About Flex-On stirrups
Flex-on has totally re-invented the stirrup, creating a revolutionary design based on the founders' unique combination of high-tech engineering expertise and high-level competitive riding experience.
What makes them special
Flex-on stirrups provide an extraordinarily stable and comfortable ride that has to be experienced to be believed. They feature a number of unique design features:
- Ultra-lightweight yet strong frames: The carefully designed frames and footbeds use aerospace-grade aluminium (Pro model) or high-tech composites with steel core (Balance model) to produce a stirrup weighing only 450g. The composite model's steel core protects against the risk of breakages experienced with some composite-framed stirrups.
- Innovative frame design: Unlike normal stirrups, the stirrup-leather slot in Flex-on frames is off-set and skewed at an angle. This, combined with a carefully designed inclined footbed helps achieve an ideal leg position, dramatically adding stability and confidence and reducing stress and strain on the hip, knee and ankle joints
- Shock absorption: Elastomers built into the base of the footbed, plus the carefully designed flex characteristics of the frame itself, help the stirrup absorb shocks and vibration, again improving comfort and reducing strains.
- Ergonomic footbed with "Ultra-grip" studs: The footbed is inclined at a carefully designed angle to match the natural heel position, while small studs built into the footbed (which don't pierce boot soles or the skin) grip the rider's boot to help prevent slipping and give an excellent connection with the horse.
The range: Balance composite vs. Pro aluminium
The range consists of the standard "Balance" model and the premium "Pro-Balance". Both incorporate the same engineering with all the features outlined above, but the Pro model features a frame of milled out of solid aerospace-grade aluminium, rather than the less expensive to manufacture steel reinforced composite of the standard model. In addition, the Pro model features four-point support between the frame and footbed rather than the two point support in the composite model, which can provide greater stability when coming down hard off jumps.
In general terms, we would recommend the Pro model for high-level competitive jumping and event riders. For others, the composite model typically works equally well at a rather lower cost, and offers a greater range of options to customise the colour scheme of the stirrups.
Flex-on used to produce a Junior model of their Composite stirrups, but have now discontinued it.
They have also recently released a new "Safe-on" range of composite-based safety stirrups, which we also sell, and are developing a Junior version of these.
Flex-on offers a uniquely wide range of options, outlined below, that allow the rider to customise the stirrups to their requirements and tastes. Based on our own testing and feedback from riders we've selected what we believe to be the best technical options (covered below). We hold stock of stirrups made with these recommended options, and in the most popular colours. We are able to order from Flex-on any other configuration of options desired, with a typical lead-time of 1-3 weeks.
Frame/elastomer colours: The Pro stirrups come in three frame colours, the
composite model offers many more options. Both models also allow you to choose the colour of the elastomers under the footbed (the effect of these is more visible with the larger elastomers of the composite model). See the product pages for detail on the colour options available for each model.
For the Balance models, we hold in stock for immediate delivery in black, dark grey and brown frames with matching elastomers, with other options available with 1-3 weeks' lead time. We hold stock of all three Pro frame colour options, all with black elastomers.
Custom Inserts: Both models incorporate plastic inserts that sit in slots built into the top part of the frame: these are held in place by magnets and can be easily swapped. Flex-on supplies the stirrups as standard with black inserts, with the "on" in Flex-on coloured to match the elastomers. But there is a large variety of inserts with various colours and designs, including national flags, that can be ordered to replace these - see the "Custom Inserts" product for more detail.
Our stock products come with the standard black insert provided by Flex-on.
- Footbed shape: Flex-on offer two main footbed shapes: a "Mixed Inclination" footbed that has two sections at different angles, and a simpler "Inclined" shape with a single angle - see diagram. There is also a flat footbed option, as well as a specially shaped deeper footbed for endurance riding which is offered only on a specific endurance model only. In our own testing with various riders, the mixed inclination footbed was universally preferred, both for jumping and dressage: this is the one we recommend, and fit to our stocked versions. Flex-on themselves tend to recommend the inclined footbed, particularly for jumping, but it must be borne in mind that French jumpers are trained to ride with a shorter leg than is normal in the UK. We have encountered several customers who have bought Flex-ons with inclined footbeds from other outlets, only to find the stirrups hurt due to the stretch on their calf and achilles tendon: a switch to mixed inclination footbeds tends to cure this issue.
- Footbed options - "Grip" vs "Ultra-Grip": Flex-on also supply their main footbed shapes in two variations: "Grip", with a plain composite gridded surface, and "Ultra-grip" which have additional stainless steel studs embedded in the surface for extra grip. We strongly recommend the "ultra-grip": it greatly adds to grip and stability; we supply ultra-grip as standard with our stocked stirrups (the only exception is for children and very light-weight adults, where we recommend the version without studs). We have had no negative experience with the studs damaging boot soles or causing injury, nor holding the boot in during falls. The studs are also legal under Dressage rules.
- Interchanging footbeds: The four main footbed types - mixed & inclined, grip and ultra-grip, can be readily interchanged on an existing stirrup. We keep stock of all four footbed variants (mixed vs./ inclined, grip vs. ultra-grip) and are happy to swap over to these where a customer wishes (eg for children).
- Footbed surround colour : The footbed inserts described above are always black. Traditionally these have been set into a light grey composite platform on the Balance stirrups, but Flex-on now offer the option of specifying with a black or white surround. Our standard stock Balance stirrups come with light grey surrounds, and unless otherwise specified custom orders will also be supplied with light grey surrounds.
Flex-on have informed us that they are discontinuing the mixed footbed type that we have generally recommended for UK riders, and can now no longer supply this footbed type. At the moment we still have stock of Composite stirrups in black, grey and brown and Alu stirrups in Sidereal Grey with mixed ultra-grip footbeds, but we regret we can now only supply custom stirrups with inclined or flat footbeds. We have ordered a couple of pairs of stirrups with flat footbed to offer as testers and will be very interested in feedback on these.
Scientific testing results
Flex-on have submitted their stirrups for a scientific study comparing their effects to those of two other brands, including another high-end design. The study, conducted by Sport Controle, a respected French organisation specialising in biomechanical and other sport-related assessments, measured both the riders' posture and movement through kinematic analysis and accelerometer measurements. These showed improved riding position and less stress on the riders' joints compared with the other stirrups, which was also borne out by the riders' subjective comments.
See Flex-on's own site here for further details.
See our Flex-on range here
See reviews of Flex-on stirrups here
See also the video below setting out the Flex-on range and options