|MSR Reflex Knee/Shin Guard
By Martin Hackworth
It'd take a big hammer to get a knee jerk reflex.
We are big on protective offroad riding gear - the beefier the better. The problem that tends to crop up with really stout MX/Enduro armor is that it's often bulky, uncomfortable or interferes with motion. So we are really stoked when we discover a piece of armor that offers a high degree of protection with minimal bulk and little interference with movement. The MSR Reflex knee/shin guard does everything that we want and nothing that we don't want.
We've spent a good deal of time investigating knee guards that bridge the gap between simple, inexpensive and ubiquitous two-strap models with a plastic knee guard and some padding and upscale knee braces, like the Asterisk, that cost hundreds of dollars. The FLY Racing Moto Knee is one such option. We've used Moto Knees for years but were looking for something with just a little more protection and better fit. We spent some time with Brian, ace parts counterman at Pocatello Power Sports, exploring options. A couple of knee/shin guards available for under $100 seemed to fit the niche we were looking to fill: The EVS Strata and the MSR Reflex. After examining both we chose the MSR because it seemed to offer better protection in a more durable looking package.
For a knee/shin guard that's got a three large hard parts bolted together the Reflex is amazingly comfortable to wear. The hinged three-piece system consists of polycarbonate shin guard, a plastic knee cup and a ventilated polypropylene thigh guard that bolt together at the knee. Airprene soft panels wrap partially around the knee and thigh. The lining is plush and has proven durable so far. The Reflex is well-ventilated and we've had no undue heat-related problems - even on warm days. Fit may be dialed to near perfection with a self-centering knee cup and an ingenious fastening system that separates closure and adjustment functions. The attachment system consists of three straps that are adjusted to length with Velcro fastners,
around the back of the leg and attached to the other side of the guard
with a speed buckle fastner. Our only complaint with the
attachment system is that
the "set and forget" straps set at their longest length the lowest
two straps fit very snugly around our calf muscles.
The Reflex shin guards have enough bulk that you'll want to make sure that your boot uppers are adjusted to allow for the extra volume needed or be prepared for raging hot spots on your shins. Once, however, we got our boot's dialed for this we were able to forget that we were wearing knee guards. That's exactly what we want, but it's impressive for the high level of protection offered.
After a few hundred miles of use in which no screws have come loose, no straps frayed, or plastic pieces cracked we are prepared to recommend the MSR Reflex. The protection and comfort are high and the price is low. You can't go wrong.
Specifications: MSR Reflex GuardThree adjustable "set and forget" straps
Speed buckle closures
Perforated foam liner
Airprene soft panels
Screws flush with hard parts
The Good: Impressive comfort and protection
The Rad: Great value
The Gnarly: Set and not forget straps
Price Paid: $64.95, Pocatello Power Sports