It seems that there's still a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about MotoCAP, Australia's world first motorcycle gear crash assessment program.
Misinformation and contrary opinion abounds about how the gear is selected, how it is tested, whether it is applicable to the real world, and even whether it is useful information to help riders select gear, so let's take a look at some of these concerns.
SELECTING GEAR FOR TESTING
MotoCAP uses a "secret shopper process" to buy randomly selected commercially available gear from randomly selected shops. That means it is the same gear as is available to you and me and not the manufacturer putting their best "test prepared" clothing sample forward. This ensures that a "real world" example of gear is being tested.
The gear is then brought back to the lab at Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, where it is put through at least five different tests, each one testing a specific dimension or performance property, several which are inherently related to safety performance. The short clip linked at the bottom gives an indication of these tests, the results of which are ultimately turned into an "out of 5" star rating in both safety and comfort (the latter reflecting only the gear's thermal performance).
The http://www.motocap.com.au website lists the star ratings of tested gear, as well as information about the test protocols, what parts of an item are tested, how many tests taken and importantly, the actual test results obtained. This last one is useful because you can drill down to see which test impacted on an overall rating and decide for yourself whether that result actually matters to you and the riding you do.
REAL WORLD RELEVANCE
One common criticism of MotoCAP is that it doesn't reflect real world performance. While there may be an element of truth in that view given the reliance on idealised laboratory tests, MotoCAP uses the same tests and testing protocols as used in the primary European motorcycle clothing standards. These protocols and performance values have been shown to correlate back to real world performance. In particular, EN13595 (Jackets, pants and two piece suits) was developed using evidence from motorcycle crash impacts and injuries, and has subsequently been validated in real world crashes and laboratory tests1. That should be reassuring.
How is MotoCAP helpful then in choosing gear? Riders choose gear for all sorts of reasons, but if a rider wants to better understand how a number of items of gear might be expected to perform in a crash, MotoCAP allows pretty straight forward relative comparisons. Gear with more stars would be expected to perform better than gear with fewer stars. That's fairly intuitive and about as technical as you need to get.
But a rider can dig deeper. The test data is only two mouse clicks away and not that complicated or difficult to interpret. An abrasion test of 5 seconds indicates gear that should last longer in a slide than one recording a 2 second result. Same for seam strength burst pressure where a higher number indicates clothing better able to resist pulling apart in a tumble or "bursting its seams" on the initial impact with the ground compared to one with a lower number. And so on.
DOES MotoCAP COVER THE FULL MARKET?
MotoCAP was officially launched in 2018 and while not an exhaustive list of what's available in the market, it currently includes ratings for 65 jackets, 29 pants and 35 pairs of gloves, some of which are quite popular items. This list is growing and by all accounts will soon start including boots. It is definitely worth checking out their website before buying another piece of kit.
Check out this short clip to see some testing in action:
Or this longer clip that gives more information: