yRed Newsletter July 2019
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Motorcycle safety ratings 

On a motorcycle, the type of gear you wear can reduce the risk of injury, and having the best gear for the ride is particularly important for young motorcyclists, as they are at increased risk. 

In the five years between 2013 and 2017, riders under the age of 26 were 8% of the registered motorcycle owners however they made up just over 26% of the motorcycle rider casualties in NSW^.

We know that no gear can completely protect you, but the best you can buy will help – the most common injury types in the event of a crash are open wounds, which good protective clothing is more likely to reduce (de Rome, 2019). 

But how do you know what’s ‘good’?

This is where the MotoCAP safety ratings come in.

Launched in September 2018, The Motorcycle Clothing Assessment Program (MotoCAP) assesses motorcycle jackets, pants and gloves for crash protection, thermal management and ergonomic comfort (gloves are tested and rated for safety only).  As at the date of publishing, 43 jackets, 29 pairs of pants and 26 pairs of gloves have been tested and rated, with more being added as testing is completed. MotoCAP allows you to compare products as well as click on each product for detailed information, and to download a technical report which includes comprehensive testing results.

Motorcycle helmets go through a separate safety assessment, the results of which can be found on the CRASH website. Helmets that meet the Australian and European standards are acceptable in Australia, so if you see a helmet that meets the European standards for sale here, it’s safe to purchase. Approved helmets are either marked AS/NZS 1698 under the Australian/New Zealand standard, or UNECE Regulation 22.05 for the European standard.

Youthsafe spoke to a number of experts who have been involved in the development and running of the MotoCAP scheme to find out more about how it came about and what’s involved in the testing. 

Brian Wood is the Australian Motorcycle Council representative on the MotoCAP Consortium and is also the Secretary of the Motorcycle Council of NSW. Brian told Youthsafe why the scheme was initiated.

“In 2005 the former Motor Accidents Authority [now part of SIRA] held a stakeholder meeting with representatives from retail, manufacturing, rider magazines and member organisations, to come together to discuss how to get information to motorcycle riders about protective clothing. 

“It was decided that a consumer information scheme, rather than developing a set of standards, was the way to go.  The reason is that it gives consumers a choice and having a star rating helps manufacturers strive to achieve those five stars”, Brian said.

The Institute for Frontier Materials Deakin University carries out all the testing on behalf of MotoCAP, and is the only testing lab of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is led by Dr Liz de Rome, Senior Research Fellow, Motorcycle Safety, who has been conducting research into motorcycle gear since 2003. 

Liz said, “Motorcycle riders were telling me that they bought the most expensive gear assuming it was the best, but we found that neither cost nor brand name was a guarantee of how a garment would perform in a crash.  We want to help people work out what’s good and what isn’t.” 

Two of each of the items to be tested are purchased anonymously; one off the rack from a retail store, the other from an online store.  This is so the products tested are the same as those a consumer would be buying themselves.

David Beck, Senior Research and Policy Analyst in the Safer Vehicles team, Centre for Road Safety, led the delivery of the project for Transport for NSW.  He explained that there are three elements the testing looks at in terms of safety – abrasion resistance, impact protection and burst resistance (or seam strength).

“With abrasion resistance we are looking at how long it would take for a hole to form in the gear when people come off their bike.  In the impact protection test, we look at the level of protection and coverage of impact protectors*, when wearing the jacket properly and also in a crash where you would get some movement. This is because in the case of a crash the garment may not be sitting properly, so we measure the coverage when impact protectors are displaced. 

“Burst resistance tests how much pressure is required before the seams burst on impact with the road,” David said.

Liz described how rigorous the abrasion testing was, saying they test six samples from each of the four impact zones (see image below) to get an average score on performance.

The testing scores are weighted according to these zones, which are based on studies of crash damaged clothing and show where the damage is most likely to occur.  So if the gear doesn’t provide adequate protection in ‘high risk’ zones for example, it would score lower in safety.
Diagram showing the 'impact zones'.
From the MotoCAP website:

Brian added that in the event of a crash the main protection higher-rated gear is going to give you is from soft tissue injuries.  “No matter how good the gear is, it’s probably not going to save you from broken bones, but what it will do is reduce the severity of your injuries, which will speed up your recovery significantly”, he explained.

What is unique about the MotoCAP testing is the fact that the jackets and pants are tested not only for protection, but also for thermal management, which Liz said looks at how well the garment allows the body to manage core temperature in hot conditions.

Brian explained, “For Australian climates it’s important to test for breathability and ventilation.  Some clothing may be safe, but if it’s uncomfortable to wear, people just won’t use it.”

Good thermal management helps riders maintain a stable body temperature and reduce thermal strain.  Thermal strain or thermal stress can have a serious effect on attention and reaction time, further impacting on safety (de Rome, 2019). 

Deakin University's testing facility

“It’s really about choosing the best gear for the ride – go for the best crash protection, but if you’re riding in hot weather you’ll need to consider thermal comfort because if you overheat, fatigue will become an issue which then increases your risk of crashing”, David warned.

This message was echoed by Brian, who said that in summer you may have to prioritise comfort and trade off a little of the crash protection aspects, whereas in winter you can sacrifice a little comfort to get the highest rated gear. 

Liz also mentioned that gear for female riders is included in their assessments.  “Only 12% of the riding population is female, so there is a limited range of gear designed for female riders but it’s important that this gear is tested, as there are specific considerations in terms of fit.  The gear we have tested recently that will be coming out includes gear designed for women”, she explained. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, when looking at the MotoCAP ratings, price doesn’t reflect quality or protection.

“It’s very clear from the ratings that expensive gear isn’t always the best”, agreed Brian.

David added, “The biggest take away is that cost isn’t a factor at all.

“Another surprising thing is that you would expect leather gear to perform quite well and quite consistently, but although a lot of the leather gear does provide good abrasion protection, there’s still a high amount of variability.  There’s not enough consistency to say that leather is the best material outright, so we recommend you check out each product”.

Brian advised, “Parents aren’t likely to hop on the back of the bike to see how their young person is riding, however they can talk to them about how to select the safest gear possible and help them make an informed choice and perhaps contribute to the cost.”

We are very fortunate that the majority of the world’s leading experts in motorcycle gear safety and thermal management are here in Australia and they can work with the manufacturers to develop the best gear possible – that doesn’t have to cost a lot.

“One of the aims of the scheme is to educate manufacturers that even small changes can increase safety and comfort, and lift the ratings of their gear.  For example, the right size and flexibility of impact protectors can make a huge difference.  Many manufacturers don’t fully understand these kinds of issues, so MotoCAP can help”, said Brian.

Brian emphasised that no matter how short the distance you’re travelling, you must be wearing appropriate protective clothing stating, “The majority of motorcycle crashes are within six kilometres from home, so no matter how short the trip, you need to have proper gear.”

More information on how to select your gear for motorcycle or scooter riders is found in The Good Gear Guide.

Centre for Road Safety (2019). Interactive Crash Statistics,, Transport for NSW. Accessed 13 June 2019.

De Rome, L. (2019). “Could wearing motorcycle protective clothing compromise rider safety in hot weather?”, Accident Analysis and Prevention,  Vol. 19 (No. 128): 240-247.

Roads and Maritime Services (2019). Registration and Licensing Statistics,, Roads and Maritime Services, Accessed 13 June 2019.

Youthsafe would like to thank Mr David Beck, Dr Liz de Rome and Mr Brian Wood for their contributions to this article.

^ Thank you to the Centre for Road Safety, Transport for NSW and Dr Liz de Rome for their assistance with this data.

* Impact protectors reduce the energy transferred from an impact to your body. They should protect the most exposed areas from high-energy impacts in a crash and cover the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders.

Our founder
Professor John Yeo

In April, the Youthsafe team had a chance to reminisce about the old days at Youthsafe (and its former life as Spinesafe), thanks to a very special visitor.

Our founder, Professor John Yeo, came in to meet the team and to learn about Youthsafe's current strategies and programs.  He also spoke to us about some of the former presenters and how far we’ve come in the 37 years of Spinesafe and Youthsafe, in terms of understanding young people and injury risk.

Youthsafe owes so much to this man for his intelligence, vision and leadership in establishing our organisation in the early 1980s.

Since then, Youthsafe has supported the health, safety and wellbeing of thousands of young people thanks to Professor Yeo.

Professor Yeo (centre front) with some of the Youthsafe team and Youthsafe Chairman Professor James Middleton (second left).

Farewell to Honorary Secretary Ian Bourne

At our most recent Directors Meeting, we sadly said farewell to our Honorary Secretary, Mr Ian Bourne after 25 years of service as a volunteer board member.

Ian will be remembered by both fellow directors and staff as a reliable, dedicated and welcoming person who has helped Youthsafe get through some challenging times. 

Youthsafe Chairman Professor James Middleton reflected on Ian's contribution to Youthsafe.

James commented, "We are so grateful to Ian for his tremendous commitment and great contribution to our work over the last 25 years. 

"As an Accountant with Royal Rehab, our original host, and later as a long-serving Treasurer on our pro bono Board, Ian has always demonstrated extreme care and diligence in the high quality of his reporting and analysis and provided sage advice in the process to the Chief Executive, myself and the Board to inform our decision-making.
"Ian has also been most accessible and exceptionally supportive of our staff team at times of transition and change, providing them with the much needed continuity and assurance. Ian will be remembered fondly by all of us, and he leaves with our best wishes for a long and very happy retirement."

Ian (left) with James at the most recent board meeting, saying farewell to the Directors and staff.

Learner Driver Mentor Program News

In May, Emma facilitated a workshop for coordinators of The Salvation Army’s Drive for Life Learner Driver Mentor Program. The Salvation Army runs a number of programs across NSW and Queensland.

The programs across the two states all vary slightly in their approach and services offered, but they are all there to achieve one goal – helping young people in need to get their drivers licence, giving them access to employment and education opportunities, road safety skills and experience, as well as a much needed confidence boost.

Emma will also be heading down the south coast later this month to Narooma to run a workshop for volunteer mentors and also closer to home in Redfern, as part of our work with the Driver Licencing Access Programs (DLAP), thanks to a Transport for NSW Community Road Safety Grant.


Front of Mind:
Why Understanding the Teenage Brain is Key to Coaching

Youthsafe has recently run a number of our newly developed “Front of Mind: Why Understanding the Teenage Brain is Key to Coaching” session for coaches of young athletes, which have been very well received by participants.

In January we worked with the Mounties Wanderers FC Youth team coaches of the Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) and National Premier League (NPL) at Mounties.

The following month we were hosted by the Ingelburn RSL, working with representative coaches for the Ingleburn RSL Softball Club.

In March we were at Vikings Sports Club, delivering the session to representatives from Dundas Valley Junior Rugby Union Club and Hornsby Ku-ring-gai & Hills District Cricket Association & Coaches’ Association.

All of these sessions were made possible by Club Grants from Mounties, Ingleburn RSL, Parramatta RSL and Vikings Sports Club.  We thank these clubs for their support and generosity.
We are looking to run more of these sessions for other clubs and other sports, so if you’d like more information or would like to book a session for your coaches, click here.

“Enjoyed the session and was a good reminder kids are kids.”

“Really enjoyed this, should be taught at FFA coaching licences.”

GHFA partnership

Youthsafe is excited to announce that we are a Community Partner of Gladesville-Hornsby Football Association (GHFA).

The partnership will allow Youthsafe to connect with the entire GHFA community to reduce youth injury risk. The GHFA representative 1st grade team will also have the Youthsafe logo on their playing shorts for the 2019 NPL2 season.

Mark Lockie, GHFA General Manager said, "We take great pride in providing our players and coaches with platforms and pathways to play football. We also realise the positive influence sporting clubs can have upon the young people who play at GHFA. This is central to our partnership with Youthsafe, who have been leaders in the safety and wellbeing of young people for almost 40 years."

We will be working very closely with GHFA over the next 12 months so keep a lookout for further news as the relationship develops.

A special shout out and thanks must go to GHFA Spirit Head Coach, David Perkovic, who first planted the seed for this partnership in late 2018.

'Round up to Make a Difference' supports Youthsafe

Last month, Youthsafe was part of an exciting local community initiative at Officeworks, “Round Up to Make a Difference”.

During the month of June customers would ‘round-up’ their purchases at Officeworks West Ryde and this money was donated to Youthsafe. 

We are excited to announce that the staff at Officeworks West Ryde worked tirelessly to raise
$4,233.74 for our programs in just one month!

To find out more about this initiative visit the Officeworks homepage.

Thank you again to the team at Officeworks West Ryde for your enthusiasm in supporting our mission.

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We share news stories, research and other interesting tips and facts that can help you help young people stay safe, healthy, happy and well.
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