More: See the
review of the Knox
Ricochet back protector
| 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
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 that one.
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
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:
"Basically there 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.
Additionally, the 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 protection.
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 the rider.
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
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 CE approved!"
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
section of the Ricochet article for more.
Comparison of original equipment back
(left) to the Knox Ricochet Back Protector.
Alternate view of the Knox Back Protector.
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 protectors.
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 sides.
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
Knox Armor (Distributed in the U.S.A. by
Retail Price: $159.00 (£59.99)
Comments: Fits under most motorcycle jackets. Covers a
large portion of the back. Lining is softer than the Ricochet.
|More: See the
review of the Knox
Ricochet back protector
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►Your Comments and
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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."