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iXS Hex Pull-Over Easily Slips Lightweight Chest & Back Protection On & Off: Review

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector plates
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Based on the same energy-absorbing honeycomb structure of the rest of their HEX protection line-up, this new iXS Hex Pull-Over provides gravity-ready chest and back protection in a more user-friendly form. Pull it over your jersey for secure impact protection. Then, pull it back off when you need to cool down. Of course, I understand the safety needs for a back protector in the bikepark. But I’ve generally steered away from chest protectors because I overheat so quickly. But this iXS Hex Pull-Over has changed my outlook. So much so, that I’ve started wearing it (and accidentally impact-testing it) on my most technical enduro rides too…

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, riding
(All Photos/Cory Benson)

When iXS first showed me their new Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, I saw it more like a lightweight version of heavy-duty DH upper protection. Like a lighter protection jacket for gravity racers. Then, they started to describe it more to me, even saying that the pull-over was sometimes a “fashion statement” that gravity riders could show off in the bikepark lift lines.

My immediate impulse was to laugh that view off… until I thought about it a bit more. In fact, I realize that my wife often wears a similar protection vest (sometimes under, sometimes over her jersey) on most technical enduro and all bikepark rides. It of course gives her an extra degree of protection. But it also has made her more confident in her riding, less worried about getting injured in a crash.

Now I realize that MTB protection companies have made it cool to wear more protection.

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, front

And while I never considered wearing the hardshell protector that my wife uses. This more open and more flexible iXS HEX Pull-Over seems like a perfectly reasonable addition for a lot of my technical mountain bike riding. Even when there’s a lot of climbing on warm days.

Tech details

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, chest detail

What makes the iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector work is pretty thick and relatively stiff hexagon-shaped TPU protection layer on the chest and back, backed up by a soft mesh-covered EVA foam layer that sits against your body. A set of padded adjustable straps over your shoulders, and stretchy adjustable side straps keep the big protectors in place as you ride. And a couple of side clips make it easy to take on and off, even over a full-face helmet.

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, back detail

Those semi-hardshell (and patented) anatomic thermoplastic elastomer protection plates vary from around 7-20mm in thickness, with its 3D-extruded honeycomb. And it goes from completely closed off to hex openings up to 15mm across, to offer extra impact protection in specific areas. And a low-friction surface to help you slide to a stop in a crash. The whole thing manages to feel super tough and quite rigid in key areas, yet still flexible enough that it confirms to your body as you move around on the bike. iXS also explains that it becomes more flexible and contours to your body as you heat up while riding.

The Hex Pull-Over offers level 2 back protection (to EN 1621-2:2014) and level 1 chest protection (to EN 1621-3). iXS also says it also meets the “stone shield standard” which basically defines the opening to not allow a 15mm tapered rock to get through.

Riding Review

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, detail on body

The Swiss folks at iXS talked me into trying out their new Hex Pull-Over, and by the end of my second or third ride, I think I was sold on the ideal of the pull-over chest and back protector combo. It doesn’t hurt, that I’ve been testing a few new mountain bikes that are genuinely making me change how I ride. And I’ve had more time over the bars in the past 2 months than I’ve had in the previous 2 years. More protection has been my friend.

Bikepark season hasn’t really kicked off yet. So, I’ve been pedaling up steep hills a lot. And it’s been unseasonably warm.

On the bike

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, riding in hot weather

I’ve been wearing the new iXS Hex Pull-Over quite regularly (and a slightly less protective but similar option from another brand… review coming soon there, too). And I think the pull-over has become something I’ll take with me on pretty much any ride now that involves steep rocky or rooty drop-ins or any real jumps. And that pretty much covers almost every bit of my local mountain biking outside of the classic XC racer singletrack rides.

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, 960g actual weight L/XL

On the ride up, I generally just unclip one of the side buckles to let it hang away from my chest for a bit of extra airflow. On longer, hotter climbs, I’ve taken the Pull-Over off entirely, and hung it from my bars on wide forest road climbs. A simple few twists of the chest relative to the back and snappy it back together lets it hang straight off the end of my bar. Or a bit more aggressive rolling and folding (like I did to get it on the scale) makes it even more compact to hang off the bike as I pedal up.

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, dropping in

Now, once our local bikepark opens fully in two weeks, I think the iXS Hex Pull-Over will completely replace my conventional baselayer-based back protectors. Only when I opt for a full protection suit (with shoulder and elbow coverage) for more gravity racing or trying crazy new features, will I likely pick something beyond this new Hex Pull-Over.

iXS Hex Pull-Over protector – Pricing, options & availability

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, front & back

The iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector sells for $179 / 179€, and comes in two sizes. The combined small & medium (S/M) has a claimed weight of 820g, while the bigger coverage large & extra large (L/XL) is quite a bit more at 980g.

iXS Hex Pull-Over chest and back protector, riding in cold wet weather

Interestingly, the new Hex Pull-Over is the same price as the bigger, heavier zip-up mesh Hex Upper Body jacket that also includes shoulder and elbow protectors. Although, I personally feel that the simple Pull-Over is more versatile, and something I’m more likely to wear more often. And we all know the best protection is the one you actually use.


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