If you're a rider, you've either seen video or you can picture it: a high-speed crash followed by starfishing arms and legs, with limbs snapping on impact. In the early days of leg protection, designers of motorcycle safety equipment looked to encase the lower body in what was effectively an exoskeleton that allowed the body to bend only how it was supposed to bend. But what they found was interesting: Reinforcing legs could lead to worse overall rider injuries due to rider ejection and torso pitch [source: Sakamoto].
Imagine it: Instead of buckling to absorb the force of a crash, your legs are kept rigid and act as a lever with the ability to throw around your upper body like a rag doll.
Still, there are a couple must-haves of lower-body motorcycle armor. First, it should be made of a material that protects against road rash (duh). Thick leather and Kevlar are good. And second, like the chest protector described on the previous page, your lower-body protection should be constructed of a shell to distribute force and padding to absorb it.