Mountain Bike Action Product Test: G-Form Pro-Rugged Pads
G-Form Pro-Rugged Pads
In the not-too-distant past, even the best joint protection consisted of poorly shaped plastic cups stitched to sleeves of neoprene that bunched up like an accordion and were likely to shred your most tender skin with nasty hook-and-loop straps. In the event of a crash, the pads would inevitably slide off to one side and leave your tender knee skin hopelessly vulnerable to an onslaught of rocks as sharp as razor blades.
Today, however, there is no shortage of sleek and stylish pads out there. All of them claim the same T-shirt comfort and flak-jacket protection, but we know better than to trust any of those claims until the end of a long day of riding. We set out to test G-Form’s newest Pro-Rugged pads to determine whether the already-great original G-Form pads could be made even more comfortable and protective.
G-Form’s Pro-Rugged pads use the same “soft most of the time but instantly firm when hit by a rock” material to protect your joints. The Pro-Rugged has a new layer of tear-resistant Armortex fabric to keep your pads intact for the long haul and to provide more overall protection. The knee protection is enhanced by body-mapped SmartFlex pads with impact-absorbing XRD protection. Soft inner foam keeps the pads secure and comfortable on your knees.
New for this model is the adjustable fit strap for customized comfort and security, and an extra-wide top gripper with a low-profile bottom gripper to distribute pressure and keep the pads in place. The whole pad is made from ultra-comfortable, double-knit compression fabric with a ventilated back to keep your knees cool and dry. Our set of medium pads tipped the scales at 123 grams each, or just over 1/2 pound for the pair. They retail for $79.99 and can be purchased at any bike shop or directly from G-Form’s online site.
Field test results:
G-Form’s Pro-X pad quickly became a benchmark standard when it comes to lightweight protection. It offers a lightweight sleeve with no closure system and a superlight pad that looks like it wouldn’t be able to protect an infant’s knee from a boo-boo. But, even with the older version, don’t let the flimsy looks fool you, because G-Form’s engineers use a material that is quite malleable when it needs to be, and truly firm and impact-absorbing when it needs to be. With the Pro-X, the impact material worked impressively well to not only prevent abrasions but also absorb the force from a crash, allowing us to walk away from it.
Our only criticism of previous-generation G-Form pads was that they occasionally slid out of the way during a crash or, over time, lost their elasticity and wouldn’t stay in place while we were pedaling. The Pro-Rugged effectively solves both of these problems with a ballistic nylon cover that not only keeps the pads in place, but offers much more protection from sharp trailside sticks. It also provides improved abrasion resistance with the addition of Amortex fabric, which helps the pad to stay in place in the event of a crash rather than sticking to the ground and puling off to the side of your knee.
The Pro-Rugged pad is not quite as lightweight nor as ventilated as the original Pro-X pad, but we are more than willing to take the heat for the leaps forward in comfort, abrasion resistance, stability and overall protection that the new Pro-Rugged offers. While no pad is 100-percent effective at protecting from all impacts, the Pro-Rugged takes the alreadystellar performance of the Pro-X to the next level with an improved fit system that doesn’t add much in terms of weight or complexity. Amazingly, it doesn’t even cost much more than the original pad that we fell in love with when we swore off those old skateboard-style pads that we used back in the day.
- Adjustable fit
- Reliable protection
- Could use more ventilation
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