Could Forcefield's ProShirt Be A Solution To Hot Weather Commuting?
LB regularly looks at clothing options to be able to handle these varied conditions because let’s face it; filtering from one traffic light to the next in 25+ degrees in a full (esp. leather) suit can be so uncomfortable it borders on unsafe.
We need armour; good armour because urban riding crashes will likely involve more impact than abrasion protection. But we don’t need the thick, heavy and usually hot-to-wear gear we’d throw on to go blasting around the back-roads at the weekend.
This year we’ve looked at the relatively under-used idea of an armoured undershirt to wear instead of your regular t-shirt etc., which would sit beneath a lightweight, abrasion resistant jacket of your choice.
Forcefield and Knox are the two names which spring to mind when anyone mentions armour and here we’re looking at Forcefield’s Pro Shirt to see how this concept works in practice.
What we’re looking at here is a high-level base layer top with armour pockets on the elbows, shoulders and chest containing Forcefield’s CE rated high performance M15 armour plates (mightily impressive in themselves). The built in back protector goes one better as it is CE Level 2 rated.
The concept is a sound one; no damp soggy T-shirts under back protectors and no need to worry about the armour in your lightweight jacket being too flimsy/weak/insufficient. I think the most important aspect of this shirt is that the armour is held against the body where it needs to be. Wear a lightweight jacket, esp. with any removable liner out, and the armour can move around so much as to be virtually pointless in a crash.
Is this the way forward?
Out on the bike we first of all took a little ride around with just the Pro Shirt on to see how it felt against a decent headwind, and our test rider Rob reported that it was very comfortable and didn’t let as much air into it as expected which speaks well of its insulating properties.
Under a typical summer jacket the shirt won’t be facing direct wind flow but if speeds do pick up there is sufficient insulation to avoid a chill. Unzip the jacket an inch or two and immediately the benefits are felt but without the chill you get from a soggy cotton t-shirt being exposed to moving air.
Whether you take the armour out of your shell jacket or not will be a personal choice. I would. I can’t imagine there is a jacket with armour in places that this ProShirt doesn’t have it. Putting an armoured cup in front of the ProShirt armour may actually cause more damage by concentrating the impact into a smaller point i.e. the rim of the outer armour, giving the ProShirt armour more work to do.
Let the close-fitting high-quality Forcefield armour do its job.
Providing you have a good quality lightweight jacket which protect against the abrasion aspect of a crash, the Forcefield ProShirt is more than armoured enough to take the impact hits.
Throw your LB t-shirt into your skinny bag and change when you get where you are going.
One comfort issue was raised and concerns the thumb-hooks at the end of the sleeves – designed to stop the sleeves riding up as per a lot of ski-wear – which can feel uncomfortable depending on arm-length and glove fitment. Obviously they are optional and should their use be dangerously distracting then the sensible idea is not to use them. But they’re there and are worth trying a few times before throwing the towel in.
LB Score 9/10
Used as intended this is a great bit of kit. It'll wear under all jackets/suits albeit perhaps with their armour removed, and regulate your body temperature far better than a regular t-shirt. Armour is kept close to your body - where it should be - and it means your outer layer is merely there for abrasion + weather protection.
We've found the best compromise between layers, protection and comfort. The Proshirt + good jacket outer = comfort and protection as temperatures soar.
Plus it gives you a Popeye-esque silhouette when you take your jacket off.