- Bike Checks
Chest protectors are a dime a dozen. Well, more like $100 a dozen…or something like that. What I’m trying to say is that there are plenty of chest protectors to choose from, but for there isn’t much extreme variation between them. One of the few exceptions? The RXR Strongflex. The RXR really stands alone in terms of both design and function.
All it takes is one quick glance to recognize that the RXR Strongflex is not a typical chest protector. Bulky and with an unusual strap system, the RXR looks like something that was designed for wake boarding more than motocross. Add to this the fact that our test unit clocked in at 4.8lbs, and there are many aspects that, upon first inspection, would likely not be very appealing to the average MXer. But that is a first impression before ever giving the Strongflex a fair chance. Never judge a book by its cover.
When you put the Strongflex on, the weight concerns almost completely drop away, and even more so when you’re finally out on the track. Since the RXR is so form fitting (it’s best worn directly against the torso rather than a looser adjustment traditional chest protectors prefer), most of the free weight is gone and rather directly up against your body. While the Strongflex does weigh a significant amount more than a regular chestpro, on the track I did not even notice. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget about the basis of the whole concept: air.
The reason the Strongflex appears so bulky is due to the two air bladders that make up the protective elements of the RXR. Filled using a regular Schrader pump, the front and back pieces are inflated independently; 0.15 Bar (2.17 psi) in front and 0.25 Bar (3.62 psi) in the back. Just like anything else that deals with air pressure, RXR recommends that you check the pressure every time before you ride. Afterall, neither plastic nor foam is protecting you here; it’s air. So, it’s in your best interest to ensure that the pressure is set properly.
Now, I was fortunate enough to not have any off-bike journeys while using the RXR, but there is no doubt that the Strongflex laughs at any roost thrown its way. And unlike a typically, hard plastic chestpro, the rider is left wholly unaware of that those projectiles could have done any damage in the first place. Why? The only hard plastic on the Strongflex is on the quick release buckles. Otherwise the main material on the exterior is a soft rubber.
The Strongflex does fit quite snug, and is designed to do so. But when it comes to moto, the thinking is often that a snug fit, especially with a chest protector, means that it will not allow for much airflow. Granted the RXR is certainly not the best ventilated chest pro on the market, but thanks the curvatures created by the air bladders when inflated, there is surprisingly not much contact between your body and the Strongflex itself.
In my gripe department, I really only have two main complaints:
1) I am not a fan of the overly complicated shoulder strap system. Instead of a simple strap with typical hook and loop closure, the Strongflex implements a complex looped-over strap (which also uses a weak hook and loop closure) that has far too much material than is truly necessary.
2) The other negative is the bottom part of the back section. What appears to be some type of tailbone protection is really just an extra lower flap that doesn’t contain any part of the air bladder itself. It’s one of the added bits that would certainly make it look less attractive to someone in the market for a new chestpro, yet it also has no function other than being one of the openings from which to extract the air bladder.
*Okay, so the high price tag is a bit of a gripe to, but as the argument goes: how much is your body worth to you? If you are ever in a big crash and one of the air bladders pops, replacements or are only about $30. How much is does it cost to replace a spleen?
Overall, I think that RXR deserves some recognition for thinking outside the box. Chest protectors have been around since the early days of motocross, yet there have been very few major innovations in their overall design in all those years. Motocross is dangerous and so are cars. Cars use airbags and they seem to do a pretty good of protecting drivers, so why not bring that idea into the dirt? That seems to be RXR’s thinking and it is a real innovation for motocross.
Granted, the Strongflex is not the most stylish piece of protective gear, but that’s why it’s called “protective” gear and not “fashion” gear. Remember when neck braces first started to come around? For many, the look of them was one of the big deterrents. Eventually what became fashionable was the fact that you were protecting yourself. The Strongflex isn’t perfect, but it is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to proper protection.
For more information, visit www.rxrprotect.com.