Safer Riding Through Science – Engineering Protective Performance

You’ll find the CE mark of certification on high-end chest protectors and armored apparel. These European standards assess the performance of protective devices by measuring the force transmitted through the apparel when impacted by a falling mass — when stocking and recommending protective gear, it’s important to consider this mark of quality, it could literally be a matter of life and death for your customers.


One place you won’t find the CE mark is on neck braces. No standard is currently in place for these devices, and while SFI (www.sfifoundation.com) is currently developing a standard, manufacturers have had to set their own standards.


Perhaps no company has done a more thorough job of neck brace development and testing than Leatt, which operates a state-of-the-art testing lab in Cape Town, South Africa.


At the heart of the Leatt Lab is Dr. Chris Leatt himself. A rider, father and inventor, Dr. Leatt was in the process of specializing in neurosurgery when he assisted in the treatment of a victim of a tragic motorcycle enduro accident. A fellow rider, Alan Selby, died on the track from a suspected neck injury. It was something Chris never wanted to see again, so he left his studies and began to design what would ultimately become the Leatt-Brace. BMW backed Leatt’s pursuit, offering him access to their testing facilities prior to the founding of the Leatt Lab.


Arguably the most active member of the Leatt lab crew is Martin, the company’s 50th percentile Hybrid III Anthropomorphic Test Dummy. His design allows the Leatt team to accurately measure many impact scenarios providing test results and, more importantly, allowing the lab team to repeat and compare tests. Martin is similar to those dummies used by car manufacturers and boasts a total of some 23 built-in sensors that help ensure valid and reliable data. In addition to this, Martin has an interchangeable Motorcycle Anthropomorphic Test Dummy (MATD) neck for non-seat belted test conditions. On a regular basis, they swing him, crash him and drop him, all in the name of better, more reliable products.


Leatt not only delivers reliable products, they have proven to deliver a reliable profit stream. Leatt grew 60 percent in 2011 despite a sluggish economy. This shows that dealers can increase sales by offering a wider range of products.


Ready to sell some safety? Visit MPN’s roundup of some of today’s top protective apparel.  

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