With a subtle, low profile back protector stashed in a fully featured bib short, the Alpinestars Paragon V2 looks like a great option for trail riding and enduro racing. Ben put it to the test this winter to find out.
Bib shorts are a bit like Marmite. Some people swear by them, and roadies wouldn’t go out in anything else, but for many people like me, they are a bit of a pain when you need a trail side wee, or even worse a trail centre dump that requires you to get naked. Despite this, I was intrigued by the protection offered by the Paragon V2 and was keen to try them.
These are expensive shorts, but then again they are also a back protector, so for £150 you get two products and it seems a bit better value. They are really well made, with lovely soft material against your skin and a wide, elasticated silicon strip around the the bottom hem that holds them in place. It is worth noting they are a typically Italian slim fit and I had to size up to a large to get my quads in them.
The padding on the hips is slim, so as not to appear bulky under your trail shorts, but it should take the edge off of bigger hits as well as prevent abrasions. The back protector slots into a mesh back panel and is made of a soft foam-like material that conforms to your back once it gets warmed up. It is not full back coverage, but it does extend wide enough to protect the full width of your spine.
Whilst riding, this setup is super comfy and way cooler than wearing a jacket style back protector that usually ends up being pretty sweaty. You really don’t notice the armour at all as it stays perfectly in place against your body, another advantage of this setup compared to more bulky armoured vests or plates that strap on.
The Paragon V2 also feature rear stash pockets for some bars or bits and bobs. They are pretty small and hard to reach unless you have 2 elbows but they are handy. In general I carry a bum bag anyway so don’t use rear pockets much.
I was fortunate enough not to fully test the protection on offer, but it did give me an added sense of security when riding gnarly trails. Due to its light weight and comfort I was more likely to wear if for 40km enduro rides than a traditional back protector and that tends to be the crux of the matter with protection. It doesn’t matter how good the armour is if you don’t wear it due to weight, size or comfort.
The only thing that is tricky is driving to the trails in your shorts, ready to ride. You either wear them with the back protector fitted which isn’t comfy on the van seat or you try to shimmy it in when you get there which is nearly impossible when wearing it. I usually got a mate to help me, much to their annoyance.
What do we think?
Overall these are a top quality and very versatile piece of kit that I will happily wear for uplift, enduro racing and big gnarly rides. They are comfy and the spine protection on offer could really save your day.
Comfy, cool protection.
Could do Better
Slim fit, even for lycra
Check out the Alpinestars Paragon V2 bib shorts on their website here.
Read all our product reviews on our Gear page here.