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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Long read. But informative I think. Oh, I found this on another site.

Just thought I'd share some info I've compiled on back protectors and CE standards.

There are currently no standards or testing procedures necessary to call a piece of cardboard "the best protection system on the planet" in the United States. It is ridiculous to buy gear based on marketing hype, sponsorship deals, rumors, arbitrary crash experience, looks, feel, and name recognition. Real, scientifically derived numbers should be the first reason for buying a piece of "protective" gear, always.

It can be very confusing, but after some discussions and some online research I have found a few companies that offer CE certified back protectors and SPECIFY compliance with the proper back protector standards. This standard establishes a unified testing procedure to be used by clothing or protector manufacturers who intend to have their products qualified for sale in Europe and who want to offer their protective wear in all countries of the European Union. The result of this testing procedure determines whether manufacturers can market the protective equipment as "protectors" or simply "protective padding".

All of the certified protectors are only good for a single-use due to the structure and/or crushable materials used to absorb impact, though a few offer better protection for multiple impacts during a crash.

The CE BACK PROTECTOR standard is labeled EN1621-2. The test is performed with a 5kg “kerbstone” dropped from one meter to create the test impact force of 50 Joules The standard contains two levels of energy transmission performance. 18kN passes LEVEL 1 "basic" compliance and 9kN passes LEVEL 2 "high performance" compliance. So LEVEL 2 protectors allow 50% less energy to reach the spine. .

The CE LIMB/JOINT PROTECTOR standard is labeled EN1621-1, it allows joint/limb armor to transmit no more than 35kN of force. Both of the CE body armor standards(back or limb) use the same amount of energy as a starting point, 50 joules. However, limb/joint armor is rated based on its performance at an initial force of 50 joules, 75 joules, or 100 joules, leading to 3 levels of performance within the standard. They all must allow no more than 35 kN of energy to transmit: LEVEL 1 (50 joules), LEVEL 2 "high performance" (75 joules), and LEVEL 3 "extreme performance" (100 joules). “Astrene” gel/foam is the highest rated material used in body armor (extreme performance level in 8mm non-perforated thickness), followed closely by varying thicknesses and perforated forms of “Astrosorb”, and T-Pro’s Four Layer “Armour-Flex” material. PART%203...20EXPLAINED.htm

Here's an excerpt from the link above with an explanation of the current CE Back Protector Standards:

"Draft standard prEN 1621-2 covers back protectors. This may well have been published as a full standard by the time you read this article. The impact energy is the same as for limb protectors, at 50 Joules, but the transmitted force is lower than for limb protectors at 18 kN for Level 1 products and 9 kN for the higher performance Level 2 products. There has been criticism of the standard from medical experts who consider the transmitted force levels too severe; citing decades of automotive research which indicates 4 kN is the maximum force the brittle bones which form the human ribcage can withstand before they fracture. Four kiloNewtons is the requirement adopted in standards covering, for example, horse riders' body protectors and martial arts equipment.

Attempts to reduce the transmitted force requirement to 4 kN and to correspondingly reduce the 50 Joule impact energy requirement were strongly resisted by industry, who claimed consumers would be confused by different impact energy requirements between EN1621-1 and EN1621-2.

In truth, it was in the industry's commercial interests to test both types of protector at 50J, since they could then extol the efficacy of back protectors which, when struck with the same impact energy as limb protectors, transmitted only 9 or 18 kN compared to 35 kN. The consumer would be unaware that subtle differences in the impactor and anvil were responsible, and still less aware that 9 kN was still more than double the safe limit supported by medical experts. Furthermore, during the late 1990s, some companies had used the wholly inappropriate EN 1621-1 to CE mark their back protectors. Commercial objectives were given priority over consumer safety.

Despite these concerns, EN1621-2 represents a starting point from wholly unsafe products should be rendered obsolete and unsellable. It will be important, however, for consumers to ensure back protectors are marked with the correct standard number, if they are not to mistakenly purchase an old stock.

Finally, there are a small number of back protectors on the market which have been dual-tested against the requirements of EN1621-2 and also against a 4 kN transmitted force requirement. Reading the manufacturer's technical information will disclose which are the superior products.”--haha, don't we wish that was true.

So the EN1621-2 standard contains two levels that are considered passing. One transmits no more than 18kN of force (LEVEL 1), and the other transmits no more than 9kN (LEVEL 2), but both of these levels fall within that 1621-2 back protector standard. So keep in mind that when a protector is just labeled as CE approved, when no mention is made of the level of performance, that should be interpreted as LEVEL 1 approval.

***4kN is the medically recommended level of transmitted force, but is NOT actually required by the current CE back protector standard EN1621-2 LEVEL 1 or LEVEL 2, and most protectors cannot provide this level at the 50 Joule impact level.

***BKS offers back protectors that meet the medically established 4kN energy transmission level, as well as limb armor that meets the CE 1621-1 standard's "extreme performance" of energy absorption for limb/joint armor(see below for an explanation of limb/joint armor standards). BKS seems to have the right attitude and the highest quality merchandise available, but they are also THE most expensive producer of leather motorcycle apparel on the planet. Should we really have to pay $3000.00 for the kind of better overall protection we need, and only have one choice in leathers that meet some baseline testing requirements? Nobody else claims suits that are 100% CE approved in each area(abrasion, tearing, seam burst, and impact) as a whole.

Here's a list of all of the other back protectors I have found, starting with the LEVEL 2 rated protectors, followed by some Level 1 protectors, and finally by those that are not rated and/or offer no performance data:

T-Pro and BKS offer similar products, their websites are full of good info and their products clearly stand-out as the highest-rated in crash protection. Both companies' protectors and body armor are effective for multiple impacts during a crash event, and are made with no hard plastics which should be much more comfortable and is potentially safer than products made with hard materials.

The most interesting piece of info from the T-Pro Body Armor site:

"Back Protection for Motorcyclists--Only a few motorcyclists receive a direct blow to the spine causing serious injury; more spine injuries are probably due to direct blows to the shoulders and hips. The products commonly known as motorcyclists back protectors, if correctly designed and constructed may alleviate some minor direct impacts on the back, but will not prevent skeletal or neurological injuries to the spine in motorcycle accidents."

T-Pro's Forcefield back protector is CE certified to the 1621-2 LEVEL 2 standards, making it one of the few that advertises meeting this higher level. They also claim that the "Armour Flex" material will absorb multiple impacts with the same effectiveness. However that doesn't necessarily mean that it should be used again after a crash, but, just like a helmet, it will protect against second or third blows in the same area in a crash.

Johnson Leather, in the U.S., sells the T-Pro Forcefield products, as well as what looks to be the BKS "Astroshock" back protector inserts under their own name, and BKS now also sells a re-badged version of the T-pro Forcefield protector as well.

T-Pro also makes a chest protector/harness system, the 8100 harness, that they say conforms to the 1993 Swedish Off-Road Standards. I’m not familiar with the requirements for that certification. I would assume that off-road standards wouldn’t be ideal for street-speed impact protection, and I would consider 1993 to be archaic in terms of technology and materials advancements. I’ll look into it, and try to find-out just how stringent that standard is, and if it applies favorably for street protectors.

Dainese doesn't tout or even mention CE approval anywhere on their own website, but I did manage to find some info on the Dainese protectors from MotoLiberty's website. Dainese makes quite a few different models, not all advertise the same levels of protection, but most appear to be certified. They use an aluminum honeycomb structure, similar to the Knox protectors.

"The new Dainese folding back protector--Paraaschiena Ripegabile, is made with a hard plastic tortoise shell type construction. It has an optimum shock absorption capacity which easily superceded the tough test at the highest level, EN1621-2 LEVEL 2." It also has the added convenience of being foldable for storage.

The Dainese Wave 2 protector is CE rated LEVEL 1.

The BAP protectors are also CE approved, LEVEL 1.

I have not been able to find any info regarding CE approval claims for the Back Space and Gilet Space models. Anybody know if they meet the proper standards?

Knox doesn't specify the level that any of there back protectors comply with, just that they are approved to the appropriate 1621-2 standard. They offer the largest coverage area of any of the protectors available with all of their models.

The Stowaway version is flexible enough to roll-up for convenient storage, and comes with its own storage bag and still approved to the Level 1 standard.

Alpinestars states that their Tech Protector is 1621-2 approved, meaning LEVEL 1 approved.

Spidi offers two families of CE approved back protector options, the Airback and Warriors.

The Airback protector is CE Level 1 approved and offers a large coverage area.

The Warrior “mid” and “low” options are LEVEL 1 approved, but offer very little coverage area, focusing on the lumbar region with no shoulder blade coverage. Spidi touts the Airback protector as being more effective because of its shoulder blade coverage and the nature of most initial crash impacts hitting the shoulder blade region.

However, it is more confusing with the standard and “compact” versions of the Warrior protectors. I noticed a difference the photos of the Spidi Warrior protectors on the Spidi USA website vs. the Italian site (English version). The US website shows a Warrior protector that looks completely different than the Warrior protectors on the Italian website. I was told that the European version is updated and not yet available in the U.S which would explain these differences.

Both Spidi websites state that the regular Warrior and “compact” versions are only compliant with the CE Directives for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), which have nothing to do with the actual testing performance or standards for the equipment. The Directives are simply an ethics code and basis for testing procedures and standards operations. This is a very misleading statement regarding the effectiveness of these products.

The Giali protector claims CE approval. No mention of level. It is a European model, so it is probably properly approved to the LEVEL 1 standard.

The Clover back protector, another European brand, is specified to meet LEVEL 1 standards, no word of availability of Clover protectors in the U.S.

Kobe back protectors claim CE approval as well, but no mention of which standard or level.

Fieldsheer claims in their marketing copy that the X20 back protector exceeds all CE standards leaving the specifics to the imagination but do not directly refer to the actual certification or standard that their protector has passed.

"The X20 back protector provides protection internally using a new "honey comb" plastic core, proved to exceed all European CE standards."

Maybe I'm over-analyzing, but if you read it carefully, what is that really saying? Has it been certified? Has it been tested as a whole? Is the design or the final product proven to CE levels? All CE standards?

I have received confirmation from an X20 owner that it is properly rated to the 1621-2 LEVEL 1 standard. Not the best, as they make it sound, but properly rated and certified nonetheless. It would have been easier, if they just would have said that in their ads.

Helimot carries a German brand of protectors, Erbo, which are CE approved, though the protectors look quite different in the website photos. I am not sure if they are the same models, but would assume so, with the German models just shrouded in a Cordura cover..

Helimot makes no claims, but has an interesting theory behind their TLV protector. Its an American product so of course it has not been tested, proven, or certified. I have heard stories of the owner of Helimot performing "real world" tests with a hammer for skeptics, but sorry, I'd rather have repeatable measurements than seat-of my-pants guesses at what crash forces are going to feel like. These dramatic exhibitions should be saved for differentiating the meaning of the data, rather than basing your presumptions of efficacy on them.

Teknic make no specific claims of protective levels or performance results with their 4 or 7 link protectors, but hey also sell CE approved Knox protectors.

Knox makes reference to improper use of CE claims by other companies. They don't name names, but it appears to be in response to Bohn's non-certified CE labeling practice. Bohn uses a CE label without actually being certified. Bohn also does not specify which standard they are referring to in their marketing statements of "exceeding CE specs" or "built to European CE standards". An article on the British Motorcycle Federation website implies that unnamed companies are being sued for improperly using the CE mark and not complying with the proper specs for back protectors. I cannot find any actual information that directly refers to Bohn or the standards that Bohn allegedly meets or exceeds.

Bohn lists the Pro-Racer protectors as being "made to European CE standards", though they have NOT actually been certified.

Is Bohn referring to the correct back protector standard when they make this claim? Well, Bohn’s claim was made prior to the existence of the 1621-2 back protector standard, and they have still refused to submit for proper testing and certification.

Bohn makes no certification, rating, or other protection claims with any of the Carbon/Kevlar models or the Pro-Racer Motard version, and offers no performance data or levels of protection for those models either.

The Bohn X-Ploit chest and back harnesses claim to be "made to the Scandinavian Off-road Protection Standard." No word on whether these protectors are actually certified to that standard either. I don't know too much about the Swedish(Scandinavian) off-road standard, but it was instituted in 1993 and is probably not at the current level required by CE for street use items.

Bohn's website offers no specific information regarding which CE specs are being met and how it is being proven. I find this claim to be blatantly deceptive and deceitful. Such claims should be backed-up. Any company that tries to tag-on to safety standards and markings without actually providing open evidence or paying for the right to market its products using the standard is not selling in good faith.

But they do offer-up some gems, like this quote from Eric Bostrom.

"After testing at the Jan 2000 Laguna Shakedown Eric reported: '...really comfortable, and made me feel safe on the bike' "

Boy that was convincing, haha. Yes, that is the entire testimonial.

The other claim by Bohn is that their protectors can be used for multiple crashes. This goes against all other information about the only materials in use that will absorb the necessary amount of energy to meet the 1621-2 standard. So far, there are no companies that meet the proper standards without using materials that permanently deform after a crash impact, or multiple impacts during a single crash, just like helmets.

Impact Armor protectors make claims that they are ""Designed to exceed ALL European CE specifications for armor", but do not provide any actual performance data and are NOT actually CE certified. As with any claims like this, unless it is backed-up with any sort of proof or reference to the proper back protector CE standard or levels it is a worthless statement. The CE had not introduced the 1621-2 back protector standards at the time that statement about the "design" was originally published.

Impact Armor relies on testimonials from unpaid professional racers, but nothing in the way of proven results of crash worthiness or protective levels in their marketing or correspondence.

I had email correspondence with Michael Braxton, owner of Impact Armor. He seemed friendly, but unwilling to divulge any real information about how his Impact Armor protectors have performed in tests. In fact, I got the gist that they haven't been tested at all or at least in the current form. He focuses on theory, which is fine, but the theory varies from a final product in practical terms. I inferred that his theories were tested in the early '90s while working with T-Pro. I don't know the complete history of T-Pro and Impact Armor or Michael Braxton, but I am leery of his evasiveness and lip service to safety and standards in our correspondence, though his intentions did sound sincere. However when it comes to my safety, somebody's sincere intentions won't buy a cup of coffee.

According to Braxton, “Frankly, the cost, time and bureaucracy to obtain CE certification is just not worth the hassle... And if you did subject your self to the process, the quality of your product is treated no differently than the others.…”

Frankly, I think that the “quality of your product” would be revealed by performance testing. What the hell does he mean by that statement? Does it sound arrogant or just ignorant? Either way, it’s certainly laughable.

According to Paul Varnessy, head of PVA Technical File Services, “It actually costs less to test and certify a motorcycle suit than it does the average pair of safety shoes - as proven by the fact that the first companies to achieve EC type approval were the small, UK manufacturers of bespoke motorcyclists’ clothing.”

Joe Rocket's website says very little about their GPX back protector. It is NOT shown to be CE certified. It is, however, made with the same material that BKS uses in their body armor, "Astrosorb", one of the highest-rated foams used in LIMB/JOINT armor, but make no reference to the thickness used or performance results, just that it is one-piece. Other companies have stated that Astrosorb alone will not meet the CE back protector standards.

The NJK, another American model that offers nothing about protection levels or certifications:

The Italian made UFO back protectors don't specify protection levels or performance data either on the websites I found them on. Don't know about their availability in the U.S.

There are plenty more out there, the important thing is to know what to look for before you spend any more money thinking you have the safest possible piece of equipment. In the end you have to ask yourself just how much limited personal experience, limited arbitrary crash experience, limited knowledge of the real forces at work in any crash story, and the beliefs of others in what they have heard through the grapevine will get you the right answers. The problem with any of that information is that it is never complete or accurate, no matter how well-intentioned it may be. Is any of this sort of speculation going to satisfy your motivation to part with your money? What information will provide you with the safety expectations you have decided are appropriate?

The need for a Snell-type standard in the US that is clear, comprehensive, and concise is the only solution. And we need to make it happen now. We have no standards for motorcycle gear in the United States, which means somebody can slap a piece of cardboard together, and call it the world's best protection system ever, and it may even look the part. I'm also sure that you could find some racers or average Joe's to swear by it as well. Perpetuation of poor information and marketing hype leaves too much to our own speculation as the basis for our protective measures.

Sorry for the length. Hope this can help in your decisions though. I also hope the entire motorcycling community can make it a point to be more thorough in the buying process when it comes to so-called protective gear. All of these questions, and any misinformation, marketing hype, and rumors can be avoided with a simple testing procedure.

Snell labeling for helmets has been successful and we need to demand something similar for the rest of our body. Maybe an email to the AMA, ABATE, NHTSA, MSF, Snell, or any other organization that might have our true interests at heart will make a difference, and gain us some respect in the marketplace. If "something is better than nothing" then "something better" can be just that.

-credit due to someone else.


2003 GSX-R1000. TiForce Slipon (Rainbow) | Power Commander III USB | Sprocket Specialist SS 46/17 | 525, D.I.D. ERV2 | Watsen Design Front + Rear | Pirelli Diablo Corsas

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Reged: 12/06/01
Posts: 165
Loc: Australia

Motorcycle: GSXR 1000 Re: What back protector do you like, and why? [Re: ViperSTD]
#976693 - 04/10/04 03:41 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply

Viper, that's an awesome amount of information, thanks for that. I think it will take a day or two to digest it all.

The brake pads fell out when the pad retaining pin fell out. I have had this happen to me but luckily at lower speed. If you have taken off the anti rattle plates there is nothing to keep the pin in if it comes loose, or wasn't tight in the first place. I put 750 K1 pins and R clips in my 1000 K2 calipers to stop it happening again.

There are few worse feelings on the track than hitting the front brake and getting nothing.

Regards, miller.

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Long read. But information is everything to help make the wright choice.
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