Bikes are getting burlier; more travel, bigger wheels and the tracks they shred are getting equally more challenging so body protection has become ever more important in the world of mountain biking.
Of course, you have helmets which are the minimum amount of protection you should be wearing on the trails, followed my knees, elbows and the like. So, taking helmets out of the equation, you have the rest of your body to consider protecting, fortunately, G-Form has you covered.
Catering to a range of action sports, G-Form has a fairly extensive bike range of protection for men, women and children. By combining breathable compression fabrics which impact protection materials, G-Form has been able to create almost full outfits for mountain bikers providing adequate protection to all your vital parts.
G-Form women's MTB Protection
Let's start at the elbows. I know many riders who just won't bother with elbow protection because it's too restrictive, it doesn't fit well under clothing or it just doesn't look 'cool' enough - I've heard it all and yet, leg or arm, damaging either of them is a total pain in the butt to your daily life.
G-Form's Elite Elbow Guards are like no other elbow pad I've tried before. Instead of velcro straps for placement, G-Form has used a moisture-wicking, UPF 50+ compression fabric which hugs your skin comfortably with the help of soft silicone strips around the cuff.
The protective padding itself is constructed from body-mapped, impact-absorbing RPT® material which is CE certified for motorcyclist/bicyclist [CE EN 1621-1:2012]. While the padding is like a series of chunky jello cubes patterns around the garment, they are soft to squidge and the layout of their arrangement ensures mobility isn't restricted.
Moving down to what is arguably the second most important piece of protection, the knees, G-Form has a number of model options to choose from.
The Elite Knee Guard is their top-end model which exhibits the same technical construction as the Elite Elbow Guards mentioned above with, of course, a design and fit more suitable for your knees.
As with the elbow guards, there are a number of knee guard models available with Elite being the top-spec, followed by Pro-X. Some models included shin protection also.
For more information on the Elite Knee Guards, head over to their website here.
In addition to knees and elbows, G-Form offers women's specific protective clothing also in the form of a top and matching shorts.
Again, the G-Form Pro-X women's compression shorts use the same materials and construction as their elbow and knee guards which is quite nice because you know exactly what you're getting.
The body-mapped, impact-absorbing RPT® protective padding largely sits on the hips and tailbone area but have a slightly lower profile so it feels more of a second skin and doesn't make you look 'too hippy'. The soft elastic waistband is comfortable, thick and doesn't dig in as you're leaning forward on the bike.
For more information on the G-Form women's padded compression shorts, head over to their site here.
The G-Form women's compression shirt is exactly that, it offers protection and compression to your upper body with body-mapped, impact-absorbing RPT® protective padding located around the shoulder, collar bones, sternum and rib cage.
G-Form Women's MTB Protection: Verdict
I don't usually wear elbow pads unless I'm feeling particularly daring and wanting to throw myself down and out of my comfort zone. I like my arms to feel free and to breathe which is why I tend to find them quite cumbersome. Although I do wear knee pads a majority of the time, I am also quite picky about how they fit and move with the body.
Because G-Form uses the same material and protective padding for both elbows and knees, they behaved in the same way. Firstly, the mobility of the padding was comfortable and unrestrictive largely owing to the carefully considered arrangement and design. I could bend and flex my joints easily enough and when I did involuntarily make contact with a tree or the ground, I was sufficiently protected from the worst of the impact.
Now, while the fabric offers a lovely and reassuring compression to the muscles, I did find the cuffs a little tight despite carefully measuring myself against G-Form's size guide. The seams that run throughout the garments also rubbed and with the knee pads, cut in a little behind the crease of my leg.
The compression shorts were extremely comfortable to wear the hip padding didn't protrude as much as I initially feared. Again, the compression feel was quite nice, flexible and breathable but what let these shorts down is the lack of chamois pad. Because there's no padding for your undercarriage, you face the dilemma of whether you forgo the comfort of a chamois or double up with two pairs of shorts. In the end, the chamois won.
Similarly, the women's compression shirt much behaved in the same way with regards to its feel, only with protective padding located elsewhere. Again, comfortable enough to wear, but as I moved around, on and off the bike, the shirt would move and twist sometimes causing the padding to slip away from the areas it was supposed to be protecting, especially found on the rib area.
If you're looking for some elbow and knee pads which are flexible, comfortable and protective, then certainly check out G-Form's range, but take extra care when using the size guide and keep in mind your limb measurements when relaxed and when tensed. For more information on G-Form and to check out the full women's range, head over to their website here.
Protective armour is certainly an area you don't want to be cheap on but where possible, it's always advisable to try before you buy.