UK-based Forcefield Body Armour usually makes protection for the motorcycle world, and they're usually not cheap. So we were curious to see what its version of a thin-profile kneepad would look like.
What it looks like is the $190 Grid. The unique design is built around a removable pad made of Forcefield's own catchy-sounding 'Nitrex Evo' material. The flexible lightweight panel is just 9 millimeters thick and has the bouncy, stretchy feel of silicone rubber. But it offers the performance of, and deflects rotational impacts better than, the firm-yet-flexible materials in other advanced, but traditional, pads.
Though motorcycle riders generally wear their pads under durable moto pants, the center and edges of the Grid's entire protective surface are made of abrasion-resistant and also very catchy-sounding 'Dyneema' fabric. The rest of the grill is made of a sparse mesh. Combined with the pad's skeletal shape, air flows easily through the front panel, though the neoprene fabric behind it limits what gets to your skin.
Two Velcro straps hold the pads in place. Rather than anchoring to the thin, stretchy neoprene, they're attached to the pad structure itself. This makes sense for any pad, but especially for the Grids. The outstandingly flexible pad material keeps the pad from crawling around your leg, and thus keeps the straps from digging into it. The Grids feel more like a second skin than an exoskeleton.
That lack of structure comes with a bit of a compromise. They offer full coverage and are designed to hold up through multiple crashes, but their flexible mesh pads aren't optimal for straight-impact protection, especially against sharp objects.
Choosing your pads is an act of risk-assessment. You balance comfort and protection. For a pad that balances the two equally, the Grid sacrifices remarkably little of either.
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