There’s nothing like a nice long ride, but the price you pay can be stiff and sore muscles. My back seems to bear the brunt of those miles. After spending a full day riding, my lower back can feel worse than a 3-day hangover. I’ve tried backrests. They can help, but in my experience they often aren’t adjustable enough to provide good relief and they never come cheap. Plus acrobatics required to mount a bike with a backrest installed is always comedy for any witness to your struggle. What I always wanted was a back support that didn’t cost a small fortune or make me jump through any hoops.
To my rescue comes the Back-A-Line. Sold by Cyclegadgets.com the Back-A-Line is simple in design, but ingenious in the application. It’s shaped similar to a kidney belt or back support belt. Nothing new here. Kidney belts have been used for years by riders to provide additional support for their backs and innards. They’re almost a necessity for vigorous off-road riding. The innovation comes from the addition of a large plastic stiffener in the rear portion of the Back-A-Line. The hard plastic is positioned on the small of your back. A groove runs down the center of the molded section and a large strap runs around your waist and is cinched to your level of comfort.
The Back-A-Line’s hard portion is molded to keep it from placing direct pressure on your spine, instead all the pressure is directed to the muscles on each side of your spine. This mimics the lower lumbar support of ergonomic chairs and provides relief for the muscles of the lower back. The makers also claim that over time the Back-A-Line will help correct poor posture. I can’t say whether or not my posture using the Back-A-Line would now meet Miss Manners’ approval, but with regular use I do seem to stand a little straighter.
There’s nothing sexy about back support, but having worn the Back-A-Line for roughly ten-thousand miles I can attest to the comfort it provides. My lower back doesn’t suffer the usual strain, regardless of the miles covered. The best part is you simply strap it on when you leave and wear it with through the day. No gymnastics climbing on and off the bike. For those in a multi-bike family, another benefit is you only need one. My only criticism is that on warm days the belt does add another layer of unneeded insulation around your mid-section. This wasn’t really a problem, just part of the cost of decent back support.
The Back-A-Line comes in various sizes to fit most riders. Ample gentlemen will prefer the XXL version. They retail for $39.95 and provide a nice alternative to a dedicated backrest. They are available from www.cyclegadgets.com or 1-877-742-3438.