There is no doubt that riding a motorcycle is dangerous but if you dwell on that danger, you should not be riding a motorcycle. However, protecting yourself with body armour which is manufactured to a high level is worth the time and money.
It is well documented that the vast majority of motorcycle crash injuries to the spine are caused by the twisting of the body as it tumbles on the roadway and blows to the head, especially at the neck. Very few spinal injuries are actually caused by direct collisions to the back but it is now recognised that impacts to the back can create a shockwave through the body that can damage internal organs. These high velocity impacts to the back are like a plate falling on a tile floor and shattering and are measured in kilonewtons of force.
Most manufacturers have developed back protectors which reduce the
amount of the kilonewtons by spreading the impact on the back and
dissipating the force.
My jackets have a Seesoft CE Level II back protector inserted into
the inside back pocket which offers good protection for my back. The CE
Level II standard is a back protector which can withstand and dissipate
a high impact force down to at least 9 kilonewtons.
A 'Forcefield' Chest Protector Upgrade
However, as I gained more confidence in my riding, especially on my Suzuki GSX-1250FA sports bike around corners, I became aware that perhaps I should be wearing a back protector that offered me more back coverage and an even higher level of impact force dispersion to protect internal organs from shock. I had seen some of the 'high side' videos on YouTube where the rider is thrown high in the air and falls flat on his back, just like that dish plate falling on a tiled floor which shatters. I required a back protector that covered more of my shoulders, all of my back to my tailbone, some side protection to my kidneys with the ability to reduce high impact shock down to at least around 3 or 4 kilonewtons level of protection.
I had considered an airbag vest to fit over my jacket (s) but I did not like the styling and I was not going to replace all my jackets for an airbag jacket. So in the end I decided to checkout the available back protectors that offered the best back coverage and the highest level of impact dispersal protection.
Coverage is important but then so is comfort and I found that whilst the 'shell style' hard back protectors offered excellent sub 4 kilonewtons protection, they were not the most enjoyable to wear. In the end, I settled for a Forcefield Pro Sub 4 back protector which was the thickest one available made of Nitrex Evo high shock absorbing material but the most comfortable. It comes with it's own straps and a thick waist belt which provides extra support around the lumber region. It's a great back protector and in no time at all it was moulding itself into the shape of my back under my jacket.
The Forcefield Pro Sub 4 back protector is designed to be worn underneath a motorcycle jacket which already has elbows and shoulder armour protection. Although the Pro Sub 4 was relatively thicker than all the other makes, it still fitted underneath my closest fitting jacket with the original Seesoft CE Level II back protector removed from the jacket's back pocket. Once the straps and the Velcro waistband were adjusted to fit, it was very easy to slip on and remove, just like a waistcoat. I liked the design with the cut outs near my shoulders because my jacket's own armour at the shoulders neatly filled the gaps whereby I did not feel that the two armoured areas were rubbing together on my back as if in conflict with each other.
One of the most dangerous accidents that a motorcycle rider can have is a 'highside' where the rear tyre slides out on a wet greasy road or through cornering at fast speed. The rider's natural instinct is to cut the throttle or apply the front brake and then suddenly the rear tyre grips the road again, throwing the rider up into the air and down onto his back. It is extremely hard to correct a potential highside by counter steering into the skid and applying more slight acceleration to maintain the forward velocity and to straighten the bike up. Such a correction invariably requires plenty of road which may not be available due to oncoming traffic.
In the second video below, you will see that the rider is thrown of the bike and it is his tailbone at the pelvis that hits the roadway fractionally ahead of his back - the Forcefield Pro Sub 4 back protector in the correct size has a section that protects the tailbone.
Highside examples -
I recently updated my armour protection (March 2016) with a Forcefield Elite Chest Protector. The most common accident when riding a motorcycle usually happens at a junction and no matter how careful you are there is always a driver in a motor vehicle who may have a lapse of concentration and pull out in front of you.
A head on crash into the side of a motor vehicle invariably will drive your chest onto your motorcycle handlebars or up onto the side edge of the roof of the motor vehicle causing crushing and possible penetration injuries.
The Forcefield Elite Chest Protector comes with harness straps for over your shoulders and around your waist with Velcro fasteners. It was a bit of a pain fitting it with my Forcefield Back Protector as it involved using two sets of straps. In the end, I removed all the straps from the chest protector and simply hung it around my neck using a modified strap and my coat held it in-place over my chest.
The Elite chest protector soon moulded itself around my chest and maintained that shape. After a while I became used to wearing the back and the chest protector and there was no discomfort. Now, I use the chest protector all the time, no matter what clothing I am wearing on my bike.
'Forcefield' Knee Protectors Upgrade
I have several pairs of motorcycle armoured trousers which can be a real pain in the butt for knee protection. No matter how I wear them; I have even tried braces to position my trousers but the knee armour always seems to moved down on my legs. Sure it fits properly when on the bike but of the bike they always seem to have slipped down inside the holders in the trouser legging.
I have trousers from different manufacturers' but they all suffer from incorrect placement of the armour protection. To get around the knee protection problem, I have been wearing Covec knee stocking protectors for over a year which are worn independently from the trousers (trouser knee armour removed) but recently (March 2016) I decided to upgrade the protection and purchased CE Level 2 Forcefield Grid Knee Protectors.
The Forcefield Grids offer substantial protection for my knees and are exceptionally easy to slip on. I like that the straps are back fastened and the overall quality of the product is excellent. They offer not only knee protection but protection to the top of my shins and over the top of my knee onto my thighs. I make sure that they are not strap tightened too much so they are very comfortable and are slim enough to even wear thermals over the top without any hassle.
If you are new to motorcycles, please check out my Motorcycle Protective Clothing Article as an introduction to better understanding biker clothing options.
A 'Forcefield' Chest Protector Upgrade