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All About Motorcycle Body Armor

December 13, 2023 Comments Comment

From the thrilling sensation of the wind against your skin to the rumble of a powerful engine beneath you, motorcycling provides an unmatched feeling of freedom on the open road. But with this freedom comes an inherent risk.

For any rider, taking concrete steps to help enhance their safety while on the bike can provide peace of mind that allows you to focus more on the joys of riding. Yet while the majority of riders choose to wear motorcycle helmets to enhance their safety while riding, fewer riders add body armor.

Use this guide to learn more about the benefits provided by motorcycle body armor and see which options are available from Harley-Davidson to help enhance the safety of your next ride.

Motorcycle Body Armor FAQs

What Is Motorcycle Body Armor?

Motorcycle body armor is specialized protective gear worn by riders that is intended to help shield them from potential injuries during accidents.

More specifically, body armor doesn’t typically refer to leather jackets or gloves that reduce abrasion. Instead, it refers to more advanced protective equipment that’s designed to absorb impact. Typically made from hard plastics or composite material and sometimes featuring foam padding, motorcycle body armor is either strapped on separately or integrated within a rider’s clothing to protect their chest, back, elbows or knees.


What Does Motorcycle Body Armor Do?

Motorcycle body armor serves as a barrier between the rider and external forces, be it the hard asphalt, a vehicle or any other unexpected hazard on the road. Crafted with materials designed to absorb and distribute impact, armor helps to distribute the load experienced by the body in the event of a crash.


Why Is Motorcycle Body Armor Important?

Ultimately, body armor strives to deliver:

  • Reduced Impact: The primary purpose of body armor is to help distribute the force of any collision, potentially helping to prevent fractures or more severe injuries.
  • Abrasion Protection: Road rash, a common injury from motorcycle falls, can be severe. Just as an abrasion-resistant material like leather, hardy body armor can help prevent direct contact between the skin and the road.
  • Enhanced Confidence: Feeling your safety is enhanced can also enhance your riding experience, allowing you to focus on the positive aspects of each journey.


How Effective Is Motorcycle Body Armor?

While no gear can guarantee absolute safety, motorcycle body armor has been shown to reduce the risk and severity of injuries in accidents. Modern armor adheres to strict safety standards, helping contribute to a high level of protection. Furthermore, advancements in materials continue to help improve the comfort of wearing it. For example, cutting-edge materials like those from D3O®, which is featured among the armor options below, are designed to offer soft, ergonomic flexibility while being worn—but upon impact, D3O springs into action, hardening and providing impact protection.


Do I Need Motorcycle Body Armor?

While not mandatory everywhere, the question isn't whether you need motorcycle body armor, but rather why you might choose to ride without it. When riding at high speed, even a minor fall can lead to potential injury. Having body armor can help enhance your safety. Whether you're a daily commuter, a weekend warrior or a professional racer, protective gear can contribute to enhanced safety and peace of mind.

Ultimately, though, the decision to wear body armor is a personal one that each rider will make for themselves, based on their own preferences and tolerance for risk. 


How Should Motorcycle Body Armor Fit?

The effectiveness of body armor largely depends on its fit. A well-fitted piece will stay in place better during a crash to provide enhanced protection. To ensure that your armor fits properly and enables a comfortable ride, use these pointers:

  1. Make sure your armor is snug but comfortable: Armor should be close-fitting to help prevent it from shifting as you ride. However, it shouldn't be so tight that it restricts blood flow or hinder your ability to maneuver your bike and utilize any of your controls.
  2. Ensure pads provide full coverage: Ensure that the armor covers the intended areas properly. For instance, elbow pads should protect both the elbow point and its surrounding area.
  3. Always test your armor before you ride: When looking at new armor, be sure to perform some basic riding movements before going for a test drive to ensure that the armor doesn't hinder your mobility.


Harley-Davidson's Best Motorcycle Body Armor Options

As part of our commitment to ensuring all riders can enjoy the road while protected, Harley-Davidson offers an array of premium protection options that are compatible with Harley® jackets, riding pants and other items that allow you to implement or replace armor. Explore leading-edge, lightweight body armor options from trailblazers in safety technology like RHEON™ Labs, Dainese, and D3O.  

Looking for more variety? Head into your nearest Harley-Davidson® dealer to find not only more great products to help you more safely navigate everything the road has to offer, like helmets and rain gear, but also get any advice you need from our trusted Harley experts.
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