Thursday, 8 January 2009

It's 'Armless . . .

Sorry :)

There have been several major innovations in motorcycling during the time I've been riding.

Brakes that stop a bike quickly and smoothly (although there was a 'minor' hiccup in that early disk brakes didn't work when wet).

Tyres that give phenomenal grip (but wear out much sooner).

And clothing.

Bike clothing now is significantly better than when I started riding (in the mid 1970s), you can stay warm and dry - even feet and hands (and gloves tend not to leech blue dye when wet . . . ).

Another innovation in clothing has been the oncorporation of body armour. Early versions of this were little more than thin foam padding - and you may still find this in place of 'proper' (ie CE certified) armour in some gear - particularly as a back 'pad'.

The first - as far as I know - manufacturer to use 'decent' armour was Arostich in their Roadcrafter suit. In the UK, it was Pro-Tek (who later - I think - became T-Pro) in their Elite suit.

The Elite was something of a miracle: it was completely waterproof (a welded, mesh-reinforced, 'PVC'-type outer), incredibly warm (foil/Thinsulate/foam) and had the best, easiest to use, 'storm' cuffs ever, with a 'drawstring' type adjuster.

There were a few problems, particularly that the collar material wasn't very durable, but a home replacement with corduroy fixed that!

But the biggest problem they faced was the British weather - couple of hot summers and mild winters didn't do their sales much good.

Although I can tell you that their suit made a good 'sleeping bag' when I arrived very early in mid-Feb. for a meeting and had to wait outside - I found somewhere to hide and had a kip! The back protector made a good 'kip mat' - in fact it was made of very similar material: a thin hard layer, lined with softer dense foam. The other armour in the jacket was dual-density foam.

Another couple of features - almost unique even now, 30 years later - were a cocyx pad below waist height in the jacket, and an adjustable hem that only tightened the back of the jacket so it shaped the jacket around as you leant forward.

It was a suit that had been 'thought about'.

Which leads me to the picture above. As you can see, it's 'arm' armour. But slightly different from the 'usual' - where the aim is typically to 'pad' a bone or joint.

As they explain:

Snowshell: intelligent snowboard protection

The Snowshell arm guard has been designed from first principles, based around a thorough understanding of how the arm behaves during a fall. There are an estimated 450,000 serious injuries globally as a result of snowboarding accidents. Over 45% of these are injuries to the arms. Although there are a large number of wrist and arm guards on the market, users complain that they are unappealing, uncomfortable and do not provide real protection in a major fall. The Snowshell arm guard aims to address all of these concerns, providing a carefully engineered solution that prevents the arm 'locking-out' during a fall, as well as providing wrist support and impact protection.

I'm guessing that 'locking out' is intended to reduce collar bone injuries (sometimes descibed as the 'horse rider and motorcyclist's injury').

It may also give a more 'judo fall' type curve to the arm - but if anyone reading is a martial arts expert, please comment!


1 comment:

Nasty Evil Ninja said...

I think by 'locking out' they're referring to the elbow joint, so it won't hyper-extend. As you say, though, this extra curve could help in breaking a fall.

The only thing I'd be more worried about is that if you fall face first and can't straighten your arms enough, there's no way your arms will take the weight and stop your face from hitting the deck!