After countless crashes, drops and slides I finally destroyed my Knox armoured shorts – with a washing machine. Yes, yes, I know you’re supposed to remove the pads before washing but frankly there’s just hasn’t been enough turnaround and faff time recently.
So I thought I’d try a pair of Action Shorts from another British company, Forcefield. Quite a few people in the DTRA paddock swear by this gear and you can usually spot a Forcefield body armour wearer by the massive chest protector. The Action Short is similarly chunky with burly thigh protection as well as the familiar hip, butt and coccyx armour. Multiple layers of foam make-up a more traditional padding, where other models in the Forcefield range utilise squishier and more pliable shock absorbing compounds. Although with body heat the thick foam does mould to one’s contours. The pockets for the armour are individually sectioned which firmly locates the pads, not just important in a spill but also to avoid irritation while making weird shapes on track. You’d think this would be the norm but I have tried some gear that allows padding to ‘float’ and move out of position easily.
Once on, I felt like I could take a swinging kick from Bruce Lee and then have him run me over with a tank, these things are stout to say the least. If you wear tight trousers you might need to go for the Contakt with its slimmer profile padding but I like to feign invincibility.
The drawstring around the waist might seem an obvious benefit but most shorts don’t have this feature and tend to slide up and down, which is annoying. The material is a wicking synthetic type (BeCool) and not like the shiny cycle short lycra of some. Comfortable against the skin with a proper waistband. Even in 30 degree Florida heat during a trip to the Johnny Lewis 10 Training Camp my plums didn’t perish.
Trying to slam a flat track bike on its cases and bend extensively at the hip did cause a bit of digging-in but that was easily remedied by peeling off one of the foam layers to allow a bit more room under rather tight 250 London trousers. I’d imagine these would be great for enduro, supermoto or pretty much anything including the Dakar. Even the sharpest rock would have a job making it’s presence felt.
For the purposes of a thorough review I had a crash. Turning-down the front to scrub speed was the newly acquired skill of the day, but not yet mastered. I nearly endoed a bike with no front brake and tumbled multiple times across a rock-hard clay track. The orange dirt suggested I should have had ouchies on my thigh, left bum cheek, hip and shoulder…. yet nothing. I couldn’t even tell I’d hit the deck, but was soon reminded by my mates chuckling and the omnipresent GoPro footage. I’ve since been on a few enduro and trials schools and completed product testing bumps with nothing more to show for my efforts than torn trousers.
Not that I go around sniffing my pants you understand but the Action Short has remained aroma free (must be the trademarked BeCool stuff) after some incredibly sweaty outings, I can’t say the same for the rest of the pungent items in my kitbag. Again, I had no choice but to wash the Action Short against the manufacturer’s instructions with the padding still in place. They came out just fine and I’ll be using them for the rest of the 2018 flat track championship. A really decent piece of kit.
I do like the idea of having my thighs protected but if my leather race suit doesn’t allow the room I’ll probably go for the all-new and slightly more svelte Pro Short X-V2. Now, I used to be a 32″ waist but recently my metabolism has flatlined and I now find a 34″ trouser pinches but the Forcefield sizing is generous. I have a medium which leaves plenty around the waist and even fits my girthy thighs. Charts available on the Forcefield website.
We’re already out of space in our shop so can’t stock much in the way of armour but Forcefield is available from J&S across the UK, Infinity Motorcycles in London or try ordering from your local Snow & Rock or Ellis Brigham – snowboarders favour this level of protection too.
Since writing this review I was able to fully test these shorts, again. After being collected by another competitor at the MCN Festival I ran out of track and my bars tangled with the airfence, ripping them from my hands. After that all I remember is landing hard on my coccyx. The shock was sizeable and sudden, my brain rather than pain receptors suggesting a significant injury. I was winded but able to clamber to my feet to check on the other downed riders. Once the adrenaline washed away and my chance of making the final diminished I headed to the van to inspect the damage. One deep bruise above my knee and that was it, the thigh pad had borne the brunt of the impact, leaving just a shallow witness mark in the foam. My arse was tender but I wasn’t about to give that a close inspection. I’d broken the lockstops off my fork yokes and bent the bars – the damage beneath the thick padding? Ziltch.
Had I been wearing thinner, less protective shorts, or none like many in the paddock, I’m 100% sure I’d be ordering a standing desk. Thanks Forcefield, you did actually save my butt!
Race image credit Philip Fusco
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