The best motorcycle back protectors can be just as effective as other types of motorcycle armor. Unfortunately, they are not as popular as chest armor, but they can also prevent serious injury or road rash during an accident. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, you can never have too much protection when you ride. I’ve created this buyer’s guide to go over the different features to choose from when shopping for back protectors and how to determine which models can offer ultimate protection. I’ve also reviewed many of the top selling protectors on the market, narrowing it down to six that have what it takes to protect your back when you’re on the road.
Motorcycle Back Protectors Comparison Chart
Alpinestars Men’s Nucleon KR-3 Motorcycle Back Protector
This back protector by Alpinestars is CE certified to level 2. It features a shell that’s single-injected with a lattice design that will absorb impact more efficiently, while allowing for ultimate air flow and breathability. The protector itself is made out of viscoelastic PU foam located on the spine area, designed for impact absorption. The central hardshell features a convex design that offers the highest level of protection in the spine area. The wraparound strap design includes an adjustable rib protector that’s made out of high-performance polymeric materials.
- Offers ultimate protection
- Wraparound design includes side protection
- CE certified level 2
- Made out of viscoelastic PU foam
- The Price
- Difficult to put on
This model not only offers top of the line protection, but the perfect anatomical fit. It will mold to the wearer’s body, while providing a fit that’s comfortable and breathable. The modular rib protectors are designed to strategically protect any vulnerable areas, preventing serious injuries in the event of an accident. While the price may be steep, in a crash, this level of protection will be invaluable.
Alpinestars Nucelon KR-1I Motorcycle Protector
This is a hybrid back protector insert that is CE certified at level 2. While this back protector doesn’t offer the same level of protection as a back protector that is strapped to the rider’s body, it does do an excellent job of molding to the contours of the back, although, there is no side protection. The back protector features a flexible design, thanks to the energy absorbing foam. The insert is designed to provide protection against impact, with its shock absorbing design. While thick and durable, the insert is still very breathable, allowing air to flow through the channel system, to prevent sweating when riding in hotter climates. Unfortunately, this model is only available in two size options, which can be a drawback for larger riders.
- Shock absorbing design
- Molds to the contours of the back
- Made out of energy absorbing foam
- Reasonable price
- Does not provide side protection
If you’re looking for a breathable, flexible back protector insert for your next motorcycle trip, then you’ll love this model by Alpinestars. It’s flexible, conforming to the contours of your back, so over a short period of time, you’ll forget you’re even wearing it. However, it offers that extra layer of protection that every motorcycle rider needs, whether you’re going for a long cross country trip or a short ride with some friends. The motorcyclist needs all the protection he or she can get, and this back protector by Alpinestars delivers.
Ridbiker Motorcycle Back Protector
This versatile motorcycle back protector is strapped to the rider’s back, for a closer, more secure fit. This back protector can be used for more than riding a motorcycle, including snowboarding, skiing, cycling, and other types of extreme sports. The back protector is made out of a lightweight porous material with a honeycomb structure, which is designed for maximum breathability. The protective shield is made out of a high-quality plastic, called PP, and features a rugged durability and high impact resistance that provides powerful protection to the wearer.
The elasticized shoulder straps are highly adjustable and include a nylon belt, complete with a heavy-duty fastener that’s durable, yet comfortable.
- Heavy-duty fastener
- EVA foam padding
- Ergonomic design
- Adjustable shoulder straps
- Low price
- Difficult to adjust
- Only one size available
This back protector is delicate, lightweight, and durable. The ergonomic design is highly elastic. The protector is covered with a Lycra mesh cloth, combined with EVA high density foam, which pads and protects the spine and back against impact. The EVA foam is located under the armor and provides extra protection where the rider needs it the most.
Surlim SR Back Protector CE Armor Motorcycle Jackets Back Protector
This back protector insert by Surlim is lightweight and removable, so you can take it out and use it in different jackets. The back protector is lightweight and features a slotted design that helps promote airflow. It also offers excellent impact resistance and shock absorption. The protector is very versatile and will work with most types of motorcycle jackets.
It’s made out of high-performance shock absorbing materials that become hard and will dissipate impact energy upon impact. After the impact, the material will become flexible and soft again.
- Easy to insert
- Made out of high-performance shock absorbing material
- Does not offer side protection
- Only CE certified level 1
- Only one size available
This model in particular is well-built, offers the level of protection and comfort that many causal motorcyclists are looking for, and molds to the contours of the body, moving with the rider, instead of against them.
If you’re looking for affordable protection when you ride, this back protector is a great option. However, it only has a CE certified level 1 rating, which means it doesn’t offer the same level of protection that a CE certified level 2 back protector can. Because of this, I don’t recommend this model for motocross riding, off-roading of any type, or for use on a long motorcycle trip. However, the experienced rider can benefit from using this back protector on short rides around town. Additionally, the manufacturer currently offers a three-month satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied with how this back protector performs within this three-month period, contact the manufacturer for a full refund.
Scorpion EXO Men’s SAS-TEC CE Level 2 Back Protector
Unlike competing insert back protectors in this price range, this model by Scorpion offers top level protection with CE certification level 2, which is the highest level. The back protector is made out of viscoelastic memory form. During impact, the foam will harden up, absorbing shock, which can help to significantly reduce the severity of injuries. After the impact, the material will return to flexible, pliable material once again. This model also features multiple impact compliance.
Even if the back protector was hit in the same area, repeatedly, the protector will still remain fully functional and will not need to be immediately replaced, unlike a motorcycle helmet, which has to be replaced after an accident, even if it’s not damaged.
This model also offers adaptive absorption. The air found within the cells of the material will allow progressive energy absorption as the material firms up as it compresses.
If you ride in hotter climates as well as cold climates, the back protector offers climate stability. The material will not break down under intense temperatures and is able to handle hotter temperatures up to 212 degrees. The back protector is also made out of recyclable materials, so it’s a great choice for the environmentally conscience rider.
- Features climate stability
- Adaptative absorption
- CE certification level 2
- Low price
- Made out of recyclable materials
- Insert design does not offer same level of protection as strap back protectors
- May shift in jacket pocket compartment
This back protector offers top of the line protection against impacts and will conform to the contours of the rider’s body, moving along with the rider and not against them. The heavy-duty viscoelastic memory foam can easily withstand impact, hardening during the process and absorbing shock to minimize injuries to the rider. Because this is an insert, it can be used in multiple jackets, so you won’t have to spend more on additional back protectors to enjoy this level of protection. This model is durable, easy to install, offers better than average protection, and is a steal for the price.
MOTOKER Motorcycle Adults Back Protector
This budget-friendly back protector by Motoker features a shock absorbing, high-impact design. The protector itself is lightweight and features a honeycomb design that will promote breathability. Breathability isn’t as important in colder weather, however, if you find yourself riding often during the summer, or you live in a warmer part of the country, then a back protector that’s breathable will be high on your list of priorities. This model is perfect for the motorcyclist, bicyclist, motocross rider, snowboarder, skier, and skater. The protective shell is made out of a tough PP material that’s durable and offers high impact resistance. The back protector also comes equipped with a wide elastic waist belt, in addition to adjustable shoulder straps, so you can achieve the perfect fit and ride in total comfort. Unlike many competing insert style back protectors, this model hugs the rider’s body closely, offering better than average protection.
- Honeycomb design promotes better airflow
- Adjustable shoulder straps
- Made out of PP material
- High-impact design
- Low price
- Only one size available
- Does not provide side protection
This model won’t hit your wallet too hard, works for most types of extreme sports, and is a great choice for the motorcyclists looking for more protection when they ride. The highly adjustable fit will allow you to ride in comfort, while the breathable honeycomb design will prevent you from sweating excessively when you’re riding in hot weather.
Motorcycle Back Protectors Buyer’s Guide
While there’s no way you can prevent an accident on your motorcycle, especially when you’re dealing with negligent drivers, wearing a motorcycle back protector can help to minimize the injuries you sustain in an accident. A back protector may initially seem like a piece of equipment that only someone who does motocross would wear, however they are a must-have piece of safety gear for anyone who rides a bike. Unlike someone who rides in a passenger vehicle, the motorcyclist does not have any level of protection against impact in an accident. The driver of a passenger vehicle has thousands of tons of rubber, metal, and plastic to protect them. The motorcyclist needs all the protection they can get.
What Studies Tell Us
Studies have shown that a back protector can significantly reduce the amount of soft tissue damage on the sides and back of the rider, when worn in an accident. Additionally, most models will limit spine movement, which can prevent abrasions or punctures from occurring. In the event of an accident, a back protector will provide more advantages in terms of protection compared to wearing a motorcycle jacket alone.
A back protector should be part of your safety gear as a motorcyclist. This type of armor consists of a protective pad which covers a large portion of the rider’s posterior torso including the scapulae, ribcage, spine, and other adjacent thoracic anatomy. The purpose of this armor is to protect the posterior torso from abrasions and impact sustained in a crash.
The length of this armor can vary significantly depending on the brand and the model’s intended application.
Types of Back Protectors
The materials used to make the back protector are often differentiated by the type of protection:
- Soft shell
- Hard shell
This back protector is light and flexible. Most models are made out of plastic foams, such as PU or EVA, which are laid out into different layers in order to keep the design very lightweight. Viscoelastic foam works well for the back, since it conforms to the back of the rider when it gets warmed by body temperature. Once the back protector is removed, it will return to its original shape.
Hardshell back protectors are made out of less flexible plastics such as polycarbonate. As a result, the energy impact cannot be absorbed as smoothly as it can with soft shell back protectors. Models that have soft cushioning located on the inside with a hardshell design on the outside offer a high penetration resistance and can protect a rider against pointed objects such as branches and sharp stones or glass. Essentially, hardshell protectors are much heavier compared to soft shell models due to the harder materials that are used. To reduce the weight of the back protector, a hard plastic plate will be divided into several smaller plates which can also enable better airflow.
Other Important Features
Aside from the type of back protector you choose, there are other factors and features that you’ll need to take into consideration before you buy. These will include:
- CE ratings
I’ll go over these features below, to help you choose a model that has what it takes to keep you safe on the road.
Back armor doesn’t need to be quite as flexible as other types of motorcycle armor since it will rest firmly against your back at all times when worn. However, the protector must follow the curvature of your rear torso to provide ultimate protection.
The back protector must be long enough to shield the lower and upper back areas. If it’s not large enough, then it won’t offer the type of protection you need on the road.
A back protector that straps on will provide more coverage on your back, however, it must be worn separately from your jacket which can make them inconvenient to use. However, this extra level of protection will be essential on your next motorcycle trip.
A protector that fits in the large compartment in a jacket allows you to slip it in an forget about it, however it may not cover that lower back as well as a model with straps. Additionally, they only work for specifically shaped pockets, so it can be difficult to find a model that compatible with your jacket.
A back protector can be made out of a variety of compounds and materials; however, the industry has shifted most of its focus on a material called viscoelastic foam because of its ability to contour to the body of the rider.
Other commonly used materials include:
- Viscoelastic foam
- EVA foam
Not only are foams a more popular choice because back protectors made out of this type of material are more comfortable, but they’re also more breathable compared to back protectors that are made out of plastics.
A back protector should be certified. Back protectors are certified to one of two safety standards:
Both types are safe, however, CE2 offers more protection. However, the design of CE2 adds more bulk and weight. Many motorcycle jackets are sold with non CE2 rated foam inserts. These foam inserts do not provide any type of protection in a crash and should be replaced with a back protector. Unfortunately, many motorcyclists are unaware of back armor and will use this compartment on a jacket as a large pocket.
Back protectors with this safety rating are lighter and thinner than CE2 rated protectors. These protectors have a max transmitted force that is below 18 KN.
Models with this rating will have a max transmitted force that’s below 9 KN.
Why a Motorcycle Back Protector is so Important
A back protector is a piece of motorcycle safety gear that’s rarely discussed and often forgotten. When most motorcyclists talk about protection on the road, they mainly discuss helmet use only. Whether or not body armor for the motorcyclist is effective or not is something that’s been debated in the community for years. Although there aren’t many studies that surround the effectiveness of back protectors, there’s no argument that a back protector does provide more protection than riding without one. A back protector is a piece of internal body armor that protects the rider from the initial impact and the following abrasions as they slide to a halt. Of course, not all back protectors are created equal, which is why you need to do your research in order to find one that will work for your safety needs and jacket type.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Back Protector Worth it?
Yes. As I mentioned earlier, motorcyclists don’t have much protection between themselves and the road or a vehicle. A back protector can help reduce the severity of injuries that are sustained in a crash and should be used at all times.
What is the Most Protective Motorcycle Gear?
The helmet. A helmet does an excellent job of protecting the brain and head from serious injuries or even death and should be worn every time you ride. Body armor, such as a back protector, is the next most important piece of protective gear that the motorcycle rider should wear.
Are Motorcycle Back Protectors Useful?
Yes. While they cannot prevent serious injuries, such as fractures, they can help to minimize the impact of force that’s felt by a rider during a crash. They can also help to prevent or minimize the severity of road rash.
The best motorcycle back protectors will offer the ultimate protection when you’re out on the road. While the type of back protector you choose can heavily depend on how and where you ride, each of the models that made it onto my top six list earned high scores for their durable design, the level of protection they offer, durability, and overall quality. Using this guide, I’m confident that you can easily find a back protector that’s durable, one that’s highly breathable, easy to use, and one that’s able to keep you safe wherever ride.