Freeride Leg Armour £49
These pads are designed to give maximum protection, whilst offering long term durability.
The tough outer nylon rigid plates spread the load and minimise the
risk of a fracture. Pads with rigid internal inserts have been known
to cause injury when an insert cuts in to the wearers leg in a
crash. Dainese's 'Air' pads (the ones all the downhillers
wear) were designed for Pro use, they soon get ripped out in the woods due to their light weight Coolmax construction. Here's a review
of the sturdier Freerides from MTBB's resident crash test dummy Tom
Described as freestyle kneepads these are really knee and shin pads combined, obviously for slalom, jump and downhill bikers they are perfect, plenty of protection very well made etc. But how suitable are they for cross country riders? or in my case cross country freeride i.e. we hammer the downhills and then cycle up them as well. After receiving them as a present last Christmas, this is I suppose the result of a long term test. My first impressions are of a very comfortable piece of clothing, they fasten with Velcro and feel very snug on the leg. However after a couple of rides I found they tended to slip down, probably because they are a large size and although I am tall at 6ft 4inches I have skinny legs. The pads have four straps, three fasten around the calf and the other over the top of the knee, they tended to slip purely because I couldn't get the top strap tight enough. I solved this by sewing an extra piece of Velcro to the top strap, since then no problems. I expect most riders would be put off going for them because they think ooh, bit uncomfortable in warm weather. Well if you ride in 25+ C then yes you're probably going to suffer a bit, but lets face it this is Britain and its cold or mild most of the time. If you're the kind of rider who goes out, trains super hard, really spanks the trails and rarely crashes i.e. a racer, then no you probably don't need them. However if you are a mere mortal then they fulfil a very useful purpose like the small matter of protecting your legs from serious injury.
Testing For example After smacking my left knee into the ground in a particularly vicious tumble in Wales and having it strapped up and then finding another hour into the ride that I could hardly pedal, followed by no biking for two months kind of convinced me that they would be a good idea. Besides which, Gareth was getting fed up of patching my knees up every ride because of my constant crashing. Since getting the pads I have had relatively few crashes until very recently when I had a proper wipe-out on hard rocks, going down in a cloud of dust, did a poor impression of Superman, landed on my knees rolling and tumbling. I got up and checked my knees expecting blood, shattered bone etc but no damage just big grooves through the pads, there's certainly nothing noble about limping to work on Monday. At £50.00 or so they are not as cheap as some pads out there, but for the performance (plus they are crash tested by the reviewer) I give them ten out of ten.
New Leg Guards
Dainese are soon to bring out a new 2002 Leg Guard pictured above. With a more breathable but still durable (they say) mesh and removable ankle protectors it certainly looks the business. It remains to be seen whether they will prove as long-lasting and comfortable as the Freestyles. The old Air leg guards were notoriously uncomfortable for pedalling in.
in text only form.