year the rating was given. What you need to look out for is the CE rating, as mentioned above, and the CE level.

Motorcycle armor can be defined as being either level 1 or level 2 protectors, otherwise known as the CE level. Level 2 will offer you more protection, but you'd be fine with a level 1. There are some racing tracks that require you to wear certain standards of armor, so check first if you're planning to visit one.

Sa1nt's D30 Ghost Armor is certified by CE standards.