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Product test »In the lab« Back protectors 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 www.daviesodell.co.uk 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 www.jofama.se 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 www.held-biker-fashion.de 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 4 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, 6 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 7 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 www.oxprod.com Weight 933g www.worldofbmw.com Weight 695g www.planet-knox.com Weight 1172g wwww.planet-knox.com 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 www.alpinestars.com Price £60 Contact 01900 825825 Price £60 Contact 01900 825825 Hiprotec Back Protector Weight 809g Weight 949g www.planet-knox.com Weight 589g www.planet-knox.com Price £60 Contact 0800 165165 Tester’s notes Tester’s notes Tester’s notes Weight 665g www.hein-gericke.co.uk 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 www.held-biker-fashion.de 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 www.dainese.com 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 T 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
"6 JUN08 Back protector test"