December 3, 2020
This Flexible, Hidden Body Armor Could Save Your Bacon
About a month ago, caught in a surprise rainstorm on my gravel bike, I undertook an unscheduled test of the breaking angle of my 42mm tires. In short, though I thought I shed enough speed to bank a lefthanded turn on pavement safely, I had in fact not, and I landed on my left hip with such force I thought I’d broken it. I lay there on the ground stunned for a solid minute before collecting myself. Fortunately, there was no fracture, but the bruising and pain kept me off the bike for three weeks.
During those three weeks, I went looking for bike clothes with pockets for D30 insulating pads. D3O is made of long-chain polymers, which are non-Newtonian, which means they change their rigidity based on the force applied. The pads are squishy and flexible until you hit them with force, when they then turn solid and rigid. This disperses the kinetic energy of a blow and, hopefully, reduces your chance of injury
Anyway, I never did find a pair of shorts that I liked, but I realized that the pads should stay in place with any tight short or liner. I typically wear Lycra bibs (and can recommend these from Rapha, 7Mesh, and Kitsbow), so I bought a set of Klim D3O hip pockets ($28, LINK) and simply slid them between the shorts and me. In the five rides I’ve done since, they haven’t moved, shifted, and even drawn attention to themselves. I hope I don’t fall on my hip again, but if I do know I’ve stacks the odds in my favor.