When Hannah went looking for some impact protection shorts for women, she couldn’t find any – so she tried these unisex ones from Leatt instead.
Impact shorts are perhaps more usually worn by gravity riders racing their way down seriously gnarly courses at high speeds. However, I wanted something to give me a bit of extra protection and confidence when learning to jump, pushing myself to ride more technical terrain, or going a bit faster than usual on the occasional uplift day.
I couldn’t find a pair of women’s specific impact shorts, which left me looking for chamois-free impact shorts. I know from experience that a men’s chamois won’t result in a happy experience for me. I guess I could get away with one on an uplift day where I’m not doing a pile of sitting down and pedalling, but for flexibility I looked for something that didn’t have a chamois, so I could wear my own under them. This pair of Leatt Impact shorts were the only ones I could find, so I took a punt and got them ordered in. Subsequently I’ve discovered US brand Zoic do a liner short with women’s chamois and impact protection, but they’re not available in the UK and the protection is more limited than these Leatt Impact Shorts.
The Leatt Impact 3DF shorts are a largely mesh construction – which is good for breathability and stretch, but somewhat revealing for modelling purposes. I’m sure you’ll forgive the undergarments in the images here, but there are limits to what I’m prepared to display on the internet, and I wanted to show the extent of the shorts without wearing similarly black cycling shorts underneath.
There’s an upper gel pad on each hip, and a lower foam pad on the thigh – approximately where you might catch your bar (or a shifter) in an off. An elasticated waist keeps them up, with no adjustment for fit. The legs have slight silicone grip at the bottoms.
The hip pad is certified to ‘Level 1’ – this is the lowest level of ‘certified’ impact protection performance, but it is still certified. As makers of motorcycle products, Leatt is particularly big on promoting where its products have been independently tested and certified and includes the test certificates on its website. The foam thigh pads don’t meet any such certification requirements, but they’re certainly more protective than a basic fabric short would be.
Not being designed for hip bones like mine, they’re pretty snug around my hips and I sized up to accommodate them. Once on however, they’re pretty comfortable to wear, with no pinch points or hots spots. That said, if you wear a chamois short underneath with baggies over the top, things can get quite warm when pedalling. On a hot day I’d definitely weigh up the probability of heat exhaustion vs mashed nethers vs bruised hips and choose my essential layers accordingly.
The protection is pretty good, although they’re not cut high enough to give any coverage to the upper point of your pelvis. Which is fine, as it’s usually the lower point, at the convergence of bum, hip and thigh, that gets the biggest wallops with me. That said, my upper hip bones have had a few nasty incursions with my bars when going over them (I’ve really perfected the art of the handstand with handlebar hip support), so perhaps if anyone ever wants to do a women’s specific impact short they’d like to consider this area of vulnerability.
The mesh construction is a little vulnerable to being tugged – when putting them on you need to take care not to put too much pressure on one spot. I had a couple of occasions where I felt the weave starting to pop – if you’ve ever worn patterned or fishnet tights you’ll know what I mean – and a small ladder has appeared. Unlike tights, the ladder hasn’t grown to terminal proportions, but a bit of care will certainly keep them whole for longer. The bottoms of the legs have also got a little floppy, though not enough as yet to make them ride up in use. That said, I’m usually wearing these with knee pads, and my pads of choice meet with the legs of these shorts, so they’re possibly holding each other in place.
As far as I’m aware, these remain the only chamois free impact protection shorts for mountain biking available in the UK. Sizing up (to a Large) gets them over my size 12/14 hips, and if you want to go bigger there is an XL to be had. Whether you’re male or female, if you’re looking to try a bit harder, these might give you the confidence and protection you need to bounce back in the event of an off.
|Product:||3DF 3.0 Impact Shorts|
|Tested:||by Hannah for 6 months|
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