Every time I get on my motorcycle I put on my helmet. They have been a legal requirement since … I can’t remember. They were a requirement when I bought my first bike and I’ve never known anything different.
Other things, although not legally mandated, which seem to have found their way in to the same category include boots, gloves and something sturdy to cover the rest of my exposed parts just in case I graze the tarmac. It now seems that added to this list of things I require to ride my motorcycle is my back protector, which is the blade type and inserted in to my jacket. The idea of riding without it would be the same as riding without a helmet. Essentially, something that isn’t going to happen.
Most of this thinking occurred to me while sitting on a wall drinking tea. I was waiting at one of the regular tea stops for a friend to arrive from the opposite direction and as I consumed my tea I was watching the folks come and go which led to me taking note of who was wearing what.
A couple of riders arrived on sports bikes with the requisite camel humps. Another rider unzipped his jacket and removed a chest protection plate before wandering off to join the tea queue. A couple of folks had the Forcefield Pro Vests that are becoming popular. A sleeveless light weight jacket containing a back and chest protector. Put the vest on, zip it up and then put your riding jacket over the top. Certainly the most convenient solution.
Discounting the blade style back protectors, which I couldn’t count without feeling everyone’s jacket, not a good idea, the most popular back protection was the “strap to the body” type. A masterful piece of on the spot analysis and really neither use nor ornament, but it passed the time.
Having reached the end of my cerebral considerations, I noticed that one lady was wearing an all-black back protector (say that after 3 beers), which stood out from the collection of yellow and gun metal grey ones. Having worked out that groping people’s jackets was a bad idea, it seems that walking up to ladies I’ve never met and asking them about their clothing is something I’m happy to do. Luckily for me, the lady was the kind and eloquent sort, who didn’t mind answering.
In addition to riding motorcycles the lady is a keen horse rider and it seems that the motorcycling fraternity has been somewhat lax in catching up with the idea of back protectors. Those folks on horses that take off across the fields, for no other reason than to ride their horse across the field, have been wearing back protectors for years. The black one she was wearing was her favourite and as she had several motorcycle jackets, not combining the two items made the most sense for her.
Back in the office Monday and I’m still wondering about back protectors and call Forcefield’s helpline to find out more about them. I’m already fairly certain I’ve talked myself in to an upgrade from my current blade type – Forcefield Pro Lite K – and whereas the vest type – Pro Vest XV – has the advantage of chest and back protection, secretly I’m hankering after the strapped to the body type – Pro L2 Evo – that covers my coccyx (tail bone) and looks to offer some protection to my kidneys as well.
… CE tested at SATRA to EN1621-2, I have absolutely no idea what any of this means …
Whereas all of the Forcefield back protectors are CE tested at SATRA to EN1621-2, I have absolutely no idea what any of this means. Kindly, the folks at Forcefield sent me a photo of the testing, which helped me understand the following techno-babble.
EN1621-2 it seems to boils down to a 5Kg (11lb) weight of 25mm (1 inch) diameter, being dropped on to a 100mm (4 inch) diameter plate. The kinetic energy of the falling weight is 50Kj and the resulting force measured on the lower plate, once the back protector is in place, needs to be less than 9kN to be awarded the certification. With an “O” level in physics from the 1970s, that just about makes sense to me, but in real terms I’m none the wiser.
So, getting down to the simple facts of the matter … Back protectors that meet the EN1621-2 standard, reduce the force your body feels when something hits you. 13% of motorcyclist enduring an accident take a hit to the back. That’ll do for me – Sold. Whereas not ever hit to your back may not cause an injury to your spine – who cares, why risk it? – the back protector also reduces the impact your internal workings feel and dissipates the energy that might otherwise do damage to your ribs.
As I said, sold. It does seem that the nice man at J&S Accessories is about to get some more of my money.