As a kid, I was often armored up to the eyeballs in massive Dainese turtle suits at the local downhill tracks. Passing through my twenties, I went through the 'too cool for school, I don't need any armor phase,'
regardless of what silly speeds we planned on surpassing, or stupid lines we wanted to ride in the wrong conditions. Entering the third phase of self-preservation as I age, I'm taking more interest in body armour and protectives, not full turtle suit again, but lightweight, comfortable safety gear.
The SixSixOne Evo jacket and shorts represent some of the latest technical armor featuring D30 padding, a compression fit, and their new Padlock System; which links together a range of protection jackets, shorts, knee and elbow pads with simple press studs. There is a short sleeve version of the Evo LS jacket, which has the option of Padlock elbow guards. I used the shorts in conjunction with the 661 Rage Hard knee and shin guards.
At $189.99 USD for the jacket, $89.99 for chamois shorts and $85 for the knee/shin guards, less that four hundred dollars for full body protection.
Evo LS Jacket Details
• Removable D30 shoulder, elbow and back meeting CE 1621:1 standards
• Back D30 pocket doubles as a hydration holder with hose routing
• Full zipper
• Laminated EVA in chest and hip areas
• Back storage pockets
• Padlock connection system
• Price: $189.99 USD
Evo Short Details
• Removable D30 hip pads for CE 1621:1 protection
• Comfortable lycra construction with laminated EVA foam for thigh and coccyx protection
• Premium moisture managing gel chamois
• Silicon printing to keep leg openings from creeping
• Price: $89.99 USD
If your habitation consists of a sub-igneous hideout and you don't know what D30 foam is, it's a non-Newtonian foam, Clever Clogs. In other words, it's soft and flexible in its normal state, but hardens upon impact. Bottom line, it's comfortable when riding, but said to offer better protection in a crash than other foams of the same thickness.On the Trail
The fit of the Evo LS jacket and shorts was comfortable; completely uninhibited by sharp zips or straps that build pressure points. What you experience is simply the snug feeling of compression clothing. Regarding bulk, the Evo LS is much slimmer than the old turtle set-ups, but not as slim as some other recent models on the market. Then again, the thickness of these particular D30 pads give you confidence that you have a good chance of survival on the way to say hello to terra-firma.
Temperature wise, body armor is always going to be warmer than wearing a wife beater out on the trail with 'all the lads,' but the Evo jacket isn't massively hot. A full-length zip makes the jacket easy to take off, even when sweaty. The back protector is removable (along with elbow and shoulder pads), and its pocket doubles as a hydration carrier with routing for the hose – perfect for summer alpine epics.
The back protector is wider at the top, covering the upper back and shoulders, then tapers downwards. The protector could be a bit longer, as it stopped higher up my spine than I would have liked, leaving my lower back feeling exposed.
The elbow pads extend down the forearm enough to protect well on high-speed slide-outs. I did cut off the
velcro adjustment straps on the forearms, they weren't needed for a good fit and could potentially inhibit blood flow to the hands.
The Evo shorts have a quality gel chamois, with removable D30 hip pads and EVS foam on the thighs. The padding is hardly noticeable on the bike, and when riding downhill, I would always choose them over standard undershorts.
Using the Rage Hard knee/shin pads in conjunction with the rest of the kit, I didn't experience the same issues as Vernon Felton in his review
regards the pads sliding down – with or without the Padlock system engaged – though I did have the longer knee/shin version. Hard plastic knee protectors which should slide better than fabric against the dirt should be more commonplace in downhill, and I like the light EVA padding around the shins for glancing off pedal pins and wayward rocks. Pinkbike's Take
|Mid-weight body armour I could happily spend the day downhilling in. - Paul Aston|