It's that time of year, when if you're lucky enough you’ll be packing your bike and heading to a new riding destination to test yourself on more challenging trails than your local favorites. It makes a lot of sense to consider if your MTB kneepads and elbow pads are up to the task. We’ve been testing the 100% Fortis Elbow Guard to see if it’s worth packing for your next trip.
Design and aesthetic
The 100% Fortis Elbow Guards are the lightest offering from the American brand, providing Level 1 impact protection. They use 100%’s proprietary impact-absorbing SmartShock Foam in a pre-formed shape to cover the elbow and a good portion of the forearm. There’s additional thin foam padding on either side of the main pad providing extra protection. On the outside, there is a thick injection-molded plastic shield stitched into position, which in theory allows the pads to slide over the ground in the event of a crash and prevents them from snagging and being pulled in the wrong direction.
The Fortis is essentially a sleeve-type design which pulls onto your arm, the main body is made from perforated neoprene to help with breathability, and the inner forearm section is a stretchy mesh. The pads are held in place by a wide padded cuff around the bicep, which is elasticated and held in place with velcro. There is also a smaller elasticated strap on the forearm to help cinch things down. Tacky silicone has been strategically placed on the inside to help keep things in place.
Where things differ from other elbow guards is the articulated joint just above the elbow that allows the elbow to bend freely.
I’ve been testing the size S/M, which according to the size table should fit me perfectly and they are easy to slip on and anchor into position with the two straps. The bicep strap is comically large but is made from a very comfy and stretchy material and was no problem to fit. The Fortis feel very comfortable and the materials are all suitably soft and stretchy to prevent any chafing. There is a lot of protection on offer, with foam padding extending to provide good coverage above and to the sides of the elbow and forearm. The articulated joint works really well, allowing your elbow to move freely.
I’ve been fortunate enough to test the pads during four days of intensive riding in the Alps. The Fortis Elbow Guards have stayed in place throughout testing, with no movement or slippage whatsoever. I didn’t notice any particular hotspots either, with the mesh material on the forearm and the completely open section behind the elbow doing a good job to dissipate any heat. Fortunately, I've not taken a serious tumble whilst wearing the Fortis Guards to test the certified protection on offer. I can testify that the pre-formed foam that hugs your elbow was very comfortable throughout testing and provides a good sense of security. As with any decent body armor, you forget you're wearing them and can just get on with the riding.
I did experience a bit of soreness on my right forearm where the lower strap attaches. Despite my arms measuring up perfectly for the size S/M according to the size chart, I found the forearm opening to be a bit snug, and after four days of continuous use, this became a little uncomfortable.
Disappointingly the bicep strap on both the left and right arms is showing signs of damage after only four days of use. I certainly don’t have particularly big biceps and didn’t have the straps done up tightly either.
In use, the 100% Fortis Elbow Guards have done exactly what you need them to do, being unobtrusive and not inhibiting any arm movement, allowing you to concentrate on the ride. It’s a shame they are only available in two sizes, so be careful to check the fit before committing. Finding tears in the bicep strap after four days of use has somewhat dampened their rating, and unfortunately brings their long-term durability into question – though 100% products all come with a one year replace or repair warranty.
Tech specs: 100% Fortis Elbow Guard
- Price: $89.00 / £74.99 / €79.00
- Sizes: S/M, L/XL
- Colors: Heather Gray (tested), Black