Motorcycle protective clothing: Protection from injury or just the weather?

  • Published: Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43, 1893-1900, 2011
  • Authors: L. de Rome, R. Ivers, M. Fitzharris, W. Du, N. Haworth, S. Heritier, and D. Richardson
  • Date Added: 08 Mar 2014
  • Last Update: 08 Mar 2014
  • Format: html


To examine the association between use of motorcycle protective clothing and risk of injury in crashes.


A 12 month prospective cohort study of motorcycle crashes was conducted from June 2008. Participants were n=212 riders/passengers, aged 17-70 years, involved in motorcycle crashes. The study was conducted in Australia. Participants completed a face-to-face interview approximately 2 weeks after the crash, and self-reported injury data was used for the analysis.

Key Findings:

  • Almost all participants wore helmets (98.6 per cent), motorcycle jackets (82.5 per cent) and motorcycle gloves (87.3 per cent). Less than half wore motorcycle pants (34.9 per cent) and motorcycle boots (38.2 per cent), and approximately a quarter wore other heavy boots (25.9 per cent).

  • The most common injuries were cuts, abrasions and bruises followed by sprains, mostly to the upper torso. Hospital records showed a close correspondence with injury reports obtained at interview.

  • Overall, riders were significantly less likely to be admitted to hospital if they crashed while wearing a motorcycle jacket, motorcycle pants, or motorcycle gloves. The effect of motorcycle boots on hospitalization was not significant.

  • Motorcyclists wearing motorcycle protective clothing fitted with body armour were significantly less likely to sustain injuries to the protected areas compared to those wearing non-motorcycle clothing (23 per cent lower risk of injury associated with motorcycle jackets, 45 per cent for motorcycle gloves and 45 per cent for motorcycle boots.

  • The risk of any foot or ankle injuries was reduced by 53 per cent by non-motorcycle boots when compared to shoes or trainers, a risk reduction similar to motorcycle boots.

  • There was a significant reduction in the risk of any soft tissue injuries (including bruises, abrasions, cuts and lacerations) associated with all forms of motorcycle clothing fitted with body armour.


Motorcycle, rider, passenger, protective clothing, injury, relative risk.


Study conducted in Australia.