Remember your childhood? If you were anything like me you probably spent most of it falling off your bike and having a permanent set of scabby elbows.
It doesn’t take much to work out that they’re a key impact point, and one of the first things to hit the ground in a fall, so protection is key.
Whether you want to upgrade your jacket’s elbow armour, or buy some add-on padding here’s our guide to help you protect those fragile bony joints.
Best Motorcycle Elbow Pads
Lets dive into our reviews
Forcefield Pro Tube X-V 2 Air Elbow Protector
Forcefield’s top of the range Elbow/knee protector is our top pick, the strapping is easy to slip on and off and is lightweight and breathable.
It’s armour can be removed, meaning it’s easily washable and the armour slots are vented to allow the protector to breath.
The Air is a CE level 2 slip-on fabric protector offering lightweight DRI-M armour, which Forcefield claims to be a Dynamic Reactive Intelligent material. Which I’m assuming refers to it’s malleable flexible properties.
Most reviewers seem to have purchased these for use as knee armour, with some mixed reviews about how effective they are as elbow protectors. However, they are packed with features so we’ve awarded these our top pick.
CE Level 2 certified
Hold armour in place (as a knee protector)
Held Quattrotempi Knee/Elbow/Shoulder Protectors
These inserts are made from SAS-TEC’s SC-1 viscoelastic foam and give CE Level 2 protection. In an attractive green colour they offer a lightweight flexible protector, and as with D3O these protectors mould to body shape.
As they are Shoulder, Knee and Elbow protectors they offer a further element of flexibility, and ease of purchase. Although some users suggest that they are a bit small to make them effective knee protectors.
They are also the cheapest protectors in our review, making them fantastic value for CE Level 2 protection.
Light and flexible
Premium SAS-Tec protection
Small for knee protection
Knox Guerilla Elbow Protectors
Like Knox’s knee equivalent, these slip-on protectors are contained within a stretchy, breathable polyester mesh that’s washable. Protection is delivered via Knox’s soft, flexible inserts.
Their best feature is a silicon gripper band at the top and bottom to prevent slippage. They come in two sizes, S/M and L/XL, with some users advising that the S/M is smaller than expected, so if unsure you’ll need to size up
Although they are only CE Level 1, these protectors are simple and effective so would suit the urban rider well.
Comfortable , flexible and light
Silicon anti-slip feature
Higher end of the price spectrum
Sizing can be small
Rukka D3O Air XTR Elbow Protectors
Rukka offers two types of D3O elbow protection. The Air XTRs are their premium set and are crafted from a supple D3O material to mould around the area of protection.
As they’re the premium offering they are certified to CE level 2 , so offer enhanced protection levels.
Rukka’s specially designed honeycomb structure creates a set of lightweight protectors that are proprietary inserts generally used in Rukka’s high-end jackets.
They’re not cheap, and are the most expensive inserts in our review. For a cheaper CE L1 alternative, check Sportsbikeshop
Light and flexible
CE Level 2 protection
Used in top end Rukka garments
Might dent your budget
Will need to check compatibility
RST Contour Plus Elbow Protector
These CE Level 2 RST protectors are predominantly designed for use with RST’s range of jackets and trousers allowing you to upgrade the existing armour in your purchase.
Check compatibility if you consider these for any non-RST products.
Feedback suggests they are a great fit for RST products, although they do need ‘some encouragement’ to fit some products. But most users report that they are a good fit and offer good value.
There is also an alternative Level 1 protector that is a few pounds cheaper.
Great option for RST armour upgrades
Potentially limited to RST products
Similar priced more compatible protectors available
So how can you tell if your armour is up to the job?
It can be a mind numbing area when you get into the detail, but there are essentially two main certification standards that manufacturers can apply to their products:
CE Level 1: generally means that the armour has been tested to provide reasonable impact protection for general motorcycle riding.
CE Level 2: offers greater impact protection (and potentially chunkier armour), we always recommend going for this where budget allows.
For a full guide including armour standards see our: Motorcyle Armour Guide
Inserts or strap-on?
As with all armour, elbow protection is available in insert or strap-on options.
With the latter being available as a sock style pull-over or a motocross/track style strap on guard.
These are best to upgrade existing stock armour which is often low quality. They are not always compatible with every type of garment so double check with the supplier. Some softer materials such as D3O and SAS-TEC can be trimmed and “persuaded” to fit most clothing.
It’s less convenient but it’s superior in its ability to hold armour closer to the area it’s protecting. Mostly in a pull over sock type form.
When you fall, your limbs will flail, including your arms. So at speed your elbow will be particularly susceptible to impact, especially if your arms are close into your chest, making your elbow an area that demands protection.
Pull-Over armour is certainly a better option for holding armour in place, but isn’t as convenient.
Ultimately It will all come down to personal choice, but whatever you go for, make sure you back it all up with a decent jacket.
All images via SportsbikeShop