Review: Alpinestars Paragon Elbow Pads
I sorta get why some riders don’t wear elbow pads.
If you know how to crash properly your elbows won’t take a lot of damage. Knowing that, I guess some riders would just rather be a bit more comforable.
You can’t always control the outcome of a crash or if you’ll crash at all. Accidents can happen on trails you’ve ridden many times and might even consider easy.
Browse the mtb forums and you’ll hear stories of riders who have given themselves chronic elbow problems after having thrown caution to the wind.
However, if you have experience crashing properly, I think a medium/light elbow pad may be all that’s required to keep your arms relatively safe, even at the bike park.
As a near middle aged rider with enough injuries over the rest of my body, I’ll wear an elbow pad rather than risk adding “elbow fracture” to the list.
What Are They?
Alpinestars' Paragon Elbow pads - An arm-sleeve/sock type elbow pad with a D3O-like, CE-certified pad to absorb impact.
Compared to burlier options out there, I think these are intended for aggressive trail use.
How I’ve Used Them
- These have been my go-to pad for the past year and a half.
- I’ve logged around 75+ rides on them, including 21 days at the Whistler Bike Park.
- I throw them in the washing machine every 3-4 rides to keep ‘em smelling fresh.
Here’s what I think.
Thumbs up to having color choices.
- I took off half a star because they don’t follow Alpinestars’ own size chart
. In their defense, a lot of other manufacturers’ gear don’t follow their own size charts, either.
Size Bicep Forearm XS 7.9-9” 6.3-7.9” S 9-10.2” 7.9-9.4” M 10.2-11.4” 9.4-11” L 11.4-12.6” 11-12.2” XL 12.6-13.8” 12.2-13.4” 2XL (!!) 13.8-15” 13.4-14.6” 3XL (wat!?!) 15-16.1” 14.6-15.7”
- My arms measure 14.5” at the bicep and 11” at the forearm. According to the chart I’d be a 2XL (wtf?). I’m usually a medium in other brand guard sizes. Mediums in these fit nice ‘n snug.
- I find that these require a small amount of sweat under the pad for them to stay in place. Then, they do stay put very nicely. On cold starts with dry arms, they have slipped down on my arms.
- Though a bit of sweat is required for grip, I find they vent well and don’t get hot. I’ve worn them on many summer rides with no complaints.
- Airy mesh keeps temperatures down. They create a nice, cooling feeling as sweat from underneath is evaporated through the mesh.
- Not bulky. In the rain I wear these under a jacket, no problemo.
- To Alpinestars’ credit, it is cool to see that they offer such a broad range of sizes.
Silicon grippers around the inside of the top elastic, and 3 strips of it on the inside of the forearm help keep these in place.
- Compared to burlier, hard shell options out there, I don’t think that these are meant for bike park use. For that you may want to go with something thicker and harder. Personally, yes, I have worn these in the park. It’s up to you to decide how much protection you’re comfortable with.
- For trail duty I think these are more than plenty.
- I’ve had 3 crashes in them where I’ve tumbled on my elbows/forearms and they have no injuries to speak of.
- The fabric covering the outside of the protective pad is quite burly. 75+ rides and there are no signs of weakness here.
- The fabric making up the sock, however, can tear in some conditions. My experience is acquiring a small tear when they snagged on a low-hanging branch. I’m not faulting the design for this; tradeoffs have to come somewhere. A tougher fabric might be less airy or breathable.
Small snag. Looks tiny here but it's actually about 1/4"
- Here’s where I took some points off. Like what some riders have found with some older Race Face D3O guards, the impact material has cracked around the point of the elbow, creating a 2” wide gash. This goes through to the inside.
Time for a replacement.
For the sake of science!
Inside view. Hello, there.
- $35 for a D3O-esque pad is pretty darn good value. These cost about as much as less techy, hard plastic armor.
Would I recommend these?
Heck, yes. $35 bucks for an elbow pad with good fit, comfort, and protection? Giddyup.
Depending on how much you ride they might not last more than 2 years. But, at a fraction of the cost of competitor’s pads, you can have a few pairs in rotation.
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I'm an avid mountain biker and web developer. When I'm not riding I'm daydreaming of riding. Being a technically minded person I extend my analyses of MTB related things to you through writing.
Riding Styles: Enduro, Downhill
Preferred Terrain: Steep tech
Current Steed: 2017 Devinci Troy
Location: Beautiful Vancouver, BC 🇨🇦