PRODUCT REVIEW (MOTORCYCLE GEAR): The Knox KC2000 X1 Back Protector

Most motorcyclists know that when out riding, they should wear helmets to protect their heads from a hard knock that might cause brain damage but how many think about protecting the spine when riding? Our spine is just as important as our head...injury to the spinal cord could render us paralyzed for the rest of our lives, never to walk again let alone ride another motorcycle. Motorcycle back protectors are designed to be worn under jackets or leathers. Their purpose is to absorb the impact of anything hard that might come in contact with your back, thus protecting your spine. Wearing an appropriate set of body armour may mean surviving a potentially fatal crash, bad bruising instead of a broken limb, or maybe just reducing road rash.



Personally, I never ride my motorcycle without my back protector, even if it is just a short leisurely ride. The protector that I had was a basic back pad with some hard plastic pieces manufactured by a popular motorcycle apparel company.



Planet-Knox sent us their brand new Knox KC2000 X1 back protector to test. Planet-Knox is a UK-based company and is the leading manufacturer of high-tech impact protection (body armour) for motorcyclists.



Knox Body Armour



Body armour did not exist before 1981. Knox started making protectors when they found that there was a need for armour by road racers. Even then, the body protectors were designed to significantly reduce the risk of injury in the unfortunate event of a get-off. Knox was awarded "Best Safety Product" in 1988 by the Motorcycle Industry for being the first to incorporate body armour into every day bike clothing. In 1995, Knox became the first brand in the world to gain CE approval for body armour. To gain the CE mark, all products have to be tested and approved by an independent Government approved test house under extremely strict boundaries.



The KC2000 X1


 


X1 is simply the most advanced back protector that money can buy.  Based on Knox's KC2000, the X1 features a revolutionary heat transfer pad to stabilise your body temperature and hinged construction for body-hugging comfort. The KC2000 X1 is the very latest development in this range and includes the following features:



        3 Layers of Protection - extra protection on vulnerable areas.



        3 section back for improved flexibility



        Larger area of second honeycomb layer for extra protection


        New outer covering made from stainless steel woven thread coated in ceramic beads increases puncture and abrasion resistance


       Chrome leather finishing


       New adjustable shoulder strap and waist belt system for improved fit and comfort, therefore holding the spine guard in place


        Five honeycomb impact protection panels uses ceramic-coated composite mesh for extra performance.


        TraumaLite honeycomb structure cells over vulnerable areas (spine, ribs and shoulder blades) that absorbs and disperses impact energy.


        Schoeller carbon/keprotec fabric increases abrasion resistance.


        Body facing covered with space fabric for warmth dissipation and extra comfort.


        Perforated for airflow comfort.



        CE approved and exceeds EU standards by over 50%, making it one of the best-performing back protectors money can buy



        Expanded rubber backing for greater coverage of the back.



        "Hinged" construction for extra flexibility combined with new posture support built into the waistband, for complete comfort.



Knox has taken their market leading X1 back protector a stage further by incorporating Schoeller ComforTemp, a dynamic climate control fabric. This really is "space age technology", developed for the Apollo 15 mission.  ComforTemp is a phase change material, containing microcapsules. As the rider warms up, the microcapsules liquefy and store heat, keeping them cool. As he/she cools down, the microcapsules solidify, releasing heat & keeping them warm.



Our evaluation



My first impressions of the KC2000 X1 was that it was much, much thicker

The author modeling the KC2000 X1.

than my other back protector. Upon pulling the X1 on, you will notice t
he thickness so if you are still in the market for a jacket or leather suit, you would be wise to keep that in mind. The X1 conformed to my body pretty quickly. Soon, I no longer noticed the back protector. The shoulder straps and waist belt stays in place well and is quite comfortable. I felt like I lost a little bit of maneuverability but it was not substantial enough to hinder my riding. The X1 is about 1 inch thick at its thickest point. The raised areas are only about 6 inches wide and are parallel to the spine. They also provide coverage over the kidneys and shoulder blades, which I found to be a major plus over most other back protectors I have seen and tried. The base is a rubber pad covered in perforated nylon fabric with strategically located raised panels trimmed in leather.



The body armour itself is truly first class. The X1 was light, cool and comfortable to wear for long periods of time during long all-day rides. The Knox is filled with TraumaLite plastic honeycomb and covered with Schoeller Keprotec abrasion-resistant fabric. Trauma-Lite is designed to absorb energy by self-destructing, like a helmet liner. Thus, these protectors are designed to be replaced after they have performed their duty.



The Knox appeared to be very well made. However, my observations were that the non-overlapping positioning of the raised panels over the spine could be a theoretical weak point, especially in crashes involving handlebar or footpeg impact on the rider's back. On the other hand, the X1 is much thicker and better padded than a standard back protector. As mentioned above, one major advantage that I found the Knox to have over its competitors' back protectors is that the sides extend further out to offer additional shoulder blade and kidney area protection.



After months and miles of hard riding, the X1 back protector has proven its worth. Before each ride, strapping on the X1 has become second nature, as is pulling on my helmet. Being as comfortable as it is, once on my way, I do not even notice that it is there. Although I have yet to crash-test the X1 (and I do not intend to force the issue), I am confident that it will do its job when called upon.



Contact Information



Teknic in Rockford, Michigan distributes Knox back-protectors in the USA. For more information, you can reach them at (616) 866 3722 or visit www.teknicgear.com . If you wish to reach the manufacturers directly, you may do so by visiting www.planet-knox.com .



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Shawn H. Ooi is a resident of Los Angeles and has been riding motorcycles for over 14 years. He has owned many makes and models of motorcycles and his current ride is a Ducati 748. Shawn is also one of the owners of Moomba Cyclesports Inc., which specializes in suspension set-ups and race-tuning. Moomba Cyclesports also provides regular service & maintenance and does parts & motorcycle apparel sales. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (626) 618 0385.

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