LEARNT BY EXPERIENCE
CycleShark.com Editorial Test Dummy
Takes One for the Cause
CycleShark.com, we make every effort to test the products that we feature
on our web site. Sometimes that "testing" goes above, and beyond,
the call of duty. Tracy Martin, our managing editor, recounts his experience
while evaluating one of our products...|
I was testing the Rukka Air Power jacket and pants on a rainy August day, but only to see how waterproof they were. As I rode my 1997 Harley-Davidson Road King home, about 6:00 o´clock in the evening, I did not give much thought as to why I was wearing the Rukka riding suit, expect that both the jacket and pants were proving to be exceptionally waterproof. Traveling along Maryland´s interstate 795 at 65 mph is usually an uneventful ride, but as I exited the interstate the front tire made contact with a metal expansion joint. Usually these links run straight across roadway and bridges so that the front tire hits them at a perpendicular angle -no problem. However this metal joint runs the right up the center of the exit lane and is about 80 feet long. As I said, it had been raining and we all know what happens when damp metal meets damp rudder. The front tire started sliding immediately along the hunk of metal, twisting the handlebars to the right. Before I could straighten the bars, the tire rolled off the metal joint and back on to the pavement. Traction was regained instantly, as was the lock-to-lock tankslapper that followed. The frictional force wrenched the bars from my hands and I broke the left mirror trying to grasp the flailing bars. My motorcycle and I were parted and both of us started our long slide down the interstate.
I was thrown off the side of the bike and landed squarely on both knees. Bouncing along the highway, I ended up in a " sitting" position with my hands extended behind me. As I slid down the road, probably doing about 55 mph, I had a great view of the various cars franticly trying to avoid running into the motorcycle and myself. I was trying to figure out which way I might have to roll to keep from becoming road kill, but the cars seemed to be slowing at the same rate of speed that I was. I probably slid over 100 feet.
Thanks to some dumb luck ( I didn´t get run over by a 3000 pound car) and good "risk management" ( I was wearing protective gear), I was shaken, but not injured. Had I been attired in what we at CycleShark see many motorcyclists wearing ( helmet, T-shirt, gloves, shorts and tennis shoes) this story would have a different ending. Images of a walking human scab come to mind, along with other more serious trauma. Without a doubt, the Rukka, Air Power jacket and pants were responsible in preventing injuries in this crash.
However, in doing its job, the riding suit was seriously damaged. The riding pants have C.E. approved (meets European Personal Protective Equipment laws) armor in the knees and hips. This armor is made from flexible rubber with a "waffle" pattern that allows air to pass through it. The impact on the knee areas was so severe that the armor started to come through the Cordura patch on both knees, but stayed in place providing excellent protection. I know this because my kneecaps were not shattered.
The same was true of the left hip area. Had there been no armor, and only Cordura, bruised or broken bones could have resulted. The seat area had an 8-inch hole worn through it from the slide. Again there was no injury to my posterior. The jacket, which uses the same armor, sustained damage to both elbows as the Cordura was ripped apart, exposing the armor underneath. The armor stayed where it was supposed to, again, preventing bone-grinding injuries to both of my elbows.
The air Power two-piece riding suit costs what the ambulance ride to the hospital would have been - about $850. Hardly a large amount when you factor in the huge surgical bills that would have been generated if I were clad in street wear. I was back to work the next day, complaining and cranky, but otherwise OK.
If you´re a rider that does not currently own good protective ridin gear consider this. Next time you are driving your car at 70 mph, imagine opening the door and jumping out on to the "belt sander" that is road asphalt at speed. When you switch your car for your favorite motorcycle, but ride in street clothing-well, you get the picture. As David Hough, one of our contributors says, "when your turn comes up, you´ll be slidingdown the road in whatever gear you decided to wear before you punched the started button."