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Is back protector a myth?

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' started by dima, May 13, 2013.

  1. I've always believed that the back protector is a crusial part of the ATGAT and rider protection despite not having one.

    I started to do a bit of a research to choose one for myself.
    There seem to be a fair bit of controversy about it.

    To start with, the study (I can find the link, I hope but not now) shows that the current level 2 certified protectors won't have much of an affect because the "safe" force that gets through it should be less than 4kj while existing ones pass on average less than 9kj.

    The only (at least from what I could find) back protector that reaches the 4 mark is forcefield subfour (named for the obvious reason).

    Then I read this on the very first source of truth, Wikipedia:

    So is the myth of a back protector busted or not?
  2. Interesting reading, might have to do some searching, i would feel naked without 1 though, been wearing some form of back protection for 20+ years. Plus the one in my RST Tratech feels awsome :)
  3. Who knows, it's how fast or hard you land/get hit that will determine your outcome
  4. Yeah.... This could go epic.

    So, basically... There's a very low chance of getting permanent spinal damage, most of the protectors on the market fail to achieve the magic allowable number from the specifically chosen test figure, so why bother??

    Well... Personally I'll take any reduction in impact I can get, the test is done to an impact plucked from thin air... You're more likely to get an impact that's completely different so what's it matter if it doesn't achieve a magic number from a mystical impact? It might not prevent permanent injury, but for a lighter hit, it might make the difference between a minor injury and no injury at all.... For the cost of a back protector, and the relatively high likelihood of a minor hit... I'll take the no injury thanks, even if it makes no difference when a car puts you into a WRB at 100kph.
  5. #6 mattb, May 14, 2013
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
    I've read a lot of internet-published stuff too about back protectors and don't bother with them myself (or rather, am thus not motivated to get one), but I think from a common sense perspective they could help. More than anything they could help avoid deep bruising, I reckon, though what you post dnagir suggests against that. I saw an accident happen in front of me where the fellow slid with some force a decent distance up the road and then went spine first into a two inch wooden support for the guardrail, shattering it (mind you it was full of white ants). I reckon his thick back pack had to have helped him come away ok from that. Imagine your mate taking a two inch block of wood, even full of ants, and smashing it on its angle against your middle back.

    Who was the famous '70s/'80s bike racer (I don't follow racing at all) who became quadraplegic after taking a slide across the corrugated outside of the track? Wasn't that put down in large part to the direct contact of his spine with the corrugations?

    I reckon a neck protector might be more important, even if less injuries are serious neck injuries, because when it is injured badly then you can have real trouble. But I don't wear one. In 20-30 years I - we - probably wouldn't consider buying a jacket that does not have an inflatable one integrated, but that vast, vast majority of us will get by without one. Just as most riders got by fine for decades with leather gloves and a leather helmet - later a foam open-face helmet for serious protection - alongside a waxed-cotton jacket and thick cotton or denim pants.

    In response to the question of myth, though: yes, there's a heap of bullshit and myth propagated about safety gear, mainly by people with money to make, or people who can't face up to the terrible vulnerability that can come with riding. The research it seems, and certainly the real experience (distinct from the horror stories and anecdotes) often don't back up their claims.
  6. Eh, its 200 bucks for a top spec one, if it helps you when you fall off, why not. I only wear one when im in the suit however. But yeah, why not, i find my back protector to be the least intrusive piece of gear i own, i dont even feel it when im riding and its solid as a rock and im pretty confident it will do a decent job at reducing injury to my back, sure if i go and get myself wrapped around a tree spine first, probably wont help, but if i get flicked off id much rather be slamming into the road behind 3inchs of high impact foam rather than just 1.4mm of cowhide.

    One other point that i think is important is that a proper hard one (none of this flexy soft armor bs) attached tightly to your back, will really help with lower back pain, minimising fatigue and improving your riding position and posture. All of those things combine to give you a safer ride.
  7. Do those that wear it all wear a chest plate as well?
  8. Hi,

    Both my RS Taichi jackets came with back and chest protectors, would I have bought them as seperate items, Back I think yes Chest not so sure about but they are in the jacket so why not!
    Does make me think however that I have not put my knee protectors back in after washing my jeans......
    Cheers Jeremy
  9. Whether it is a myth or not, I will be getting one and wearing one.

    From my perspective, safety gear is about risk management. I have chosen to ride, and acknowledge that there is an inherent risk in my choice.

    That's why we see some riders giving up riding when they start a family.

    WE, the educated riders, know safety gear wont cover us in all situations, but if it shaves some percentage from the chance of having a major injuries to minor, isn't that worth buying? The manufacturer does play along this fear, but they wont be able to sell if we didn't agree with them of the danger in the first place, and if their products didn't perform (to some degree) to it's stated function.
  10. All the motogp racers wear one ever since That racer became a quadriplegic. Better some protection than none at all and when an impact is spread across a larger region which dissipates it then yes why not.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. They’re mandatory for track riding, and those guys know what works more than anyone. Don’t mess with a good thing.
  12. Wouldn't you have to sever/damage the spinal column above the shoulders to be a quadriplegic???

    this would appear to coincide with most back injuries resulting from head and neck trauma.

    I have had a few stacks over the years the only one that hurt my back was a stationary rear ender and it was from whip lash rather than any impact.

    IMO a kidney belt would be of more use and better protection, a hard blow to the lower back or sides can do damage to internal organs.

    in the crashes I have had at road speed I have been fortunate not to collect any street furniture or be run over. So for me and me alone (I'm not trying to convince anyone else) abrasion protection is sufficient for me combined with a helmet.
  13. #14 smee, May 14, 2013
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  14. For me back protectors have never been for axial forces. The footpeg is what worries me and any extra padding there is going to help.
  15. AFAIC anecdotal evidence of other people's individual crash history is meaningless. I would be prepared to look at the original studies (not potted summaries) but since I CBF I'll settle for following the example of the most comprehensive field testing regime I know of, which is racing.
    I don't overly care which crippling injury they might save me from.
  16. I crashed during a race entering Turn 2 at Phillip Island. Don't know exact speed, but from witness account, somewhere between 60-80km/hr, I flipped over the handle bars and landed on my back but slightly on my left side. Fractured left elbow, hyperextended tendons/muscles in both wrists, bruising on my left knee/leg and shoulder while my back was perfectly fine.

    From my experience, well worth the bloody investment.

    Even though the back protector may not be able to take on the specified energy absorption to reduce most risk, a reduction in energy transferred to the body is better than copping the whole lot.
  17. #18 oz-riley, May 14, 2013
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
    After my stack a few years ago, I had a back protector on, there was a huge dint across the width of the protector about the size of your wrist.
    So I think it did it's job well, hate to imagine what would have happened if I was not wearing it.
    I think they are a good thing and would not ride without one.

    Chris (y)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. Probably not a myth. Definitely not some magical mithril coat either though.

    Yes, racers wear them. Racing, however, is not the be all and end all indicator of what is appropriate for the road. In racing you will crash sooner or later (if you're anywhere near the pace you will anyway). Not only that but you will probably want to get straight up and get back on the track, something that even a very minor injury can prevent you from doing.

    Whilst I don't see back protectors doing any harm, their effect on the overall risk profile of the average road rider is going to be pretty small. As with any small, incremental improvement it comes down to how much you're prepared to pay, in terms of cash, hassle and walking like a constipated gorilla when off the bike, in order to realise it and whether that cash and hassle might have a greater effect on your overall risk spent elsewhere.

    Motorcycles existed for 90 years prior to road riders deciding that back protectors were a must.
  19. There is a pocket for one in my jacket so I put one in. It's comfy and I don't have to think about it.
    The best feature i find is it acts like a pillow on cafe chairs. Well worth the money.
    • Agree Agree x 2