Introduction: Budget Custom CE Rated Motorcycle Armor From D3O - Hip Armor

About: Just a guy who doesn't know when to quit, and is constantly in search of a solution to a problem that doesn't exist yet.

Tool Requirements:Low
Time:1h 30min


Problem: I wanted cheap, comfortable replacement hip armor inserts, and I was unsatisfied with the commercially available solutions.

Solution: I butchered a CE Rated Back Protector pad and made my own. The result was fantastic so on my second or third time doing the project, I decided to document it.


So sometime ago, I upgraded some kevlar jeans to give them maximum protection in a casual looking package. Don't worry, there's an interesting instructable for that, too. Among the upgrades was a tailbone protector. And given that no one sold standalone, CE rated tailbone protectors, I decided the cheapest and easiest way to get one would be to cut up a cheap Icon D3O CE Level 1 Back Protector and use that. With the material I had left over, I made some hip armor for some other riding jeans I had. The result was so good that these days I'd rather do that than buy the commercial solutions.

And it's not that I haven't tried them. As far as hip armor goes I've tried the Icon D3O Evo X Hip Armor, the Forcefield 4-Layer Replacement Hip Armor and Alpinestars Nucleon Hip Armor, among others. This is still the armor I've found most pleasant for the smallest amound of money. It only rivals Forcefield NET Upgrade Armor, but that costs more. By the way, this project may be updated over time. Click here to see the latest version.

So here we go, let's begin!

Motorcycling is a dangerous activity, and no amount of protection will ever guarantee walking away from an accident without injury. Anyone who decides to follow this tutorial must do it at their own risk and under their own exclusive responsibility. Neither this Instructable nor it's author make any claims about the performance of this armor, and any allusions to CE ratings refer to the undamaged, unmodified original piece of equipment as the manufacturer intended.

A bit of motivation to keep making instructables always helps. I'm a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program as well as eBay Partner Network, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for creators to earn fees by linking to their sites, at no extra cost whatsoever to you.

Step 1: What You'll Need

The following links are to either Amazon or Ebay.

Either one or the other. Yup, that's it.

The CE Level 2 Back Protector is a little bit thicker, 17mm, than the CE Level 1 version (11mm). If you want to look a bit more casual, or your pants are tightish as is, get the Level 1. If you have the space or want more protection, go with level 2.

If you want some info on D3O, click here:


  • Bench Grinder- You'll use it to shape the foam. The coarse wheel is the one you'll be using.
  • Metal Ruler - Try to err on the sturdy side. You'll use it as a guide to cut the foam, or for measurements.
  • Xacto Knife- To cut the foam. Just make sure the blade is about an 1" long.

That said, let's begin! For real this time.

Step 2: Decide Which Back Protector to Canabalize

You can choose either CE Level 1 or 2 from Icon D3O. CE level 1 is 11mm thick, whereas CE Level 2 is 17mm thick. Both are extremely flexible, breathable and comfortable, but obviously Lvl 2 is a bit bulkier. If you can, go with Lvl 2. If not, Lvl 1 is vastly superior to those cheap foam pads with no rating most manufacturer include.

Attached you'll find pictures comparing the thickness of both.

*Disclaimer: Any allusions to CE ratings refer to the undamaged, unmodified original piece of equipment as the manufacturer intended. No claims are made regarding the protection provided by the armor modified in this way.

Step 3: Lay Out the Armor and Mark for Cutting

Ideally, the pants you intend to use this hip armor in came with a (useless) foam pad you can use as a template to cut out the DIY armor. If they didn't, simply cut them as large as possible, and test them in the pocket, cutting them successively until it fits to your satisfaction.

Step 4: Cut!

Start cutting. Use the metal ruler as a guide and cut along it. Use as much force as you are willing to, in order to make the cut in a single pass, if possible.

Also, make sure to use a new blade. The D3O isn't too easy to cut, though mostly due to its thickness.

Keep any large-enough leftover pieces. You can use two to make another set of custom motorcycle hip armor for casual riding pants. Similarly, you can even use it as a tailbone protector for some hardcore riding pants.

Step 5: Test Fit

Test the pad in the hip armor pockets of your pants, and trim if necessary.

Remember, you can always remove more material later, but you can't ever add it.

Step 6: Mark the Chamfer

You will want to chamfer the edges so it doesn't print beneath your clothing, as well as so it's more comfortable. Mark a line 1" (25mm) from the cut edges.

Also, mark the radiuses of the corners you will want to round.

Step 7: Start Forming the Pad!

This part is pretty easy. The coarse wheel on the grinder works wonderfully. Don't force the pad against the wheel, simply let the material flex against it with the elasticity of the material providing the effort to grind it. That way the curves will blend and you will barely be able to see the grinding marks.

Also, I really, really recommend you do this outside. Cus' dust.

Step 8: Blow Off the Grinder, and Rinse the Pads

Once you're satisfied with the shape, blow off your grinder with ye olde compressor, and wash off the pads.

Step 9: Cut Out the Ventilation Holes

The only thing I hate about these pads is that the ventilation holes always come plugged. Use a sharp hobby knife to cut them out.

Step 10: All Done!

Mark them Left and Right (at your preference) if you want. Besides that, you're all done! Hopefully you'll never have to use them, but if you do, I'm sure you'll appreciate these pads over the cheap foam pads most manufacturers include (if any).

If you finished this project, share a pic and prove it!

Anyway, thanks for reading my Instructable! Check out my profile to see what other projects I've been up to — here are some others you might like: