Ensuring your ready for the trails starts with you. Of course you need a trail worthy bike to sail you down those rocky rooty descents, but you also need to armour yourself up just in case that spider web of roots are just a little too slippery.
Californian dirt brand, Six Six One and TWC didn't get off to a good start of the year after they shared a sexist marketing advertisement for their MTB knee pads. However, having liaised with them over the past few months and seeing their active efforts to rectify this primitive "sex sells" method of marketing, we've been pleasantly pleased with their progress.
While there have been many similar offences caused by other cycling brands, we're all too happy to report that times are changing... slowly, but surely. So with apologies made, changes seen, we're happy to let bygones be bygones and focus on what's really important... bikes!
So without further adieu, we trail tested the new Evo AM helmet and Recon knee pads on the trails of Wales.
SixSixOne Evo AM Helmet
Having specialised in the dirt industry for a number of years, Six Six One have been working hard to push the boundaries of the holy trinity: protection, style and comfort. Their new Evo AM Helmet is ideal for the all-mountain rider who wants something lightweight and faff-free.
My first impression of the Evo AM is just how light it felt in my hands. Turning it over and over, I inspected my new brain saviour with vigilance paying attention to the construction, the bonding and inner casing. Much to my satisfaction, the helmet felt strong and looked to have been carefully designed to cover all your needs, and more.
Like with all body specific components, such as saddles, it's impossible for me to say that the Evo AM has a great shape and fit when I may actually have a freakish head. Convincing myself that my head is in fact of a normal size and shape, personally I found the helmet quite comfortable.
Adjusting and securing the Evo AM is easy. In fact, it's one of the most faff-free helmets I've had. The internal casing is pulled snug around your head using the Boa tensioning system at the back, which offers smooth micro-adjustments. The chin straps are strong and fitted with a Fidlock magnetic closure which makes fastening the helmet just that little bit easier without compromising on the safety.
Equipped with 15 vents, this helmet helps channel a cool air flow on those hot days, and with the a comfortable antimicrobial fabric interior, it won't rub or irritate on long trail blazing days.
Sizes: XS/S - M/L - XL/XXL
SixSixOne Recon Knee Pads
If you're anything like me, then knee pads are an essential for mountain biking. What's great is that you can now get a variety of them to suit all occasions: downhill, Trail, XC and general MTB antics, so you can get varying degrees of hardiness.
With the wet and muggy British summer in full swing, thin compression knee pads and lightweight models are my preferred style. Finding a good balance between protection and compression can be quite difficult, so when SixSixOne sent out these Recon knee pads, I was all to happy to test these out.
The second skin compression fabric is surprisingly breathable, albeit a snug fit. The breathability is enhanced by the open panels and mesh fabric at the back. The XRD technology protection is harder wearing than compression pads, but softer than a full trail knee pads. The segments are laid out in such a way that allows movement with the knee as you pedal, and the protective technology means it stiffens up on impact.
While the Recon knee pads are super comfortable, very lightweight and great to ride in, I did find the protective segments point and curl when my knee was bent. They certainly take out the sting of a fall, and protect you from abrasions, but shouldn't replace your regular heavy going knee pad.
The silicone lined cuffs ensure the Recon pads stay in place whilst riding, and given it was a hot and muggy day of riding for me, I was pleased to not feel them slip or slide anywhere.
Sizes: Small - X.Large
I got on really well with the SixSixOne Evo AM helmet. It's comfortable, fairly faff-free and offers ample protective coverage for the brain box. Throughout my testing, I didn't suffer any rubbing or irritation, and once fitted correctly, I didn't find myself adjusting or fannying around on the trail.
The SixSixOne Recon knee pads felt interesting. I love the design of them, very Robocop-esque Sci-Fi armour which appeals to the nerd in me, and I appreciate the efforts that SixSixOne have invested to provide another level of protection which bridges the gap of soft compression armour and heavier all-mountain pads.
However, I didn't find the layout of the protective segments efficient for knee movement. This may be owing to my nobbly knees though as I've had similar issues with other brands. As a very loose generalisation, women tend to have smaller joints, so finding protection that fits can be difficult as I'm usually left with a noticeably large air gaps around my knee cap.
Body armour, especially helmets, aren't something to skim over or skrimp on. They are vital pieces of equipment which should fit properly and provide ample coverage.
Because helmets don't come in a standard shape or size, it's always best to try-before-you-buy wherever possible to make sure you get something perfect for you.
You may also enjoy: