I’d venture to guess that a back protector is one of the least common items of safety gear used by street motorcyclists and scooterists, and that’s a shame, because a back protector can help protect against serious injuries.
But the combination of light weight, flexibility and shape of the Seesoft back protector might just change the perception of a back protector as a heavy, uncomfortable piece of cumbersome gear.
From the very beginning — 14 years ago this month, in fact — one of the primary objectives of webBikeWorld was to promote motorcycle riding safety.
That, I hope, has been obvious. This means publishing topics about training and safe riding; tips on wearing proper riding gear and information and reviews about products to improve visibility of the motorcycle and the rider in traffic.
Standardization of Safety Gear
Related to this, and something we have mentioned several times, is the concept of standardization for the sizes and shapes of certain types of safety gear.
For back protectors, the idea that we have promoted is that in the interest of motorcycle safety and protection, clothing manufacturers should develop and agree on a standard size and placement for back protector insert pockets in jackets and pants.
Imagine this: back protector manufacturers would agree with jacket manufacturers to make back protector inserts to standard shapes and sizes. If this happened, every jacket would fit a standard shaped protector of any brand.
The protector manufacturers could then concentrate on competing by making better (i.e., lighter, cooler, more comfortable and more protective) inserts.
Not only would this increase the number of motorcyclists who would be wearing higher-quality protection rather than the junk foam that comes in most clothing, the prices would be driven down due to the economies of scale.
This could be done a couple of ways; for example, you might not even need a dedicated protector insert pocket inside a jacket.
If the jacket had strips of “hook-and-loop” or Velcro, then the back protector inserts could be packaged inside their own cloth pockets with matching “hooks” or “loops” and simply placed inside the jacket by the owner.
In fact, this may be the least expensive way to standardize. Of course, the tailoring, shape and fit of the jackets might have to be modified slightly to accommodate the standard back protector inserts.
I’m sure the manufacturers would come up with some type of argument of why this would never work, but I don’t believe it. I think that standardizing on back protector shapes and sizes could be done very easily.
Maybe it wouldn’t work for a small percentage of jackets and pants, but since clothing sizes are standardized, there really isn’t any reason I can see why this wouldn’t work.
Sound good? Apparently, the only thing that’s holding it back is corporate ego, which demands that every jacket have a unique shape and size protector so that the manufacturer can sell you their particular flavor.
However, as smart webBikeWorld motorcyclists, there may be a way to game the current system.
How? Well, as an example, the REV’IT! Seesoft back protector inserts are made in 9 different shapes, with 26 different sizes spanning those shapes. You may be able to find one that fits your non-REV’IT! brand motorcycle jacket.
So this review isn’t just for REV’IT! jacket owners; anyone may benefit by learning more about the Seesoft protectors. Read on…
The problem is that many motorcyclists still don’t incorporate a good quality back protector into their regular riding outfit.
I’m sure that one of the reasons for this is that the “strap on”, race-style back protectors are generally uncomfortable to wear on the street and they also have poor ventilation.
Also, it’s yet another piece of gear that you have to climb into before riding and to me, the least fun part about motorcycle riding is the ride preparation. Besides taking time, it kills the spontaneity on both ends of the ride.
This is where a back protector insert can help.
While perhaps not offering the same high levels of impact protection as a full race “strap on” back protector, surely something like a REV’IT! Seesoft back protector insert with a CE Level 2 rating is gobs better than the cheap foam pads that are provided with most jackets.
The magic is that once the protector insert is in the jacket, you never have to think about it again — it’s always there with you, as soon as you slide your arms into the jacket.
REV’IT! designs and develops the Seesoft protectors in-hours to complement their race-orientedTryonic back protectors (report) (REV’IT! bought the Tryonic company in 2011).
Both Seesoft and Tryonic brands are currently in the process of becoming incorporated into the REV’IT! product line and my guess is that we’ll see more of these products in the coming months.
For example, the Seesoft hip protectors, which I first described in my REV’IT! 2013-2014 Fall/Winter Clothing Preview, use the same design and technology as the Seesoft back protectors, will go on sale starting in February of 2014.
The REV’IT! Seesoft protectors are designed to fit into REV’IT! jackets and pants, but you may also find that one of the shapes may just happen to fit into other brands too.
REV’IT! Seesoft Back Protector Insert and the Level 2 Standard
The CE standard helps a consumer to differentiate between the quality and effectiveness of the various back protectors on the market.
The draft European standard (prEN 1621-2:2012) determines the minimum size of a protector and minimum shock absorption requirements.
The test is conducted by placing a back protector on a slightly arched anvil that is equipped with instruments for measuring impact forces. A striker weighing 5 kilograms (about 11 pounds) is dropped on the protector from a height of one meter.
The device measuring the force will only measure the force underneath the protector, effectively gauging the energy (known as the residual force) that makes it through the protection to the rider.
The lower the residual force, the more effective the protector and the safer the rider.
Level 1: After several test and multiple impacts, the residual force value must register no greater than 24 kN, and the average of all impacts must be below 18 kN. If it meets these criteria the protector is then qualified CE Level 1.
Level 2: This test is a more stringent safety standard that specifies12 kN for the maximum value of the registered force and 8 kN for the average value.
Seesoft Test Results: The average value of residual force with the Seesoft CE-level 2 back protectors is 5.6 kN, exceeding the Level 2 standard.
What This Means for Motorcyclists
The design of the Seesoft protectors make them very flexible and lightweight (the Type RV, size 05 protector shown here weighs 282 grams or 9.9 oz.) and the result is that they are easier to wear than many other types of protectors or “armor”.
The idea of having the multiple layers is that during a severe impact, the foam layers will shift relative to one another, resulting in impact dispersion over a larger effective surface area, reducing the impact to the rider’s body.
The Seesoft protectors are also multi-impact rated, which means that they are still functional after a crash.
The layers are semi-loosely bonded together with a special glue, so the protector should be periodically checked for wear and tear, especially after an impact.
I consider a protector as a “one-time use” piece of safety gear, like a helmet or jacket. If the gear is impacted, it’s done its job and it needs to be replaced.
It makes no sense to me to try and save a few bucks by re-using a helmet or even a back protector, because they can both be replaced at low cost. So why take the chance?
With the insulating liner installed in the Poseidon GTX, I can fit maybe a single under layer or a turtleneck shirt but no more. Add the Seesoft protector and the jacket becomes too tight — I should have ordered an XL.
I think that in the near future, REV’IT! should consider revising the design of the jackets to assume that owners will fit a Seesoft protector.
This means either a redesign of the protector pocket or slightly more “give” in the tailoring of the jackets in the rear to accommodate the protector without affecting the size and fit.
UPDATE: REV’IT! said that all jackets produced since 2013 are fitted with the pocket shaped to fit the RV type insert, so one day when all older jackets are out we will have one back protector for all jackets.
In the meantime, if you’re considering buying a new REV’IT! jacket, I’d suggest trying it on for size first with a Seesoft protector installed to ensure the correct fit.
Let’s take a look at some of the REV’IT! Seesoft back protector insert features in the following photos:
The REV’IT! Seesoft back protector is lightweight, comfortable and flexible. It is just about unnoticeable when fitted in a motorcycle jacket.
The most important benefit of using a back protector insert in your motorcycle jacket is that it’s always there.
You don’t have to remember to add another piece of gear by strapping on a (probably uncomfortable) race-style back protector.
Although the Seesoft protector may not provide the same levels of protection as a “strap on” type like the Forcefield Pro Sub 4 (review), which is currently the impact force reduction leader at less than 4 kN, it’s certainly better than the flimsy foam pads that come with most jackets.
I’d like to see REV’IT! tailor all of their jackets so that a Seesoft protector will fit without changing the size.
I also think a Seesoft protector should come with at least the higher-end REV’IT! jackets as standard fitment.
If you own a REV’IT! jacket, a Seesoft protector insert should be on your shopping list. They’re cheap enough at a list price of $49.99.
For non-REV’IT! jacket owners, you may find that one of the many different shapes and sizes of Seesoft protectors will fit.
And don’t forget to look for the Seesoft hip protectors for motorcycle pants also.
From “H.S.” (March 2014): “I’ve been using a Seesoft in my size Aerostich Roadcrafter (size 40) and Darien (medium) jackets.
Aerostich sells an adapter sleeve in order to use its “Transit” back pad (actually a re-branded SAS-TEC pad) in its other jackets; the Seesoft ST-12 pad fits right into the size Medium adapter sleeve like it was made to do so.”