Guide To Armor Upgrades
Replacing the stock shoulder, back, or elbow armor in your jacket is an easy way to improve your safety and comfort.
Shoulder and Elbow Upgrades and Replacements
Most motorcycle jackets include removable CE-certified armor in the elbows and shoulders. A ‘CE’ rating on a piece of safety equipment simply means it has been approved by an independent testing agency and meets the safety requirements developed for that product category.
There are many different brands of elbow and shoulder armor each with different materials and properties, but all armor stamped with the CE mark meet the minimum safety requirements in lab tests, though some brands may exceed those requirements.
Some riders choose to replace the stock armor included with their jacket with protectors that are more lightweight and flexible. And while most jackets do include some kind of CE-rated armor, some jackets that do not come with any kind of armor have pockets stitched into the elbows and shoulders that allow you to easily install armor yourself.
Commonly recognized and respected armor brands include SAS-TEC, Knox, Forcefield, and D3o, as well as the proprietary armor used by gear brands.
SAS-TEC Replacement Armor
Though there is only one CE rating for shoulder and elbow armor, there are two CE safety rating levels for back protectors. A Level 1 or Level 2 rating is determined by the amount of force transferred through the protector upon impact. A CE-Level 2 back protector transfers half as much force to the rider’s back as a CE-Level 1 back protector.
Back Armor Inserts
Back protection is the most commonly chosen armor upgrade for jackets, new and old. While most motorcycle jackets include removable CE-certified armor in the elbows and shoulders, the vast majority of motorcycle jackets available do not come with a CE-certified back protector. When you’re buying a new jacket, it’s a great idea to fit it with a new back armor upgrade at the same time.
Though some back protectors are shaped and sized to fit particular jacket models to the ‘t’ (like the Seesoft and Alpinestars protectors shown below), they will fit a variety of other jackets as well. You can test out the fit and feel of a variety of different kinds of CE-certified back inserts in your own jacket at Road Rider.
Harness-style back protectors cover a greater area of the spine, including portions of the tail bone and neck. The shoulder straps ensure the protector stays firmly in place in the event of an accident, and the waist belt provides lumbar support and lower body stability. Back protectors of this style can be worn under your jacket or suit.