Every motorcycle rider hopes that he or she will never get too close to the road for comfort, but when an accident does happen, your gear is often all that stands between you and the unforgiving asphalt. With this in mind, many manufacturers have been taking advantage of modern technology to ensure that your motorcycle jacket offers as much protection as possible while still affording the comfort and flexibility needed for long rides. Many of these advanced systems are currently only available through one brand, but as technology and manufacturing costs improve, watch for them to become essential and widespread safety features in the future.
Built-In Turn Signals and Brake Lights
An estimated 38 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2011 were the result of drivers failing to notice a motorcycle. The less visible you are, the more likely you are to be cut off or hit by another vehicle. In an attempt to force the attention of other drivers, some brands are now manufacturing jackets with their own built-in turn signals and brake lights. These lights synchronize wirelessly with your motorcycle to make your intentions much more noticeable, particularly at night.
Improved Overall Visibility
If you don't see the need to broadcast your turns on your back, you may still want to invest in a jacket that improves your visibility with reflective or luminescent materials. Reflective panels on motorcycle apparel are nothing new, but they require direct light to flash a warning to drivers. Newer jackets may also incorporate strips of LED lights, which can be activated at any time and provide consistent visibility at night, in fog or in other conditions with low visibility.
Depending on their price and manufacturer, motorcycle jackets take a number of approaches to protect you from a high-speed impact with the road. Some require the use of armor plates strapped over the actual jacket, while others act like a personal exoskeleton to protect your spine and other vulnerable areas. Many jackets are now also lined with Kevlar and similar materials to help the jacket withstand intense friction and shield you from any shrapnel or other friction in a crash. If all of that armor sounds hot and oppressive, you may be able to find a jacket with mesh inserts to improve flexibility and ventilation.
When a car gets into an accident, its driver is often saved from being launched through the window by airbags; motorcycle riders have no such guarantee. Now, however, riders have several options to buy motorcycle jackets with built-in airbags, designed to deploy instantly when certain impact sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers attached to the motorcycle are activated. Although these jackets necessarily cost more than a basic leather outfit, they may mean the difference between walking away from an accident or being wheeled onto an ambulance. Considering the risks of the road, investing in the most cutting-edge motorcycle apparel available may be the wisest decision you'll ever make. Learn more about new motorcycle jackets by visiting a retailer such as American Biker Apparel.