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6 JUN08 Back protector test


									Product test
                     »In the lab«

 You know what they are for but which one does the best job?
       We go through the testing process to find out
                      Words Olly Crick Pictures Mark Manning

                                                                 Is this going to
                                                               protect you or is it
                                                               a waste of money?

                                                                    june 2008    43
Product test                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Back protectors
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           1= Forcefield Pro L2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Price £80-£90                        Contact 01993 410818
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Weight 1032g              
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Tester’s notes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Road testers found the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Forcefield extremely
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           reassuring and comfortable
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           because it moulds to the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           contours of your back as it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           gathers heat escaping the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           body and feels as if it would
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           absorb impacts well. The
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           feeling is supported by the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           protection tests, with high
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           levels of impact absorption,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           achieved consistently
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           across the protective
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           area with no weak areas.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Because it is relatively slim,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           getting leathers over it is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           easy too. The average force
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           transfer across the seven
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           impacts was 5.6kN,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           comfortably under the 9kN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           limit for Europe’s higher
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Level Two standard. Price
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           is £80 from a dealer or
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           £90 direct from Forcefield.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Protection                                           20/20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Road test                                          9/10
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Total                                       29/30

How we did it                                                                             1                                                            3
                                                                                                                                                                    1= Halvarssons Track
                                                                                                                                                                    Price £80                      Contact
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           1= Held Recia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Price £115.50                        Contact 01283 820508
It’s fairly obvious what a back protector should do – absorb the force of an                                                                                        Weight 992g                                            Weight 775g            
impact. There are European safety standards on how much force it should                                                                                             Tester’s notes                                         Tester’s notes
absorb and we have adopted a similar procedure for our testing.                                                                                                     This back protector                                    This zip-up vest-type
   Each protector was placed over an anvil containing sensors that measure
                                                                                                                                                                    is made by Forcefield                                  protector, which has
how much force is transmitted to it. A striker is dropped onto the protector                                                                                        for Halvarssons, with                                  a thick waistband for
from a pre-determined height and the sensors in the anvil record how much                                                                                           a different shape to                                   extra security, gave brilliant
force is transmitted through it. We impacted each protector seven times,
                                                                                                                                                                    the protection pad and                                 impact absorption with
in five predetermined positions and in two positions identified by the                                                                                              a slightly smaller overall                             good consistency all
tester as possibly weaker than the remainder of the protector.                                                                                                      size than Forcefield’s own                             over. It was rated as very
   There are two levels of performance in the European standard, with an
18kN or less force transfer qualifying as level one, and (better) protectors
                                                                                                                                                           5        protector. But it shares
                                                                                                                                                                    their excellent impact
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           comfortable, though the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           tail piece sometimes folds
transferring 9kN or less being rated as level two. We scored protectors out                                                                                         absorption and consistency                             up annoyingly when getting
of 20 on a sliding scale. We’ve included the average force transfer figure in                                                                                       across the protector. It was                           into tight leathers. It has
the text relating to each product.                                                                                                                                  rated highly by the road                               additional pads on the
   But impact absorption is only part of the story as it has to be practical and                                                                                    tester, who praised the way                            collarbone and rib areas
comfortable for use. If it isn’t, the rider won’t wear it. To check its usefulness
on the bike, we put hundreds of miles on each back protector on the road                2                                                                           it moulds to the body’s
                                                                                                                                                                    shape and also its high
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           for further reassurance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Average force transfer,
and also the track, with a testing session at Rockingham circuit. Each tester
                                                                                                                                                                    comfort levels. The average                            at 4.9kN, was lower than
was asked to comment on the protector’s comfort, and note any particular                                                                                            force transfer was 5.7kN,                              the Forcefield protector,
problems. These assessments contribute to the road testing element                                                                                                  almost identical to the                                but it misses the Best Buy
of the scores, with each protector scored out of ten.                                                                                                               Forcefield.                                            triangle because of the
   RiDE triangles are awarded to the cream of our crop. A product has to excel                                                                                                                                             additional price. The Recia
to collect a Recommended triangle and has to be a brilliant combination of                                                                                                                                                 is the womens model, but
excellence and value for money to collect the Best Buy tag.                                                                                                                                                                the Salvo is the men’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           version and costs £120.20.

                                                                                                                                                                    Protection                                     20/20   Protection                                           20/20
                                                                                     The impact zones: Strikes 1-5 are at spots used by the European standard.
                                                                                     Impacts six and seven varied by protector, depending on where the tester, Dr     Road test                                    9/10      Road test                                          9/10
                                                                                     Roderick Woods, assessed a zone that was potentially weaker than the rest.              Total                                 29/30            Total                                       29/30

 44              june 2008                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          june 2008      45
Product test                                                                                                                                                                                  Back protectors
 4 Oxford Max Protection                                 5 BMW back protector 2                                7= Knox Contour                                         9 Knox Ricochet
Price £50-£80                   Contact 01993 862300    Price £95                        Contact 0800 777155   Price £100                      Contact 01900 825825   Price £50-£90                    Contact 01900 825825
Weight 1003g                    Weight 933g                Weight 695g               Weight 1172g           
Tester’s notes                                          Tester’s notes                                         Tester’s notes                                         Tester’s notes
The highest-scoring hard-                               This gave good impact                                  Fairly thick, broad and stiff                          Comfortable flexible foam
coated back protector on                                protection in most areas                               protector, but the road                                padding with a hard,
our test. The articulated                               with an average of 9.1kN,                              tester found it difficult                              articulated plastic outer
hard plastic backing is held                            but a high force transfer at                           to get under well-fitting                              construction. Shoulder
comfortably onto your back                              one impact spot reduces its                            leathers. It feels                                     strap adjusters worked
with a comfortable foam                                 score. We also found it to be                          reassuringly solid and is                              loose and dug into road
rubber layer. It’s fairly                               too narrow at scapular and                             comfortable once in place,                             tester’s skin. Reasonable
thick in the centre but                                 lumbar areas to meet the                               but the protective material                            impact absorption and
tapers out towards the                                  claim on the protector’s                               is too narrow in scapular                              reasonable consistency
edges, meaning getting                                  label. The road tester found                           region when compared                                   throughout too. Ours
leathers over is reasonably                             the additional collarbone                              to the size given on the                               wasn’t labelled with the
simple. It scored well for                              protectors bulky but said                              attached label. It gives                               correct size. Average
impact absorption, its                                  they found a better shape                              reasonable impact                                      force transfer was 10.4kN.
mean force transfer of                                  with time. This protector                              protection results, but                                Price varies by size of
8.6kN or making it one                                  is constructed from a hard                             a high force transfer at                               protector.
of five protectors that                                 plastic outer and foam                                 one impact zone raises
absorbed enough in                                      inner padding.                                         the average force transfer
our test for Level Two                                                                                         to 10.9kN.
performance. It’s not
marked as meeting
a standard, when
it should be. The price
varies by protector size.

Protection                                      18/20   Protection                                     14/20   Protection                                     12/20   Protection                                       12/20
  Road test                                     9/10      Road test                                    7/10      Road test                                    7/10      Road test                                      6/10
         Total                                  27/30            Total                                 21/30            Total                                 19/30            Total                                   18/30

 6 Alpinestars Bionic                                   7= Knox Gilet Fastback                                 10= Knox Stowaway                                      10= Hein Gericke
Price £90                 Contact   Price £60                       Contact 01900 825825   Price £60                       Contact 01900 825825       Hiprotec Back Protector
Weight 809g                                             Weight 949g               Weight 589g            
                                                                                                                                                                      Price £60                         Contact 0800 165165
Tester’s notes                                          Tester’s notes                                         Tester’s notes                                         Weight 665g           
This protector has an                                   This vest-style protector                              This protector performed
articulated hard plastic                                is flexible and reassuring,                            well enough in our test                                Tester’s notes
outer with foam inner and                               but the holes for arms were                            to meet the first, lower                               This is the same product as
it offers impact protection                             slightly too tight for our                             level within the European                              the Held Solid, just badged
that we found to be                                     tester and T-shirt sleeves                             standard. But its average                              as Hein Gericke instead. It’s
comfortably within the                                  bunched under leathers.                                force transfer of 17.6kN                               not particularly flexible and
requirements for level one                              Otherwise it’s easy to                                 is the worst here,                                     suffers identical impact
performance and just shy                                get on and off and gives                               transmitting more than                                 consistency problems
of the higher performing                                a simple fit under leathers.                           three times the force of                               to the held protector, with
level, at a mean of 10.8kN.                             The impact absorption                                  the winners in this test.                              two bad individual tests
The road tester was                                     result, at an average of                               The protective material                                lowering the average score
reasonably happy with its                               10.6kN was reasonable,                                 across the scapular region                             of 11.2kN from what would
performance, but said the                               but just outside the zone                              was too narrow when                                    otherwise have been
hard edges of the protector                             required for top marks.                                compared to the size                                   a good result. Its thickness
could dig into the ribs as                                                                                     given on the protector’s                               varies over its length – and
this protector is very solid                                                                                   label. It’s constructed from                           its impact performance is
and the straps have a habit                                                                                    articulated blocks of foam                             thickness-related. Force
of pulling on the arms.                                                                                        with soft padding on the                               transfer at the lumbar
                                                                                                               inside and the road testing                            region is higher than
                                                                                                               found it to be comfortable.                            elsewhere.

Protection                                      12/20   Protection                                     12/20   Protection                                     10/20   Protection                                       10/20
  Road test                                     8/10      Road test                                    7/10      Road test                                    7/10      Road test                                      7/10
         Total                                  20/30            Total                                 19/30            Total                                 17/30            Total                                   17/30

46             june 2008                                                                                                                                                                                   june 2008      47
Product test                                                                      Back protectors
10= Held Solid                                                !    the Verdict
Price £67.50                       Contact 01283 820508
Weight 615g          
Tester’s notes
Our road tester found this
protector to be solid and
reassuring but the stiff
plastic base dug into his
lower back when worn
under leathers. It would
have scored more highly
for protection had the
performance been more
consistent – its average
absorption is reasonable
at 10.5kN, but high force
transfers were recorded
on two impact zones. The
thickness of the padding
varies over its length and
this thickness affects the
impact absorption levels.
Lumbar region has higher
force transfer than other
areas on the protector.

Protection                                         10/20
  Road test                                        7/10
         Total                                     17/30

10= Dainese Wave
Price £100                      Contact
Weight 663g
Tester’s notes
Dainese’s protector
consists of an articulated
solid plastic outer and
foam padding inner.
Inconsistency in impact
performance costs it dear,
and this is mainly caused
by the outer shell plates
rotating apart on impact
in the lumbar region. Road

testing found it to be light                                      he Forcefield Pro L2 is a great performing back protector and
and comfortable, but                                              is awarded RiDE Best Buy over the very similar Halvarssons back
narrower than other                                               protector (also made by Forcefield) and the Held Recia. This is
protectors here. The                                       mostly down to price. The latter two are both recommended for their
protective material was too                                great all-round performance.
narrow in the scapular                                       But note that most serious back injuries result from violent twisting of
region when compared to                                    the spine and back protectors don’t stop that. A good one will reduce the
the recommendations for                                    impact of a direct blow, decrease the amount of bruising and may stop
the size given on the label,                               you breaking a rib or shoulder blade. It’ll also offer increased abrasion
the average force transfer                                 protection if your leathers abrade through.
was 13.8kN, but one impact
point recorded 27kN, which
is higher than would be
allowed in a full CE test.                                          Next moNth
Protection                                         8/20
                                                           In July it’s more stuff for your back, with our rucksacks test. Which ones will
  Road test                                        9/10    lighten the load of a trip on a bike, and which will leave you vulnerable to
         Total                                     17/30   severe backache? Our comprehensive test will tell you.

48             june 2008

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