Choosing between Fly’s roost deflectors depends on what kind of riding you do and how much protection you want, or need, to have.
There’s no shortage of roost to be eaten around the MotoUSA headquarters. Tired of hearing Hilde bitch and moan about his tender nipples and a chest that looked like it recently volunteered for police riot training it was time to line up some hard protection to keep his furry pecs from suffering any further abuse. With some wicked new 208 Evolution gear on the way, the sympathetic souls at Fly Racing tossed two of their more popular chest protectors in the box to go along.
Fly Air Strike Deflector
With a slew of motocross testing on tap, I grabbed the Air Strike with its low-profile, minimalist design to try out first. Front and back panels are more compact than the Convertible, and a lack of bicep guards give this shield that racer look. Rubber straps on the shoulders can be adjusted to three different lengths to tailor the fit, but I ran it on the smallest setting and never needed more room for my 5’11” frame.
The first thing you notice when strapping it on is the buckle mechanism. Rather than the traditional three-prong fasteners, the Air Strike uses a more slender setup which is roughly half the size of the more common buckle. A single plastic tit is molded to either side of the polyurethane front panel which slides into a keyhole style fastener. Adjustable straps tailor the fit and the whole system is slick, easy and holds tight. The only concern we have is the possibility of crash damage. The plastic insert is small and frail looking, but we haven’t had any trouble yet.
The obvious weakness of such a race-oriented protector is a relative lack of coverage, especially on the sides of a rider’s ribcage. This is better suited to motocross applications where roost protection and light weight is at a premium versus total crash protection. The missing arm guards are painfully noticeable once the branches start slapping during off-road episodes, but both of our testers thought it was better than nothing in the woods and felt safer with it strapped on. The only other complaint was that the rubber neck occasionally caught our jersey too much and would have been more comfortable if replaced with foam. Our lankier tester, Brian Chamberlain, struggled more with the fit.
“I couldn’t get completely comfortable in the Air Strike due to the collar,” he says. “The front piece rubbed my collarbone and would push up against my throat. With a little lower cut of the chest panel I would have thought a lot higher of the Air Strike.”
Fly Convertible Deflector
This protector is the larger of the two. Where the Air Strike is designed to be minimalist, the Convertible has abundance. Foam padding around all the edges and on the backside of the large panels makes sure your body always has a soft layer to connect with. All of that Lycra foam is quick-snap removable for cleaning purposes. Rubber webbing keeps the shoulder pieces from resting directly on your arms and gives a little extra crash protection during a fall. Not only are the body panels taller and wider, but it also comes with arm protection. Adjustable straps all around make it easy to customize.
The Convertible has more application to the off-road world than a motocross track. Larger riders especially will find this unit more to their liking.
Fly sells an optional strap to replace the back panel, and the arm guards are removable – hence the product’s name. We think it’s still a little large to be worn under the jersey, but at least it’s an option. The other thing we wonder about is why the strap isn’t included when you buy the deflector.
“The Convertible deflector fit me well and was very comfortable,” BC says. “I favor the amount of protection and I like the idea of the removable back piece. It’s unfortunate and a hassle that the alternate strap system doesn’t come standard.”
This roost guard is a better do-all unit. Hilde preferred the small, tight fit of the Air Strike, but his puny biceps and exposed ribs were begging for additional coverage. He also happens to hit the deck fairly often, so even though neither of these “deflectors” is technically supposed to prevent injury in a crash, the Convertible does do a better job of dispersing blunt trauma.
We were happy to find that the amount of hard protection offered by both of Fly Racing’s deflectors was satisfactory. There really wasn’t anything surprising about these two products. We knew going in that the larger Convertible unit would give better protection but also bring added bulk. The Air Strike is almost unnoticeable when wearing yet leaves a little to be desired off-road and in crashes. In the end, JC held onto the Air Strike because the Convertible’s larger panels were a little loose on him. That was just fine with Brian because the collar on the Air Strike was too tight for his bony neckline. Both were able to reach a satisfactory amount of custom fit, but it just goes to show how these deflectors are versatile pieces of important protective equipment. Like the rest of Fly’s 2007 gear, the styling is up to date and these chest protectors come in enough colors to make anyone happy.
Product: Fly Racing Air Strike and Convertible Deflectors
Color Options: Metallic Silver, Black/Metallic Silver, Blue/Metallic Silver, Red/Metallic Silver, Clear Blue/Chrome, Clear Green/Chrome, Clear Red/Chrome, Clear Red/Metallic Silver, Clear/Blue Chrome, Clear/Chrome, Smoke/Chrome
Sizes: Adult, Youth (Air Strike Adult Only)
MSRP: Air Strike: $59.99 – $62.99; Convertible: $89.99 – $109.99
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