Race Face’s Flank Core body protector is the usual case of less is more. It marries a simple, comfortable and breathable tee with useful-but-comprehensive protection. It does come with a few foibles, however, as it’s tough to take off and the seams aren’t of the highest quality but, for the cash, it’s an ideal companion for the occasional trip to the bike park or the odd local race.
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Race Face Flank Core body armour - Technical details
The Flank Core is really a simple affair and is built around a lycra and mesh compression t-shirt that’s been mapped to apply the right protection and ventilation to the right areas. Pockets on the shoulders and at the back are home to D30 inserts with flatlock seams that keep the top together while there’s an EVA foam, custom-moulded chest panel adding a bit of handy protection to the chest and sternum area.
This is where I’d usually blather on about more techy goodness but the Flank Core really is that uncomplicated. It is worth noting that it’s available in three sizes though.
Race Face Flank Core body armour - Performance
Race Face has shown restraint in the Flank Core’s design and, in many ways, it’s totally paid off. It’s easy to slip into and its fit is commendable. It’s a tight compression fit but it’s not so tight it causes bulging in weird places. The length of the sleeves and torso is right on the money too.
Once on, because the top relies on D3O for its protective elements, it does feel a little bulky, particularly around the shoulders. Regardless of its slight NFL looks and lack of vents, the Flank Core is a super comfortable body protector, especially once the bright orange panels begin to mould to the body with warmth.
The back-protecting slither of D3O boosts comfort further. Its profile and shape are cut in order to allow the plank of material to move as well as direct a little bit of air as a byproduct. This flex makes the back panel comfortable and unnoticeable.
Though the real feather in the Flank Core’s hat is its massive breathability. Under a jersey airflow is more than apparent, helping to keep the rider cool throughout even the warmest of days. This, paired with the top’s good comfort makes it ideal for longer stints in the saddle.
However, there is a durability concern that rears its head when taking the protector off. Unfortunately, there are no zips and has to be removed like a traditional t-shirt. After a ride and when sweaty, this is quite the task as sweat makes the fabric stick, and the fabric is very stretchy. The seams have given up a little, given how hard I’ve had to try to get out of the Flank Core, which is far from ideal and might affect longevity.
Race Face Flank Core body armour - Verdict
At £140, the Race Face Flank Core shows fairly good value for money. It offers comprehensive protection, great fit, good comfort and breathability. If you’re not looking to spend loads and want something for the occasional bike park trip, it’s a really good purchase.
Leatt’s AirFlex Stealth tee is a good chunk pricier with an asking price of £220. Though for the money, you’re getting slimmer protection, comparable airflow, a zip and a host of other features. Durability is greater, too, but it’s £80 more.
A great competitor is Dainese Trail Skins Pro Armour Tee which follows a similar build but it gets the Pro-Shape 2.0 protectors as well as an Auxagon Technology back protector and Auxetic Chest Protection. It also comes with handy stow pockets. That’ll set you back £145, offering a little more for your money.
The Race Face Flank Core body protector has proven to be an excellent piece of protective wear if you’re after extra protection on those more extreme rides. It’s comfortable, and breathable whilst offering good coverage and protection. It is difficult to take off though, which raises questions about its lifespan.