Motorcycle Back Protector Levels

When you’re seeking Back Protector Levels for your motorcycle gear, you’re looking for something that is going to protect you from serious injury should you get into a wreck. Not all levels are the same, you’re going to have to determine which level is the best suited for your specific needs. There are many factors that must be taken into consideration before making such a purchase. Keeping in mind that not all gear is designed the same is tantamount to selecting the best possible product for your needs.

You want protection, comfort, and for many, style. There are two main types of protection. One form is abrasion resistant fabrics and the other form is impact absorbing armor. When back protection is paired with the proper gear over the rest of the body, there is far less likelihood of injury to the rider.

Safety Ratings

Practically every piece of gear that is worn on the body for motorcycling, is rated with a CE. This includes the jacket, the pants, the gloves, and the boots. Helmets aren’t counted in for the CE ratings. The CE stands for Conformite‘ European‘ so to qualify for a rating, it must first meet stringent requirements in order to be categorized and measure how well it will be able to protect someone should there be a wreck.

Calculating a CE rating for an entire garment is fairly new in the industry. However, a lot of armor has been on the market for a very long time and it’s been well-established. The jacket may not have a CE rating, but the armor absolutely must have a CE rating to be considered safe.

Levels Of Protection

Today, we’re going to focus on the back protector levels and the different levels of protection that they offer. There are two main levels of ratings. There is the CE Level 1 and there is the CE Level 2. These are also referred to as EN 1621 2 Levels 1 and 2.

At the A CE Level 1 or 2, the rating is factored by the amount of force that will transfer through the protector when there is an impact from a propelled weight. Before the year 2014, there was only one single level of rating, however, now there are 2.

Protectors must reach specific pre-set standards to be assigned a rating. They may not transmit forces that are greater than 35 kilonewtons or kN and have a one time allowance of 50 kN spikes in one area in addition to the center. This will earn the protector a level 1 rating.

In order to earn a level 2 rating, the tolerance is reduced to 24 kN with a 30 kN for one-time maximum. this newer rating system is tested at various temperatures to simulate various climates and conditions in order to account for the performance fluctuations that need to be accommodated due to heat and cold.

Unfortunately, the levels aren’t, as a general rule, standardized across the board. That’s to say that different brands are going to have different ratings even if they appear to be identical. This can be very confusing to the rider, and the sales personnel.

Removable Levels

Many jackets, for example, have removable level armor. This can allow the rider to adjust the level of protection for their back. These are typically sold separately as upgrades. Since nothing is standardized, there is much confusion as to which will be the preferred means of protection. This can alter the level of protection and improve it in most cases. since not all gear is designed equally, this is again, a matter of individual preference.

For many, it boils down to comfort and price as well as style. As the back protection has evolved, many riders are looking for brands that are willing to replace their regular armor with higher levels of protection. they’re seeking lightweight, lower profile and more flexibility. This translates to more comfort and more safety.

Common names for such armor are Knox, Nucleon, Forcefield, Seesoft, and then D30. There are many differences and you can learn more about them via the manufacturers.

Back Protectors

A CE Level 2 protector will transfer half of the force to the riders back as opposed to the CE Level 1 protector. A Level 1 protector will allow no more than 18 kilonewtons of the force to be transferred through and into the rider while Level 2 protectors only allow for 9 kN.

Thanks to modern technology, armor materials have made great strides in a short amount of time. It wasn’t that long ago that a Level 2 protector meant that it would be very thick, uncomfortable and difficult to move around in. Today, thanks to that modern technology, the Level 2 protectors are much thinner and far more flexible than they were just a few short years ago. This makes it easier than ever before for riders to enjoy safer protection without having to sacrifice comfort and mobility.

Newer protectors are far more efficient and effective at helping the rider attain style as well as safety. They allow the body to breathe and offer more mobility. The improved materials can be integrated with harder plastic shells to offer an even higher level of protection to the rider. There are two main categories of back protectors. That of the inserts, and the harness styles.

Back Insert Protectors

While the trends are always changing, most of the motorcycle jackets on the market today still aren’t including CE certified protectors. If you’re purchasing a new jacket, it’s wise to try it on while using a CE certified protector at the same time. This way you can ensure a secure and proper fit. As the protectors become thinner, they are also becoming more flexible. This will still have a huge impact on how the jacket fits.

Many riders just select the protector that is designed to go with the jacket that they’re selecting. While this works well in most cases, the improvements offer up a vast array of more options. Older jackets are still very viable options and can utilize many of the protector’s thanks to the fact that many of them are slimmer now. The fact that they are lighter weight and more flexible make many of the newer protectors ideals for older jackets.

It’s easy to test out these newer protectors on older jackets by simply taking the jacket with you when you’re shopping for a new protector. Try several different ones on for comfort and size and see how they fit before you buy. Be sure that when you try them on you’re bending, stretching and so on to ensure that they are moving with you. If there is any pinching or lack of flexibility, try a different kind.

Back Harness Protectors

The harness styled protectors are cleverly designed to offer more protection. In a lot of the harness protectors, they will exceed the C# Level 2 requirements for protection. They offer a greater coverage of the spinal area and frequently they will include tailbone protection and the back of the neck protection. Featuring shoulder straps or snaps that readily attach to a snap tab on the jacket or to the leather suit and a secure waist belt, they offer both kidney and lumbar support.

As stated above, take the jacket to the shop and try it on with various protectors to find the ideal fit and style for the jacket and the use of the protectors. Not all protectors fit or work the same so finding the right style and design is tantamount to finding the right level of safety.

Let’s Break These Levels Down Even Further

There are different types of armor. Some are made of foam. This foam armor is closed cell or open cell depending on the specific kind that is used in the product. Harder products made out of harder foams will absorb more of the shock and impact than the softer foams. Softer foams have less protection and often use a close-celled foam that offers more protection in some areas than others.

Next on the list is memory foam. Memory foam will achieve a high level of protection upon impact when compared to open or closed cell types of armor listed above. The memory foam will rebound slower after the impact. It’s made up of a very dense foam similar to that used in mattresses.

Silicone gels offer an impact and shock absorption. Produced in a variety of densities they are typically close to the body and offer plenty of comforts as well as a level of safety to the wearer.

Harder plastics are comprised of harder plastics and they’re designed to resist punctures as well as abrasions. Armors made up of the harder plastics typically have some impact absorbing foam as well on the inner surface so that it’s more comfortable up against the body. This is due to the fact that the harder plastic is harder on the body when it comes to comfort even though it helps to absorb the impact.

Viscoelastic offers a unique soft yet pliable state that is very rigid when it comes to protection and offers a brilliant cushioning effect upon impact as well. Soft and body forming, it will quickly form a rigid mass upon impact that will protect the wearer from the brunt of the impact. It’s also referred to as Sas-Tec armor and is considered one of the more progressive arms on the market today. It can prevent trauma in three different ways. By absorbing the shock, by changing the consistency (hardening) and by delaying the shock to the body. The impact is going to be dissipated over the larger area of the body that it’s worn and thus will help to cushion and absorb the impact.

Due to the delicate nature of the spinal region, a back protector will require that the lower level of force be transmitted by spreading out the impact and cushioning it. Approximately 13 percent of all motorcycle injuries are to the back region. However, of this 13 percent, only 0.8 percent have a serious injury to their back. Of that 0.8 percent, only 0.2 percent have serious injuries that result in serious neurological damage.

Serious injuries are frequently caused due to axial forces that are the direct result to a blow on the head or due to the force of bending or twisting on the back that is caused by the blows to the back, shoulders, hips, and any other region that can reverberate through the back area to those regions. Choosing the right level of protection can go far in helping to reduce impact and injury to riders.

In North America, the only time that CE and EN rated apparel is required is on the race track. However, many have found that the level of safety leads them to want to wear it everytime they ride. Helmets must also meet the stringent standards and ratings as the back protectors do.
Armor manufacturers are beginning to move away from the European standards and change over to an „all world“ standard that encompasses all of the standards in one back protector levels.

Understanding the different levels of protection will go far to helping riders select the best possible protection for their specific needs. Clearly, there is no stock answer. It’s an individual choice based on comfort, protection, and design.

What works well for a rider who is 6 feet tall may not work as well for a shorter or taller rider. For this reason, riders are encouraged to try on various options and select what fits and works best for their specific body build and needs.

Since there are different styles bikes, bodies, and armor levels to choose from, it becomes more of an individualized preference that will be dependent upon many variables. Always opt for the best possible back protector levels to ensure safety and survival. Keep in mind that each track may also have different requirements. Only then, can the best possible level be selected.

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