Devise your armour
Whether online or in a shop it is sometimes difficult to choose between the different protective clothing. It is often a compromise between factors such as how we expect to use the garment, comfort, the level of protection and regulations (track use for example).
Leather, textile, cotton, Kevlar, armalith, what will best suit your needs?
Leather is often the biker’s first choice, with its clichéd image from Easy Rider or the grand prix riders on circuits in all-in-one kangaroo leathers. A natural material that has been improved upon to be supple, reparable and to resist abrasion. Leather has always gone hand in hand with the legend of motorcycling and bikers.
Undressed leather, full grain, cowhide, lambskin or kangaroo, there are a multitude of leathers with differing qualities. Labelling of leather goods is compulsory and the label must state the type of leather used.
Leather will soften and become more supple as it ages and depending on the type of leather, can take on antique patina. It needs to be cared for regularly with appropriate products maintain its qualities.
To learn how an animal skin is made into leather follow the link to this article written by professionals from the leather industry.
Kevlar is a very resistant synthetic fiber. It was invented in the sixties by Dupont. This aramid fiber has many uses and comes in different grades depending how it is to be used. Kevlar has good resilience to dragging, better than steel but not as good as carbon fiber or ultra high molecular weight polyethylene ( see link to armalite) and has good resistance to abrasion; However its lifespan is reduced with exposure to UV and it loses its resistance as it absorbs moisture. It is often used in the linings of trousers in varying percentages.
Cordura is a range of textiles initially developed by Dupont but now marketed by Invista. The range includes textiles for outdoor activities rom shoes and backpacks to military equipment. The different levels of resistance are measured in deniers, which corresponds to the gram mass per 9000m threads (300d, 600d..)
Armalith is a composite textile which incorporates ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) in cotton fibers. The weaving process produces a classic denim looking fabric with a touch of technology and added stretchiness giving the end product strength, comfort and flexibility. The UHMWPE has an excellent resistance to abrasion UV rays and corrosive chemicals (except oxydising acid) absorbs little moisture and is very light. Because it is difficult to cut it is used for fencing armour. Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene is sensitive to heat but the problem is reduced by encasing the polyethylene in cotton.
In its standard finish or waterproofed Armalith will gain a patina over the years
So, leather or textile? You now have a choice. The resistance to abrasion of the garment you choose will have a CE approval and for each material there are a wide range of safety levels available.
There are leathers that have an A grade for abrasion and textiles that have a AAA, With the advance in technological procedures leather is no longer the only valid answer. So ….. Buy what gives you pleasure but read all the labels carefully!
N.B Only leather equipment is allowed on circuits.