On Trail Forcefield hails from the UK, where they have been developing high-end body armor for mountain bikes, snow sports, and motorsports since 2003. Their Grid knee protector is the most aggressive of the two models in their mountain bike range. The core technology of the Grid knee is a 9mm thick molded pad made from a slow-rebound material dubbed NeT. The pad is webbed with triangular forms which facilitate air-flow and function to dissipate impact energy laterally across the pad instead of into the body. The removable pad is housed in an abrasion-resistant mesh pocket capped with a special anti-scuff fabric called Dyneema. Forcefield is all about conforming to the highest official standards for armor, which in the case of the Grid knees is CE-2, reportedly, the highest standard for impact protection.Construction
Heat-formed side and top pads provide some additional protection and stretch fabric cuffs with silicone gripping strips at the thigh and calf openings help to keep the guard in place. A two-way stretch mesh back conforms well to the leg and knee profile and a unique double-strap configuration at the thigh and calf ensure that there is no tendency for rotation when the guards are adjusted. The Grid knee is long enough to protect the shins, and thin enough to fit under most baggy shorts. Much care was taken to ensure that the Grid protector was comfortable and cool, beginning with its heat activated conforming NeT pad, followed by the liberal use of two-way stretch mesh fabrics. The medium size we tested weighed 300 grams per side. Four sizes are available (small, medium, large and X-large) and the MSRP is $189 USD. Forcefield
Initially, the Grid knees felt like one of the more comfortable DH pads I have used, but too confining for all-mountain or trail rides. The cupped pads did not fit over my kneecaps well, and I was sure that the tap tap tap I felt with each revolution of the crank would convince me to stash the guards under a bush and retrieve them later. I'm glad I didn't though, because (as advertised) the stretch material settled in and the molded NeT pad adopted to the shape of my knees and shins. The process took about a mile of pedaling, but afterwards, they remained comfortable and unobtrusive for the duration of the ride.
Yes, I did crash test my Grids. Once in the rocks with a healthy blow to the shin, and had another off into heavy brush and pointy sticks without fanfare. Before I had my actual offs, I pre-tested the effectiveness of Forcefield's NeT pads with a big spanner wrench - softly at first, and then I banged away at my shins with considerable force (I strongly recommend that you do not try this) and remarkably, I only felt a dull thud from the inside of the Grid's molded pad.
The dual-strap arrangement is something that I'd like to see more often. They feel more comfortable at higher tension than single straps and there are no "belt loops" to fuss with. The extension cuffs above and below the pads are a nice touch, but the upper cuff needs to be slightly longer to get up and over a defined quadriceps muscle.
Like most knees, the Grid's stretchy fabric tends to bunch up slightly once it conforms to the legs, but never enough to be a bother. As an enduro/AM knee, I'd give them a seven out of ten for comfort. And I'd say that the Grids would be among the more comfortable full-length DH pads. Pinkbike's Take:
|Riders seeking an everyday knee that disappears on the legs for miles of pedaling are not Forcefield Grid customers. The Grid's full-length protection and CE-2 impact certification is intended to provide over-the-top protection for gravity racing, or for trail riders who ride fast and take chances. I don't reach for them daily, but I have two local trails populated with boulders, drops and sketchy roll-outs, and that's when I toss the Grids into my gear bag. - RC|