Crash Tested: How Gear Fared in Recent Wreck

Bryan Harley | March 13, 2015
It happened in the blink of an eye. Still not sure what caused it. Coming uphill, head up, leaning into a right-hander, the front end of the motorcycle I was testing washed out, the bike lowsided, and I slammed viciously into the asphalt. Wasn’t going that fast, didn’t romp on it on exit, just one of those things that happens in the course of testing motorcycles. The bike I was on fared pretty well, superficial damage – hand lever, bar-end mirror, footpeg, exhaust. Me, not so good. Broke four ribs and punctured a lung. Spent four-and-a-half days in UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital. But I have no doubt that if I wasn’t wearing top-notch gear, my injuries would have been worse. Not only is this a reminder to wear proper gear while riding, it’s an opportunity to see how the gear I was wearing fared in a legitimate crash.

Bell Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe Helmet –
Though my body took the brunt of the impact, I did take a short slide across the asphalt and my head hit the road. I recall my head grinding across the asphalt before I came to a stop. I was wearing one of my favorite helmets, a Bell Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe three-quarters lid. Inspecting the Bell 500 post-wreck, you can see where the silver trim around the face got ground down, the largest patch of scratch marks just above it, with smaller abrasions toward the middle of the helmet. Luckily, I didn’t scrape my mug up. I suffered no trauma to my head, not even a headache, had no soreness in my neck, and the helmet passed the crash test with flying colors. Of course, now I have to retire one of my favorite helmets. Maybe the good folks at Bell will see this and hook me up with a new Custom 500.

Icon 1000 The Hood Jacket –
In my review of the Icon 1000 The Hood Jacket, I said if there’s any jacket worth plunking $600 down on, Icon’s The Hood Jacket was it. After the wreck, I stand by my statement. It’s one of the heaviest jackets I’ve owned, there’s so much quality leather in it. Post-crash, I’m grateful for all that leather. By looking at the distressed area, you can see exactly how I smacked into the pavement, the brunt of the impact on the upper part of my right arm up to the shoulder and slightly in the chest area. The jacket is equipped with shoulder armor, which is one of the reasons I probably didn’t crack my clavicle as well. The force of the impact actually broke my ribs in back, not the front. As for the jacket, there’s a little fade where I slid across the asphalt, but the leather didn’t tear, the stitching is still in place, and best of all I didn’t suffer any road rash in that area where I hit the hardest. The jacket is still wearable, which I’ll do proudly because now it has a great story to tell.

Diamond Gusset OCC Defender V2 Jeans –
Oh, my poor Diamond Gusset OCC Defender V2 Jeans. They were earning their place as my go-to riding pants – until the hospital cut them off me! Cut clean up the inseam, around the crotch, and back down the other leg. Fortunately, the nurse had a steady hand and I’m anatomically intact!

On the serious side, my right leg was underneath me when I went down, with the pant leg all that stood between me and the road. The Diamond Gusset OCC Defender V2 Jeans have Kevlar patches in the knees, which I’m very grateful for. On the outside of the jeans where my knee smashed into the ground, there’s a small frayed area, but the jeans didn’t rip all the way through. Peeking at the Kevlar underneath, it shows little sign of the crash save for a small patch of dirt. Look closer at the one picture showing the yellow Kevlar patch and you’ll see blood stains where I did scrape about a silver dollar size chunk out of my knee. Considering how hard I hit pavement with my knee, I’m surprised it wasn’t worse. The only other damage to the jeans was another slightly frayed patch on my upper right thigh. Even though the jeans were scratched up a little in the thigh, that area of my leg wasn’t injured, not even a bruise. Besides my ribs and lungs, the chunk out of my knee was the only other damage I incurred and have no doubt that if I didn’t have the Kevlar-reinforced Diamond Gusset jeans on, the amount of road rash I suffered would have been much worse.

Icon 1000 Prep Boots –
My boots! I thought they were going to cut them off me too because they were messing with the buckles trying to pull them off before I could tell them about the zipper in back. Fortunately, they didn’t cut them off me, but alas my Icon 1000 Prep Boots will have to be retired.

The left boot is fine. It was on the high-side away from the impact. The right boot, however, was still on the footpeg I ground into the pavement. Luckily, the toe area of the boots are reinforced, so the toes on my root foot didn’t get crushed. Look closely at the picture though and you can see how my foot scraped across the pavement. Unfortunately, the impact busted the seam where the upper portion of the boot connects to the sole, so I can’t wear them anymore. On the flipside, they did their job as my foot wasn’t damaged at all, not even my little toe that got drug across the pavement, my ankle wasn’t mangled, and they came through big time when I needed them most.

Racer USA Mickey Gloves –
Before riding that day, I debated which gloves I should wear, a set of Icon gauntlets that I have or my Racer USA Mickey Gloves. It was warm out so I opted to go with the Mickey’s because they’re cut short and allow wind to run up my sleeve while riding.

Like my boots, the left glove was holding the bar opposite the side of the impact, so it came out unscathed. The right hand glove, however, was still holding onto the bar I drove into the ground. I’m not going to lie, my right hand got busted up. The tips of my middle and ring finger in particular, which were both purple after the wreck. The upper joint of my ring finger hurt the most, and I thought I might have broken it but I didn’t. The middle part of my pinkie finger had a small abrasion but wasn’t purple like the other two.

Had I not been wearing the Racer USA Mickey Gloves, I can only imagine how bad my hand would have been damaged. Look closely at the armored knuckle protectors and you can see how they were ground down by the pavement.
Underneath, my knuckles were unscathed. You can barely see any scuff marks on the leather and pads in the fingers of the right hand glove. Yes, my hand got jacked, but that was because it was an area that took the brunt of the impact. Luckily, nothing was broken, and beyond a small patch on my pinkie, there was no road rash. I have no doubt the Racer USA Mickey Gloves helped minimize trauma to my hand.

While we never want to have to crash test gear, I thought it was important to report how the gear I was wearing held up in a real-world situation. I’m hoping I never have to write this article again. On a positive note, my lung’s healed up, ribs are still mending, and I’m anxious to ride again. See you on the road soon!

Bryan Harley

Cruiser Editor |Articles | Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it’s chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to ‘Merican, he rides ‘em all.