MotoCAP safety ratings assess how well garments protect a motorcyclist in a crash, based on impact protection, burst resistance and abrasion resistance.
Test results are weighted to emphasise the need for greater protection in high risk areas as outlined in the diagram below.
Impact protectors reduce the energy transferred from an impact to your body. They should protect the most exposed areas from high-energy impacts in a crash and cover the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders.
To be effective in a crash, impact protectors should:
- Provide adequate attenuation of energy
- Be correctly sized and positioned to provide protection over vulnerable parts of the body
- Remain in place during a crash.
Impact protector scores include an assessment of size, position and how well the fastenings prevent displacement. Garments are fitted to a human model to measure the positioning and maximum displacement of the protectors.
Impact protectors are removed from the garment to measure energy attenuation and placed over a rigid metal hemispherical anvil connected to a force transducer. A 5kg flat-faced impactor is then dropped from 1m onto the impact protector, simulating an impact speed of about 16km/h.
Garments must remain intact if they are to provide effective protection in a crash. MotoCAP burst resistance scores are weighted to reflect the importance of high quality seams, which must endure greater loads in a crash than other parts of the garment.
A sample of the material that includes a seam cut from the garment is stretched and clamped over a diaphragm-bursting test apparatus. Fluid is gradually pumped under the diaphragm, causing it to expand against the seam. The test ends when the seam bursts or the maximum test pressure is reached. The maximum pressure reading determines the burst resistance score.
This test measures how long the material used in a motorcycle garment could slide along a road surface before being worn away, exposing the rider’s skin to injury.
A test specimen is wrapped around a solid metal block on an arm, which is dropped onto an abrasive belt moving at a fixed speed of about 28 km/h. When a hole forms in the material a fine copper wire underneath is exposed, which triggers the end of the test and records the time taken for the material to fail.
The overall level of abrasion resistance is weighted according to known levels of impact-abrasion risk for different zones of the body. The scores for abrasion resistance are based on tests conducted on the materials sourced from all areas of coverage and weighted according to the level of risk.
Comfortable gear is critical for riders to avoid thermal stress, which can increase the risk of crashing. MotoCAP comfort star ratings are based exclusively on thermal comfort, with a separate rain-protection score for wet weather gear.
Thermal comfort is subjective and varies from person to person. Riders who are unable to maintain a stable core temperature have been found to experience cognitive impairment, slower reaction times, fatigue and mood deterioration, all of which can increase the risk of crashing.
Perspiration allows the human body to maintain a stable core temperature. Clothing that restricts sweat evaporating may cause a rider's core temperature to rise, with the related increase in crash risk. Sweat also needs to evaporate in cool weather, as moisture vapour building up inside clothing can condense and make the rider feel cold or wet, potentially reducing their core temperature.
MotoCAP provides a thermal comfort score based on the Relative Vapour Permeability Index. Gear with higher scores provides better insulation and allows sweat to evaporate through the material.
A moisture vapour resistance test measures how easily sweat can escape through material, allowing the rider to regulate their body temperature. The test uses a temperature-controlled cabinet (35 degrees and 40 percent humidity) with a sweating hotplate covered by a membrane that simulates human skin. A sample of the garment is placed over the hotplate. Heated water is injected into the hotplate, mimicking sweat forming on a rider’s skin. As the ‘sweat’ passes through the fabric to escape to the environment, more ‘sweat’ will be created to maintain the hotplate temperature. The level of ‘sweat’ that travels through the fabric is measured by monitoring the energy required to heat the hotplate. Clothing that allows ‘sweat’ to pass through requires greater energy in testing, as more heated ‘sweat’ is produced to replace what evaporated.
A thermal resistance (dry heat) test measures how well garment materials insulate a rider. Insulation is measured on the same device using a dry plate (20 degrees and 65 percent humidity). Like the wet test, the clothing sample is laid over the hotplate and the amount of energy required to maintain the temperature of the underlying skin membrane is measured. Low energy to maintain the hotplate temperature means that the clothing insulates well and would be suited to a cold environment. High energy to maintain the temperature means that the clothing has low insulation and is more suitable for a hot day.
Water can enter a garment either through the material or through poorly constructed seams, closures or vents. Gear advertised as water resistant is tested for its ability to prevent water penetration. The results are provided alongside comfort star ratings and enable riders to make an informed decision when choosing gear appropriate for specific weather conditions.
The water protection test method is designed to assess a garment’s fitness for use in wet conditions. The score is based on the amount of water that enters the protective clothing and wets the underclothing of a test dummy.
The test uses a manikin dressed in long cotton underwear (with cotton gloves and socks) under a complete set of riding gear, including helmet, gloves and boots. The manikin is seated on a motorcycle in cruiser-riding position and exposed to twenty minutes of high pressure water spray aimed at the motorcycle’s headlight. The spray simulates a rider’s exposure while riding in heavy rain. The underwear is weighed before and after testing to determine the amount of water that has penetrated the protective gear.