G-Form's knee pads, along with the rest of their protective line up, make use of their RPT - Reactive Protection Technology - that allows the padding to remain soft and flexible during use, but instantly harden upon an impact. While not the first to employ a material that changes density when struck, their pads are far slimmer and more form fitting than any before, making them useful for more than just lift assisted riding. The G-Form knee pads can be had in either black or yellow, with sizes ranging from 2XS to 2XL. They retail for $49.95 USD.
G-Form's slim knee pads use density changing padding that hardens upon impacts near instantaneously.
G-Form knee pad details:
- Uses density changing RPT (Reactive Protection Technology) padding
- RPT padding is molded with depressions that act as hinges for flexibility
- Repeated impact absorption won't degrade padding
- Padding is attached to a thin compression fabric
- Lifetime warranty
- Sizes: 2XS - 2XL
- Colours: black, yellow
- MSRP: $49.95 USD/39.99 GBP
G-Form employs a density changing padding material, referred to as Reactive Protection Technology, that can go from soft and pliable to extremely firm within an instant, allowing it to be flexible and conforming until needed. G-Form's RPT isn't the first type of padding to change its durometer under impacts, with d3o doing a very similar same thing, but they claim to have a number of advantages over d3o based protection, including the ability to mold it into much more ergonomic shapes. A knee or elbow pad that uses d30 is required to lay the material up in a simple manner without much concession for any flexibility or comfort, as well as requiring a layer of protective fabric over top to prevent abrasion damage. The result is padding that makes sense for use on a downhill bike or in the bike park, but can end up being somewhat bulky for riders who like to wear pads on their all-mountain or cross-country rides. G-Form's RPT padding doesn't require as much abrasion protection, only needing a thin layer of protective film to keep it from being damaged in a crash, with the final product being much more svelte and ergonomic.
The padding is laid out on the fabric with flexibility in mind, using a central, round section that is positioned over the kneecap and smaller segments that fan out on all sides. Depressions are molded into the RPT padding that serve as flex points, allowing it to have little to no restriction in movement. Coverage extends both above and below the knew, as well as smaller sections of padding that wrap around the sides, although the amount of protection afforded by these are somewhat limited.
The padding is applied to a very simple compression fabric that resembles a knee warmer, and does without any of the Velcro straps or rear cutouts that you might find on a more traditional knee pad design. This makes the G-Form pads simple and extremely lightweight, but you'll have to remove your shoes to pull on. Both the top and bottom cuff are quite stretchy, with the top also featuring a grippy silicone strip to help hold them up.
The padding's depressions act as hinges, allowing it to flex with little to no resistance.
Despite the area of coverage being roughly the same as a standard knee pad, the G-Form's don't give you the sense of having the same level of protection. This isn't a surprise considering their slim and form fitting design. What is clear, though, is that the science behind their Reactive Protection Technology padding does perform as advertised, with the soft material instantly turning harder when struck. There were a handful of times where we came down on our knees, fully expecting an open wound or at least a proper bruising, but walked away without a scratch. That's not to say that the they will absorb the same amount of energy as a full sized BMX style knee pad, we have our doubts on that front and G-Form doesn't make that claim, but they do offer great coverage and protection without the bulkiness and disagreeable fit of a larger design.
The G-Form knee pads are pull up, meaning that you'll have to remove your shoes to get them on, but they do a good job of staying put. There is no noticeable migration down the leg over time, even when sliding across ground. This is impressive considering the design depends on the elastic properties of the cuff and the silicone gripping strip, but the pad's somewhat tight fit likely helped this cause as well. Besides the snug openings, they are likely the most comfortable knee pads that we've ever worn, so much so that we found ourselves sporting them even for three and four hour trail rides - we can't think of any other pads that we can say this about. The RPT padding makes use of depressions that act as hinges, allowing the padding to articulate enough to be undetectable as your legs go through the motion, which helped in their unobtrusive presence. They have also held up well, not looking any worse for wear after many crashes and countless washings. We paid extra attention to the stitching at the edge of the padding because it does look a touch vulnerable, but not a single stitch has gone awry.
While we'd likely turn to full sized knee pads when shuttling on the downhill bike, the G-Form's make a lot of sense for those times when you're looking for something slimmer for when you have to earn your turns, or when the terrain isn't as treacherous and a leaner pad will do the job. They are also comfortable enough that we didn't hesitate to put them at the start of a ride, even if there was a monster climb ahead of us, and their slim design also kept them from getting caught on open end of long shorts.
While their exoskeleton appearance may look a touch odd, think of them as padded knee warmers on steroids.
The G-Form knee pads are not bike specific, so they lack a few of the cycling centric touches that we'd like to see. Some extra coverage for the inside of the knee, to protect it from banging the bike's top tube, would be first on our list. There is also no opening at the back of the knee that would prevent material from bunching, and while we have no complaints on the comfort front, this revision would improve the already agreeable fit even more.
When I first put the G-Form pads on I briefly considered the chance that my legs had put on about 30% more muscle, sadly, that isn't the case. They fit small, with the medium size of our test pair feeling a quite tight at the top and bottom cuff. I can't think of any other pads that I've ever needed a large size in, but that would be the case with these. Be sure to check out the sizing chart
before pulling the trigger, and consider ordering one size larger than you think you need.Pinkbike's take:
|G-Form's knee pads likely won't appeal to pure downhillers that don't put a high value on ergonomics, but they may be just the ticket for shredders who want unobtrusive padding that can be worn for the entirety of the ride. In a blind test we would likely say that we were wearing simple knee warmers - that's how invisible they felt on the legs - which is impressive considering they also offer a good level of protection. We'd like to see a few small tweaks, including more padding to protect the inside of the knee and a cutout at the back, but factor in their reasonable $49.99 USD asking price and we'd say that the G-Form knee pads are worth picking up for the trail rider who is looking for some knee protection.- Mike levy|