many of you will be
aware by now that a few months ago I had an opportunity to
test my protective clothing, as well as to demonstrate how
well a GSX-R 750 survives a high speed crash. Being a man
of science, the rather random nature of the test appalls me.
But, in fairness, it's about as real-world testing as you'll
get. Seeing as it was in the real world and all that...
So, to save you trawling back through
the site to find out more, the accident took place on a track
day at Mallory Park in Leicestershire. About halfway round
a right hander (Gerrard's for those who know the place) I
managed to highside at somewhere over 120mph. I landed on
my right elbow, left hand and head, to put the kit damage
into context. But how did it all do?
Arai RX7XX Corsair
Arai was the newest piece of kit I had with me at just a month
old. The previous one also got crash tested though at far
slower speed, and came out very well indeed. This one took
the initial impact on the right side and then, I think, got
scraped along the road as I tried to stay stable and avoid
tumbling. The lacquer finish is scrubbed off, the top gel
coat is gone in two places and the inner structure is clearly
visible. That's it. The shell didn't crack or distort, the
visor stayed on and the side pods remained intact. I suffered
no head or neck injuries though I was knocked about sufficiently
to punch enormous great holes in my memory for a while. That's
all sorted out now, anyway, and I'm as back to normal as I
will ever be...
While this is a new helmet, my last
two have both lasted over four years before going the way
of all sacrificial headgear. The removable, washable lining
certainly makes a huge difference to the time you can use
a helmet before it gets just too horrible to put your head
in. And the build quality means that things like strap fastenings
and visor mounts, both of which get a lot of use in a helmet
that's worn for maybe eight hours a day, continue to function
I can't recommend this helmet highly
enough. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, there are quieter helmets
out there on the market. And yes, there may even be some better
looking ones, though that's down to personal taste. But it
simply shrugged off a very big impact so easily that I would
almost consider continuing to use it. I know, I know. Don't
write in saying I mustn't, it's just a turn of phrase. But
it's a great lid nonetheless, and there's no way that I will
entrust my brains to anything else.
Dainese Tattoo 2 piece
over five years old, these are the joint oldest items I was
wearing. To be honest, while I love the style and fit of Dainese
gear, I've long harboured my doubts about their crash-worthiness.
To the extent that I have seriously thought about replacing
them, even though they are far from worn out. There's nothing
to put my finger on, just things other people have said about
build quality and the like, and a sneaking suspicion that
something this comfortable can't really be that protective.
I was mistaken. And then some. My leathers
obviously bore the brunt of the impact, the first point of
contact being my right elbow, and then put up with my sliding
some considerable distance at a fair speed on both tarmac
and grass. The right elbow has a small tear in the leather
on top of the moulded armour, but there was no risk of skin
touching the ground as the armour shell is still in place
and securely retained. A couple of seams have popped around
the right shoulder but they all have leather under them so
my soft pink bits stayed off the road and protected. There
is some fairly extensive scuffing on the back, which is no
big surprise, and the decorative bits on the back are looking
decidedly the worse for wear. But there are those who would
say that this all just gives the suit a bit more character.
they did the job brilliantly and could easily be repaired,
I'd need advice before using them again. Why? Because the
leather has been worn rather thin in places and I'm concerned
that if I were to do something like this again (I don't plan
to but you never know) then I might find that I wear right
through the suit. Which would be a Bad Thing.
So an unreserved thumbs up for the suit in terms of protection
but a question mark over longevity. Mind you, five years very
intensive use is pretty good going anyhow, so I'd not consider
that a criticism. They fit well, are comfortable as anything
and look good. OK, that last bit is rather subjective. But
I do think they look good. They've also proven themselves
to be as protective as I could reasonably want, so overall
I'd still recommend them, or their equivalent as I believe
Dainese no longer make this style, for serious consideration.
These gloves were among the first products we ever tested,
and I was so impressed that I hung onto them and have used
them, quite literally, every day since they arrived with us.
They are by far the most comfortable gloves I have ever worn
and are thin enough to give plenty of feel while being armoured
and reassuringly solidly put together. Putting tape over the
vents on the back proved sufficient to winterproof them and
allow me to use them all through the year with the addition
of some silk undergloves. So on that basis alone they are
we wear gloves for protection, not just from the elements
but from injury. And on that front, these gloves performed
fantastically well. At least a third of the initial impact,
and probably rather more, was taken by my left hand. The impact
was sufficient to break the scaphoid bone in my wrist - it's
actually the small bone at the base of the thumb that acts
as a spacer to keep all the little bits in place. Impacts
like this are a tossup. If the angle is right then you break
the scaphoid. If it's wrong then you break the forearm instead.
Kind of Hobson's choice, really. Anyway, it was a big bang,
from which lesser gloves would have simply fallen apart. That
would have given me the added pleasure of having to be helped
to the toilet for a few months while my hands healed.
Happily. though, that wasn't the case
here. The sum of all my hand injuries was the aforementioned
scaphoid, which doesn't really count, and a small nick on
the back of one finger, the origin of which I'm really not
sure about. The gloves burst a few seams and the palm padding
on the left is partly detached. But that's the lot. No pink
bits touched the road and, though I was sore and bruised,
my hand function was unaffected. In fact, the fractured scaphoid
didn't even show up for two weeks. Impressed? Let's just say
that I'll be getting some more as soon as I possibly can...
Comfortable as you like and worn just about every day since
we got hold of it to test right at the beginning of MBT. Took
the full impact and then had me sliding along on it at high
speed. Not a mark to my back or shoulders. In short, it took
and swallowed everything I threw at it. Or should I say everything
I threw it at. What more could I ask?
Boots: Sidi Vertebra
It's surprising how much of a battering your feet get in
a high speed spill. Even if they don't get caught under the
bike, it's highly likely that one or other will strike the
ground fairly hard, and you also have the potential for banging
them against each other - a favourite for chipping ankles.
And, like hands, feet are full of very small, not very strong
bones and lots of delicate tendons. They take a very long
time to heal, hurt like Hell when you break them and are extremely
difficult to immobilise effectively while they're getitng
better. Plus, in case you hadn't considered it, a broken foot
is very difficult to walk on so you end up completely helpless
until you're fit again.
I was, and am, very grateful to Sidi for producing some boots
that, even after five years heavy use, took the battering
and absorbed it all themselves. Yes, I ended up with a bruise
on my left foot. I have no idea from what, but if I had to
guess I'd say it was from hitting the track on landing. The
Lorica outer casing of my boots is rather more scuffed than
before and in a couple of places the red is rather closer
to pink as the colouring has been worn away. And that's it.
I'm still wearing them and not worried about it. Now if I
could just figure out how to stop them squeaking...
So there we are. A complete
rundown of the kit I was using when I crash tested it. We'd
be very interested to hear both your own experiences of (ab)using
bits of kit and your suggestions for what I should replace
things with. So please do get in touch.