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Why every motorcyclist should wear a back protector

Maybe you are such a social animal as well and you go ride with strangers too, just so you can meet new awesome people and go for an extra ride. I often do so. And at every coffee break, I am amazed how few motorcyclist wear a back protector. Back protectors for motorcyclists are so important, but also get forgotten about so quickly.

Why every motorcyclist should wear a back protector? Because your back is a part of your body that endure huge impact when you crash. Many of us wear their helmets, motorcycle clothing, good shoes and good quality motorcycle gloves, like a good citizen is supposed to. But often forget about a back protector. “But my jacket already has something like that in it, right?!” is what I often hear. But you will be surprised how often motorcycle clothing actually doesn’t provide you the proper protection for your spine.

Table of contents:
Why wear a back protector
What is a back protector
– Different types of back protection
– How does a back protector work
– How does a back protector have to fit

WHY WEAR A BACK PROTECTOR

MAKE IT STANDARD

A back protector is required if you want to ride on track. Lots of fanatic racers also wear their back protectors when they ride on the roads. If they even do road riding. But among many road riders, back protection isn’t part of the standard motorcycle outfit yet.

YOU'VE GOT YOUR OWN BACK

WHY WEAR A BACK PROTECTOR

Your spine is way more vulnerable than you often think it is. “An arm or collar bone breaks quite easily, but that back can handle a bit more, right?!” Nope! A back is very vulnerable, due to all the muscles, nerves and tendons that are found there. They are needed to perform all the different functions that are hosted by the spine.

Think of standing upright, being able to move, bow over, lift things etcetera. Your spine is also the center of your central nervous system. This connects your body to your brains. Damage to your spine or central nervous system can have big consequences. A crash can cause a little rupture in a vertebra, but could also cause severe damage to the spine or even paralysis. It also often comes with a long rehabilitation process.

So it is pretty clear that your back is an important part of your body, right? So why do we forget about protecting it so easily? Sounds kind of strange to me.

Don’t think you only need a back protector if you enjoy a sporty riding style or enjoy riding on track. As a road rider, the risk of riding into things or the chance being ridden off your bike is way bigger. That chance and risk are also present when you like to cruise around and enjoy the scenery. You can still crash or get into an  accident that’s not of your doing. And the risk of getting hit by a car from behind is way bigger on the road. So wearing a back protector is important to road riders (and cruisers) too.

WHAT IS A BACK PROTECTOR

CLEVER TECHNIQUE

A back protector can be made of various materials. For example of Carbon Elastomer. It looks a bit like rubber.  And often contains a honey grade structure to make it as strong, lightweight and flexible as possible.

One back protector is very stiff and looks a bit like a shield. The other back protector is very flexible. To give you two examples; the Alpinestars Nucleon KR-3 Back protector is pretty rigid. This provides a very advanced level of protection. It also has a kidney belt. The Dainese Pro-Armor Back Long Back protector on the other hand is really flexible. This one also provides a high level of protection, but also offers lots of comfort due to being so flexible.

back protector / rugprotector

DIFFERENT TYPES OF BACK PROTECTORS

FULL LENGTH OR SHORT INSERTS

You’ve got back protectors in all shapes and sizes. There are protectors that you insert into your motorcycle  jacket. These separate back protectors offer extra protection which often isn’t there originally. The pro of this type of back protectors? You can put them in basically any motorcycle jacket. Or let them get sown in. The con? They often are smaller and shorter than a decent ‘real’ back protector. So they don’t cover your full spine. They  can also shift a bit during a crash, when the lining of your jacket is a bit too loose.

You wear a ‘real’ back protector over your undergarment and under your motorcycle clothing. This back protector comes with a band or kidney belt to attach the protector to your body. They often also have shoulder straps so the protector stays in place properly.

A third type is an airbag vest that also contains a back protector. In case the airbag does not go off, the vest still provides you with a decent amount of protection. This type of protection is also worn underneath your motorcycle suit or clothing.

HOW DOES A BACK PROTECTOR WORK

REDUCE THE IMPACT

A back protector spreads the impact over all of your back during a crash. Or better said, over the whole of the protector. So you avoid that one part of your back gets the full impact. By spreading the impact, the strength of the impact is lowered and doesn’t get focused on one point. So the chance of walking away unharmed or at least without severe damage to your spine is way bigger. Some muscle soreness left aside of course. That will almost always occur.

HOW DOES A BACK PROTECTOR HAVE TO FIT

LITTLE TURTLE

It might sound cliche, but a back protector has to protect your back (duh), so it has to fit right. There are many sizes available, simple because we are not all equally tall, slim or wide. A great fitting back protector should not restrict your freedom of movement when you are riding your motorcycle. It might take some time to get used to it when the protector is very rigid. But it should not irritate you while riding.

The right size of back protector starts at the top of your spine, at your C3 vertebra. This is the neck vertebra that sticks out the most. And it ends at your tail bone, when you stand upright. The shoulder straps are often adjustable. But the kidney belt or band around your waist often isn’t. So when you are a tiny rider, this could be a bit too long or big. You can have it taken in a bit to fit your body.

back protector / rugprotector

CONCLUSION

A back protector is an asset to everyone. Not just for racers or riders with a sporty riding style. Riders often forget to protect their spine, while this part is responsible for so much quality of life. Damage to your spine also often comes with a long rehabilitation process. Wearing a back protector doesn’t cost much effort and when it fits well you hardly notice it while riding. And it does provide you with huge amount of extra protection. Want even more safety? Then check out motorcycle clothing with airbags.

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