What I Like
What I Don’t Like
I am a big believer is neck protection. While there are many people who think that neck protectors are not proven to be helpful in protecting against neck injuries, I feel that there are no excuses for not giving yourself the best shot at walking away from a crash.
One of the arguments is that they cause collarbone breaks because of the way they sit on your shoulders. I will take a shortened season due to a collarbone break over a career ending neck injury any day.
The first thing I bought after my helmet and boots was a neck brace. I researched many of them and ultimately settled on the Alpinestars BNS (Bionic Neck Support) brace. One of the key reasons I picked this brace is because it works well with Alpinestars Bionic Action Jacket which is what I had my eye on for under jersey armor.
Alpinestars BNS Review
Alpinestars has a line of neck braces they call their Bionic Neck Support or BNS neck braces. There are three varieties that they currently sell. The BNS Tech Carbon, the BNS Pro, and the BNS Tech-2. I opted for the carbon because I wanted as light of a neck brace as possible.
Who The Alpinestars BNS Was Designed For
The Alpinestar BNS Neck Brace is for anyone who wants to keep their neck supported during a serious crash. Neck Braces on the whole are not particularly cheap, so the target audience of any neck brace is going to be people who either are very concerned about neck support, or people who race often and are in situations where a neck injury is a serious risk.
Features of the Alpinestars BNS Tech Carbon
Alpinestars has a few different lines of Bionic Neck Supports. They have the BNS Tech Carbon, BNS Pro, and BNS Tech-2. I have their carbon version, but it is a couple of years old.
Alpinestars is constantly refining the brace. The features below reflect their current features, but the pictures of my neck brace might be different from what is currently available.
Ultra Lightweight / Slim Form
The BNS Tech Carbon is ultra light weight, coming in at just over 1.5 pounds. The brace itself is low profile, with the majority of the contact with your body coming from the front and rear pads. The shoulder area is very slim and I find that it doesn’t interfere with my riding or head position at all.
Carbon Polymer Frame
The frame of the neck brace is made from a carbon polymer which gives it superior strength to weight ratio. The frame is designed to be a little wider than some of the other neck braces on the market in order to accomidate for various different helmet sizes.
The chest area is raised to help prevent against hyper-flexion neck injuries. The spine support has been brought in to sit more closely to the body to help keep the neck brace from moving around a ton.
This is a new innovation from Alpinestars that my neck brace does not have. They have designed an auto locking and quick release tab. This makes it really easy to close and open the neck brace and prevents against mistakes where the neck brace might not be completely latched.
The padding for the neck brace comes in a few different sizes to make sure you are getting the best fit. The compressed EVA foam is placed strategically to disperse the forces of an impact and you can get them in sizes from 6mm to 10mm depending on what is the most appropriate for your body.
Bionic system compatibility
The neck brace has been designed to be compatible with other pieces of the Alpinestars Bionic system. For instance, when I am wearing the Bionic Action Jacket under my jersey, the jacket has loops to hook to the neck brace. This means that I don’t have to wear the harness to keep it in place.
If you have some other jacket or roost protection, the neck brace still comes with a strap that can be worn either over or under your jersey to keep the neck brace in place.
This neck brace has a lot of great things about it.
First it is very customizable to make sure that you are getting the proper fit. Proper fit is essential for any neck brace to work correctly.
Second, it is light weight and low profile. While not the lightest on the market, it is light enough for you to forget you are wearing it.
Finally, the compatibility with the rest of the Bionic system is a huge plus.
There are a couple of things that I would change about this neck brace.
First, some of the competitors are utilizing a 2 piece spine support which transfers the forces along the spine instead of onto the spine. I think this is a great idea and I would like to see Alpinestars incorporate that design in the future.
Second, and this does not apply to the current model, but the closure on my neck brace is a little difficult to work. I think that Alpinestars has addressed this with their neck auto closure and quick release design on the latest model, but it is something that I wish my model had.
There are a few vendors on the market that handle neck braces. If the Alpinestars isn’t to your liking, I recommend that you take a look at the Atlas Air Neck Brace, or the Leatt GPX 5.5 Neck Braces.
My Final Opinion on The Alpinestars BNS
I absolutely love my neck brace. Outside of a couple of nit-picky cons, I think that Alpinestars has really delivered with this neck brace. The integration with the rest of the Bionic system and the high level of comfort make this neck brace stand out. Regardless of which way you decide to go, I recommend that you wear a neck brace! Stay safe out there!