I have been doing battle for many years now, as a matter of fact since 1997 from one coast to the other I have gone. Way back when in that time I have been sponsored by few protective companies, but none has matched the fit, feel, and functionality of DAINESE.
Now I won’t compare other gear companies or tell you more history about DAINESE all I will say is they have been in the game longer then most and all others have taken what they have did and capitalized on it, but they will in my opinion never come close in comparison. Now I say this with the utmost confidence and I will get back to that later. I will “ALWAYS” test products on this site as a neutral party for you the consumer because I am one to, I’m not a PRO that get stuff for free all the time and as a expert racer I won’t lie to you we do get our perks , and why shouldn’t we, we paid our dues.
LONG TERM TEST: DAINESE COMMANDER, 3x ELBOW, and 3x KNEE For about four years now I’ve been using these three products with ZERO, I repeat “ZERO” failure. They have preformed time and time again with no slippage of the knee or elbow. The chest protector has also preformed great to.
LONG LASTING JUST LIKE STRIDER GUM
Now when I started racing downhill it was just becoming the premier sport. The bike were starting to get better and so was the gear and DAINESE was first on the market to make their protection with the thought of putting great emphasis on impact which all this trickled down from years of Road Racing experience, these were not just some plastic pads with foam in them, and cooling the rider in the process. I wore all my moto gear that I raced with back in the 80’s. I thought this would give me better protection then anything out there. For the most part it worked.
One thing though, DAINESE gear was pretty much unobtainable early on. Number one, no one distributed it here in the states very good, or two you were a World Cup pro and purchased it when you were in Europe (Rum0r was even they had to pay full retail for it.), and three it was a lot more expensive the any other gear out at the time, but you could see how good their stuff was. I only purchased some when I worked at a shop that got it on close out.
My first taste was knee guards because they fit like no others. Now by this time I was racing expert and had been sponsored by a few big gear companies and one of them made pads that came the closest to the DAINESE product in fit and function, but in time like all the others I was able to crack elbow, knee, and chest protectors. I never got into the suits due to the fact that I liked the MX style chest protectors.
Now I’m going to brake this up into three parts ELBOW, CHEST, AND KNEE, so lets go shell we.
THE 3X ELBOW NOW CALLED PERFORMANCE ELBOW
Now when it comes to the fit for my arms and knees I have had the hardest time finding pads that would fit. I could never find pads that would stay on my arms, now I’m not a skinny guy and I’m not this muscled out kind of guy either, so when I found a set of pads that fit I would buy two sets just in case they stopped making them.
Three thing I can count on happening with my elbow pads, 1. They WILL slip down my arm. 2. I WILL crack the elbow cup on a HARD impact, and 3. I would have enough strap to run around one and a half times ( “give me a break these are mediums!”)
OK out of the three thing I’ve listed only one came up, to much strap. OK I could live with this, not all body’s will fit the average size ( Whatever that is.). This is something I just deal with, no problem just take off the Velcro and cut down the straps to my size, “PERFECT FIT”.
The fit is top notch, no slippage out of the bag. The strapping system has three of them one on the articulated plate above the elbow, one at the elbow, and one on the forearm. This gives a great fit on the arm and allows the arm to move as it should. I have crash tested these as well as the knee and chest and I could say these have never been a bother compared to others.
Impact test “YES”!! I have nailed my elbows hard on the 3x and came up thinking “OK their toast!” To my surprise nothing, nothing at all. WOW!! (Cracked others.) The elbow and forearm are made of Polypropylene a soft plastic that in my opinion absorbs some of the the impact, again this comes from their Road Racing tech. The strength also comes from the way its molded on the inside, holes on the shells for breath-ability along with the foam padding “THAT BREATHS“. I have hit the 3x’s very hard and you can not tell. these pads have come out with only scratches on them.
OUT WITH THE OLD IN WITH THE NEW- W- 3X KNEE NOW PERFORMANCE KNEE
OK the new PERFORMANCE KNEE is a little different from the 3X. DAINESE changed the straps and the padding a little, but that’s all. The pads are just about the same as fit and performance goes. Which does go to show you “Don’t mess with a good thing.”
The first time I got my 3X’s the first thing I did was to put my 661 pad locker on over the knee pad to prevent slipping of my knee pad. Now this is always a hassle to me, I mean I just hate having to take my shoe off to 1.) slid my pad or pad lock on to hold my pads on and 2.) having to take my shoe off to slid my pad lock and pad off my leg. See where I’m going with this, the basic inconvenience of having to take your shoes off at all!!!! MAJOR PET PEEVE!!!
I went out for some quick DH riding one day and told myself heck with the pad locker and low and behold as I was riding I didn’t experience any “MAJOR” slipping of my 3x pads. This really blew me away I could not think it possible to find a pair of pads that did not do this , again “WOW”!! Not only the fit, but no slipping and the protection, and breath-ability to boot.
Now as the 3X elbow the knee are put together pretty much the same, same padding, strapping system, and polypropylene. The knee is thought of in the same way as the elbow is, to move in a natural movement, having the articulated top plate above the knee lets the pad move with the knee as you pedal. This is in my opinion is why the pad does not slip when pedaling.
THEY TAKE A LICKING AND KEEP ON TICKING The knee will always be that one part of the body that will be hitting the ground a lot and if you want to go to work put some pads on the knees. I have hit these things countless times and have always come out of it great, but one time. It was the 2009 SRC Cal-State Finals in Mammoth and the pro/ expert course had crazy rock sections, while at practice I went down hard on the rocks to the point that I thought I broke my knee cap. Now at this point the first thing that went threw my mind besides the pain was that my 3X were done and I would be throwing them away, well they were fine just another scratch, oh I didn’t race because my knee was now a softball, but the pads saved me.
Again as I said about the straps on the elbow pads I have to cut down the straps to fit me ( not the fault of the company, but the maker himself.), not a big deal to me. Here is another thing I encountered with the pads. While racing one day it didn’t dawn on me, but I noticed I had a broken buckle snap, again “WOW” ! In four years of use this is all that has happened.
COMMANDO CHEST & BACK PROTECTION
I have worn nothing but moto chest/back protectors and have cracked everyone of them, they are not built for impact in mind, but for roost deflection only.
If you have worn any of the DAINESE body suits in the last few years then you know how good these thing are made. The back protector has DAINESE’s WAVE technology which give the protector great lateral strength for impact, but that’s not all on the inside is a aluminum honeycomb to absorb the impact, plus padding. The chest also incorporates the aluminum honeycomb also, you have an articulated shoulder that moves with you. the shoulder wraps around to the back to give your shoulder blade protection also, you have a little padded rib protection to.
This is one well thought out chest/back protector.
Have I IMPACT tested it well yes and when I have hit the ground I have not felt it. “It WORKS!!” and works well.
LIKE STRIDER GUM
This is the short of it, the testing, thought, construction, function, fit, and the ability to build something that will last longer then bikes you keep is truly something to be said.
When you Italian you think Ferrari and Ducati, why they are the best, well for all us old guys when it comes to protection we think of the best DAINESE . This is a product that is built to last and it cost more then most which is proof that it is worth it to spend the extra bucks on something that will last.
LAST THING SAID
OK now you know when I said I would get back to something I was about to say earlier, well some of you may know who I work for as my full time job and for those who don’t time to let you in on a little secret. I work for DAINESE/AGV USA as the Warranty Manager and as I said while testing product I will not compare any one product to another ( unless we do a shootout).
The fact that I am the Warranty Manager gives me a great prospective on how things are put together and will help Mtnbikeriders.com to give you the riders the very best on product test.
So go out and buy “SOME SORT” of protection before you go and ride. Your body will thank you in the future, trust me I know.