PRODUCT EVALUATION ALPINESTARS BIONIC NECK SUPPORT SB Only $289
PRODUCT EVALUATION ALPINESTARS BIONIC NECK SUPPORT SB
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
q Alpinestars’ original neck brace is constructed completely out of carbon fiber, which not only looks trick but is also extremely lightweight; however, at nearly $600, the carbon brace is not very attractive to the average rider. Alpinestars has helped out the general “budget” public looking for the utmost in safety by offering the “Special Blend (SB)”neck brace for $289.
At $289, Alpinestars’ SB Neck Brace is one of the more affordable neck braces on the market. It’s lightweight, comfortable and looks good in any gear!
The frame of Alpinestars’ SB neck brace is constructed from a blend of reinforced polyurethane. This material is as high in strength as the carbon fiber design, and offers the same amount of load distribution to the shoulders in a wreck. The only difference is in weight and looks. We love the way the white neck brace looks on all types of gear and with all styles of helmets. After only minutes of riding, the SB neck brace is forgotten. You can hardly feel it at all.
SPECIAL BLEND OF FEATURES
The “SB” Bionic Neck Support is constructed from a blend of reinforced polyurethane and opens using a single buckle on the front.
The front of the Bionic Neck Support SB utilizes a quick-release buckle to open, working off a hinge at the rear. The buckle works great and looks very similar to their Tech boots. The rear features a pivot key system that is constructed out of durable, lightweight magnesium and allows for the brace to be easily dismantled into three pieces in an emergency.
When you crash with a neck brace on, the impact sends your helmet into the brace, instead of whipping from side to side or front to back. However, when your helmet is slammed into the brace, the pressure of the hit is directed into your shoulders. Many braces do their job by saving the neck, but a few do not account for the impact to the rest of your body.
In the event of large loads being channeled onto the brace, the Rear Stabilizer Failure system is there to help. Much like higher-quality helmets, there are a number of deliberate bending and fracture points designed to relieve extreme loads that may be transmitted down the back. Alpinestars also added protection against damage to the collarbone. They integrated a foam pad that runs over the shoulders and the buckle on the front of the brace. Nothing protrudes through the bottom of the shoulder area that could cause injury.
In the event of a crash, the rear stabilizer offers deliberate bending and fracture points designed to relieve extreme loads that may be transmitted down the back.
Different riding styles may call for different mounting straps. The brace comes standard with what Alpinestars calls the X-Strap system—elastic straps that wrap around you and over hooks on the brace, holding the Bionic Neck Support SB in the correct position. The strap works over or under your riding jersey. We ran it under our jersey, which is a weird feeling at first, but after a ride or two you forget it’s there.
If the X-Strap system isn’t what you like, you can purchase a larger A-strap system separately, which wraps around the chest for a snugger fit.
The Alpinestars brace fits larger than other neck braces we have tested. Our test rider’s 6-foot, 180-pound frame usually fits snug in a large without straps. With the Alpinestars brace, we had to run the X-Straps to achieve the snug feeling we were used to. If you do not want to run straps, you will most likely have to order a size smaller.
Out on the track or trail, Alpinestars’ Bionic Neck Support SB feels lightweight and is hardly noticeable. The Special Blend version is not as light as other neck braces we have tested, but it never restricts, and you don’t even notice it riding.
It feels slightly less comfortable when sitting on our shoulders than a Leatt Brace, but that is largely due to the stiffer foam used by Alpinestars.
The brace fits perfectly with our Thor Force Chest Protector. In some cases, the brace will rub with other chest protectors. It’s a pain, but you can easily cut these plastic protectors to fit the brace better.
Alpinestars’ supplied zipper bag keeps your pricey investment safe.
A neck brace is one of the most important forms of protection you could use while riding your ATV. We assume that a large majority of those who don’t wear one blame it on the high retail prices. But to put things into perspective, it costs more money to purchase an exhaust, wheels or many other accessories for your ATV. Do those protect your neck from injury? For $289, Alpinestars’ “Special Blend” Bionic Neck Support is one of the more affordable braces on the market. Check out Alpinestars at www.alpinestars.com, or give them a call at (310) 891-0222.