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BMW - KTM develop spine protector for motorcycle riders

Text and photos courtesy of BMW AG

BMW and KTM Developing Spine Protection System for Motorcycle Riders

Effective protection of the neck and spinal areas is crucial, especially for off-road motorcycle riding.

BMW has collaborated with KTM move forward with the development of an adequate system of protection for this extremely sensitive area.  The objective is to reduce the risk of injury to the neck, the cervical spine, the spinal cord and the collar bone in the event of a serious fall.

The prototype is made of carbon fiber and special energy-absorbing materials.  It is currently undergoing intensive testing at the BMW labs and is producing excellent results.

The experts at BMW Motorrad Accident Research regard the prototype as having a huge safety potential.  Its use can reduce several injuries which can be caused by a motorcycle accident.  BMW claims that the motorcyclist can wear the device with no loss of the necessary freedom of head movement.

The device, which apparently has not yet been named, can help prevent hyperflexion, which is an over-flexion of the head when forced forwards;  hyperextension, over-flexion of the head when forced to the rear; lateral hyperflexion, an  over-flexion of the head when forced to the side and axial loading, which is the compression of the spinal column due to the effect of force on the helmet

The system of neck protection could mean a great step forward in the area of passive safety for motorcycle riders participating in enduros, rallies and off-road riding.  But BMW also hopes that the device will help street riders.

"Motorcycle sport should be safer and we wish to make a contribution in achieving this", explains Dr. Herbert Diess, Head of BMW Motorrad, while commenting on the decision to dedicate a substantial degree of attention to this subject.  He continues: "The concept is extremely promising.  If this system continues to come up to our expectations, I can well envisage us putting it into series production."

BMW Motorrad and KTM are working closely together with a team of specialists comprising accident researchers, biomechanics, accident surgeons specializing in spinal injuries and last but not least Dr. Chris Leatt from Leatt-BraceTM who developed the brace.  He is currently involved in the promotion of motorcycle safety in South Africa and is employed as a consulting physician for the South African racing series.

The foundation "Wings for Life", which has committed itself to the substantial support of medical research in the field of paraplegic rehabilitation, will benefit from the knowledge gained by the BMW Motorrad / KTM project team.

The new concept for minimizing the risk of injury resulting from accidents is scheduled to be employed by KTM works motorcyclists and by BMW Motorrad before the end of this year.

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