G-Form was one of the first companies to really push soft body armor as a viable alternative to the classic, storm trooper-style hard plastic protection. And now, years later, almost every protection brand also offers a similar style of soft, low profile armor in the same vein as G-Form. But that hasn’t kept G-Form from consistent growth, and you can expect to see their pads on most bike shop shelves and at almost every major trailhead.
The core of the G-Form pads are the impact-absorbing RPT™ cells. Essentially, as you’re pedaling along these pads are soft and pliable, providing maximum mobility. But as soon as you come off the bike and hit the ground, they stiffen up, protecting your body from harm.
While I had tested some G-Form pads back in 2012, my European Tour last summer, complete with endless shuttle and chairlift rides, afforded me plenty of opportunity to put the latest (at that time) Pro-X pads to the test.
On my first ride in Europe last year we began by pedaling about five miles before the bulk of our descent. As I slid my pads in place before descending, I questioned myself: “Did I really need to bring these? They seem uncomfortable, hot, and bulky.”
Note that anything seems uncomfortable, hot, and bulky when you’re not used to wearing any pads and as little clothing and gear as legally possible, but I put the Pro-X knee pads to the test within 30 seconds of sliding them up and in place.
The combination of an unusual bike, unusual tires, an unknown trail, and an excess of confidence sent me rag dolling off the side of the mountain, straight into a scree field filled with sharp-edged boulders. I bounced right back up, attending to a spot of pain and quickly-coagulating blood on my elbow, as I’d foolishly left the Pro-X Elbow pads at the hotel. I didn’t give a second thought to my knees until later in the day, when I looked at the pads to discover a few scuff marks, and a slight cut in one of the cells–wow, my knee pads had really done an incredible job! Despite smacking them hard, they protected me superbly.
I went on to crash repeatedly during my stint in Europe, and thankfully I was diligent about using my pads for big, rowdy descents, with all of the endless shuttle routes and lift rides we explored. Despite all the lift rides and shuttles, there were still plenty of climbs to pedal and transition zones in between lift rides, which gave me plenty of occasion to test the pedal-ability of the pads.
G-From touts how comfortable their pads are–so comfortable that “you’ll never again worry about compromising your movement and performing your best – in fact, you won’t even realize you’re wearing them,” according to G-Form’s website. While I found them to be radically more comfortable to pedal in than most pads, I definitely did realize that I was wearing them.
Perhaps this is because I rarely wear padding, and when I do, I’m abundantly aware of the pads. Maybe I’m just being picky. But despite an excellent fit and a very flexible design, I still didn’t find them comfortable enough to pedal in routinely. Instead, I took to sliding the pads down around my calves for extended climbs, pulling them back up and in place when it came time to descend.
But since I began my review of the Pro-X pads, G-Form has released a new line of pads, dubbed the Pro Elite range. The Pro Elite pads have many more, smaller cells for padding than the Pro-X, which in theory would allow the Pro Elites to articulate and conform to the body even better. G-Form isn’t content to simply rely on one proven line of protection–they continue to innovate by introducing new products on a regular basis.
Thanks to G-Form for providing the Pro-X Knee Pads for review.