In the UK the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has called for a standardised safety rating for motorcycle protective clothing. In New Zealand we have standards for motorcycle helmets which constitute a minimum level of protection. In the UK there is a testing agency called SHARP (Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Program) which gives motorcycle helmets ratings (more information here).
There is no equivalent for safety equipment such as boots, jackets and gloves. A survey by the IAM in the UK polled 700 riders regarding safety equipment and found that motorcyclists experience difficulties finding the right clothing at the right price. Eighty-five percent of motorcyclists said that protection was the most important factor they considered when purchasing motorbike clothing, and 67% said that comfort was an additional important factor. Only 30% of riders said price was a high consideration, implying that if the right information was available that there might be a premium market for motorcycle clothing that has a high level of protection and comfort, if it is proven by an impartial third-party agency, such as SHARP.
Almost every respondent said they had spent time researching protective clothing, but 43% noted that the right information was difficult to find. 90% of riders said they always wear protective clothing when riding and 48% thought that protective clothing should be compulsory. Currently in New Zealand only a helmet is compulsory for both rider and pillion passenger.
IAM Chief Executive Simon Best said, “The industry must introduce safety labelling for clothing like the SHARP rating for helmets. Not only will it provide better guidance on the best way to stay safe on the roads, it will give motorcyclists clear and unbiased information and advice that they need. The current situation is confusing and relies too much on promotional information to be of any real use in making a judgement.”