Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards
by Brandon Jackson for webBikeWorld.com
| Owner Comments (Below)
Summary: An excellent companion for riding jeans and similar pants
are let down by a few design and quality flaws.
Let's face it, as much as we should wear all the gear all the time, motorcycle pants are often too hot during the summer or too "un-cool " for the workplace.
Mesh pants might work, but they are particularly
un-cool for work and they're sometimes just plain uncomfortable
off the bike.
I can't imagine sitting at my desk all day in textile or leather pants
-- nor would they go over well at meetings.
I suppose you could bring extra pants and change into
them at work, but what if you're just going out for the
evening? Mesh won't cut it here either.
The popular compromise has been to wear
motorcycle-specific riding jeans that incorporate Kevlar and/or other tough materials
Many riders resort to work
clothing, like dungarees such as the
Carhartt jeans I reviewed recently or other types of "work pants" .
These types of pants may offer better abrasion resistance than regular jeans but
they rarely include impact protection. In the cases where impact protection is offered, it is typically let down by the loose cut of these types of pants, which can allow
the armor to twist and move away from the very areas it is designed to protect.
Alpinestars to the Rescue?
Enter the Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards. Unlike the Icon Field Armor Motorcycle Shin Guards
(review), the Reflex Knee Guards are designed for off-road use.
Though they are referred to as "knee guards", it is quite obvious that these will protect the shins as well.
There are very few choices for this type of armor designed for specifically for street use,
so it may be time to consider re-purposing some of that off-road bike protective gear that's available.
Hard plastic armor (with vents) on top of "Biofoam". The foam is also perforated for breathability.
Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards - Construction
Like many off-road knee guards, the Alpinestars
Reflex Knee Guards have two distinct protective hard plastic shields
backed by a larger layer of foam padding.
The two shields are separated by about an inch on the pad, allowing the knee cup to flex which is important for the intended use underneath pants. There is also a strip of material (feels like vinyl) sewn between the two plastic bits for added strength. Unfortunately this has proven to be less than "tough", as we'll see in a bit.
The Reflex Knee Guards are made using a combination of polypropylene (for the
hard areas) and a material
Alpinestars refers to as "Biofoam" for the padding. Biofoam is a spongy material that has been perforated to allow air to flow through. Vents have been provided through the plastic (including small screens) to allow airflow to the Biofoam underneath.
Two soft elastic straps secure the Reflex Knee Guards to
the rider's legs and fasten with good sized swaths of hook-and-loop fastener material. Once firmly pressed into the receiving material on the front of the knee guards,
the loops appear to have significant grip and should do well holding the armor in place in the event of a crash.
Vinyl-like material connecting the two plastic armor
pieces and a close up of one of the vents (L).
Back of the knee guard showing the straps (R).
Fit and comfort
The Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards are available in
two sizes, adult and youth. The youth version looks quite small (as they should) and the adult size...well, the adult should be labeled "one size fits all, as long as you're not small".
OK -- they're big. I'm not quite 5'11" with a 30" inseam and they just fit on my leg while wearing my Alpinestars Recon boots (see the photos for what I mean). The Recon's are not a very tall boot so keep these facts in mind if you're planning on purchasing these without being able to try them on.
Despite their bulk, once they are on, they are not uncomfortable. The Reflex Knee Guards are designated for left and right legs and are are shaped to fit appropriately.
The elastic straps are well-designed in their "stretchiness" (is that a word?) to hold the guards firmly on your leg without being so tight as to impede blood circulation. The softness of the straps does help make them comfortable but there is price to pay.
The Reflex Knee Guards are rather large. Be sure to try them on with your riding boots before purchasing.
You can see in the pictures below how the straps have patches of tufts and pulled threads. These have occurred due to contact with the "hook" portion of the hook and loop patches on the end of the straps.
The strap ends indeed will hold firmly to the non-fastener portions of the strap and when you pull it apart, it results in the ragged elastic pictured. Not only is it somewhat unsightly, but I worry over time it can go beyond simple cosmetic damage to a weakening of the straps.
Aware as I am that this can happen, the end of the straps still manage to find purchase on the elastic from time to time despite my best efforts.
The damage caused to the straps from the hook-and-loop fastener material of the straps themselves..
While on the subject of the straps, riders with smaller calves
may find that the straps can not be tightened enought to
hold the Knee Guards securely. I run two or three times a week and
I would say that my calf size is medium, if not a little larger (I really don't go around comparing!).
Riders with smaller diameter calves will find that
they may have to run the straps past the patch of loop and the hooks will catch the elastic resulting in more harm to the straps.
Despite the strap issues, the knee guards do their job well. When worn under Carhartt pants or loose fitting jeans, they fit
nicely and the vents and perforations do let them breathe.
I can even walk around for a few minutes when wearing
them with no problems.
Just over three months, no crash involved, and not even worn 30 times and the stitching has already pulled out. Hopefully this is not a typical issue since the other knee guard is still good as new.
A knee/shin guard like the Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards
may add a level of protection that could be well worth the extra minute or two that
it takes to put them on before a ride.
These may have some issues, but being careful with
the straps can minimize some of the problems mentioned
above. The only other issue to note is that the stitching has come undone on the vinyl piece connecting the two plastic shields together (see photo
above) on one of the guards.
The other is perfectly fine so hopefully this is not a typical issue, but since it has occurred after only using them for about three months it caught my attention.
For the $24.95 list price, you really cannot go wrong. If you don't have
a pair of dedicated riding pants that include armor, I strongly recommend adding this type of protection to your riding gear. It's a small price to pay when you think about it, I mean really, how much are your knees worth to you?
Review: Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards
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Retail Price: $25.00
|Sizes: Youth and Adult
|Review Date: August 2009
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►Your Comments and
Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "D.L." (8/09): "I've had these
for over a year now, and in my opinion, they're worth
the price in that they're better than just wearing jeans
alone. I'm a skinny guy and the guards do fit well
(measure about 16 and 13 inches around my calf where the
straps go on). I haven't had them twist around or
slide up/down when I walk, get on/off my bike, riding.
The only thing is, if your jeans/pants aren't loose
enough, the guards can make them bunch up around the
From an impact protection perspective, I prefer these
over armor that is built into motorcycle pants as I'm
more confident that these will not rotate or shift
during a crash, much like what happened with "D.A." and
the built in armor.
The straps on the guards still hold on well even though
I have to attach using the non-fastener portions.
Though I have noticed that the fastener portions
obviously hold better. Maybe the length of this
can be increased. Thankfully I've never had to
test them out, but what I question is how well they
would stay on your leg and not slide in a crash.
For the price ($24.95 from NewEnough), they're a good
investment for commuters who rather not have to deal
with changing in and out of motorcycle pants. I've
worn these for a full 8 hour shift at work (constantly
sitting and getting up and walking around) without a
problem, but they're also easy to get on and off under
your jeans. Also, I agree with "W.G." and "B.Z."
in that the pair reviewed might have a quality issue as
mine are still in good condition.
PS: Always loved wBW's reviews. Keep up the great work
on the site."
From "B.H." (8/09): "I've worn these
for over three years. I wear them under my
Jeans (review) on my commute to work and back. While
there is some visible wear, I see nothing that makes me
think that their integrity has been compromised in any
While I've never crashed in them, they have saved me
from the occasional car/truck launched projectile.
The largest of which, was about the size of an orange
and composed of hard, dry clay. I imagine it would
have fractured my knee cap if I had only been wearing my
I highly recommend them and purchase another pair when
these have worn out. For a little less than $25,
it's practically a no-brainer as some of the least
expensive protection you can buy."
From "J.B." (8/09): "I have a pair
of knee/shin guards from Shift Racing that look
remarkably similar to the Alpinestars Reflex. Who
knows, maybe they are made in the same factory in China.
I wear them under a pair of Joe Rocket Steel Jeans.
That combination saved me during a bike totaling crash
two years. My left knee guard took a direct hit
from a guard rail. The knee was lightly bruised,
but otherwise unscathed. I shudder to think how
badly I might have been hurt had my kneecap taken a
direct, unprotected hit.
I strongly recommend knee/shin protection, preferably
with some hard plastic. Most people fixate on
abrasion protection. I argue that impact protection is
at least as important. As always, keep up the
From "T.R." (8/09): "I bought
these and returned them shortly after for all the
short-falls you mention in your review. If you're
a skinny guy (like me), don't even bother with this
product because you won't be able to tighten the straps
I've got other Alpinestars products that are well
designed and of high quality. These knee/shin
guards deviate from that trend in a serious way.
Also, the knee guard is ridiculously big. If
you want knee/shin protectors that actually stay on your
legs like they're supposed to, go with the ICONs.
You're lower leg will sweat more, but at least you'll
have the function you paid for. If you're less
concerned with shin protection and just want knee
protection, there are a number of MX knee protectors
from SIXSIXONE that do the job well."
From "D.A." (8/09): "I've been
wearing the Alpinestars Reflex Knee Guards on the street
for 2-3 years now. I previously had an accident
where the stock knee protection in my textile pants
rotated away from the impact zone, and my knee wound up
looking like a basketball as a result.
I found these to be a bit bulky, so you have to be
selective about which textile pants you are wearing them
under. Otherwise things will get tight and your
knee movement will be restricted. I've had best
luck with textile pants that have an expansion panel
above the knee."
From "B.Z." (8/09): "I have these
knee guards and have had them for almost 2 years now.
I have used them many many times, though not under
street type clothes or on the street. I have
crashed in them in the dirt and they have performed
flawlessly under their intended usage conditions and are
still complete usable without issue or problem.
I have not the stitching separation issues that these
have seemingly suffered, and that maybe be an anomaly,
as Alpinestars seems to have a generally decent quality
control, or so I have experienced with multiple
different products I have owned from them. I would
suggest sending those pictures of the problems and an
Email to them with explanation ( and maybe a pointed
link to this review ) and see what, if anything, they
would be willing to do for you.
As far as the issue that you state with the hook and
loop stuff, that seems to happen somewhat with any hook
and loop over time. Some of that maybe due to
other fabrics and stowing materials that your knee
guards are encountering when they are in use or stowed,
just as food for thought."
From "W.G." (8/09): "Thanks for
the review. I think you had a quality problem with your
specific pair. I have been using these whenever I
ride (except when I am wearing my winter overpants in
Dec and Jan) for more than a year, and I have not seen
the same issue with the one piece having its stitching
I do have the problem with the hook and loop creating
an ugly set of straps, but that has not affected the
overall performance. I'm very happy with these for
the price, and they are a convenient and cost-effective
way to improve protection."