It was during the middle of last year. I was lucky enough to have my family stop by for a relaxing day playing on the XR 100 during a NJMiniGP track day. Most racers have gotten the same question from their mothers, “Why does that guy have a pad on his chest and you don’t? Shouldn’t you have more safety equipment?”
When it comes to back protectors, I can’t imagine putting on a set of leathers without it. I’ve been wearing one since my second track day, but a chest protector? In front of your arms? sort of… :: there :: and in the way? Every racer I talked to said exactly my fears, “Oh sure, I wear it – but I know it’s there.” or “The discomfort is worth the safety”.
I decided at the start of this year that it was time to upgrade armor, but I still wasn’t sold on a chest protector. I had lost enough weight to gain some wiggle room inside my leathers, though and figured I could take up the extra space with something. For the past three years I have been riding with a Forcefield Pro back protector. Essentially their older version of the L2k. I was intrigued by their new “sub 4” back protector which essentially looks like two L2k back protectors added together. It runs about twice the depth of the L2k and provides almost twice the impact protection.
That was my decision point. I could either fit a thicker back protector, or maybe instead get a chest protector. I started shopping around at the Forcefield chest equipment as I would say I was a happy consumer of their older products but then I stumbled across Impact Safe-T Armor.
- Reusable? check
- Replaceable components? check
- Custom fit? Double Check!
- Recognized in the Industry? How do the names of Hayden, Edwards, Meyers,etc sound?
I called up Mike at Impact and talked to him about my situation. He had some good jokes to share and I left with a feeling of confidence that even though a chest protector would affect my mobility on the motorcycle it was the right thing to do. I’m not getting any younger. I decided then to place an order for the B-008 Back protector [their main model] and the Men’s standard chest protector.
The process was simple to follow even if Mike’s web page is a little hard to understand.
- Take your measurements
- Send in measurements
- Receive foam templates
- Photograph, fit, run around in, ride around in the templates
- Send in comments and photos
- Receive final product
For my measurements I didn’t trust myself, so I shelled out $5 to go to a tailor and have them help me decide where “center of my underarms” really started. I feel that was worth it for at least to have someone double check my calculations. As it turned out, we still got one of the numbers wrong. Mike called that day and said, “Either you’ve got a strange body, or your vertical measurement is off by 3 inches”. It was off by exactly 3 inches.
It took about three weeks for my templates to come in. Mike apologized for the delay because I of course hit him at the start of the season when everyone is shooting for their new equipment. Sadly I had to wait for the BSB guys to get their new gear for their first race that week.
When my templates arrived, Mike informed me that they were 1/2″ thick, whereas the final product will come in at a svelte 7/16″. I took my photos then donned my leathers and went for a spin around the block. Something had to be off. There was no tightness in my chest, no chicken wing arms, no complaints that I had heard so frequently from people with their first chest protector. Not just that, but the back protector’s profile followed my curves, it give me the normal feeling as if I had a cardboard box on my back.
With a visual look and a full pat down, I realized that my soft organs and ribs were to my surprise completely covered. I had always thought a chest protector was for your sternum, however this was for the entirety of my ribs and down to my diaphragm.
I happily sent my photos back to Mike and awaited delivery of the final product.
Did I mention that they custom logo it for you free of charge?
I got to try it on track first for the ULSB race this Sat and for the next days practice and race. I wanted to write a full review of my post race thoughts and feelings on it, but my honest comments? I didn’t even think about it. I have nothing to write. It was another mental check I had to add at second call [Visor clean, gloves tight, ohh and put in the chest protector] but after I zipped up my leathers I did not use a single brain cell to think about it all weekend. That is what true protection should do – save your ass without you having to know about it.
I can’t recommend Mike’s products stronger. The fit, finish, and delivery are all top notch and I’m now officially a believer in chest protection. With this level of protection at this price point you no longer have an excuse not to be fully covered. Give them a call and get safe!