Atlas is extremely unique when it comes to neck brace technology. As discussed in our marketing materials, and on atlasbrace.com, every Atlas Brace is based on flexible technology. By incorporating various areas of flex into the neck brace, our goal is to not only reduce the forces on the head and neck, but also for the neck brace itself to dissipate, and possibly reduce those impact forces before they reach the other areas of the body. By sitting around the spine and sternum, and using dual chest and back supports we already increase the surface area that the brace rests on the body, which can help to spread out these impact forces rather than concentrate them in small areas. This flexible technology creates many unique characteristics that are not possible to achieve with rigid designs, and which is why we believe so strongly in our products.
Atlas’ mission was to create a testing method that could get as close to mimicking real life as possible. To do this, we used a 3rd party team of experts to perform our testing, so we were able to obtain un-bias results that were not under our own influence or design. The bulk of Atlas’ impact testing has been performed by Dynamic Research, Inc. (DRI) in Torrance, CA by their extremely knowledgeable staff of Bio-Mechanical Engineers and Doctors, of which some are regular offroad motorcycle riders themselves who understand riders needs, and what kind of dangerous scenarios they may be faced with.
The team at DRI has previous experience testing neck braces, and had multiple ideas on how to not only better the technology, but also ways to better the testing performed on them. Their team completely started from scratch to come up with something radically different that would provide us with useful repeatable tests, and more accurate data from scenarios which we see in real life. Mission accomplished...
How we test
Just like our product, we wanted to think outside the box when creating our test rig. Since most crashes we as riders experience are very violent and can include multi-directional forces experienced all at the same time, a better real-world testing method needed to be developed. The team at DRI was able to develop and create a custom built, repeatable forward/downward pendulum test rig (think Superman in a flying position) that not only measures deflection in the direction of our choice, but also compression to the head and neck caused by the secondary action of the body’s weight crashing down behind the head as it typically does in various violent motorcycle crashes. With our one of a kind test rig we are able to repeat controlled tests with our dummy face up, face down, and/or sideways with impacts into a custom built adjustable-angle surface to mimic various scenarios of common crashes. For example, with our dummy swinging horizontally to the ground, face down, into a 90 degree surface we are able to simulate a very common “lawn dart” scenario of a rider going over the bars, and impacting head first into the ground, a berm, or an upcoming jump face. This type of testing gives us extremely useful, and repeatable test data that we can use to further develop our products and the impacts that they face.
Our Dummy is made up of an instrumented upper torso surrogate fitted with a Hybrid III head-form and a Motorcycle Anthropometric Test Device (MATD) neck, which was specifically developed (and certified) by DRI to be more realistic for data acquisition during motorcycle crash scenarios than a standard car crash type neck. Previous research at Dynamic Research has indicated that on the Hybrid III test dummy, the shoulder position relative to the head and neck is too low and not realistic of a 50th percentile adult male. In order to remedy this situation, a special upper torso was fabricated using a 50th percentile adult male as a casting model. Special attention was paid to the location of the shoulders relative to the head and neck in order to confirm that the surrogate was representative of the 50th percentile adult male. Instrumentation on the surrogate included a 9 accelerometer array mounted inside the Hybrid III head-form for measurement of linear and angular accelerations as well as a 6 degree of freedom upper neck load cell that monitored three dimensional forces and moments. A digital high speed video camera collecting data at 1000 frames per second is used to capture all impacts. The complete upper torso fixture, and the MATD neck are shown below.
Throughout all of DRI’s testing, each test scenario was performed with, and without an Atlas Brace to provide comparative results. We were very pleased to find positive results in every impact scenario we performed, and that in each situation wearing an Atlas Brace was successful in reducing the forces to the head and neck, comparative to not wearing an Atlas Brace in the same impacts. Although this does not in any way guarantee an injury will not be sustained or that an injury could be reduced, it does give us extremely valuable data related to our products performance while helping to further the development and understanding of impacts that riders may experience, and how we can work to better control these forces in attempt to lesson the severity of them on the body. While our testing is unique, and not directly comparative to some of our competitors testing, we still feel very strongly that neck braces are a vital component of rider safety, and should be highly considered as part of every riders program.
In addition to our rigorous one-of-a-kind lab testing performed in the USA, the Atlas Brace is also lab tested in Europe to meet various CE standards. The Atlas Brace conforms with the requirements of the European Directive 89/686/EEC concerning Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), along with EN 1621-2 :2003 which relates to clothing/motorcyclists’ back protectors against mechanical impact, EN 340:2003 for general requirements of protective clothing, and also me-int 074-00 which tests ergonomics, and tensile strength. CE is the only current certification available for neck braces, and Atlas is proud to meet these requirements.
The real world
Often times man creates devices which perform extremely well in Lab scenarios, but pose multiple challenges in the real world. This is extremely relevant in regards to protection products. During the initial design phase of the Atlas Brace we found this to be a very difficult task to overcome, and searched for the best way to combine mobility and comfort, with safety and protection. Since the development was lead by a former Professional motocross racer, we were able to carefully develop this mix over a 3 year period of rider testing. We credit a huge portion of this to our real world rider testing with multiple professional rider’s input/feedback, as well as the developmental input from the team at DRI who had a big influence on how to create a controlled flexible design that would provide the safety results we were looking for. The results are exactly what we hoped for, and we believe that having current and former Champions Ryan Villopoto and Jake Weimer choose to wear our product shows that we have created a great product. When asked about riders who choose to wear, or not wear a neck brace, this is what Ryan Villopoto had to say: “For me, it’s a choice I make, and even if a neck brace only helped me one percent, that’s a one percent advantage I have and it’s only going to help.”
Along with being a part of our on-going testing efforts, Atlas Athletes Ryan Villopoto and Jake Weimer choose the Atlas Brace because of the comfort, mobility, and unrestrictive feeling that helps them to perform their best.