[Products]

Tested: Ballard’s Forearm Elbow Guards

4 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Salvatore Aloisio, MXstore

A product the Transmoto team has tried, tested and would recommend to a mate.

WHAT IS IT?

Ballard’s Forearm Elbow Guards are simple and lightweight guards that were developed by Geoff Ballard and his race team riders over many years, and recently went into production. They’re made from formed foam that retains its contoured shape, and – unlike virtually every other elbow guard on the market – they’re fastened by just one elasticized velcro strap around each wrist. Their primary design objectives were to offer maximum protection where it’s needed, but minimum risk of arm pump. By drastically reducing the guard’s weight, the idea is that they don’t bounce around in rough terrain. And that means there’s no need to hold them in place them with tight elastic forearm straps – a notorious cause of the dreaded arm pump.

So, that’s the theory, but how do they work in practice?

WHY WE RATE IT

PROS…

  • Novel Design: When it comes to protective equipment, conventional wisdom says the more, the better. But more protective material also means more weight. And weight is your enemy with elbow guards, because your need tight elastic forearm straps to keep all that weight from bouncing around and migrating up or down your arm. And tight elastic straps around your forearms virtually guarantees arm pump! So the Ballard’s Off-Road crew took a completely different approach; they designed a simple, super-lightweight guard that only requires one fastening strap around each wrist to keep them in place. They can be worn under or over your jersey.
  • Comfort: The Ballard’s guards are so light, you literally don’t notice you’re wearing the things – until you need them in a crash or you take your jersey off, that is. Being much lighter than conventional elbow guards, they don’t bounce around and migrate up or down your arm in rough terrain. And that lack of weight means they can get away with using just one elasticized fastening strap around each wrist, where it doesn’t cause arm pump.
  • No Arm Pump Woes: The average rider’s forearms bare the scars of umpteen crashes, mainly because they chose not to wear elbow/forearm guards because of arm pump concerns. With Ballard’s Forearm Elbow Guards, there are no elastic straps around your upper forearm, and therefore nothing to cause arm pump. Which is a damn good thing because, as most riders will know, arm pump invariably causes crashes!
  • Custom-Fit: Unlike pretty much all elbow guards on the market, your can use a pair of scissors to trim the Ballard’s guards down to better suit your arm size and/or fit preference. The guards also come with a velcro tab so they can be secured to your gloves to keep them even more securely in place, but we found there was no need to use this – especially when you wear the guards under the jersey – so we used the supplied blanking plug to prevent the velcro from snagging on anything.

CONS…

  • Elbow Protection: It’s true that these guards offer most of their protection for your forearms, and not much protection if you fall on the point of your boney elbow. That said, when you think about it, a greater majority of crashes leave you with grazed forearms, not elbows, from sliding along the ground after a low-side.

Ballard’s Forearm Elbow Guards are lightweight, comfortable, easy to fit, don’t cause arm pump, and offer effective protection against the forearm damage that a majority of dirt bike crashes cause. Sure, they’re no substitute for a full-blown pressure suit, but they’re no designed to be. And at just $30 a pair, they offer a damned good solution to dirt bike riders’ age-old quandary: the choice between scarred arms or arm pump. We even use the things on our mountain bikes these days.

PRICE: $29.95/pair // MXstore

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