I still have the memory of my first experience with soft shell pads burned into my head. I believe the year was 2001, and Fox had just come out with their Radius pads. I remember first seeing them in a magazine photo with Joe Rich wearing them, and of course I had to have them! Fast forward a bit to the Woodward CFB contest, and there before me in the pro shop was just what I had been searching for. I couldn’t get the money out of my wallet fast enough! Gone would be the days of scraped up knees or even worse, wearing bulky hard shell pads. I slipped these beauties on and made my way back to Cloud 9 where the rest of my crew were having a foam pit session. I figured I’d go ahead and join, so I took some Taj-esque power pedals at the lip and cranked out a 360 turndown that would have impressed Mr. Rich himself. What happened next still gives me chills to this day. I landed perfectly with both wheels simultaneously touching the foam. All that momentum I had built up from those power pedals came to an abrupt hault, and then it happened. The DREADED knee to the stem! In my best Radioactive Man voice I screamed out “My knee! The pads do nothing!” They literally did absolutely nothing to cushion the impact. I pulled them down and not only was my knee already developing a nice knot, but it had also split open and was bleeding. The Fox pads had let me down in my time of need.
I’ve had a few other soft style knee pads since then, and the results have been mixed. Some have offered a bit more padding than others but have been uncomfortable, others have been really comfy but have lacked in the padding department. During a visit to Interbike I came across a new player in the soft pad game that went by the name of G-Form. Their pads were different in that they utilized RPT™ or Reactive Protection Technology. This black magic enables the pads to stiffen upon impact, allowing them to absorb 90% of the energy. Of course I was skeptical and had to give it a go myself. I slipped them on did my best Monica Lewinsky impression. To my surprise then actually worked! There was one more test that had to be done though. I walked over to the next booth and did the unthinkable. I purposely kneed a stem. Nothing! No vomit inducing pain, and as a matter of fact there was no pain at all. I was sold!
G-Form was kind enough to send me an assortment of their pads to check out. I admit that I’m not the best about wearing pads these days, but I’ve been pretty good about putting these on. I had gotten out of the habit of wearing knee pads due to the lack of comfort offered by all of the other ones that I had previously owned. They would all either slide down, scrunch up in the back, or some combination of the both. With G-Form’s knee pads there is none of that. The pads are made from a breathable stretchy material that gives them a very lightweight and flexible feel. They have a grippy material along the top inside that helps keep them right where you put them. No more of having to deal with your pads sliding down all the time. The actual protective part of the pads have hinging molded right in that allows them to comfortably articulate when you bend your knee. There’s been several times that I’ve gone riding in these things and have completely forgotten that they were on. One time I made it all the way to the bar before realizing that I was still wearing them.
I haven’t taken any major crashes in them yet, but I’m sure I’ll be a lot better off having them on when I do. Will they offer as much protection as say a pair of those giant hardshell Rector pads? Most certainly not, but I can guarantee they’ll offer superior protection over most any other soft shell pads out there right now. G-Form’s Reactive Protection Technology is the real deal. It does exactly what they claim. It’s soft to the touch, but upon impact stiffens up allowing it to act more like a hard shell pad.
These are by far the best knee pads that I’ve ever owned. With a retail price of $49.99 they’re a tad pricier than some other pads on the market. You know that old saying though. You get what you pay for! Fifty bucks gets you a set of pads that not only address many of the flaws commonly associated with soft shell pads, but it also gets you pads that offer a level of protection far above other ones on market. You can pick up a pair along with an assortment of other protective offerings from G-Form at shops, mail orders, or directly from G-Form’s store. Do it! You’re knees will thank you!
* G-Form’s pads tend to run a bit small. General rule of thumb is to get them one size larger than what you would usually wear.