Velocity Gear "Juggernaut" Motorcycle Armor
Velocity Gear "Juggernaut" Review
by Rick K. and "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com.
| Owner Comments (Below)
It was just about one year ago today that we reviewed the
original Velocity Gear "Velocity Armor" shirt,
following up on a tip from a webBikeWorld visitor.
We've been surprised at the response to our motorcycle armor
reviews, which have generated considerable interest.
This is a good
thing, and it shows that motorcyclists (or at least webBikeWorlders!) are
interested in safety and protection.
Velocity Gear is a relatively small distributor and retailer
of motorcycle apparel.
In addition to the leather gloves we reviewed last
year (see our
the Velocity Gear F9 and S1 Gloves) and the original armored shirt, they
now offer an interesting variety of leather and Cordura motorcycle riding
suits and jackets and an expanded line of gloves, including winter and
waterproof versions, at reasonable prices.
The folks at Velocity Gear recently sent us their new
"Juggernaut" armored shirt, which is an updated version of the original
Velocity Armor shirt.
The company claims to offer "the lowest cost Level 2
(verifiable) armor in the world European tested and approved", and at
$179.00, they're probably right. This has to be the best protection you
can find for the money.
There's a lengthy discussion of armor and the European
CE-approval standards on the Velocity Gear website, which tries to make sense
of the rather confusing and technical issues surrounding the testing and
safety standards for motorcycle protective gear.
"It is important", according to Velocity Gear, "that consumers
verify each product with the correct standard numbers; otherwise, consumers
may be confused regarding what certification level the product is that they
are purchasing, or may be purchasing outdated or obsolete items."
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done!
Part of the problem, at least for the physics-averse, is the
obscure (to the lay person anyway) metrics used to describe
the differences in the standards. How many motorcycle riders -- or
anyone outside of a lab, for that matter -- can compare the
difference in force between 50 joules and 18 kN (kiloNewtons)? Can you
tell me the
difference between the two? Or how they relate to real-world safety?
In foot pounds or force per square inch?
Lower is better -- that's about all I can make of it.
Even the CE standards are confusing. Apparently the
EN1621-1, or "Level 1" standard is for shoulder, elbow and
knee protection. EN1621-2, or "Level 2" standards are for the back
protector. Level 2 allows half the force of Level 1 to be transmitted
to the rider. And Level 2 also addresses "high performance" components. Whew!
It's enough to give me a headache.
I wonder if the confusing standards and terminology have
actually reduced the number of approved motorcycle armor that is available
for sale, because consumers won't understand the differences. One
thing's for sure though -- there's a lot of armor for sale that meets
no international safety standards at all. And some motorcycle clothing
companies make unsubstantiated claims for the armor they're selling, or claim that their armor
"meets or exceeds the safety standards", standards that the company invented
Of course, there's the argument that any armor, whether it
meets a standard or not, is better
than no armor. But as with motorcycle helmets, it makes sense to look for products that meet
international safety standards, especially if those products have been
certified by approved testing facilities.
By the way, we've also discovered that some armor is "one
time use"; that is, once it's saved your bacon, it's done. This may or
may not be a problem, as long as it works. If a back protector saved
your life, you may be happy to hang it on a wall as a trophy and buy
Velocity Gear says that all of their armor meets the
standards. Their back protectors,
including the one on the Juggernaut, is CE EN1621-2 Level 2 compliant, and
it "exceeds Level 2 requirements" because it transmits 4.49 kN, much
lower than the maximum 9 kN called for in the standard.
The Juggernaut motorcycle armor shirt was tested and
certified by SATRA UK,
which is an organization roughly comparable to Underwriter's Laboratories in the U.S.A.
It meets CE EN1621-2:2003 Level 2
for back protection and CE EN1621-1:1998 for shoulder and elbow protection.
Sounds impressive, but even the best armor in the world will
protect no one if it isn't being worn because it doesn't fit or isn't
Fortunately, that isn't the case with the Juggernaut.
You may be
wondering how anything that makes one look like a close relative of Mr. Krabs'
could possibly be comfortable to wear. I thought the same, but maybe
it's the Astrosorb-backed armor (more on this in a minute) or the supple Lycra fabric in the shirt,
thing is way more comfortable than it should be and, I think, more comfy
than the original that we reviewed previously.
Surely the Lycra plays a role, because it feels good while
holding the armor in place. Correctly located armor is one of the keys
to comfort. I've been having problems lately finding off-the-rack
motorcycle clothing that fits correctly; the jackets and pants are either
too tight or too loose.
They should be just tight enough to hold the
armor close to the body, where it will stay put if and when it's needed and
not get in the way during a ride.
If the armor moves freely around when pushed with a hand from outside the
jacket, it's probably
not going to stay in place in a crash.
I've pretty much given up on finding a pair of motorcycle
pants that fits and has correctly located armor in the knees and hips.
I can usually find either a good fit or correct armor placement but not
both, for some reason.
My strategy lately is to find pants that come as close as
possible to a correct fit and then I pull out the armor and
wear armored underwear underneath, which, I've discovered, can help with the
fit, because it gives the pants some freedom to slide over the underwear in
a way that built-in armor can't. The bonus is that the armor in the
underwear stays where it belongs. I'm using
the Juggernaut the same way, by wearing it under my favorite jackets with
the armor removed.
This has increased the range of pants and jackets that will fit
because I don't have to worry as much about the quality or location of armor in the
apparel, knowing that I can be fully protected with probably more and better
armor that will stay in place, with less regard to the size.
and help support webBikeWorld
The Juggernaut can also be considered a dual-use apparel
item, because the
back protector can be removed from the shirt and used by itself if desired.
It's a fully
functional, Level 2 articulated back protector that seems about as good as
I've seen solo back protectors that cost nearly as much as
the Juggernaut, so it's a two-for-one. The back protector uses elastic
connectors to allow it to bend forward with the rider's back, but the shape
of the armor "plates" is such that it can't bend backwards.
There's a hinge just above the lower two plates of the back
protector, which allows that lower section to move
side-to-side, just like the protector on the original armor shirt.
This provides some freedom of movement, which is welcome. The waist belt
is also attached to the lower section, so in effect the lower section stays
put while the entire upper section swings side-to-side with the rider's
You can see in the photo above that my spine and back are
naturally crooked, but you'll also notice that the
back protector is flexible enough to conform to my odd shape.
The Juggernaut's back protector has adjustable
shoulder straps, but when I'm wearing it attached to the shirt (which is all
the time), I place the belt over the shoulder straps, locating them between my back and the inside of the
protector to keep them out of the way.
The adjustable belt on the back protector just fits around my 36"
waist, so I think it could probably use about 2 to 3 more inches of adjustment for
riders whose belts are a bit longer than mine.
The Juggernaut has adjustable straps at the upper chest,
between the permanently attached chest armor and shoulder armor, but like
the original version, I'm not
really sure how useful these are.
The adjustable forearm straps do hold
the elbow armor in place though, and the adjustable upper arm straps help to
shoulder armor, so these are more critical as far as I can tell.
By the way, most motorcycle jackets come with shoulder and elbow
armor, and maybe a squishy pad in the back. Serious riders wear a
dedicated back protector, but one of the benefits of wearing an armored
shirt like the Juggernaut is that in addition to the robust shoulder, elbow,
forearm and back armor, there's an additional armor plate over the chest
The Lycra sleeves on the Juggernaut armor shirt now include a thumb hole
at the end
near the cuffs, which, when used, helps to keep the sleeves in place when
the rider is putting on a
jacket. The thumb holes are also designed to help to keep the elbow armor
correctly located, so it's a good idea to use them.
So what's the difference between the Juggernaut and the
original Velocity Armor shirt? It's difficult to tell, because the products look very similar.
Probably the biggest difference is the surface area covered
by armor -- Velocity Gear claims that the Juggernaut has 30% more coverage in the shoulders and elbows
than the original.
Also, the padding behind the hard armor on the shoulders, elbows and chest is now made
10mm thick "Astrosorb", which is becoming a popular form of energy-absorbing
material used in motorcycle protective apparel.
Velocity Gear claims that 10mm
Astrosorb reduces the amount of energy transmitted by about half the maximum
CE standards for protection in the shoulders, elbows and chest. It
also seems more flexible than other types of energy-absorbing padding,
which, as we noted, adds to the comfort level.
Velocity Gear says that Astrosorb "at this thickness has been shown to Outperform
EN1621-1 by achieving a shock absorption value of 90 Joules at only 10mm".
I guess that's good?
The EN1621-1:1997 requirement (shoulder, elbow and knee
protectors) states that limb protectors "should transmit no greater
than 35kN of transmitted force following a given impact energy of 50 joules"
and since 10mm of Astrosorb "transmits no more than 35kN from an impact
energy of 90 Joules", the parts of the protector using Astrosorb transmit
less than half the current standard.
The folks at Forcefield Armor (see
our review) probably have a different of opinion regarding the efficacy
of Astrosorb when compared to their own material, and although Forcefield
armor is no doubt good stuff, our experience tells us that it's not as
flexible when worn under motorcycle clothing and it's heavier, making it
And just for the record, we'll repeat what Burn said in his review of the original
Velocity Gear armor: back protectors and other forms
of motorcycle armor are hot in the summer. "There's just no getting around it",
he wrote, "the plastic or padding used in this type
of armor is hot, no matter how perforated it might be (and it usually
isn't). In weather like we've had around here recently, anything other
than the lightest mesh seems too hot for comfort."
ADDENDUM: Sizing - I forgot to mention
sizing. The Juggernaut is available in sizes ranging from XS to XXXL.
I normally take a size large street jacket or shirt, but Velocity Gear sent
me a size medium Juggernaut after I gave them my measurements. But if
I followed the list of chest sizes in the drop-down size choice menu on the
Juggernaut ordering page, I would have ordered a size XL. So an email
or call to Velocity Gear with your chest size might be a good idea prior to
placing an order.
The Juggernaut armored shirt is only $10.00 more than the original, so it's
still a bargain, especially considering
the Level 2 compliance for the back protector. I think it's even more comfortable
that the original, possibly due to the Astrosorb padding behind the hard
The older I get, the more concerned I become about safety,
and I'm convinced that the Juggernaut armored shirt offers about the best
protection I can get for the money. It fits comfortably, it meets the
best current standards for motorcycle safety gear and it works well
underneath all of my favorite jackets. That it's a two-for-one with a
removable back protector just sweetens the deal.
Master Listing of All wBW
Review: Juggernaut Motorcycle Armor Shirt by Velocity Gear
||List Price (2007): $179.00
|Colors: Black Sizes:
XS to XXXL
||Made In: Unknown
|Review Date: July
Note: For informational use only. All material and
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►Your Comments and Feedback
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Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
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Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.
From "A.D." (7/10): "I've had a Velocity Juggernaut for six
weeks now and I'd like to comment.
When I first got it the chest pad seemed to ride rather high. This was a
literal pain in the neck, because when on the bike the upper edge of the belly
band would push the chest plate up into my Adam's Apple.
Turns out this was my fault, for not wearing it properly. There are no
instructions on proper wear included with the product, and I was basing how I
should wear in on the photo in your review. This shows the upper edge of
the belly band below the chest plate and the lower edge of the belly band at the
rider's waist. The photos at the Velocity site suggest a similar fit, though
they do not show the person wearing it.
The model in your photo must be a very tall, long-waisted guy. Wearing it
that way didn't work for me (I'm 5'7"). If I put the lower edge of the
band at my waist and the upper edge of the band below the chest plate, the upper
edge of the plate would be at my throat, instead of at my clavicle.
For a while I put the belly band OVER the plate so I could keep its lower edge
at my waistline, and that worked but didn't seem correct.
The back protector felt like it was too high and it just felt kind of awkward.
Emails to Velocity told me that I wasn't doing it right. You put the shirt
on, zip it up and pull the belly band DOWN as you fasten it, stretching the
shirt's Lycra. There is no need to put the lower edge of the band at your
waist, and the chest plate can go over the band. There are even a couple
of Velcro tabs on the chest plate that you can stick to the band to keep it from
On me, the middle of the band winds up at my waist. That's a good two or
three inches lower than I had been wearing it when I had the band up over the
plate. Now that I'm wearing it right it's more comfortable and feels very
Regarding heat, with a mesh jacket I've been reasonably comfy even in high heat
and humidity (heat index near 100), though I wouldn't say "cool" by any stretch
of the imagination in those conditions. With temps in the upper 80s and
reasonable humidity I'm quite comfortable. Most of the shirt is open-weave
Lycra that you can see through, so it doesn't impede air flow at all.
The vent holes in the chest plate don't seem to do anything. However, there's
noticeable air flow down the inside of the chest plate, which is quite pleasant.
The air comes in through the neck of my jacket and flows down over my chest.
If I flex my torso a bit I can get even more room, and feel the air on my belly
- er, "abs" (they're in there somewhere, right?"
From "G.P." (2/10): "I just bought a Juggernaut armored
shirt and Prodigy gloves on the strength of your reviews. I have never
seen such outstanding quality for the price.
As an extra benefit, the Juggernaut makes my helmet
very quiet. I think this is because the tall
shoulder pads reduce wind turbulence at the base of my
helmet. I am not sure if the hump created by the
back protector is also a factor. I use the
Windjammer on my Arai Profile, but the Juggernaut has
made a huge difference. I have a Kawa ZX14 and the
noise reduction is very noticeable at medium to high
Thanks for your great website."
From "J.P.": "I just wanted to give you my take on the new
Juggernaut model versus the old model. Iíve now had both. I sent the
original back immediately when the Juggernaut was available because the original
had a problem with the zipper for the back protector attachment. The
original had standard zippers. I started to notice after a ride that the
zipper would come loose. Eventually, the zipper just gave way and the
shirt was pretty much useless.
The Juggernaut has heavy duty zippers and the problem is solved.
Be weary of similar armored shirt that have a standard zipper setup. It
will not last long. Heavy duty zippers are the way to go. Iíve tried
various outer garments to wear over the shirt and nothing seems to work.
Not even a football jersey fits right, so I just wear it by itself and wear the
back protector separately under my leathers for track."
From "D.L.": "I cannot be sure if your remarks within the
Juggernaut armor review were tongue in cheek or not, but I'd chime in (being an
engineer). A Newton is a kg-m/s^2. . . narrows it right down, eh? A
Joule is a N-m.
To make sense of this whole thing: A Joule is .74 ft-lb and a
Newton .224 pounds (Newton and pound both being measures of force). The
testing methodology should describe what level of force is applied, over what
area and what time. . . that is what gives the results context. So, yes,
confusing indeed, but there at least is a conversion to more common units."