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Vitalmtb.com have been testing out the Race Face Flank knee/shin armour giving them 4/5 stars. Constructed using D30 and with an open-back construction, the Flank is perfect for trail or DH riding and can be put on without the need to remove your shoe.


4/5 Stars

The Race Face Flank Leg Guards aren't new on the scene, they were first introduced back in 2010 and three years later the same basic design is still going strong. With a few years of feedback under their belt, the Race Face crew have made further improvements to material and construction for 2013. The core concept remains the same, with open-back construction for ease of removal and D3O pads for protection, in a full-length design that extends well down onto the shins. We were eager to get these on the trail to see what the improvements would bring to an already successful design.

Flank Leg Guard Highlights

  • D3O™ high performance shock absorbing foam
  • Additional foam extension saves shins from pedal bite
  • Open-back construction; no shoe removal necessary
  • Perforated Neoprene for enhanced venting and moisture control
  • Terry lined for wicking and comfort
  • Foam padded side walls offer additional coverage
  • Branded rubber grab tabs

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, the Flank guards appear very well put together, with a general impression of quality and attention to detail. First design point of note, before you ever get on the trail you'll be treated to a nice feature: the open-back construction makes putting these guards on a breeze. No more taking your shoes off and then stripping down to your skinnies in the parking lot! It was never really a feature that I considered a must have, but after having used them I don't think I'll ever want to switch back.

The second important point regarding the design is the choice of D3O material for the main kneepad. For those not familiar with D3O, it is a soft and malleable material featuring molecules that lock together to dissipate impact energy during hard hits. For the skeptics out there, we have tested this aspect on many occasions in different products, and apart from on very sharp objects, the ability of D3O pads to absorb impact are pretty much on par with hardshell guards.

On The Trail

On the trail the Flanks have a barely-there feel and bend surprisingly easily - not once did I notice them hampering my range of motion or sliding into the wrong position. If you're a dirt jumper or just like getting loose on the bike, you'll appreciate the padded inner sides, which saved a number of inner leg slaps from tail whips gone wrong. Additionally, the straps used to close up the open-back construction aren't all horizontal - which pulls the pads in a more natural direction to fit your leg comfortably. The previous Flank designs didn't have this feature, which would cause the pads to slide around more often on your leg.

As previously mentioned, the open-back design is really convenient, not just for putting the pads on and taking them off at the end of the ride. If you like to remove your pads for climbing, you'll truly appreciate just how much easier that is to do when you no longer have to remove your shoes each time. Note that if you are after the same open-back design and features but don't want the full shin coverage, these exist in a shorter version called the Ambush. Things That Could Be Improved After a few months of use, the only real issue I have found is that while wearing the guards under jeans they do slide down your leg. While this isn't a deal breaker, you will have to re-adjust every now and then. With shorts this was never a problem and I suspect that the larger D30 pad over the knee gets pulled down by the jeans while pedaling and moving around on the bike.

Long Term Durability

Having a couple of friends of mine still riding the 2010 Flanks goes to show Race Face has had durability in mind for a while now. Out on the trail, I took a few forceful pedal slaps to the shin where the pedal also slid down my leg, and the stitching held up just fine with no ripping in the material either. Based on evidence from the testing period, these things could take years of abuse it seems.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Race Face Flank Leg Guards offer a good deal of protection without feeling burdensome. I honestly forgot about wearing them once I put them on and only had to re-adjust the pads a few times after an impact. Being able to put them on and remove them again without taking off my shoes proved to be way more valuable than I originally would have thought. If you enjoy throwing yourself legs first into razor-sharp rockgardens on a regular basis, you might want to consider a hardshell pad, but for all other use, between the cleverly placed straps and the D3O material, these guards are some of the most comfortable, functional, and durable I've ever used.

Click here to read the review on Vitalmtb.com

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Technical specifications are for guidance only and cannot be guaranteed accurate. All offers are subject to availability and while stocks last. Errors and omissions excepted. Silverfish UK Limited acts as a credit intermediary and only offers credit products for Close Brothers Retail Finance. Its registered office is: Close Brothers Group plc, 10 Crown Place, London EC2A 4FT. Credit is subject to application and status.

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