RXR Protect is a French marque who hail from the MX world, but you may have spotted their Bullet protector being used at World Cup downhill races, and even making it to the podium upon French rider, Marine Cabirou. The Bullet protector is based on the classic 'roost guard' used in motocross racing, but it's designed to do more than just provide protection from flying rocks and debris.
Classic roost guards can deflect objects, but they don't really offer much in the way of impact absorption, an issue RXR have addressed by adding air cushioning into the mix. Combining plastic, foam, and air, the Bullet is designed to protect, absorb, and dissipate energy, hopefully saving your muscles, bones, and organs from doing that job in the event of a crash.
RXR Bullet Details
• Intended use: downhill / freeride
• EC 1621-2 Level 2 / EC 14021 / FFM Label
• Customizable colors and graphics
• Patented air cushion technology
• Size: M, L, XL (children's products are also available)
• Weight: 1420g, size L (actual
• MSRP: €219
The Bullet comes in three sizes to fit based on your height and weight (the website calculates the size you need), multiple colors, customized graphics, and add-on shoulder and arm protectors. I opted for the standard Bullet with no extras and for some reason thought the wood-effect was a great colorway. My Bullet was priced at €219 without any extras, and is available only through their online store. Details
Imagine placing a steel plate on your chest and then hitting it with a hammer - it's still going to hurt even though it deflected the hammer blow from puncturing your skin. This is how classic plastic roost guards work to protect from debris. The chances of getting 'roosted' on a mountain bike are low, and taking this idea to a mountain bike to protect you from crashing doesn't offer great absorption from impacts, which is where the Bullet aims to help.
The Bullet has plastic and foam to help deal with impacts, but the air chambers are what really set it apart. There are five chambers placed in an X-shape on the chest, and four chambers complete the spine protector. During low-speed movements, the air can pass between all chambers for flexibility and comfort, but under heavy impacts and rising pressure, valves between the chambers will close to increase protection with increasing pressure in the zone that is taking the brunt of the impact.
RXR have some have some impressive stats and patents to talk about which suggest that in terms of pure core protection, including bones and vital organs, this is the
safest option on the market. In terms of certified safety standards, the Bullet passes EC 1621-2 Level 2, and FFM Label tests which relate to spine protection, and EC 14021 which covers the chest and spine. Simply holding this product against some others that have passed the same tests it is clear to see that the Bullet is on another level. Why? it simply has more coverage, thickness, and mass than most other products. The safety tests mentioned only drop a weight on to a specific area, so for example, you could have a 5cm wide spine protector that exceeds all tests, then you land on your kidney on a stump... I think that makes the point. In Action
You probably don't want any more things to faff with before you go on a ride, after cleaning your bike, oiling your chain, moaning at me in the PB comments, checking air pressures in tires, cleaning your goggle lenses, then checking the air pressure in your body armor... Wait, I need to check the air pressure in my body armor? Yes, but it is a simple job and can be done with the included pump (or any Schraeder pump); simply inflate to 10psi and the blow off valve with let you know when it is up to pressure. This only needs to be done every few weeks as a checkup.
There's not much to say about the Bullet protector in real-world action, as I don't really like smashing my chest or spine into the ground on a daily basis. Taking the protector on and off takes seconds and is easier than body armor worn under clothing, which is especially useful on hot days when you're riding and taking short breaks in between downhill runs. This also keeps the Bullet clean from perspiration and means that it only needs a wipe or hose-down after riding. The third advantage of wearing the Bullet over clothing is that thanks to all the channels in the foam it is also much cooler than many other body armor options.
At nearly a kilo and a half in weight, the Bullet is a big piece of kit, but being placed so close to the core the mass is not really noticeable and doesn't restrict core or shoulder movement. The overall comfort is great, with no seams or itchy fabrics against your skin, but there were two discomforts that stood out to me straight away – the first was that when I was leaning back on drops of going over rises the guard would push into my arms at the top of my biceps for a split second. That's not a major issue on its own, but it gets frustrating when it happens 3-4 times per run, although it could be down to having narrow shoulders for my height. Slightly more annoying was the fact that the lower part of the guard pressed gently into the curve of my lower back, which happened for the majority of downhill runs. This did ease after a few days riding and the guard started to bed-in, but it did not go away completely. It seems as if I'm in between sizes - if I had a shorter or longer torso this likely wouldn't be an issue. Pinkbike's Take