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Old 05-09-12, 12:55 AM   #1
eugenek
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Body protection

The thread about the fastest I've been on the bike got me thinking.

Is there such thing as body protection directed at bicyclists? Road bicyclists, more specifically? Something that's not too conspicuous, does not weigh a ton, can be worn when it's 80 F and I'm sweating, and ends up helpful if I go down at 30 mph?

I'm thinking along these lines:

- A long(er)-sleeve kevlar jersey with extra padding in the elbows and shoulders. (Motorcyclists actually get these.)
- Gloves that would be guaranteed not to be ripped to shreds on contact with pavement after a 30 mph crash.
- Shorts extending below knees, with kevlar padding over the knees
- (Optional) Back protector.
- (Really optional) Head airbag.

Last edited by eugenek; 05-09-12 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 05-09-12, 01:09 AM   #2
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The problem with protective clothing for cyclists is that it would be heavy and hot. Nothing that was light and cool would provide you with much protection, virtually by definition. That's why cycle helmets are so much less robust than motorcycle helmets. So it might give you some comfort coming downhill, but you really wouldn't want to be wearing it on the way up.

You could wear knee and elbow protectors, I suppose. But really, if we're talking road cycling, how often do you fall off? Much better not to...
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Old 05-09-12, 01:24 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eugenek View Post
The thread about the fastest I've been on the bike got me thinking.

Is there such thing as body protection directed at bicyclists? Road bicyclists, more specifically? Something that's not too conspicuous, does not weigh a ton, can be worn when it's 80 F and I'm sweating, and ends up helpful if I go down at 30 mph?

I'm thinking along these lines:

- A long(er)-sleeve kevlar jersey with extra padding in the elbows and shoulders. (Motorcyclists actually get these.)
- Gloves that would be guaranteed not to be ripped to shreds on contact with pavement after a 30 mph crash.
- Shorts extending below knees, with kevlar padding over the knees
- (Optional) Back protector.
- (Really optional) Head airbag.
A google search will show you all those things.

What I want to see, is a pic of you riding a road bike in all that stuff.
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Old 05-09-12, 02:28 AM   #4
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The problem with protective clothing for cyclists is that it would be heavy and hot. Nothing that was light and cool would provide you with much protection, virtually by definition. That's why cycle helmets are so much less robust than motorcycle helmets. So it might give you some comfort coming downhill, but you really wouldn't want to be wearing it on the way up.

You could wear knee and elbow protectors, I suppose. But really, if we're talking road cycling, how often do you fall off? Much better not to...

There should be some tradeoff between "heavy" and "protective". The optimal point is not necessarily the one where you don't wear _anything_.

I try not to fall off. So far I've been successful. But I still have the motorcycle philosophy that one day I'll fall off, and on that day proper gear might mean the difference between walking away and a trip in an ambulance (or worse).

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A google search will show you all those things.
I tried, all I get is one Australian manufacturer that makes kevlar jerseys, and even they don't make any claims wrt their jerseys being protective to any degree.
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Old 05-09-12, 02:40 AM   #5
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There should be some tradeoff between "heavy" and "protective". The optimal point is not necessarily the one where you don't wear _anything_.

I try not to fall off. So far I've been successful. But I still have the motorcycle philosophy that one day I'll fall off, and on that day proper gear between walking away or a trip in an ambulance.
OK. But as I have just been saying in another thread, cycling is very safe. In fact, Department of Transport statistics in the UK indicate that cyclists are no more likely to get injured than are pedestrians. So don't compromise your riding enjoyment too much on the basis of a remote eventuality. You might slip in the shower, too, but wearing protective gear might defeat the object...

As for wearing nothing (on the bike, not in the shower) don't do that. The best thing you can do to protect yourself against road rash if you come off is to wear a base layer. Even if it is flimsy, it allows the outer jersey to slide over the base layer, and by so doing it offers a surprising amount of protection to your skin.
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Old 05-09-12, 03:06 AM   #6
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OK. But as I have just been saying in another thread, cycling is very safe. In fact, Department of Transport statistics in the UK indicate that cyclists are no more likely to get injured than are pedestrians.
In the United States, cycling is not particularly safe. It comes with roughly 4x risk of death per mile travelled compared to driving a car (though it is indeed safer than riding a motorcycle). Less serious accidents happen all the time. I was just participating in an organized century last weekend, and I saw a guy who crashed because he was cut off by a truck (he looked seriously beat up, with bloodied tears in the jersey, but he was in the parking lot back at the starting line, so presumably he didn't break any bones).


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As for wearing nothing (on the bike, not in the shower) don't do that. The best thing you can do to protect yourself against road rash if you come off is to wear a base layer. Even if it is flimsy, it allows the outer jersey to slide over the base layer, and by so doing it offers a surprising amount of protection to your skin.
Surely that would be hotter than a bike jersey that is designed for the express purpose of protecting you from road rash.

I am considering giving this a shot. But it's rather costly. I need to find it in a store, take a closer look and try to get an idea what it would be like to ride in it.
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Old 05-09-12, 03:20 AM   #7
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In the United States, cycling is not particularly safe. It comes with roughly 4x risk of death per mile travelled compared to driving a car (though it is indeed safer than riding a motorcycle). Less serious accidents happen all the time. I was just participating in an organized century last weekend, and I saw a guy who crashed because he was cut off by a truck (he looked seriously beat up, with bloodied tears in the jersey, but he was in the parking lot back at the starting line, so presumably he didn't break any bones).
I haven't looked at the US stats, but I'd speculate that pedestrians die more often per mile travelled than drivers, too. Are you going to wear protective clothing when you go for a walk? There is such a thing as being too preoccupied with trivial risks.

Of course accidents happen. But the first thing to look at is how much of a risk you are running. Then, look at the sort of injury you're afraid of sustaining and ask yourself if some shirt made of Kevlar is going to offer you significant protection. I'd think the answer to the latter question is almost certainly no.

If I was as worried as you seem to be, I wouldn't be getting on a bike.
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Old 05-09-12, 03:47 AM   #8
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I haven't looked at the US stats, but I'd speculate that pedestrians die more often per mile travelled than drivers, too. Are you going to wear protective clothing when you go for a walk? There is such a thing as being too preoccupied with trivial risks.
Pedestrians aren't prone to road rash, they don't travel down twisty mountain roads at speeds exceeding 30 mph, and they don't experience accidents due to mechanical malfunctions. They tend to die due to being hit by a car while illegally crossing the road at night, while being 75 years old and drunk.
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Old 05-09-12, 04:12 AM   #9
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It is an interesting idea for sure for a bicycle, but for the amount of actual protection you might get it wouldn't be worth the tradeoff. Most of that gear would quickly slide out of the way during a crash. Those gaurds need either a lot of elastic like a volleyball knee gaurd, or need lots of extra structure such as with heavy motorcycle jackets or kevlar pants.

I wear all the protective gear on the motorcycle, but I can cool off with faster speeds. On the bike it is best to learn how to fall. For example if someone is shredding gloves they are likely putting and hand out on crashing. This often leads to broken collar bones.

Tuck and roll has saved my bacon more than once.
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Old 05-09-12, 04:21 AM   #10
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Pedestrians aren't prone to road rash, they don't travel down twisty mountain roads at speeds exceeding 30 mph, and they don't experience accidents due to mechanical malfunctions. They tend to die due to being hit by a car while illegally crossing the road at night, while being 75 years old and drunk.
Funnily enough, collisions with motor vehicles are the reason cyclists die, too. Other mishaps are very unlikely to threaten your life. So a Kevlar vest isn't going to make much difference, I'm afraid.
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Old 05-09-12, 04:22 AM   #11
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The only thing that yuo can realistically protect against (apart from minor head impact) is road rash. This is most severe on the hand.
Most cycling gloves provide sufficient protection; they may end up shredded but as long as your hands are not shredded you are OK.
Double layers of fabric are a really good protection for your torso.
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Old 05-09-12, 06:00 AM   #12
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Funnily enough, collisions with motor vehicles are the reason cyclists die, too. Other mishaps are very unlikely to threaten your life. So a Kevlar vest isn't going to make much difference, I'm afraid.
Yep. Bright colors and good lights and reflectors are generally better protection for road cyclists than durable padded clothing.


If you want to go all out the gear certainly exist, it's just not aimed at roadies.
http://www.xsportsprotective.com/six...rotection.html
http://www.air-vest.com/
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Old 05-09-12, 06:24 AM   #13
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about 20 years ago Pearl Izumi make shorts with kevlar side panels. these protected you from road rash. The kevlar jerseys offer the same protection, they won't protect you from bruising or breaking something.

In my one bad crash, my gloves didn't get gripped to shreds, but so what if they did they protected you and its time to buy new ones. In the same crash, I slid across the pavement downhill for quite a distance and the shorts never tore. The spandex shorts that I was wearing apparently have a low coefficient of friction. The only place that I lost much skin was on my uncovered arms.

So I think that if you want some level of protection that is still lightweight then wear road shorts and a long sleeve jersey and expect to replace after a serious crash.
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Old 05-09-12, 10:07 AM   #14
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Sunscreen.
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Old 05-09-12, 11:14 AM   #15
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Lots of good mt bike gear, not sure I'd wear it on the road.
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Old 05-09-12, 11:17 AM   #16
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Sunscreen.
Seriously. Skin cancer is probably a bigger threat to a cyclist's life span than anything else.
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Old 05-09-12, 11:20 AM   #17
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Eugenek, you must have your facts distorted about bike safety. How many people died while biking last year vs cars? Per mile traveled? If I go 20,000 miles by car per year, how many years is it going to take me to bike that ? Sorry for the derail, but biking in the USA is a pretty safe activity, see getting out of bathtub or falling down stairs.
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Old 05-09-12, 11:41 AM   #18
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You can skew stats any which way by using fatalities per trip/mile/hour.
Experienced club riders have much lower crash rates than average because average includes children who are learning, teenage boys with a death wish, drunk-drivers who cant ride, adults taking up cycling for the first time.
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Old 05-09-12, 12:42 PM   #19
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You can skew stats any which way by using fatalities per trip/mile/hour.
Experienced club riders have much lower crash rates than average because average includes children who are learning, teenage boys with a death wish, drunk-drivers who cant ride, adults taking up cycling for the first time.
Yes. I believe the tipping point is 900 hours of saddle time. (or was it 900 miles a year? )
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Old 05-09-12, 03:38 PM   #20
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I'm just getting so sick of the "dangerizing" of bicycling. I'm not criticizing the OP for asking the question - it's actually interesting.

What makes me sick is that he is even thinking of it. I really, really doubt he'd have asked the question if he'd been riding since the 70s or even 80s when people had a REALISTIC view of the VERY LOW danger of bicycling. He's probably been brought up in this damn culture of danger we have in the US where any risk of harm is unacceptable and needs to be mitigated. Where kids (and adults) have been brainwashed into thinking that cycling is actually dangerous requiring special safety equipment that is "foolish" not to use, when really, those who understand the actual danger also understand that wearing safety equipment is not mandatory. It may make sense for many of us to use it for various personal reasons, but not because it's actually so dangerous as to be foolish not to use it.

Notice I'm not saying there is not a risk of falling down on a bike and getting road rash or worse, a serious injury or death. That is POSSIBLE. It does happen. In many cases, equipment can mitigate or prevent injury. How bloody likely though? Do you wear a crash helmet when you drive your car or go in and out of the bathtub? Risk of head injury in both. Do you actually think of danger when you walk down the street? Helmets and other safety gear can certainly mitigate any injury that is possible in those activities. Or do you understand there is some danger in everything we do, but also understand that some things just aren't dangerous enough to worry about?

Put things in perspective please. If you're really so worried about road rash that you would buy and wear expensive, ride in such a way that it's even more unlikely that you won't fall down! I'll seem like a fool if I fall off my bike and hurt myself, but will actually be no more foolish than if I slipped on the ice in a parking lot and knocked myself silly or banged my elbow Especially since it's happened to me a few times. I'm an idiot for not wearing a helmet and elbow and knee pads all winter long.

Last edited by Camilo; 05-09-12 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 05-09-12, 07:12 PM   #21
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I raced motorcycles for many years, and as I started bicycling with mountain bikes at first I tried to carry over some of the gear to the trail. Too hot, too heavy, and always a pain to schlep around. And I never fell in such a way as to take advantage of it. Finally some jerk thief stole the gym bag full of that stuff when I was carelessly unloading it at a friends apartment in the shady side of town and saved me a lot of bother.

What I will offer is that the soccer goalies jersey is an excellent choice for a road bike shirt for protecting the skin in a sudden fall. The OP might pick up a goalie jersey and try it out to see if it offers the minimal protection against skin rash he is looking for without all the armor that he was asking about. These goalie jersey's have reinforced elbows and forearms - sometimes the collar bone area, are usually very lightweight, breathe well and wick sweat, and come in the the most outrageously bright team colors for good visibility.
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Old 05-10-12, 07:37 AM   #22
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I often wear a pair of simple leather gloves when cycling. Aside from keeping some of the wind off, they should give a reasonable amount of protection should I fall off the bike- when you fall for whatever reason, instinctively you tend to put an arm out to break your fall. If I come down hard enough to break a bone, it will still break, but I might just avoid skinning myself in the process.
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Old 05-10-12, 08:05 AM   #23
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Helmet and gloves. Beyond that you can get a good idea of what you might need by watching the "Road Warrior" movies with Mel Gibson.

Or pick up a football equipment catalogue.
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Old 05-10-12, 09:20 AM   #24
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Sunscreen.
have to agree on that one.. application to my left, open window side, driving
has shown sun damage, would/should have made that a requirement.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-10-12 at 09:25 AM.
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