Australian motorcycle clothing company Draggin has been using genuine DuPont Kevlar since 1997 and CEO Grant Mackintosh has now debunked some unsubstantiated claims about the material as myths.
Those claims include that it degrades in the sun or when washed and that they get hot and burn or melt on to the skin in a slide.
Grant, who pioneered the use of the military grade ballistic material, says the claims are myths.
He should know. He crashed a few months ago and suffered no abrasion injury although he did suffer spinal injuries which will prevent a return to riding. (See article below “Draggin boss crash-tests his gear”.)
Grant points out that any jeans advertised with Kevlar do not necessarily offer the same protection.
“Unfortunately there are some poor imitators out there using the Kevlar name for a fibre that is absolutely not made by DuPont,” he says.
“We have developed our own lining, while many others just call up the factories in the Far East and ask for Kevlar, but they can’t guarantee what they are getting. Worryingly, some of them just use yellow cotton while others are actually flammable.”
He says the only way to be sure is if they have the DuPont logo on the label.
Dragging was the first motorcycle jeans manufacturer to pass strict DuPont criteria to attain a licence agreement and the world’s first DuPont Preferred Licensee for motorcycle garments.
MYTH 1: Kevlar has a low melting point and can burn skin in a slide.
“DuPont Kevlar has no melting point, so there is zero chance of it melting onto the skin,” Grant says.
“As far as heat goes, perhaps in some brands of riding jeans there may be an issue with heat transfer – it depends on the fabric and whether a liner is incorporated. Our knitted fabric, for example, produces a soft material in which the loop of the fabric faces the road.
“This is more than twice as effective at dissipating heat and resisting abrasion as a flat weave and also results in faster deceleration. Add to that an internal lining and you’ve got all the protection you’ll need from both heat and abrasion.”
Myth 2: Kevlar degrades through hydrolysis so they can’t be washed.
“DuPont itself says that fabrics engineered with Kevlar can easily be washed at high temperatures and tumble dried,” Grant says.
“In its Kevlar technical booklet it clearly states that there is no degradation to performance of the material due to water exposure – tests have even been carried out where Kevlar was submerged in ocean water for 12 months and no degradation occurred.”
“Everything is susceptible to degradation from UV exposure,” says Grant. “House bricks, car paint, and yes, Kevlar, but that doesn’t mean your jeans are going to be useless after a summer’s riding.
“I don’t know about other brands of motorcycle jeans that use, say, Vectran for instance, which is well known to have very low UV resistance, but from evidence we’ve collected so far on our own products we’ve been really surprised by what we’ve found.
“We recently had a pair of 11-year-old Draggin jeans returned to us for data collection after they protected the rider in a crash. The incredible thing is that they actually tested 30% better than when new and had most certainly been washed, worn with bent knees, rained on, sweated in and worn in the summer sun in Australia for over a decade.
“It’s really exciting and with our lab tests we are seeing similar improvements in performance with intense washing, drying and retesting. We continue to have fun figuring out and pushing the science behind it!”
Draggin began producing Kevlar jeans in 1997 and continues to use the material, despite a number of alternative fabrics now available.
Well known for its use in military and law enforcement protective clothing, Kevlar is a key component in body armour and flak jackets helping to protect personnel from ballistic projectiles, explosive fragmentation and other combat hazards.
It is five times stronger than steel on an equal-weight basis, yet is lightweight and comfortable enough to help improve mobility and reduce fatigue.