How to use a spine protector when motorcycling

Medical Supplies & Equipment

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, almost 1% of all 8.6 million registered motorcyclists incurred a riding-related injury in 2019.

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Motorcycling safety equipment

People hop onto a motorcycle rather than into a car for multiple reasons. For some, it’s an easy way to beat traffic and find easy parking. For others, it’s an adrenaline rush through mountain paths and motocross tracks.

Regardless of your reason for riding a motorcycle, it’s important to stay protected at all times. Motorcycles carry a higher risk of injury in comparison to cars, and spine protectors are just one of the ways you can keep yourself safe. 

There are many different components to equipping yourself correctly for a safe motorcycle ride. Each piece of equipment is designed to protect different parts of the body from different types of injuries.

Head protection


It’s rare to see a motorcyclist without a helmet on, but it does happen. However, a good-quality helmet is one of the most important pieces of motorcycle safety equipment. In one study, results showed that 42% of motorcyclists without a helmet who were involved in a crash sustained head injuries.

Many motorcyclists choose to wear full head helmets with visors for extra protection. Not only does this provide extra coverage for your face, it prevents dust and debris from getting into your eyes, which can increase the risk of a crash.

Limb protection

motorcycle suit

Many motorcycle users wear a specially designed motorcycle suit or jacket designed to protect their limbs from injury. When it comes to your limbs, you’re mostly seeking to reduce the risk of serious abrasions during a fall from your bike. You’ll find that a lot of motorcycle jackets, pants and boots incorporate Kevlar into them for maximum protection.

Hands and skin


Your extremities are at risk of injury when using a motorcycle and also are exposed to the elements when riding at high speeds. Good-quality gloves and boots provide extra protection and grip to reduce the risk of an accident and the severity of injury in the event of a fall.

Back and neck

It’s not uncommon to suffer scrapes and bruises or even severe abrasions during a motorcycle accident. However, one of the most important areas of your body to protect is your spine. Spinal injuries can be devastating and take a long time to heal. They can even cause permanent damage. However, correct spine protection is often pretty far down the list for riders in comparison to things such as helmets and outerwear.

Although equipping yourself properly with all the safety gear you need can get quite expensive, it’s imperative to do everything you can to protect your spine properly while riding.

How important are spine protectors?

“Spinal injury” is a general term that encompasses many different areas of your back and different levels of severity. There are three main areas of the back that can incur injury during a motorcycle crash: the upper, middle and lower back.

A serious crash on a motorcycle can cause devastating spinal injury, with permanent or long-lasting effects. According to the National Institutes of Health, the higher up on your spine that the injury occurs, the more widespread the damage is throughout your body. For example, injuries high on the spine can result in paralysis across almost all of the body, including all your limbs. Injuries lower on the spine can cause permanent paralysis of the legs. Other common complications as a result of spinal injuries include chronic pain and inhibited bladder function.

Different types of spine protectors can provide protection to separate areas. Some full spine protectors provide shock absorption for the full spine.

Tips for using a spine protector when motorcycling

Choose the right spine protector for your needs

Road motorcycle drivers should take all the protection afforded to them, especially since a crash with a larger vehicle can cause catastrophic injuries. For sports motorcyclists such as motocross riders, a higher level of mobility may be needed at the waist.

When it comes to spine protectors for either of these scenarios, you can choose protectors that cover mainly the thoracic area (upper back) or lumbar area (lower back), or a full coverage protector. Jacket-style spine protectors also can provide shock absorption for the cervical area (neck) and the coccyx area (tailbone).

You can choose between different materials and levels of rigidity when it comes to spine protectors. Hard-shell protectors are stiff and made from stronger materials. Soft-shell protectors leverage special types of foam to provide shock absorption without restricting movement too much.

Combine safety and comfort

There is always some level of risk involved with getting on a motorcycle. You may find that some spine protectors don’t offer the mobility you need. If you drive for long periods of time on your bike, you may need to shop around for something that provides the right level of protection without becoming uncomfortable over long periods of wear. Most comfort issues can be resolved with the right undershirt if the issue is chafing, particularly with hard-shell protectors.

Wear the back protector correctly

Always follow the instructions provided with spine protection equipment to ensure it fits correctly and snugly against your body. Many back protectors come with adjustable straps and options of sizes and lengths so you can find exactly the right fit.

What you need to buy for protecting your spine on a motorcycle

Alpinestars Nucleon KR-Celli Motorcycle Back Protector

Alpinestars Nucleon KR-Celli Motorcycle Back Protector

Available in small, medium and large sizes, this lightweight spine protector contours to the back and provides shock-absorption protection from your shoulders to your waist. It’s a single pad that slips inside the back of your motorcycle jacket.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Webetop Kids Dirt Bike Spine Protector Vest

Webetop Kids Dirt Bike Spine Protector Vest

If your kids like to race around on motocross bikes, this full hard-shell vest provides ample protection for their back, shoulder and chest. The adjustable strap on the waist makes it simple to fit and it’s suitable for use in other sports, such as skiing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

HEROBIKER Motorcycle Full Body Armor Jacket

HEROBIKER Motorcycle Full Body Armor Jacket

Whether you’re a risk-taking dirt-bike rider or a road biker, this full jacket provides padding and hard-shell protection for your full torso, including your arms. The shell pads are attached to a soft mesh vest, making it comfortable to wear.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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