G-Form Elbow & Knee Pads-by Grannygear

From the G-Form website:

G-Form Elbow and Knee Pads, utilizing RPT™ – Reactive Protection Technology, a composite blend of PORON® XRD™ material and proprietary G-Form materials and technology, offer consistent, repeated impact absorption for dependable performance throughout the life of the product. They are the first flexible, molded, exoskeleton rate-dependent impact pad worn on the outside of the sleeve. The ridges and hinges of the pad are specifically designed to flex with the elbow and arm to ensure complete protection.

The G-Form pad will protect you from repeated impacts – unlike a bicycle helmet, it does not need to be replaced after impact, and does not lose any of it’s protective qualities after repeated use.

The unique way the pad is shaped and molded, plus its attachment to the compression fabric, keeps the pad close to the surface of the body, and this enhances the protection, especially compared to hard shell pads that can move out of place.

The elbow and knee pads can be worn in warm or cold weather, on top of or underneath clothing. It can be washed and worn repeatedly, and is covered by a limited lifetime warranty. If for any reason you’re dissatisfied with the pad, send it back to us and we will replace it free of charge, not including shipping.

I have sampled protective pads from Alpinestars and 661 and found them to have good and bad points, but in my search for an easy to carry, lightweight pad set up for XC/Trail use, I was intrigued by the offerings from G-Form.  Unique looking for sure, the bright green pads look like a knee or arm warmer dipped in goo.  I have used a set now for some time, and I have some strong impressions.

g-form padsg-form pads

First of all, I did not crash in them.  Sorry to disappoint you.  So I cannot comment on what happens when the dirt gets too up close and personal.  Second, the pads have to be the most minimal in weight and overall packaging of any protective pad out there.  They are nearly weightless compared to a full pad and roll up and tuck into a pack or a jersey pocket with ease.  In my goal of making it easy to take with you, these are king.  The flip side of this has to be that, if I was truly expecting a harsh day of serious descending or was in the air with gusto and rocks involved, I would move toward a more robust pad than the G-Form.  That is not based on science, just common sense.

That said, I took them to Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona, for four days of riding in mildly techy XC to moderately techy trail riding.  There was enough rock involved to make some kind of padding a reasonable thought, but there was going to be a lot of pedaling too and no one in the large group was going to wait for me while I ‘padded up’ and down, etc.  So I wore the pads all day for three out of the four days of riding there and logged something like fifteen hours of time in them.  All of them were trail rides with long sections of climbing, often in semi-hot conditions and I never took them off till the end of the ride.

Now it must be said that I am not a pad wearer by nature.  Never have been, even if the day means a more challenging ride condition than normal.  But as I have gotten older, it seems that a pad appeals to me more.  Wisdom mixed with diminishing skills, I guess.  So in Sedona, on a ride with maybe a dozen riders, most all of them quite experienced, I was the only one wearing any kind of pads.  Frankly, I think most of this lack of pad wearing is due to ego on the parts of the manly men involved, but I am just guessing here.  Not a half mile into the first Sedona trail day, one rider dropped his bike in a loose corner and bit the dirt.  The only lasting injury was a slightly shredded elbow that the G-Form pad would have prevented.  But that flesh wound could have gone to the dark side with a chipped bone or other soft tissue injury at the elbow…it only takes a rock in the right place to have that happen.  So I wore them, looking like a bright green and black superhero something or other.  I never fell, but I did like the idea of having the pads on, even if they seemed out of the norm for the group’s bravado.

My thoughts: Good things

  • Super packable, as mentioned.  Light for sure.
  • Not too expensive at around $50.00 a pair.
  • Can get them in subtle black or WOW green.
  • Easy to pedal in. I had no real complaints with rubbing or restrictions.  I did wear the knees slightly low per c_g’s suggestions and that felt good with less pressure on the kneecap.
  • They function like a tough arm or leg warmer, so in cold weather, you get some insulation as well as a pretty wind/water proof section.  c_g wears his in the winter quite a bit just for that purpose and they would be great for riding on ice if you hit the deck.  They do stiffen a bit when they are cold but I never used them below 50 degrees F.
  • There are lots of sizes that should fit anyone.  On the G-Form website I was sized as an XL but was sent Larges, so I wore those and it seemed fine to me although I cannot compare to say for sure.  If you get them too big, and since there is no adjustment/tension strap, that could be an issue as it is only the snugness of the material that keeps them in place.
  • Easy to pack and easy to wear means that you may bring them on more rides.  I know of at least two moderate level crashes that resulted in multiple hospital visits due to infected gashes, missed race events due to healing time, etc, even though there were no real ‘hard’ injuries, only soft tissue damage.  The G-Forms would very, very likely have eliminated these injuries or reduced them dramatically as they were at the obvious contact points of elbows and knees.
Less than good things
  • They are less than you might want for a really big, gravity day.
  • You need to take your shoes off to get them on.  In fact, they feel like a super snug arm/leg warmer so it takes some effort to get them in place.  I did not find that they moved much once there, but I would have some issues getting them over heavier layers of clothing.  Under would be better.  If they are not snug on your body they would, one would think, tend to move around when sliding over terra firma.
  • You have to be careful pulling them on or you may tear the material/Poron interface (based on several comments from other users of the product, bike shop owners, etc).  I never had that happen but I would grab the padding section to help put them in place.
  • They are hot to wear, but maybe no hotter than any other pad and likely less so.  But they are long feeling, especially on the arm and the stretchy fabric here extends farther up and down the arm compared to a typical elbow pad.
  • The knee pads bunched up a bit at the bottom of the sleeve and I was pulling them down every so often.
  • They rely on the cuts in the segments of Poron to allow for articulation but there is not really any ergonomic ‘pre-curved- shape to them like a typical pad has.  This works Ok, but there is restriction if you bend them sharply, especially at the elbow.

In the end, I would likely use these more than other pads on the average ride that might call for a pad here and there simply because they are so easy to take along and they do add a significant level of protection over bare skin and bone.  And the pad that stays at home does you no good at all.  So in that way they are a superior product and I bet they meet the needs of many trail riders who are toting along heavier duty pads than these on every ride.  Here is a quote taken from a multi-page thread on the forums at MTBR.com where they were discussing the merits of the pads based on some light crash injuries sustained while wearing the G-Forms: “The question is, Would you be wearing pads at all if it weren’t G-Forms? In my case, I wouldn’t most of the time, and mild abrasions is better than a raw or cracked knee/elbow. They have saved me a few times, when anything heavier and bulkier would simply have stayed home. It’s all a compromise. You look pretty fine to me after falling six feet–certainly a lot better than if you weren’t wearing pads.”

But I would repeat that, for me, they are not what I would haul along for a trip to Mammoth Mtn Bike Park either and likely they will not have much appeal to serious gravity riders.  For Burro Down in Moab?  Yep.  That would be some grace on Porcupine Rim Trail and would not get in the way for the 35 miles of pedaling that ride requires.

I cannot say I care for the green color.  Garish…but that is up to the eye of the beholder as someone I know saw those and was totally excited to get some just like that bright green…even though I told them they come in black.  Go figure.  It does make them easy to spot in the bottom of the gear bag.  I will keep these right there as well, in the gear bag ready to go when I have that thought “hmmm, pads today?

 

Note: G-Form sent over the protective pads for test and review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.