Date reviewed: September 2017 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £219.99 | www.tranam.co.uk
Riding every day, I tend to wear textile kit with a built-in back protector. On track in leathers though, or when wearing my leather jacket, I use a separate back protector – I feel naked without one, and firmly believe it’s worth wearing for safety.
Since June, I’ve stopped using my standard back-protector in my one-piece leathers and Segura jacket, wearing this combined back and chest protector from Rukka.
The CE Level 2 back protector is noticeably thicker than the chest, but still comfortable
The Outlast lining sounds like science-fiction make-believe, but having also had it in textile kit and gloves, I can honestly say that it works. It’s not a miracle worker – it won’t make you hot in the depths of winter or sweat-free in the Sahara, but it does create a more comfortable environment a lot of the time, and stops the armour making you uncomfortable in many riding conditions, certainly in the UK. Of course, the armour isn’t breathable, so you will get warmer than without it.
I take a medium tee-shirt but large motorcycle jackets – the Kastor fitted okay in medium, but after moving around for a while I found the large was the best fit. Being a stretch material, it holds the armour in place very well, and feels snug but comfortable. It’s surprising just how much more secure you feel with this on.
Being D3O, the armour is pliable so sits comfortably against the shape of your body; this material is based on a non-Newtonian fluid, going solid when it’s struck. It’s a popular technology that’s in a large proportion of modern kit and here – designed specifically for Rukka – this back protector offers excellent coverage. The front is large without being restrictive, whether sat upright on an adventure bike or hunched over a race machine.
My only complaint is with the connecting zip – after about an hour of riding, particularly when wearing a rucksack, I become very conscious of the chunky zip pressing on my spine. It’s not painful, but it is uncomfortable.
I’ve never had cause to zip the armour to my trousers, and don’t really understand why you’d want to – surely you’d always connect your jacket to your trousers. The only situation I can think of is if wearing a jacket that’s not compatible at the same time as some Rukka pants – then I might zip the armour to them. But this doesn’t apply to me, so I’ve just cut the zip out.
I don’t wear this all the time – my textile kit has a D3O back protector already fitted, and if I’m wearing the thermal liner, or even heated kit too, it all gets a bit cramped. But I feel almost as naked without it now as I used to if I forgot my standard back protector.
The additional security offered by protection to the chest is excellent, and having broken ribs twice in bike accidents, I truly value it.
I hope it never happens to you, or to me again, but consider the possible ways to come off a bike… how many don’t involve you impacting your chest at least once, be it on the road, the bike’s tank, or the bars, screen etc? Or a car?
Nothing can absolutely guarantee safety in an accident, but this excellent piece of kit, with its high level of protection, goes a long way to keeping you safe if the worst were to happen, and when compared to some stand-alone back-protectors, it isn’t a bad price. I wouldn’t want to be without mine