SCORE Journal


SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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MOTO ARMOR Without The Security Of A Roll Cage, Quality Safety Gear Is The First Line Of Defense For Two-Wheel Competitors By Larry Saavedra Without the roll cage to protect themselves in an incident, moto class riders must depend on the quality of their body safety gear to cushion the blow if they go down on the race course. From chest protectors and jackets, to helmets, boots, jerseys, and protective pads, moto class racers have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to their safety gear. This raises questions about how physically restrictive it is to wear safety gear across hundreds of miles in unforgiving terrain. In Baja, heat can lead to dehydration or worse, and breathability and moisture-wicking qualities are paramount when selecting the right type of safety gear, industry insiders said. What We Learned SCORE Journal contacted leading manufacturers and suppliers to get some answers about advances in technology and comfort. According to Marc Shear, director of marketing for O’Neal, moto armor and associated safety gear is constantly evolving and improving. “I would say in the past five years, the protection category for off-road motorcycle racing has taken a huge leap forward,” he said. “No longer is it a give or take between being comfortable and safe too.” In regards to moto armor being too restrictive to wear in a long race, Shear said, in the old days, some of the safest protectors were also the most restrictive but those days are gone. He pointed to the company’s STV line of protection, which enjoys the latest safety technologies combined with soft, flexible, and breathable materials. “The STV offers O’Neal racing’s IPX shock absorption technology, which is a technical foam material that remains flexible and comfortable when riding, but upon impact, it firms up offering the rider maximum protection,” he said. Shear added that the first time he wore the STV line, he was blown away by the comfort. On a sliding scale between one to ten of importance to the rider, Shear said he thinks weight and breathability would rate about an eight, “Because the equipment needs to be comfortable enough as to not impede the rider and keep him, or her cool and comfortable all day long. I believe proper protection shouldn’t be noticeable all that much while riding. Sometimes a new piece of equipment may take some getting used to, but really what you're searching for is something that will work when it matters most. My buddies and I that ride Baja really don’t feel the safety equipment we wear these days, and that’s a good thing. What is most important, is that the equipment is going to work if you end up going down. With the right equipment, a mishap shouldn’t end your day. You can get up and continue racing, and this is really the goal for all protective gear at O’Neal.” Heath Cofran of Alpinestars agrees that comfort and safety are imperative. “From the most entry-level system such as our Bionic Action Chest Protector, to the upcoming Tech-Air Off-Road system, everything at Alpinestars is about keeping riders as safe and comfortable as possible.” According to Cofran, by developing products for the fastest riders in off-road racing, Alpinestars started at the top as far as protection levels go, and then applied designs and protective elements for the weekend rider. This can offer affordable protection for even the Sportsman Racer attempting his or her first SCORE Race. Cofran recommended that a novice rider with thoughts of racing Baja should be prepared to buy quality boots, a jacket and/chest protector, gloves, jerseys, pants, knee braces, and a lightweight high-quality helmet. Cofran added that Alpinestars focuses on making gear that feels like a second skin. “The key point in our development is the understanding that the rider should only concentrate on the riding, not even noticing that the safety gear is even on. Obviously, you want lots of support and protection, but the equipment needs to allow riders to do what they do best. In the event of a crash, the equipment must also mitigate that injury as much as possible so the rider can get back up and win the race. Our protection is designed to allow riders their natural riding movements without any restriction.” When it comes to breathability Cofran adds, the cooler the rider is, the quicker the rider becomes if he or she is covered properly from head to toe. “Products that wick away moisture allow the body’s capillaries to sweat, while also providing airflow to keep the body temperature cooler.” Biggest Concerns Unlike their four-wheeled counterparts, onboard fires aren’t the issue on a motorcycle where a rider is often separated from the motorcycle in an incident. Protection against abrasions caused by landing on rocks and gravel, not to mention protection against intrusions into desert cactus and other obstacles, are the primary concerns of moto class riders. SCORE competition regulations specifically focus on wearing the proper helmet, eye protection, shoulder pads, chest protection, gloves, and padded trousers. While in a separate category, backpack-type water bladders are encouraged. Nomex gear is not a requirement. According to Derek Ausserbauer, the 2021 SCORE World Championship Class Points Champion, he likes riding in a minimal setup. He uses the Fox Roost Guard chest protector in Baja. “I don’t like a lot of weight on me,” he said. “But a chest guard has to stop an object from breaking the skin. I use a Deus jersey with the chest protector. They are primarily out of Australia and they make a good set of pants too. I think that they are extremely comfortable and move well when you’re standing up on the bike. They are really breathable in the heat of Baja and don’t chafe the skin.” Ausserbauer says he sees the benefits of using compression-fit undergarments. “I think compression apparel keeps my muscles stimulated and they make me feel more secure.” Although compression helps muscles, so does proper hydration. Ausserbauer stresses the need for quality water bladders on top of safety apparel and thinks they should be part of the rider’s gear bag at all times. “I wear a USWE backpack-style water bladder and it offers some impact protection if you flip on your back.” He believes it’s his job alone to keep himself hydrated (hands-free) but at the same time, it gives him the feeling of some added body protection in an incident. Lastly, Johnny Campbell, the winningest SCORE motorcycle racer at Baja shared his input on his many years of riding and winning safely. “My input on wearing protective gear is that riders should never wear any gear that impairs their ability to see and move. When a rider tells me they plan for the fall, where do you draw the line? If you restrict your movement you are going to fall. The protection must never impede their balance, vision, or performance. They must have the ability to perform and that makes it safety gear. Otherwise too much gear is a risk.” SJ MOTO SAFETY GEAR By Mike Vieira Baja motorcycle racers are always looking for the best, lightest, and most protection they can get. We contacted some of the best moto gear manufacturers who offered to showcase some of their latest body protection gear. Helmets are covered in another specific section in this issue. O’NEAL SPLIT CHEST PROTECTOR O’Neal’s Split Chest Protector is designed to be lightweight and offers maximum ventilation. It features multiple size adjustments for the shoulder pads and waist closure and is neck brace compatible. Bio-foam padding provides optimum comfort, and the slim design can be worn under or over a jersey. Front and back are certified to EN14021 standard. MSRP is $99.99. BLUR B-40 GOGGLES Blur B-40 Goggles offer a modern race frame design with a wide field of vision and 100% UV protection. Triple-layer foam provides optimum comfort, durability, and moisture-wicking, and an adjustable strap with triple silicone strips and frame outriggers gives a perfect fit. Includes a goggle pouch and anti-fog lens with tear-offs. MSRP is $59.99. ALPINESTARS TECH 10 SUPERVENTED BOOTS Tech 10 Supervented Boots are designed for maximum airflow with two front inlet ports, a ventilated shin plate, perforated padding, and a mesh inner bootie with air channels. Foot shell is constructed with five different compounds in a single lightweight piece to maintain flexibility and structural integrity, as well as shin, heel, and toe protection. A dual closure system with an internal microfiber flap and hook and loop fasteners, along with a micro-adjustable lightweight buckle provides a secure, precise fit. Available in several color combinations in sizes 7 through 14. MSRP is $659.95. TECHSTAR PANTS AND JERSEY Techstar Pants and the Techstar Jersey are lightweight, moisture-wicking garments providing a customized, performance fit. Pants include poly-fabric reinforcement in the seat area and stretch mesh on the knee back for breathability and range of motion. Jerseys feature mesh on torso sides and forearms for airflow and comfort. Available in multiple colors and styles, and a variety of sizes. MSRP starts at $159.95 for pants and $49.95 for jersey. BIONIC-10 CARBON KNEE BRACE The Bionic-10 Carbon Knee Brace helps reduce the risk and severity of injury by preventing hyperextension of the knee. Constructed of high-performance fiber-reinforced polymer for light-weight and structural integrity, the asymmetric frame and stable 4-point hinge system allows for a perfect fit and maximum articulation. A patent-pending ventilated knee-cup system offers impact force dispersion and absorption. Available in Small through X-Large sizes and in pairs or individually. MSRP is $799.95 per pair or $399.95 each for left or right. BIONIC TECH V2 PROTECTION JACKET The Bionic Tech V2 Protection Jacket is lightweight and ventilated to provide maximum comfort. It features a height-adjustable kidney belt, added padding on the arms, sides, and chest, and a floating chest protector with flexible side wings to adapt to the rider’s body. Jacket is Hydration Pack and BNS compatible. Available in black with red trim in sizes Small through XX-Large. MSRP is $289.95.

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