I first learnt about ‘Forcefield Body Armour’ at the Cycle Show (2011), where I had the opportunity to meet the Forcefield Marketing Director – After subsequent correspondence, it was agreed we were to cooperate on some light advertising and product testing – Soon after, I received my first package, the Forcefield ‘Limb Tube’ Armour (Knee Pads).
For our younger readers, I would like to start by expressing the importance of Knee Pads – I place immense value on them. And with the exception of a helmet, knee pads are the most important PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) I use for BMX riding. However, riding is about learning to take calculated risks, part of this process involves decision making – So think carefully and make your own decisions! Then you’ll only have yourself to hold responsible!
And what’s up with Forcefield? Up until meeting the Marketing Director, I knew very little about Forcefield – I have since researched the brand considerably – In a nutshell, Forcefield are regarded by many as market leaders in PPE for riders – In this context the word ‘riders’ describes moto bike/snow-sport riders (these are the main sectors Forcefield currently market to).
Part of the agenda for this review was introducing a segment of the BMX community to Forcefield – It makes sense, products such as the ‘limb tubes’ are designed for riders who travel at considerable velocity – A velocity far greater than even the gnarliest BMX Vert riders. In short, I would place my bets that the design-limit on a set of limb-tubes exceeds that of conventional BMX PPE – It makes sense doesn’t it?
Check this Forcefield video before we move on with the main feature…
Right, on with the review, the ‘Limb Tubes’ – First observation, intelligent design, simply slip it on like a tube support bandage (and in this game, we’ve all done that!) – In fact the tubular structure may be described best as a harness. Once you’ve slid the pad into position you have the option of tightening the two detachable retaining straps – Run them loose or tight, it’s your preference. Personally I think a tight pad performs better under ‘slide-type’ impacts.
So, my pads are securely in place – First impression, very comfortable to wear, full flexibility is maintained. Furthermore, they’re light – I don’t feel too aware I’m wearing them, I feel natural – Good start.
Next I take note of the pads proportions – More length than a standard pad – So the lower part of the pad covers the upper half of your shins. This is practical for BMX riders, because let’s face it, we all slip a pedal once in a while! I also chose to wear shin-pads with the Knee Pads – No problem (although depending on your choice of shin-pad, there may be a slight over-lap).
As for fabrics, they have opted to use “Cordura®” and “Lycra” – Both materials equate to a very comfortable set of. Thanks to the use of such materials abrasions are reduced considerably (which is a problem I’ve had with other pad types). Due to the selection of fabrics used, I think these pads were intended to be used under jeans – Not the ideal choice when wearing shorts, but very good with jeans. Also, the rear of the pad has vented paneling – Cool!
Within the inner tubular space is what could perhaps be described best as an internal pouch – It is here that the removable “moulded CE approved Nitrex® Armour” can be found – Once you’ve removed the armour the pads harness becomes machine washable – Washing is made easy!
The protection itself is termed “Nitrex Evo®” – It’s moulded to respond to the knees contours, and does so very well. The material is of a honeycomb design, which helps spread incoming impacts evenly – E.g. Let’s say you hit your knee on the corner of a sharp stem; The impact could be described as a ‘point impact’. Thanks to the use of “Nitrex Evo®”, the point impact becomes uniformly distributed throughout a much greater area of the pad; and this is good news for your knee. On my first day riding the pads I was subjected to a ‘tumble’. To be fair, it was a completely random blunder, not like me – Result, I landed flat bottom of the ramp, my knees landed on the bars and the stem. It’s hard to gauge how hard I actually smashed my knee, due to the intensity of the moment – But I am hazarding a guess the pads may have helped me to continue riding that day.
Furthermore, the honeycomb design acts like a car grille, allowing air to filter through to the knee – Nice. The voids also help reduce weight – Both points helped make my user experience more natural.
Behind the “Nitrex EVO®” is a layer of foam covered with fabric. And the foam-work has holes, again, helping the leg to breath.
In summary – My experience with these pads has been very good – It’s a little early to know whether or not they are the best pads I have used; But I can vouch they are the comfiest pad I have used – They are also wieldy and snug.
Final thoughts – I’ve read that Forcefield are entering the Mtb market for 2012 – I’m hoping this means Forcefield will filter through into the BMX market. Yes, I know it’s a comparatively small market – But it’s a definite market, a market which is steadily growing. Furthermore, I believe such growth would inevitably add further comprehension to the Forcefield label.
And for those of you who are wondering why I’m supporting a (traditionally) Moto brand, it’s simple – They are a well established global brand – This means they have more resources to throw into the design and manufacture of protection. Ultimately, common sense would suggest these pads may very well be better than that of the BMX sphere – And remember, your body is your temple – Invest wisely – At the end of the day we’re all in the same vote, we are all still hitting it up!
Cheers again for the pads! – VS