My experiments with riding gear insert armors



Below I’ve listed a TL;DR sort of table quantifying the experiences I’ve had with the different types of armor I’ve seen till now. Most of it is pretty self explanatory, but detailed discussion follows.

Protector & sizeLevelAirflowFlexibilityWeightLengthWidthHeight
Nucleon Flex Pro shoulder – L2Ultra highUltra flexibleUltralight21161
Nucleon Flex Pro elbow – L2Ultra highUltra flexibleUltralight25121
Nucleon Flex Pro elbow – S2Ultra highUltra flexibleUltralight21101
Icon D3O LP2 hip2HighHardHeavy18131.5
Bull-it knee2NoneFlexibleLight23.511.51.25
Bull-it hip2NoneFlexibleLight2010.51.25
Dainese Pro Armor back – G22Ultra highHardMid44.523.52
Dainese Pro Armor back – G12Ultra highHardMid41222
Dainese Pro Armor chest1Ultra highHardMid25.516.51.25
Rev’it Seesoft shoulder/elbow/knee1HighFlexibleLight21.514.51
Icon D3O Viper back – L1LowMidMid4026.51
Icon D3O T5 Evo elbow1LowMidLight22131
Icon D3O T5 Evo shoulder1LowMidLight18.5141
Knox Flexiform shoulder/elbow1NoneHardHeavy27.5191.5
Knox Flexiform shoulder1NoneHardHeavy22181.5

All dimensions in cm.

The table captures the CE protection level of the armor, my subjective assessment of how comfortable it is based on airflow, flexibility and weight, followed by approximate measurements that I took with a tape measure of the specific size I had. The width measurement would be the most inaccurate, I’ve got no micrometer to make that happen.

If no size is mentioned, that means it comes in only one universal size.

I did not include weight measurements in grams because I don’t have a weighing machine, and also because that wouldn’t have been entirely useful. The weight of the armor is not all that important, at least not when grouped with other factors, the important thing is how heavy it “feels” when used, which is why I went with more intangible, personal values here.

Nucleon Flex Pro shoulder and elbow protector review:

Magic, that’s the only way to describe this armor. Flexible like a wet noodle, light as a croissant, ventilated like a chimney, and they even smell like vanilla, all while being CE level 2.

At roughly 2000 INR (22 Euros, 26 Dollars), they’re not very expensive for a pair either. Take a look at the dimensions, if they fit in your jacket and you’re planning to upgrade your armor, buy them, there’s nothing like it in the market right now, and they’re absolutely worth the money.

For the Rev’it Airwave 3 jacket in size S and M, the size L Nucleon shoulder is a perfect fit, but the elbow one is not. It fits inside the pocket alright, but Rev’it have a strange placement for the velcro, so it can’t be closed. I don’t think the size S protector would be any better, because it’ll be too small in width and flop around the giant pocket.

Update: Yep, I was right. I bought the elbow protectors in size S, and they are tiny. Don’t buy them, they’re like kid sized things. Here’s it in comparison to the size L, and the Rev’it one.

Icon D3O LP2 Hip Field Armor review:

Don’t buy this, unless you are doing something serious like racing. It’s too fat, and too inflexible to be of any casual use. I’m absolutely certain this level 2 protector will save my hip from cracking even if I get Hulk smashed around, but it’s simply unusable under any normal circumstances.

I’d bought it as a higher-ventilation replacement for the hip armor on my Bull-it riding jeans, but if I put it in I can’t pull the jeans above my hips anymore. If I somehow manage to squeeze my ass in there, it looks like I have the pelvis of a sexy Latina, but without any of the butt to complete the picture.

They don’t bend, at all, and there’s no taper at the edges either. It’s like a big slab of tough meat with some holes cut out. Avoid it, unless you really really need the protection.

Bull-it hip and knee armor review:

I got these as the default level 2 protectors with my Bull-it Tactical riding jeans. They are flexible, and very, very soft. They’re so soft that it’s hard to believe that they could provide level 2 protection at all.

Have I told you how soft they are? They feel like a freshly baked cake. Cakes don’t do well when things hit them at 75 kph. I don’t know if these are dodgy or not, I guess they would provide some protection if they’re level 2, but don’t buy them unless you get them with your jeans. It’s hard to trust them, plus there’s zero ventilation.

Dainese Pro Armor Back protector review:

It’s not very flexible, and it’s not very soft, but boy does it get you airflow. That was my only consideration, which is why I bought it. It’s level 2, so protection isn’t a problem either. It’s the perfect companion to full mesh summer jackets, I got the G2 size, because me big tough man.

Update: The G2 size does NOT fit in the Rev’it Airwave 3 size S and M, it’s too wide in the middle, even though the online dimensions make it look like it isn’t. I ordered the G1 (apparently woman) size, and that fits absolutely perfectly.

If you’re ordering this back protector for your non-Dainese jacket, make sure you have a bit of margin, the protector is not very flexible, so it’s difficult to shove it into places like a normal foam thing.

If you’re trying to use this protector with a jacket like the Rev’it Airwave 3, whose back protector compartment opens up in the top middle, push the lower part in first, and then for the upper part push it in from one side. That’ll get the whole thing in quite easily.

Dainese Pro Armor Chest protector review:

Just like the Dainese back armor, this is hard and fat, but the airflow you can get with these has no competition at all. They are level 1 only though, there don’t seem to be any divided chest protectors that do level 2.

They fit great in the Rev’it Airwave 3 jacket, but the chest protector pockets in the jacket itself are very low, so they’re mostly protecting my stomach. That’s not an entirely bad thing I guess, you’ve already got some protection on your chest with the bones and stuff, but the area under your ribcage is pretty exposed. This should help, at least help keep the jacket from bunching up around the tummy if nothing else.

Rev’it Seesmart shoulder/elbow/knee protector review:

This a strange piece of kit, it’s quite flexible, and has some good venting as well, but for some reason Rev’it decided to use the same protector at the shoulders, elbows, and knees.

Shoulder protectors need to be wide, elbow protectors need to be long, knee protectors need to be both wide and long. So this thing is a bit too fat for the elbow, and not long enough for the knee.

It’s because of these strange dimensions that the Alpinestars Nucleon elbow armor isn’t fitting in my Airwave 3 properly. The only good thing is that I don’t see any place where these level 1 armors are sold separately, so you only get them with your Rev’it jackets. They’re quite alright, until you decide to upgrade them, but don’t buy them on their own, they’re weird.

Icon D3O Viper back protector review:

Got this as default with the Icon Mesh AF jacket. The protector was pre-cracked, and it seems to be a common complaint with this particular piece of armor, so check it thoroughly if you get one.

I can’t see a specific reason why anyone would want to buy this though as a replacement piece. It’s level 1, is a bit thick, and provides little airflow. The viscoelastic stuff may have been pretty state of the art a few years ago, but it feels a bit flimsy now compared to others.

If you get it with your jacket, use it until it lasts. Don’t buy it separately, there are others that do a much better job.

Icon D3O T5 Evo shoulder and elbow protectors review:

Got these with the Mesh AF as well, and they’re pretty meh. Same advise as with the Viper, use these if you get them with a jacket, don’t buy them on their own.

Knox Flexiform shoulder/elbow and knee protectors review:

These are the terrible black things you get with your cheap stuff, I’ve used them plenty in the past. They are bad, so bad that I simply couldn’t use them with one of my riding pants, they were so uncomfortable and inflexible that my knees started crying tears, of blood.

Obviously, never ever buy them to replace the silly foam pads you get with the cheapest gear, they’re worse than the foam pads, because you’ll throw them out within an hour and end up riding without any armor. Stay away from these as much as possible.

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  1. Clyde Fernandes

    Detailed review as usual.

    I need to change my armour, especially the back and knee armour.

    1. AK

      Which jacket and pants have you got mate?