UFO Plast Body Armor Review

by Brian Mullin on September 16, 2009


UFO Plast Body Armor – Lightweight Elbow and Knee-Shin guard

As I was wandering around 2008 Interbike Dirt Demo seeking some shade and cold refreshments from the beastly desert sun, I bumped into this small booth that was carrying biking body armor. UFO Plast is an Italian company that started out making body armor protection for off road motorcycles, and they have more recently broadened into body armor for biking and snowboarding. As I was talking with the exhibitors, I saw these intriguing looking elbow pads hanging on their tent wall. They are part of their Enduro series, which includes their Elbow guard and a Knee-Shin guard.


I had recently taken a nasty digger and left a good chunk of flesh from my forearm on an abrasive rock on a local technical trail (Palmer Park in Colorado Springs if you must know), and I was looking at some body armor to help alleviate that type of issue from happening again. The pads were very lightweight and had just enough padding to protect the elbow and the forearm. A lot of the typical body armor is made with beefy plastic pads, and it’s a bit much for slower speed All Trail singletrack terrain that most of us regularly rides our mountain bikes on. The pads have a bit of waffle foam padding that is placed right in the proper spots to protect the elbow and the forearm. The padding is actually comprised of a special layer of polystyrene with a Lycra band.

To put the elbow pads on, you insert your arm into one end of the elastic band and wiggle your arm until the pre-bent elbow slot pops into the proper spot, and then you cinch it down with a Velcro closure located by your biceps. The inside periphery of the elbow pads has an open elastic mesh for ventilation, and provides enough tightness to prevent them from flopping around.


Impressions

Elbow Guard
Over the past year of testing them, I have pretty much had never taken them off while out riding, and after years use, the mesh is starting to wear a bit (getting thread bare), but the rest of the padding and the super structure are fine. Pretty amazing considering I have been wearing them 3 days a week for 2 to 4-hour rides, and they have gotten beaten up and sweated on. I have taken a few decent crashes, and they have provided adequate protection for rock gardens and technical terrain, albeit taken at moderate speeds. In addition they are great brush, bush and tree guard as you go through tight singletrack, in which it takes mini blows, and keeps the scratch level on your forearms to a minimum. They are lightweight, comfortable and only moderately warm while wearing. Most of the time I hardly notice that I am wearing them until I hit a bush while riding along.


This was a nicely made product that would suit a lot of singletrack riders to protect the elbows and forearms in technical terrain. I wish I had them when I took my digger in which I left a good deal of my flesh on that rock. I went back to the same section of rocks and bested the technical portion, and felt more confident since my elbows and forearms were protected.


Knee-Shin Guard
I also tested their brethren Knee-Shin guard a couple of months later. They are constructed of the same material, with the waffle padding in front and the mesh in the back. The knee portion has an articulated cup of the waffle padding for coverage and has a small Velcro closure on the very top to hold it on.


The shin portion has a long waffle padded section that covers most all the shins, and then uses a mesh back with a Velcro closure. I tended to reserve the Knee-Shin guard for downhills or very technical terrain, and otherwise they were attached or in my hydration pack. The Knee-Shin guard were lightweight and moderately comfortable, but if used them for long periods of time they rubbed the back of the leg just above the knee, especially if you were pedaling a lot. The knee cup seems to kind of hold them in place, which is good, since they liked to slowly wander down your leg, and you sometimes have to give them a bit of a yank to bring them back up. Wearing Lycra tights exacerbated the issue.

I took a couple of decent crashes with them, and they helped, but somehow I always seemed to get hit right square in the spot between the top of my shoe and the bottom of the shin section?


Bottom Line
The UFO Plast Enduro Elbow guard are pretty much the cat’s meow, I never go for rides without them. They are lightweight, comfortable, ergonomic, provide great tree and brush protection while riding and of course provide great protection when crashing. I rarely notice that I am wearing them.

The UFO Plast Enduro Knee-Shin guard are also lightweight, comfortable, and provide great protection when crashing. I only used them for downhilling and technical riding. They did tend to wander down on your legs while riding, which was a bit annoying, and if you ended up pedaling a lot they could rub the back of your knee a bit.

The UFO Plast Enduro body armor series is a great product, that will suit All Trail riders or anyone whom rides technical terrain and wants some armor protection. I feel naked if I am not wearing the Elbow pads on any ride!

Strengths
-Lightweight
-Comfortable
-Excellent brush and tree protection
-Adequate crash protection

Weaknesses
-Knee Shin Guard rubs back of knee on occasion
-Knee Shin Guard can drift downwards while riding

NOTE: UFO Plast is currently looking for a US distributor, refer to their website for more information

MSRP:
Knee-Shin Guard $37
Elbow Guard $26
Sizes: S/M and L/XL

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