May 10, 2007

Neck Brace Systems: The next step in rider protection

Neck Brace for motorcyclists by Dainese
Neck Brace for motorcyclists by KTM
Neck Brace for motorcyclists by KTM
Neck Brace for motorcyclists by BMW
Neck Brace for motorcyclists by BMW
Hrishi set this one off.

Recently, in the space of days, BMW, KTM and Dainese have announced new riding kit that focusses on the only part of the rider anatomy that rarely gets a protective sheath – the neck. In each case, the systems target off-road riders, and all are designed to allow full neck motion while relieving the loads (Dainese) or preventing hyperextension (unnatural motion, which usually leads to torn muscles, broken bones etc.)

I believe that the KTM riders at the 2007 Dakar already used the Dr Chris Leatt developed braces in competition, so obviously they must work. Or else professional riders would ride right by them.

The BMW Neck Brace system is made of carbon, kevlar and glass fibre reinforced plastic. Obviously that would probably be uncomfortable to wear, so its covered in a layer of impact-absorbing foam that also happens to be more touch-able. BMW says the rider will place the NBS around his neck like a collar and simply snap the two side-mounted rapid action catches into place. The NBS is designed to sit on the upper body and does not actually connect the helmet to the rider's body. This allows full motion but the size and shape of the NBS will not allow the head to perform any unnatural, potentially disastrous contortions. BMW also says the any helmet impacts that may act on the spine will also be mitigated to some extent.

Chris Pfeiffer, the stunt god, competed at the 2006 Erzberg Rodeo wearing one, and he finished in the top 10, so while it may not boost your performance, it certainly does not hinder it. And I'm told that the neck brace is also beginning to make its appearance in road racing, with the South African Superbike Series already using them.

The Dainese Neck-6 system, on the other hand, varies a little from the BMW/KTM NBS. The Neck is an articulated support primarily intend to take the windloads off the neck by supporting it. The Neck is a set of joined pads, not unlike a multiplate backprotector that can follow the necks movement and support it. There are two versions on sale. The Neck-4 has four cervical support pads, while the 6 also has two lateral pads that support the shoulders.

Photos: KTM/Mitterbauer/BMW/Dainese

10 comments:

Srikeerthi said...

Good article.. Some more details here:

http://www.motocorse.com/news/other_news/14096_BMW_Motorrad_Neck_Brace_System_to_revolutionise_motorcycle_safety.php

I totally support your watermarking of own pictures. But isn't watermarking of pictures obtained from other sites taking it a bit too far?

I've no intention to question your intent, but wanted to point out what I felt is right.

rearset said...

I wouldn't watermark pics I got from other sites. Just see the uh oh! post. These pics, however, aren't 'lifted' from other websites, I have access to them from the original manufacturer (as opposed to copy-pasted from a plethora of sites). In that situation, I do have the editorial right to watermark them, especially given that I'm offering image sizes no one else is.

The same policy is followed by many website which are much, much larger than mine (and complain of image theft on a regular basis). Just check out mcnews.com.au, gizmag.com ... these are the two that immediately come to mind...

MunnaiBhai said...

Wow cool stuff in theory but I dont even use a helmet!

MunnaiBhai (MBBS)

rearset said...

The Genius is now in the building...

MunnaiBhai said...

That hurt my ego. But seriously Helmet I find useless if you dont plan on going on very high speeds. And with Mumbai's traffic you won't.

MunnaiBhai (MBBS)

rearset said...

That, exactly, is why I said the Genius is in the building. Who told you that helmets and their protective effect had anything to with the quantum of speed? And unfortunately, like all good protective gear, helmets are indeed useless until you have an incident. Then, then are indispensable. And at that time, if you aren't already in one, you become potential useless. Or late.

You're still around, so why not keep it that way and wear a lid, eh?

MunnaiBhai said...

"Who told you that helmets and their protective effect had anything to with the quantum of speed?"

They actually do, Head trauma is usally based on velocity of impact on the head. A good swing of a cricket bat is gonna hurt your head, while a tiny motion swing does nothing. So falling off a bike at low speed (if thats probable) wont get you hurt but at a good speed would.

MunnaiBhai (MBBS).

rearset said...

Doctor,
What I meant by quantum of speed is not the velocity of the impact, but how do you determine that at low speed on your machine, you are only exposed to low velocity impacts?

If I remember Snells helmet test, they drop the weight on the helmet from about six feet. Which is just a tiny bit higher than your head on a bike. So I presume that you noggin accelerating downwards (no forward velocity component) produces enough speed to for a high speed impact.

Especially since all the G figures measure (intra cranial and in the mouth is the standard practice, I'm told) are well into the 150-300G scale...

And how do handle these situations?

1. You're going slow but the chap about to crash your party is going at a 100 kph?

2. The road opens up and you can finally open the throttle. But you don't have a lid (as usual)... what do you do? Persist at 25 kph?

3. At what speed, in your considered opinion, does a helmet become useful?

MunnaiBhai said...

"If I remember Snells helmet test, they drop the weight on the helmet from about six feet. Which is just a tiny bit higher than your head on a bike. So I presume that you noggin accelerating downwards (no forward velocity component) produces enough speed to for a high speed impact."

True it is, but everytime I trip or fall doesnt me my skull is cracked.


1. You're going slow but the chap about to crash your party is going at a 100 kph?

Me? Or the other person is at 100 KPH? Considering my low speed I can avoid the driver from a distance. Now if the driver came rushing from a turn then it would depend on luck on dogding him. But I'd probably speed up to dodge him. You always gotta be careful with turns.

2. The road opens up and you can finally open the throttle. But you don't have a lid (as usual)... what do you do? Persist at 25 kph?

Yup as usual :). Problem is my scooter has issues on higher speed, I cant go faster than 45 kph even though I wanted to.

3. At what speed, in your considered opinion, does a helmet become useful?

Anything above 60 kph in my opinion.

Anyway rearset, I just dont have enough personal experience to justify one yet.

MunnaiBhai (MBBS)

Nyctophobia said...

woah, it seems i missed this gem of a conversation.

call me a helmet freak, but i've found that the lid has another use besides keeping the old gray matter safe. it keeps the elements out! its been quite often that i've had dust and other assorted crap the mumbai has to throw right in my eyes and that leaves me 'blinded' for that split second. now i have specs so wearing those wrap around shades is out of the question (unless i get prescription shades). a lot of my friends find my lid big and heavy and even clostrophobic, but i've not really had an issue with it.

the neck brace sounds interesting, i wonder when it will wind up in stores... and then i wonder when i'll have the money :D