FUSE PROTECTION ECHO GLOVES
AND NEOS PADS REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Adam Lievesley
Fuse Protection has been the go-to choice for protecting some of the world’s best BMX and slopestyle riders for quite some time now, but hasn’t properly broken into the mountain bike scene yet. Their new range hopes to change this, bringing some extra “tech” and some updated materials they hope will appeal to a wider audience.
ECHO GLOVE BLACK
The Echo glove is designed to offer crash protection without adding unnecessary bulk, to provide a comfortable glove for long days in the saddle. The synthetic leather palm has perforations to provide ventilation and features an array of ergonomically shaped gel inserts to provide protection in a crash. The upper is made from a durable polyester-PU mix with a slimmer silhouette than their other offerings and has lycra inserts on the fingers to improve their flexibility. Rounding out the Echo glove is the neoprene cuff and Velcro wrist strap to keep them in place, and a retail price of €43.99/£25.95.
NEOS ELBOW AND KNEE PADS
The NEOS pads are a big departure from previous Fuse offerings, with new materials and a very different aesthetic. Fuse has opted to employ a new material – their FLEX SHIELD in-mold PU foam – to provide the protection, which is triple-stitched onto the fabric sleeve. This provides a significantly lighter and more comfortable pad that should suit the rigors of a day pedaling a mountain bike better than their other models. They claim this PU foam works in a similar way to SAS-TEC foam, giving the required protection without restricting movement, but crucially doesn’t require a fabric covering over the top which lets them shave some weight. Surrounding the main pad are supplemental padded “blocks”, which give extra protection in crucial areas above and to the sides of the knee. The remainder of the pad is made from a combination of a breathable Lycra material, with Kevlar panels in key wear areas and a dry-fit mesh to give durability in key areas and breathe better for the remainder. SHARK SKIN grippers allow the pads to remain in place without requiring straps, leading to a significantly more minimalistic pad without losing the desired protection. The Fuse NEOS knee pad retails for €87.99/£70 with the Elbow pad coming in at €77.99/£60.
The Fuse Protection products maintain a hint of their BMX roots in their aesthetic, with relatively thick and durable materials and construction that looks like it’ll stand up to a barrage of abuse for lap after lap. While this may not be to the tastes of a sporty XC type, for my BMX and freeride roots it conjures up notions of safety and encourages “the send”, which are no bad things.
Fitment on both the Echo gloves and Neos pads is quite average, with a relatively slim fit on the glove relying on some stretch to conform to the hand – the XL on my usually large-wearing hands was not ridiculously big, and another rider with XL hands confirmed that the gloves were snug but comfortable. The Neos pads perhaps run slightly on the slimmer side, with the XL tested fitting me nicely as a usually Large-wearing rider. It’s always worth trying these things on to ensure you get the proper fit, or at least adhering to the sizing charts Fuse provide.
On the grips the Echo gloves manage to hide their padded nature for the most part thanks to the absence of padding under the grip area, maintaining a reasonable bar feel. The palm material is quite thick however, so they are not a glove that mimics the gloveless feeling, but that said they avoid feeling too numb. The padding really comes into its own in a crash, with impressive levels of cushion, which I only had to test once thankfully. But as I’ve complained in the past, for a protective glove it’s a shame not to see any consideration made to protect the knuckles from trees and shrubs. The materials used throughout have a reasonable level of give that keeps them comfortable but are certainly on the thicker side and the Echo glove does run hotter than many. Not an issue in fall through to spring, but in the heat of the summer you certainly know about it. In terms of durability, through a big palm-sliding crash and a number of laps in the bike park they’ve held up very well with barely any signs of wear, so this heat does come with some positives. You’d imagine these gloves would become very good value over a season of abuse.
The Neos pads are an interesting one. On one hand, you’ve got some very flexible padding and stretchy materials that allow for pedaling free of restriction without skimping on the protection. The elbow pads, like almost every option I’ve tested in the past, causes a bit of constriction to the forearm which increases arm pump, but this is essentially a given for an elbow protector. However, the materials are thicker than we’ve become used to seeing on more pedal-friendly protection, which leads to a hot environment for the knee and elbow when on the pedals. In fact, they’re some of the hotter pads I’ve used in a while and would quickly become wet-out before other areas had even had the chance to sweat. There’s just no real chance for air to move around, with no perforations through the densely padded front, which leads to a hot time in the summer months. The FLEX-SHIELD pad is large, and the surrounding supplemental pad sections above and to the side of the knee pad give a reassuringly protected feeling, though I’d suggest from some knee-stem contact instances the material is not quite as effective at dissipating impact forces as the likes of D3O. Equally it’s not terrible and fended off a couple of knee-floor moments without too much pain. Crucially the foam didn’t tear up in these crashes, though they were on loamy soil opposed to hardpack on which the story may be different. This main foam section did begin to show some signs of cracking after around 10 ride and wash cycles, which didn’t appear to reduce its effectiveness but does give mild concerns over the long-term durability. Otherwise, things are still looking very fresh, with an impressive resilience to pedal pins and shrubs catching the material, and not a single hint of stitching failing. I’d suggest these would be a great pad to run under a set of riding trousers for lift assisted mountain biking, less intensive eMTB riding or BMX/slopestyle, where their low profile and lack of restriction will provide a comfortable time without their heat becoming too much of an issue. And in the colder times, short wearers may benefit from this extra insulation. But through the summer months they’re not the option I’d be reaching for.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Fuse Protection’s push to penetrate the mountain bike scene is a great one in my eyes, with a solid foundation in their BMX roots putting them in a good place to provide a different take on protective gear. Their Echo glove and Neos knee and elbow pads offer good protection with impressive comfort levels but run hot compared to the typical mountain bike trail wear, which may cause issues for riders in hotter climates or through the summer months. But for those who do not suffer so much from the heat, the Fuse gear is made to last and will likely serve them well for season after season.
Echo glove: €43.99/£25.95
Neos Knee: €87.99/£70
Neos Elbow: €77.99/£60