Review by Joe Michaud
[This Bohn Cool Air Bodyguard Motorcycle Impact System Review was originally published in the October 2006 issue of Rider magazine]
It gets triple-digit hot here in the lower-left corner of the United States, and that forces a rethinking of temperature-appropriate riding gear. For nine months a year I routinely wear two-piece perforated leathers, but they can be darned hot, especially if riding involves any off-the-bike time or slow traffic. What’s a safety-conscious rider supposed to do?
Bohn Body Armor has one answer—under-clothing impact gear. Bohn provides a clever array of protective gear designed to be worn under regular clothes, including the Cool Air Bodyguard system tested here. Proprietary Bohn Zorb impact motorcycle armor—a preformed sandwich of PE foam, polycarbonate and rubber foam—is located onto hard points like knees, elbows, shoulders, tailbone, etc. on a snug-fitting elastic mesh two-piece garment. The Cool Air system fits well under denim jeans and a long-sleeved tee, for example.
When first pulled from its packaging, the black mesh construction of the nylon/spandex pants greatly amused my wife. Some may be reminded of an ad campaign featuring Joe Namath in pantyhose. However, once positioned under denim, it is liberating.
The pads are located in the mesh by sewn-in pockets and the spandex-enhanced fabric is quite stretchable. The shirt, complete with back protector, elbow and forearm armor, zips down the front and is easy to slip on. However, donning the snug-fitting pants and getting the spine protector, hip/thigh pads and knee cap/shin protection arranged correctly takes a few moments. My instructions from Paul English at Bohn were to carefully pull on the garment, correctly locate the armor, and then even out the tension of the mesh. The lower legs have short zippers that assist the process. Balancing the tension of the fabric will hold the armor in place. Once correctly located, my jeans easily fit over the system without too much of a bulky “super-hero” appearance.
A hot five-hour poker run around the humid interior of San Diego County with temps in the high 90s provided a good endurance test. The Bohn system worked quite well on the bike and allowed more air- flow at speed. It was noticeably cooler than my perf’ed leathers. At our lunch stop and off the bike, comfort became a tad less available. The Bohn Zorb armor pads felt warm under my jeans, where they blocked even minimal airflow and encouraged sweat. However, there is no doubt about the efficiency of the Cool Air system once moving. Nice stuff. The Cool Air armor system provides mainly impact protection and lacks the abrasion safety aspect of specialized (and more expensive) gear. Some prefer a more cruiser-oriented denim experience. If you are of that riding persuasion, then Bohn has some stuff for you. Bohn also offers the Supermoto Air Armored Shirt and the Crusader Shirt, which can be worn over a long-sleeved tee.
Both have hard-surfaced polycarbonate CE-approved armor and provide better chest and back protection. They offer a bit more abrasion resistance and provide important hook-and-loop elbow straps which securely locate and retain the armor, a consideration that the Cool Air elastic mesh does not provide. Both upgraded shirts are also removable at journey’s end, something the Cool Air system does not allow since it must be worn under clothing. The Supermoto and Crusader versions are a bit more money and a tad racerish but, hey…it’s your skin.
It’s all about mitigating our own acceptable level of safety. Upgrade to coolness and ride safe—you can have a bit of both.