What's it made of?As my brother would say, 'It's all very scientific.' And it is. To go into the chemical and physical gizmos would not benefit anyone because I, myself have no idea how it could work. But I'm sure you all played with corn starch as a kid. Mix it with a bit of water, making a goo, then hit it hard and it stiffens like magic. Well, basically the same principle, except it is used to protect your flesh and isn't essentially a liquid.
The material utilises Reactive Protection Technology, a composite blend of PORON® XRD™ material and proprietary G-Form materials and technology. See? Scientific. The pads are stitched to spandex sleeves that slip onto whatever body part they are meant for. They stay in place with elastics on either end with a silicon rubber lining the inside of the thicker end.
Actual protectionWhilst messing about on the jumps at Delvera near Stellenbosch, I gave my mate the knee pads to try out, which turned out to be good and bad. While they saved his knees during a scuffle with the dirt, they weren't present during my subsequent meeting with the earth. The funny part, besides hindsight taking a swing at me, was that during his bail a little stone found its way in between the segregated pads and made a cute bruise on his knee. You wouldn't have gotten this with a hard-shelled pad or even a soft but solid pad. That being said, I think Murphy had a hand to play in that incident, that wise guy always popping up at the most inopportune moments.
G-Form have made quite a bold claim with their pads, that they absorb over 90% of impact forces. That's huge, and certainly more than hard pads. Although it's actually hard to compare, as the softer G-Forms tackle the problem of impacts differently; rather than either deflecting or dispersing the impact's energies, the G-Forms absorb them.
ComfortUndoubtably, the G-Form pads are some of the most comfortable pads out there. There's no hardness to them, and that's the trick: they can mould around your joints with no edges to catch anything and no excess bulk to get in the way. You can also wear them under your clothes without worrying about looking like Mr Universe.
And it does an admirable job doing so. I got sent a pair of knee and a pair of shin pads and, while I specifically asked for shin pads because my platform pedals tend to get lodged in the front of my legs, I used the knee pads more often and just set them a bit lower on my legs. The shin pads I actually used as elbow pads. I've never been a fan of elbow pads, always finding that they restricted movement, and was also a bit afraid of this happening with the G-Forms because they sit fairly tight. But once on the move they were virtually unnoticeable.
Because they weren't specifically elbow pads, the shin pads on my elbows had a small tendency to slide down. Not enough to impede my ride, but when I stopped i often had to hike them up into position.
Now if I wore them on my shins it was a different story all together. Getting them on wasn't too much of a hassle if you had skinny ankles like myself. Getting them off was another story altogether. They reminded me of an old pair of incredibly tight jeans I had as a kid that were nearly impossible to take off without some literal elbow grease. Suffice it to say, they found their home on my elbows shortly after finding that out.
And this wasn't a problem. Like I said above, because the G-Forms are soft and mould to an area I could easily use the shin pads on my elbows. In fact, it was as if they were meant for my elbows, showing just how flexible the pads can be.
There was no issue with getting the knee guards on and off, but not nearly as easy as velcro-strapped pads can be.
Whilst riding you don't even notice that you are wearing pads, even to someone who has never used padding before they became invisible, except for the fact that they inspired a bit of extra confidence. Once you stop riding, however, the latex material starts to show its downside. These pads get hot, and wet, and smelly. Thankfully, though, they are machine washable. Neat.
Long-term durabilityThis is one of my main concerns with the G-Forms. While they can take a good knock straight on, I was always worried about scrapping them. They are meant to absorb impacts, not slide about like hard shelled pads. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I never got into a situation where I found out their capabilities regarding this, but seeing as they are also targeted towards downhill skateboarding, the sport that is king of the roasties, I'm sure they would hold up.
A viable option or some gizmo?As I'm sure you've read above, these pads do what they say on the box. The G-Forms performed admirably from the get-go. And while they did take a bit of getting used to from someone that typically wears hard-cased pads, they only became a nuisance when it was time to take them off.
Having said that, though, there needs to be a balance between the ease of removing pads and not having them go anywhere when riding. So from this view, G-Form took the riding more into account. What I would highly recommend is for anyone considering these pads is to try them out at a local retailer to get the correct size. Nothing like opening a box to find a pair of knee pads that would fix better around your wrists, or waist.
At R699 RRP for either pair of pads they are at the higher end of the body armour spectrum, and some might say that it is because they are more of a gimmick than a top-class product. But this is far from the truth. There are two main problems I have with the G-Forms, though: their colour and their heat retention. Thankfully, they do come in black, but for our purpose we were given a pair of yellow ones - easier to flaunt their unusual nature I suppose. And, to be honest, if you're wearing protective gear, chances are you're going to be hot anyway.