Forcefield Pro L2K Back and Race-Lite Chest Protectors
But here at LB we like challenging the established order of things and competition is always good. Thus far, I’ve got every reason to throw my hat into Forcefield’s ring. Their products rock!
Forcefield Body Armour first came about in 2003 and they reach deep into the Skiing, Snowboarding and Mountain Biking markets although they are now elbowing their way into the Motorcycle market. The racing paddock has been hit this year with many riders in the road and BSB scheme wearing Forcefield armour both under and as their suit’s armour. BSB supplier arc-on leathers moved over to Forcefield Body Armour for their suits this year – my Evolution has the optional upgraded Forcefield armour in it.
What makes Forcefield different? In a word – reusability. Forcefield armour is soft armour whereas certainly my Aegis is made up of hard polycarbonate/plastic panels all locked together. Should the Knox take a proper whack (although I’m confident that it would protect me just as well) I would be less confident it would be reusable. I’ve always considered them to be one-use only like a helmet, but the Forcefield is intentionally different.
Making An Impact
The Forcefield armour is designed to absorb the impact into NitrexEvo® soft honeycomb panels which give a very distinct look and since there are no hard parts the protectors should be capable of absorbing another impact. Kevlar threads are used in the construction and it exceeds the CE test EN1621-2:2003 Level 2 which is the highest standard possible in this field.
I’m not knocking other’s way of doing it, and I have no actual proof about the performance of each and how much impact each would take before being unusable. These impressions are based to some degree upon the marketing from Forcefield, my gut instinct and common sense (hard materials are naturally more brittle than soft ones).
To be balanced though I would also be interested to see how an impact test between the two manufacturing styles went because I wonder if the harder, more shell-like style of Knox, Alpinestars and Dainese products would deflect / absorb a pointed impact better?
L2K has a reassuring thickness to it and because it’s quite a big plate it will help keep you warm on colder rides. As always with these back protectors you have to get the right fit or it’ll come too high up your neck and catch on your helmet when in a racing crouch (obviously less important if you ride upright). It extends quite far south as well, so your coccyx is protected and it helps it stay inside your trousers if you wear a two-piece suit. It is quite a broad plate too although the padding doesn’t wrap around your ribs (a specialised rib protector is available) it runs to the edge of my average sized back (I’m a 42 chest and 34 waist). My old yellow Knox touring plate was broader but caused problems under a race suit – c’est l’vie.
There is a good thickness waist band which Velcros closed for maximum fit options, and the usual over the shoulder arm loops with a sliding adjuster to them. To accommodate the chest plate there are also Velcro closing straps which wrap around the arm loops to run left and right across your chest (and the chest plate’s large furry front section to hold it in place.
Chest protectors have been on my mind a lot especially after my years in the BSB paddock where most riders wear them. The logic is sound; they protect your chest should you go forwards into something, be it your bike, a kerb edge or something else.
Race-Lite Chest Protector
The Race-Lite chest plate doesn’t have any straps or fitting points; in common with other brands this Race-Lite protector is meant to be held in place by your suit. As already mentioned there are straps to bind it to the back plate’s arm loops which I’ve grown accustomed to, and I also tuck it into the wrap around waist band so it stays put. Looking at the photo of it in place it sits pretty low, lower than I thought so perhaps I'll not be tucking it into the horizontal band anymore, although protection ones soft belly could be as useful as protection the upper rib cage?
Yes it stays put under my suit when it’s zipped up but unlike racers (who tend to be taking their suit off when they unzip it) I want to unzip my jacket and not have the plate drop out or down.
Forcefield do many different types of back protector, the Pro Sub 4 with its wider broader fit, and the sports lite models which are paired down models for those who want as little weight and extra kit while remaining well protected. This L2K model has two female sizes too, so there really is something for everyone.
So to score them:
Design : 9/10 – not failings at all. Tested to the highest standards with the ability to reuse built-in these are very impressively specified, look fantastic and wear as good as they look.
Protection: 8/10 – I haven’t tried this out yet. Hopefully I won’t so it’s always hard to score this. What I will say is that it claims to be as good as the leading brands out there, and given its suppleness I’d say it will retain all of its properties no matter what angle or twist you get into. The CE Test level 2 accreditation is impressive and proves someone far more technical than me has tested it and found it top notch.
In Use: 10/10 – My Aegis is comfortable, but this raises the bar in back plate comfort. The soft, supple form allows it to wrap just a little more, to hug your form far more than traditional rigid types. It is warming on cool days yet not stifling on hot ones, a testament to the ventilation running through it. With the chest plate in place you really feel held firm and wrapped up tight.
OVERALL : 28/30 – These products are simply outstanding. Yes they are only back/chest protectors and not terribly exciting as such, but they do their simple job as best I can imagine anything doing it. Build quality is excellent, comfort is top class and as a minor aside, the FF Upgrade Armour in my suit is of a similar build and high quality with crisp tidy moulding.
Forcefield are a force to be reckoned with. They deserve all the success they’ve had and that which is surely coming their way.
Check out all their kit online or at most major retailers including Get Geared.