Knox Stowaway Back Protector
Back protector shown over clothing
for illustrative purposes.
by "Burn" and Rick for webBikeWorld.com
More: See the wBW
review of the
Knox Ricochet back protector
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Owner Comments (Below)
We were surprised at the response we received to our recent
review of the Knox Ricochet back protector. We didn't expect
that so many motorcycle riders would be interested in such a
serious piece of safety equipment.
But we should have known better! After all, webBikeWorld
visitors are the smartest and most discerning motorcyclists
in the world, right?
Smarter than us, actually -- we didn't even know that the
Ricochet model that we received wasn't the Stowaway that we
originally ordered. A webBikeWorld visitor tipped us off on
British Motorcycle Gear, the U.S. distributor for Knox and
Belstaff, took pity on us. Not only did they send us a Stowaway,
they also sent a Knox Cross Sport Short (say that ten
times fast!) and a Knox Cross Shirt for evaluation.
Both of these products are "wearable armor"; that
is, they have a full set of armor in a generously perforated
undershirt and underpants, and can be worn under just about
any type of motorcycle outerwear.
More on those in an upcoming review, but for now, let's focus
on the Stowaway back protector. The Knox Stowaway is lighter
and thinner than the Ricochet, and it's hard to compare how
much protection it might offer in comparison, but it does feel
more comfortable to wear.
The Stowaway weighs only 1.2 lbs., (544 grams), which is
just about half of the Ricochet's 2.2 lbs. (1 kg). We didn't
really notice the weight of the Ricochet, because the mass is
spread across the rider's back, but the Stowaway definitely
seems less noticeable in use.
Something else that definitely adds to the comfort factor
is so simple, we should have thought of it. Chalk it up to being
back protector rookies, but here's a tip sent to us by Jan Mindar,
the Export Development Director for Planet Knox in the U.K.
Jan suggested we cross the shoulder straps in the front for
a better fit.
This completely cures the problem that we had with the Ricochet
-- we couldn't get the un-crossed shoulder straps tight enough
to make the product feel comfortable.
Crossing the straps in front really makes a difference, because
it pulls the protector nice and tight up against the rider's
back, preventing it from shifting around. This makes the protector
feel more like it's part of me, rather than like a piece of
plywood hanging off my back.
Jan also responded to our concern over the stiffness of the
back padding on the Ricochet. She wrote:
is no need for a great deal of padding by virtue of the
effectiveness of the protector. In order for a back protector
to achieve CE accreditation (for Level 1), the maximum force
which it can transmit is less than or equal to 18 kilonewtons.
The Ricochet performs well within this standard, transmitting
only 10 kilonewtons in the test.
So padding does not
equal protection! Damage will be minimised if a rider
has an accident wearing a back protector and our protectors
will certainly not cause any damage - where as some protectors
which have rivets on the inside may well do as these rivets
could pop out.
The Ricochet was
developed with comfort in mind as well as safety and so a thin
padding was added to keep the rider cool and enable the protector
to be worn under tight fitting leathers.
lining also has spacers which lift the protector away from the
body, allowing ventilation as this was a major area which riders
highlighted as a priority.
Another thing to
note is that the more the protector is worn, the more comfortable
it becomes, as the rubberised areas mould more closely to the
shape of the rider's body. I think it is also fair to
comment that an individual should choose the protector which
feels most comfortable - some people prefer our Contour
model to the Ricochet, so it really is 'horses for courses'."
Interesting! By the way, I'm not a physicist, but a
Newton, named for Sir Isaac, is "the amount of force required
to accelerate a mass of one kilogram at a rate of one meter
per second square." Multiply that 2.2 times 100,
and you have a kilonewton (224.9 lbs-force).
Apparently, the CE specs allow a lot of force! If the
CE level 1 accreditation calls for no more than 18 kN (4,046
lbs. force), then the Ricochet, at 10 kN, transmits 2,250 lbs.
of force. I'm not sure if the force is measured at a single
point, or if the design of the back protector then spreads that
force out over a wide surface area, diminishing its effects
on the body.
The Stowaway is about half the
weight of the Ricochet; it's thinner and seems more
comfortable, while still offering high levels of
Why didn't we think of this?!
Crossing the straps in front for a closer, tighter
fit helps to make the back protector feel part of
Jan also sent us some good information on what to look for
and how to choose a back protector:
"We have three
back protectors in the Knox range - the Ricochet, the Stowaway
and the Contour - all designed with different usages in mind.
The Ricochet is suitable for the sports, adventure sport, cruiser
and commuter markets; whilst the Stowaway is suitable for most
categories apart from sports.
The Contour is our
newest product which which offers ... the highest level of safety
and is designed with the sports and adventure sports markets
in mind. At Knox we place the emphasis on getting the right
protector for you and your rider category. So it is important
that the protector covers your spine and you should be measured
for this. Then you should try the protector for comfort - if
it feels good then you will wear it!
It is also important
to get the right protector for your rid(ing) position - so choose
the product which is designed for your ride. If you get the
size and fit right, your armour will soon become a regular piece
of your kit and the more you wear it the better it feels as
it moulds to the shape of your body.
Always buy armour
that is certified as 'CE approved', as this means it has been
tested and conformed to relevant specifications - watch out
for equipment which says it is 'made to European CE standards'
as this won't have been tested in an approved testing house!
Any CE approved items
will carry an information booklet detailing which test house
approved the item, what purpose it should be used for, which
standards the product conforms to and care instructions - again
watch out for products which don't carry this as they aren't
The fabric and the construction used in the Stowaway is different
than the Ricochet. Where the Ricochet's padding felt stiff,
the padding on the Stowaway has more give, although we wouldn't
call it plush. The fabric on the inside (i.e., the side worn
towards the rider) is soft and has some give.
A visitor wrote with an interesting opinion on why the padding
on back protectors is stiff, see the
Owner Comments section of the Ricochet article for more.
Comparison of original equipment
(left) to the Knox Ricochet Back
Alternate view of the Knox Back
We really don't have any problems fitting the thicker Ricochet
under our motorcycle clothing, and the Stowaway is even thinner
and less noticeable. See the photo below, which illustrates
the Stowaway worn under the
Olympia Vortech perforated leather jacket.
By the way, in addition to our upcoming evaluation of the
Knox Cross Sport "wearable armor", we're in the process
of evaluating a couple of one-piece leather suits. The Knox
products work very nicely under those suits and offer about
the maximum protection possible with today's technology. Stay
tuned for more...
Stowaway (left) vs. Ricochet back
Stowaway under the Olympia jacket.
The left photo above illustrates the size of the Stowaway
back protector (on the left in the photo) to the Ricochet. As
you can see, there isn't much difference in surface area, and
in fact, the Stowaway has a wider wrap-around section that has
the potential of offering greater protection to the rider's
The Stowaway (and the Ricochet) both use Coolmax fabric that's
anti-bacterial treated to prevent mildew.
We're getting used to wearing our back
protectors during every ride. Although the amount time required
to suit up is directly correlated to the amount of protection
the rider is wearing, throwing on a back protector only takes
seconds. The human spine is an incredible piece of work and
it's also very fragile, so it's well worth protecting!
By the way, our Stowaway did come with a nice storage bag.
Review: Knox Stowaway Back Protector
Price: $159.00 (£59.99)
||Made In: Unknown
Comments: Fits under most motorcycle jackets.
Covers a large portion of the back. Lining is softer
than the Ricochet.
See the wBW
review of the
Knox Ricochet back protector
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From "N.": "...I think
the biggest "advantage" of the Ricochet is it's multiple-impact
absorbing abilities, which is first for Knox, as the inner energy
absorbing material is a plastic honeycomb. I think they switched
from a polypropylene material to a high density polyethylene
core, but I'm not sure. I've got limited knowledge of these
materials as they are used in various applications.
The basic advantage of the Stowaway is the convenience factor,
it can be rolled-up and stored in the bag when you are not on
the bike and in your gear. It's a one-time use piece, with the
older plastic honeycomb material.
They both achieve Level 1 CE approval. There are others out
there that achieve level 2 passes that I'm interested in seeing
reviewed for comfort. One is Knox's new Contour model, the other
is the more readily available T-pro Forcefield, which is now
also being sold by Joe Rocket as the Speedmaster protector.
The T-pro uses a foam-rubber material that's pretty impressive,
and seems really flexible."