Encouraging Chest Protector Use for the Middle-Aged (“Pops”Generation) Riders

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According to a motorcycle chest protector awareness survey (Japan Research Center) conducted by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) in September 2022, 75% of all current riders said they were aware of the existence of chest protectors. Of those, 94.9% said they were aware that chest protectors are effective for reducing injuries1

However, when looking at use rate for chest protectors,  in the male riders who make up 90% of all the riders, while the age group with the highest use rate is 16-29 years of age at 28.1%, the use rate for the male aged 50-59,  that is the average age of all the riders, is 14.7% and  that rate for the male aged 60-79 is 12.5%, significantly lower than young riders.

This article analyzes the reasons behind the higher use rate amongst young riders, as well as what can be done to increase use rates.

1Those who answered “aware” or “somewhat aware”

Awareness of the Existence and Effect of Chest Protectors Amongst the Middle-Aged and Older Generation

Excerpt from the Motorcycle Chest Protector Awareness Survey, September 2022

As discussed above, this survey revealed a very high level of awareness of the existence and effect of motorcycle chest protectors among current riders as a whole. When looking at the results by age group, awareness rate for male riders aged 40-49 and 50-59 is higher than the average.

Other factors and relationships than the age are as follows:

1.   Length of motorcycle riding experience

There was no evidence that rates of awareness, ownership, and use of chest protectors increase as length of motorcycle riding experience shortens.


2.   Relationship between length of motorcycle riding experience and engine capacity

No correlation was found between length of motorcycle riding experience and engine capacity.


3.   Relationship with type of motorcycle owned (type name only, hereinunder)

Awareness of chest protectors was overwhelmingly high of the Supersport owners at 84.1%.

In terms of ownership rate<s>s</s> of the chest protector, the rate of the Adventure owners was high at 44.8%, followed by the Supersport owners at 38.1%, with the average ownership rate by type at around 18.1%. There were notably low ownership rate of the Scooter owners at 9.5% and that of the Business-type owners, at 8.7% respectively.

The average use rate among of those chest protector owners was 92.1%, with the lowest use rate once again belonging to the Business-type owners at 83.3%.


4.   Experience participating in motorcycle safety riding courses

Riders who have participated in a motorcycle safety riding course in the past indicate better rates than those who have never participated overall, with 19.2-point higher chest protector awareness rate, 21.6-point higher ownership rate, and 7.6-point higher use rate. From these results, it can be inferred that riders who participate in such courses have relatively high awareness of safe riding and more interest in chest protectors.


It is possible that riders who own the Supersport have high awareness of chest protectors because the use is required in motorsports such as MotoGP. In addition, it is implied that instruction on wearing chest protectors in motorcycle safety riding courses had some level of effect amongst those who participated. There were no other factors, which could cause significant differences of awareness, found in the survey.

So why is it that so few current riders in the middle-aged and older generation wear chest protectors?

The Crucial Difference in “Recommended by Others” Between the Younger and Middle-Aged & Older Generations

Excerpt from the Motorcycle Chest Protector Awareness Survey, September 2022

In terms of purchase motivations for those who own chest protectors, one in three young men chose “Wore one during lessons,” while a similar percentage chose “Recommended by a motorcycle-riding friend.” This indicates that, while the motivation was passive, the chest protector was purchased based on understanding its importance. In addition, a large percentage of women from all age groups chose “Recommended by family and/or motorcycle-riding friend,” indicating that there is concern of surrounding people in the background.

So far we, the editorial department has interviewed young riders, who participated in motorcycle safety riding courses, regarding chest protectors on several occasions. In each case, the responses were always “Wore one during lessons” or “Was instructed to wear one at driving school.”

Conversely, the middle-aged and older generation was more likely to read motorcycle-related websites and decide to purchase a chest protector after actively collecting information,  and it revealed the fact that fewer people of this generation purchased one based on recommendations from family, motorcycle-riding friends, and motorcycle dealers (external factors) .

Although nowadays driving schools recommend the use of chest protectors, they were ralely recommended by driving schools when they were not widespread in the past. This may have contributed to the low awareness of chest protector use and schools’ hesitation in recommending the protectors to experienced riders of the middle-aged and older generation.

Increased Chest Protector Variety and Price Range in Response to Rider Feedback

Excerpt from the Motorcycle Chest Protector Awareness Survey, September 2022

Among the reasons for not owning a chest protector, the highest was “Cumbersome to wear” at 35.5%, followed by “Expensive” at 31.6% and “Too hot to wear” at 26.3%.

However, chest protectors have evolved remarkably over the past few years, and new technological developments have led to an increase in products that are safe, comfortable, and affordable.

Chest protectors now come in a variety of shapes, materials, and prices, and there are a wide range of types to suit different usages, such as types embedded in jackets as well as those to wear under or over jackets. Space on the sales floor of motorcycle accessory stores is expanding each year, to the point that an entire corner can be devoted to chest protectors alone.

Chest protectors were originally heavy, stiff, poorly ventilated, and lacking in variety; however, the latest chest protectors have eliminated many of these concerns. If you hesitate to wear chest protectors as older models gave you negative images, please talk with your local motorcycle store or visit the chest protector section of a motorcycle accessory store and see for yourself. You will be surprised by how comfortable they are!

Let’s Encourage Recommendations from Children to Parents as well as Those from Motorcycle-Riding Friends or from Motorcycle Stores!

Excerpt from the Motorcycle Chest Protector Awareness Survey, September 2022

35.1% of those who have owned motorcycle a chest protectors responded that they have “experienced the effect of a chest protector.” In addition, when asked about the circumstances behind this experience, 63.0% said that they experienced it through an actual accident. In particular, 45.1% of males aged 16-29 said that they have experienced the effect of a chest protector.

The riders who responded that they have experienced the effect of a chest protector, gave the following comments based on their experiences.

  • I actually experienced the effect when I fell chest-first during fall but was hardly injured (Man in his 20s)
  • I fell off after colliding with a car, but I was wearing a chest protector, so I hardly suffered from injuries (Man in his 20s)
  • It absorbed the impact when I fell down unexpectedly (Woman in her 40s)
  • I experienced the effect when I fell from my bike and the handlebar stem hit me in the chest (Man in his 50s)
  • It saved me when I fell chest-first after having failed to make it through a turn (Man in his 20s)
  • I fell when riding in a circuit but thanks to the chest protector, I got away with only some cracked ribs (Woman in her 50s)
  • I fell face-down but thanks to my chest protector, I wasn’t injured (Man in his 20s)
  • I had a nasty tip over incident but escaped without any injury thanks to my chest protector (Man in his 20s)

Accidents can occur unexpectedly, no matter how careful riders are, when riding motorcycles, such as those caused by cars crossing over the center line, changes of road surface condition, road debris, gravel, fallen leaves, and worn-out tires. When these kinds of accidents and falls occur, riders with exposed body parts are at a higher risk of trauma.

The use of a chest protector was not widespread when the middle-aged and older generation of riders were younger, but is now becoming more common, particularly amongst younger riders. Riders tend to focus on appearance, convenience and comfortability while riding, like “It doesn’t look good”, or “It’s cumbersome to wear it in summer” .However, the middle-aged and older generation of riders have many things to protect, so why not proactively wear chest protectors for safety and set a positive example as a modern version of “cool riders”?

We hope that motorcycle-riding friends and motorcycle stores will recommend them as well. In addition, an increasing number of parents and children are enjoying motorcycling together, so we hope that children who have a chance to go touring with their parents will encourage the use of chest protectors as shared awareness for all of the family.