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MCN  says:

You Ask/You Answer: Back protectors

"I've been riding over 12 years, and have never worn a proper back protector. I've got one of those foam back pad things that you get in your jacket – which obviously isn't a 'protector', and Iv'e noticed that a lot of the riders in my bike club wear full-on separate protectors now. "Should I be wearing one? Are they comfortable?...

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  • Posted 2 years ago (03 April 2013 11:57)

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Aug 10

Posts: 26

Krisrexter says:

I bought one from Lidl at £25 took a couple of months to remember to put it on everytime but never noticed it when riding after a year or so splashed out on a force field one at £100 which once gets upto body temperature takes the shape of your back. As others have said feels strange to ride without it now, tend to forget to take it off when stop out on a run.

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Feb 12

Posts: 242

Titosfuneral says:

I keep feeling I should, but at 6'5" and mumble mumble stone, I keep thinking they won't fit me properly. Anyone else found one that'd work well for a big man without it costing the earth?

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Sep 10

Posts: 103

street3r says:


I have a Forcefield L2 and recently bought the chest protector to go with it. Great product, not bulky, moulds to your shape and stays in place. Originally bought it just for track days. But I wear it most times I ride.

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Aug 02

Posts: 120

Robell says:

At least we have a choice.

fwiw, I've ridden on the road for 35 years, never worn or wanted a back protector of any sort.

Clearly, if you have  an off, they might help, but good boots, jacket & helmet are plenty for me.

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Edgar Jessop


Aug 03

Posts: 26

Edgar Jessop says:

Protecting against what, exactly?

I think Hairy Muppet makes the most pertinent point - if you look at the small print of the CE certification details for back protectors, all this really means is that they will offer some limited protection against soft tissue damage, that is bruising.

That is a good thing, of course, but I think there's loads of people out there who have bought back protectors on the assumption that they will save them from a broken back. While there may be some very marginal occasions when this might be true, my understanding is that the vast majority of serious spinal injuries suffered by riders involve mechanical actions that a back protector can do nothing whatsoever to protect against.
For instance, if your lower body hits a solid object at speed, your upper body will continue going forward, causing your spine to hinge and massively overextend beyond its normal safe range of movement. The energy involved can easily be enough to crush vertebra and this is when the irreversible damage that we all dread can be done to the spinal cord. I think makers of back protectors should be clearer that you're not buying protection from a broken back.
The same thing could be applied to helmets up to a point. We tend to have an optimistic view of their performance, not least because they have to pass official tests. I know I think of my helmet as offering significant protection in pretty much all circumstances. But you don't have to be travelling very fast for its value to be near worthless, if, for, instance you're unlucky enough to crash into something solid.
I suppose the point I'm making is all safety gear is potentially useful, but should never be thought of as an equivalent or substitute for the kind of heavy-duty safety measures that car drivers, say, enjoy, like steel cages and seat belts.
Perhaps the most important thing of all to invest in are the riding skills that will lessen the risk of you ever having to test out the efficacy of your chosen safety gear - observation, defensive riding, machine control, etc

[This Reply has been modified by the Author]

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Jan 11

Posts: 124

petedj says:

abrasion is what you are protecting against

Protecting against abrasion is the number one. Slide down the road on your back at 100mph and you will lose serious flesh whatever leathers you are wearing. Ask Barry Sheene, that is why he and Kenny R. started wearing them. Any resistance to impact will be marginal at best but still welcome.

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Apr 13

Posts: 1

Back protectors

This really is a no brainer, you don't have to buy a real trick and expensive bit of kit to get some protection. If you read the label they yes it will state that protection is limited to soft tissue damage and the like but then again as an Osteopath i'm constantly warned by various organisations about what I can and can't state about what my treatment can fix. The reality is that in a crash the rules are simple, the more protection you wear the better off you'll be (probably!). Think about it like this - how confident do you feel when riding in fully armoured leathers compared to say nipping up the shop in a pair of jeans? Remember this - soft tissue damage can take upto 2 years to fully repair and thats a fact... you can quote me on that!

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Sep 09

Posts: 897

Rogerborg says:

£20 buys a CE 2 foam insert

If you jacket has a pocket for one then you might as well fit something less useless than the stock foam.

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Sep 11

Posts: 48

sovrec says:

Can You Practically Cover All Eventualities ?

Protective gear for motorcycle riding is to most of us considered as essential, but it inevitably comes down to the issue of affordability. Most people buy both their bikes and their riding gear with a budget in mind, largely because they have to. The biggest risk most of us initially protect ourselves against, is sliding down the road and ensuring our body and head will not be ground away by tarmac. There's plenty of gear that does that well (even textiles) and most of this also comes with a basic package of armoured protection. The key upgrade for many is a back protector, as many jackets may just have a basic item installed, but it's better than nothing. The next question perhaps, is just how far do you go ? The general argument is that armour that is integrated into clothing may change position in a crash, exposing the area needing protection (especially where the clothing is not a prefect fit). Armour that can be worn via an internal vest is in some camps considered to be better (as it it is close to the body and securely fitted). The next step up from that is neck protection with two emerging options ; the neck brace or the inflatable emergency vest. However if you did find yourself in a high speed crash, the forces involved in hitting a physical object may mean that your riding equipment cannot protect you. Then there are issues about speed humps on leathers causing breathing difficulties after a crash (as you may be lying in an awkward position) and the size and surfaces of a helmet, that encourage the rotation of the head in an accident. It would be foolish to advocate that wearing all the protection available would not help, but in the real world you will buy what you can afford and it would perhaps be fair to suggest that most investment should go into your helmet and general riding suit and to also ensure it incorporates some boy armour (elbow, knee and back protectors as a minimum). If you feel you can afford upgraded protection then go for it if it makes you feel more relaxed (but not complacent!) when riding... !

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Apr 13

Posts: 1

Back protectors a MUST!

The answer is simple . YES ! The back protector protects the spinal column which protects& houses the extension of the brain(the spinal chord)THEY ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ORGANS IN YOUR BODY THEY CONTROL THE REST OF THE BODY. There are no other organs in your body that is protected by bone except the brain and the spinal cord, not your heart , not your lungs ,not your liver or your kidneys. All the organs regenerates themselves heart,lungs,kindneys but not the brain or the spinal chord as such.It is not about protecting the spinal column it is about protecting the spinal chord becuase it controls life to the rest of your body.Protect and take care of your spine and you protect your life.

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