Alpinestars Bionic Neck Support

Alpinestars Bionic Neck Support

Midway through my test of Alpine-stars' Bionic Neck Support, fellow motocrosser Michael Kellum was spat off his Yamaha YZ450F. When I came upon him, he was on hands and knees beside the track with blood dripping from his nose. He was shaken but okay, his BNS destroyed-it had fractured and compressed, just as it was designed to do in such a crash.

"Over the hill I was sideways, then high-sided," he recalled. "I landed head-first in a pile-driver and flipped over from there. I felt my head flopping around a lot and contacting the neck support."

Of the many dirtbike crashes I've observed (and occasionally participated in), this was the first one I'd seen that included the destruction of a neck brace. I felt fortunate to have witnessed it-and thankful to have watched Michael walk away.

The carbon-fiber BNS and more affordable reinforced-polyurethane BNS Special Blend are designed to lessen the severity of neck injuries by working with your helmet to disperse the compressive energy that can be present during a crash. In the event of a lawn-dart incident like the one Michael experienced, potentially damaging energy is dissipated over the entire surface area of the BNS and then through several load-transfer points to the chest, back and shoulders. In the event of lateral extensions, the BNS's narrow sidebars and a low overall profile allow the head to naturally move out of the way of the torso.

When it comes to choosing a BNS, fit is more important than weight. Both models have a hinge at the back and a clasp at the front. Fit primarily affects how the unit works, but it's also important for comfort because the thin padding on the underside of the collar (so designed to keep the dimensions compact) will not be comfortable if it doesn't contact the neck and shoulder area evenly. The BNS is sold with a stretchy X-strap that can be worn over or under a jersey to hold it in place, or you can order the optional, larger A-strap that fits it tighter to the body. It can also be worn under a chest protector. With the proper fit, I found both BNS models to be comfortable and unobtrusive.

As a safety-conscious rider, the Alpinestars Bionic Neck Support is one of those devices that in hindsight makes me wonder how I ever lived without it. After seeing Michael survive a potentially catastrophic crash, it's more than theory-it's reality. This is money well spent.

Bionic Neck Support
Price: $529.95 BNS, $289.95 BNS Special Blend

Contact: Alpinestars

Verdict 4.5 out of 5 stars
An innovative and effective piece of safety equipment that no dirt rider should leave home without.

The Bionic Neck Support can be used alone or in conjunction with a chest protector like Alpinestars' new A-10, which features a removable front plate for a better fit.
Evaluating the efficiency of protective equipment is tricky business, but that smile on Michael Kellum's face-and the fact that he's standing-is as good as any laboratory test.