Back protectors have been at the heart of Knox since we started the company back in 1981. Our founder Geoff Travell was a motorcycle racer himself and to cut a long story short, after a string of serious injuries, Geoff decided to make the world’s first back protector, a real invention that kick-started the company and created this market sector. The Back Protector remains to this day a key part of the KNOX product range.

In this guide we will cover why you should wear a back protector with an evaluation of the options and hopefully this will help you make the right choice of back protector.

What is the importance of a back protector

The obvious answer is that your back is the largest area of your body and therefore the chances of hitting it on something when falling off a motorcycle is greatly increased. It’s also a well-known fact that spinal injuries are a serious problem in motorcycle accidents.

A motorcycle back protector is designed to protect the spine and the central nervous system housed within it. The central nervous system connects the brain to every part of your body and controls essential functions like your heart and lungs, through to moving your toes.

The spine can be divided into 4 areas, cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral

The Cervical

The upper part of your spine that controls all upper limbs, your vital organs, heart and lungs.

The Thoracic

The central part of your spine that controls all the activity in your torso.

The Lumbar & Sacral

The lower part of your spine that controls your lower limbs, bowel, bladder and sexual functions.

This means that an injury to any part of the spine or central nervous system can result in a lengthy recovery period and can affect many other areas of your body, either temporarily or permanently.

A Knox back protector will provide maximum protection in the event of a crash and while it cannot guarantee that you will not get injured or protect you from all accident scenarios, we literally have thousands of testimonials collected over the years from customers who have written in thanking Knox for the products, themselves convinced they would have been dead or in a  wheelchair without it.

In writing this guide, and thinking about all these stories and people Knox has helped, I am proud to do what we do and no matter how hard the business can be at times, I feel we can hold our heads high knowing we have innovated and made a product that has helped many riders and their families over the last 36 years.

The Ideal

The ideal scenario in terms of back protection is to be able to have a protector that provides as much protection and coverage (length and width) for your back and spine as possible but at the same time suit your riding style, bike and riding position, clothing choice and of course what you choose to do when you get to your destination. I say all of this because it is one thing having the best available in impact protection, but if it doesn’t work with you and your riding habits, then it is likely you won’t use it and it will just become a burden. With all the different styles we have developed it’s now possible to get the right product that fits your needs and earns it’s place in your essential riding kit for years to come.

Is an insert back protector that goes in my jacket good enough?

In short, in our opinion, an insert back protector that comes with a typical motorcycle jacket should be viewed as an absolute bare minimum. Frankly, the pocket sizes are never big enough to fit in a protector that will provide enough coverage for the spine, especially the lumbar area of the spine (the part controlling all your lower limb functions). Also, as an insert protector is connected to an outer jacket and they are prone to moving or slipping around on impact with the possibility of not being it where should be when you need it most. A separate, close fitting back protector that is adequate in size is the correct option.

Ok, so what are the options?

Basically you can choose 3 main styles of back protector.
Separate strap on style back protectors, gilet styles and armoured shirts.

A separate strap on style back protector is the most common motorcycle back protector. They ensure maximum coverage, and have broad range of sizes, with styles for men and women. We have options for both hard shell, hard shell/soft technology combinations and the latest Micro-lock protection featuring the softest material we have ever used for a back protector. Our strap on back protectors are attached by waist and shoulder straps and have all the necessary adjustments in order to make them comfortable. These products are suitable for use on all bikes, riding styles and clothing with shoulder and elbow protection already fitted.

Gilet style back protection is arguably a better set-up from the strap on style back protectors because they ensure a better first time fit every time you put it on. This is particularly popular with riders wearing tight clothing like leathers where the strap on style protector can be easily dislodged when putting on your leathers. Therefore the Gilet is very popular with sports riders and racers alike.

Armoured shirts have become more and more popular in recent years. This is because they enable a much more flexible riding set up than traditional bulky motorcycle clothing. They feature full back protection and close fitting elbow and shoulder protectors meaning that a more casual and comfortable riding jacket can be worn over the top.

The Knox Layering System

Knox armoured shirts are the foundation  of the Knox layering system which perfects this new way of wearing motorcycle clothing and improves protection, flexibility and style.

In short, an armoured shirt can really work for you because it provides excellent protection and at the same time allows massive flexibility with other layers you choose to wear and because of this you can ride without wearing the traditional bulky bike kit of old.

Level 1 or level 2?

In 2017 the vast majority of the Knox collection includes a level 2 back protector, but you wouldn’t be wrong to consider level 1. Why?? Well, level 2 provides a higher level of protection and whilst we have managed to engineer Level 2 into most of our products, with no reduction in comfort, it is, in our opinion, of equal or more importance to select the product that is right for you, even at the lower protection level because it will ensure you wear it on ride.

Final Words

We hope that this has been a helpful guide to you and that you will now check out the Knox range of back protectors and see how the different styles could fit into your riding life with more context.

I also want to strongly encourage you to buy and wear one of these products because the benefits far outweigh the investment.
And finally I’d like to assure you that all the hard work, investment and innovation that Knox has put into these products over the years means a Knox back protector, irrespective of your choice of style, has and will always be a great investment.

Thank you

Aaron Travell