When I first started riding my initial thoughts about wearing MTB protection/body armour was that it was clunky, uncomfortable and made me look like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. Luckily I have changed my mind and now I don’t usually ride without it. In fact, I believe that it makes so much sense to protect in particular knees and elbows, (as these can really hurt if they take a bump) I ride with more confidence knowing these areas are covered.
I first tested my new elbow / arm guards in the heatwave of the summer. I opted for the ION E_Sleeve from Bikester.
My enthusiasm was so great, (coupled with clammy skin) that I managed to hit myself in the face while fluffing/failing/pulling the elbow guards up my sticky arms! I split my lip getting them on, so I can say they are secure and will not come off! Seriously though, the elbow guards are a really good fit. I ordered a small and they felt good. Elbow pads that pull on are never easy to get into position…if they went on too easily they’d also come off or slip. These are really secure once they are in position. They are a slim, stretchy, snug fit which you would definitely want from your arm protection.
After a couple of minutes getting used to the feel of wearing them I pretty much forgot they were there. They were really comfortable. Rather than hard shell they are made of a dense material that is soft and has flexibility meaning complete freedom on the trails and uninhibited riding. The sticky band inside the top and bottom meant they do not budge and as I started riding I felt the memory foam pad (which protects the under arm) start to soften and mould to my shape.
The look of them is important to me too, they are a really nice soft blue/grey colour which definitely was a swaying factor for me when I chose them, as it’s usually a case of the black ones or the black ones! My last pair were not only ugly and really hard, they also made my elbows sore. The ION design is for minimal abrasion so they feel soft and lightweight and after several long rides I can say they are totally comfortable all day long. This means I would be more likely to wear them from the start to the end of the ride rather than packing them and putting them on specifically for a descent. The bonus of this is that you can ride more confidently for the whole ride and it saves space in your backpack (although they do pack down to a very small size).
I would rate these highly as great protection for elbows and forearms and they are ideal for XC and enduro type riding.
ION E_Sleeve elbow protection from https://www.bikester.co.uk/