Protective Gear Reviews

August has arrived, and that means that, here in Southern California, it’s about to get hot.  Barring a few warm snaps here and there, earlier in the summer, August and September are usually when San Diego gets blazing hot, with an intensity that won’t let up until sometime in the first two weeks of October. That’s always a quandary for riders because, while you wish to wear effective protective gear, you don’t want to die of heat prostration.

Fortunately there’s some gear out there that gives you the protection you want, but won’t break the bank, and will help you stay a bit cooler.

First up is the 661 Vapor Pressure Suit.

661 Vapor Pressure Suit
661 Vapor Pressure Suit

The Vapor is made of snug Lycra and mesh, over which is layered perforated biogel soft armor, and over that is hard plastic armor.  CE certified, this armor also includes both a chest protector, as well as a segmented–and removable–back/spine protector that’s held in place with an integral kidney belt.

It offers pretty full coverage with the armor: Back, chest, shoulders, upper arms, and forearms.

Ventilation is really good for that much armor, as both the biogel and the hard plastic is perforated, so it allows a lot of air through.

Velcro straps are fully adjustable and hold everything in place.

It’s surprisingly comfy to wear, and comfortable on your wallet at only $100.

Next is the Fox Titan Race Knee-Shin Guards.

Fox Titan Racing Knee-Shin Guards
Fox Titan Racing Knee-Shin Guards

These are pretty cheap, at $30, and fit very well.  They also have a low enough profile that they can be worn under your jeans or work pants.

Once again, they are hard plastic, backed by a layer of biogel foam for impact absorption.

The neat thing about them is that the velcro straps are very long, allowing for a lot of adjustment, and they hook on with easy release catches on the sides, so you can pop them on and off pretty fast, even under your pants leg.

They do have the down side of only having calf straps, not knee straps.  As I wear them under my pants, that’s not a big problem, but if you’re going to strap them to the outside of your jeans, you need to be aware of the possibility that they might slip and leave your knees unprotected. They can be tightened pretty snugly, but the possibility is there.

Finally, there’s a product I really want to love, but can’t, due a strange design decision: The Icon Motosports Field Armor Leg Guards.

Icon Field Armor Knee-Shin Guards
Icon Field Armor Knee-Shin Guards

Almost everything about these are first rate.  Generous foam backing.  Extensive knee and shin protection, Fuller coverage of the leg.  Velcro knee straps.  They almost have it all.


The thing is, that the three velcro straps that close them up along the back of the calves have ridiculously short lengths.  I can’t even touch velcro to velcro on the top strap, and the second strap just barely does.  I can’t see how any average-sized man can wear them.

I’m sure they’re great for women, or smaller men–or, at least, men with pencil-thin calves.  But if you have muscular calves, forget it. they just won’t fit you. Theyre a potentially fantastic product, made hard to use by poor strap design.

That’s a shame, because they are rather pricey at $69.  If they fit me properly, they’d be well worth the price. If you have smaller calves, don’t overlook these, though, because they are very, very nicely made.

And, if you have larger calves, you could always make velcro strap extenders, I guess.  But, at that price, you really shouldn’t have to.

Anyway, here are some products to keep in mind if you want to stay cool, and still have a good level of impact protection.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

1 thought on “Protective Gear Reviews”

  1. Good review.  I’d be interested in the vapor suit, as it looks really practical.  I’m one of those riders that likes to be well protected when riding, which currently means wearing the same motorcycle jacket I wear in the winter.
    What a shame about the leg guards.  Unless you have excessively large calves, this is a major design flaw.  Might be worth contacting icon to let them know.

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