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What is Kevlar® and why (or not) it is important in motorcycle clothes?

If there is anything you surely heard (or know) when it comes to motorcycle clothes, it is most likely the famous - kevlar. Seems like everyone is looking for kevlar jeans, asking for kevlar jackets, or is wondering if their chosen gear has a kevlar lining? But what is kevlar and why is it so popular?

To explain Kevlar® in the most simplistic way – it is a super-strong plastic.  To be more specific– it is a heat-resistant para-aramid synthetic fiber made by a company called DuPont and developed by a wonderful chemist Stephanie Kwolek in 1965.

 

Photo of the women's motorcycle kevlar jeans from Shima

Without going into the technical explanations (which you can read more about e.g. here), Kevlar® is a synthetic fiber product known for its tensile strength, ballistic and heat resistance, as well as ability to oppose the cut & puncture. Despite its strength characteristic, It is also a relatively light material, which doesn’t melt and can withstand many different attacks from chemicals. Due to these reasons, Kevlar® is widely used in military, automotive, aerospace and many other industries, as well, as of course – motorcycling. It provides motorcycle clothes with the protective layer that is needed to ensure our safety on the road. 

But is Kevlar® the only material that makes motorcycle gear safe? Absolutely not.

Kevlar® is not a definition of aramid fiber, but simply one of them, developed in a certain way and patented by the chemical company DuPont. In other words, Kevlar® is a brand – a trade name - of the aramid fiber product. This means, that there are other aramids/ aramid fibers that can provide similar, same, or even better protection than Kevlar® (e.g. Nomex®, TWARON®, or UHMWPE products such as Dyneema®, Spectra®, Armalith®, and others).

 

So while Kevlar® might have become one of the most famous materials to be used in motorcycling gear, it is by far not the only one or the safest one. It is only one of the many options available for motorcycle clothes today, that ensures the safety and comfort of us - riders. So next time you shop for your new mc jeans or that long wished motorcycle jacket – be open to exploring the options. Because each material has its advantages and disadvantages that can enable a very different riding experience for you. Kevlar jeans might still be the best known or popular, but they are not the only choice. Ask the shop assistant for advice and information, or don’t miss my next post where I will tell you more about the similarities and differences of various aramids. 


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