Finding the right set of kneepads is hard. Much of the time people have to base their choices on a series of compromises - if they need to pedal they sacrifice protection, if they want protection they sacrifice movement. It is common for riders to have two sets, one for trail and one for downhill. But is it possible to have one single set of pads for everything? Scott may have created just such a kneepad with their new Grenade Pro II.
Development started with their original Grenade Pro pad - one of our favourite trail kneepads. What set them apart from the competition was the side protection - at the time we couldn't think of another lightweight kneepad which had at such big, confidence-inspiring pads around the side of the knee. Yet the original Grenade Pro was still a trail pad. When things got ugly, they got out of their depth. This was especially noticeable if you took a big digger, as they didn't stay in place too well for the second and third hits. The new Grenade Pro II was designed to provide the comfort of the original, with true DH-level protection.
The amount of protection these pads provide is obvious just looking at them - from the big pad out front, to the comprehensive cover down the sides.
Picking up a set of Grenade Pro II knees for the first time, they feel big, like a proper downhill kneepad. They are similiar in size to a set of Troy Lee T-Bones and are much more substantial than their predecessor. Across the face is a huge main pad covering the kneecap and the top couple inches of shin. The main pad is accompanied by four side pads and a strip of padding between the main pad and the top strap. The main pad is covered with plastic strips to re-enforce the fabric and stop it from ripping when you crash. You start to appreciate the thought that has gone into these when you realise that the lower, outside side pad is also covered in the same plastic as the face because it tends to be where people rip through the material and trash their pads. Poking around them while they are on your knee what becomes apparent is the coverage - there are no sneaky holes for a stray rock to take a poke at your knee through.
It's all about the details - things like the joint mid-way down the front of the face to allow the pads to move freely and not be restricted by the material. Popping the extra foam pad out from the front you can see how much coverage it offers and get a glimpse of the orange wonderstuff that is D3O.
At the heart of the protection is a D3O liner - a big piece of it sits behind the face of the pad. If you're not familiar with the stuff, it's a very pliable material (kind of like Play-Doh) that becomes hard and tough upon impact. That means the pads are soft and flexible under normal conditions, but it's like a hard shell if you thump it into something. Sitting behind the D3O cup is a second foam shell to further diffuse the force of the impact.Out on the Trail
Where these pads separate themselves from any other pad out there is on fit. The original Grenade Pro pads had a strap at the top and the bottom, like most other pads. Studying them, Scott realised that it meant the lower strap tightened halfway down the calf and could slip down relatively easily. On the Pro II, the strap has been moved up, just an inch or so, so that it sits at the top of the calf and uses the natural shape of your leg to keep it in place. Because they hold so well at the bottom, the advice from Scott is to barely tighten the top strap, allowing the blood to flow down your leg freely. All this adds up to a pad that stays in place incredibly well, without restricting your movement or circulation. In short, that makes the new pads very good to pedal in, which is surprising, considering the bulk of the pad. To reduce the bulk slightly, there is also the option of removing the foam pad from the knee - it pops out through a slit at the back - although we have never felt the need to.
This is why they fit so well - you can see here that the lower strap resting above the calf muscle, using the natural shape of your leg to keep everything in place.
Of course, the big question with any kneepad is; do they work when you stuff them into the ground at speed? For our money, they take the big hits as well as any downhill-orientated, hardshell pad out there. We'd struggle to tell the difference in a blind crash test. Their size is quite reassuring too, you feel well-protected in these. Importantly, they also stay in place if when you hit a few things before you come to a stop.
Putting Grenade Pro II pads to the test on-board the new Scott Gambler. Photo by Will Walker
The only two slightly negative things we can find to say about the Grenade Pro IIs are that they are a bit hot and they aren't cheap. Because of their size, your knees do heat up if you are pedalling for long distances, that's unavoidable. It's not to the point of discomfort, more the point of noticing, so unless you're ultra-picky about such things, you shouldn't worry about it. And then there's the price - yeah, there's no denying they are a lot of money and cynics out there could suggest you could buy a couple of sets of cheaper kneepads for the same price.
MSRP: $135.95USDwww.scott-sports.comPinkbike's Take:
|Scott's Grenade Pro II could well be the best kneepad out there right now. They provide downhill-levels of protection with trail comfort and they stay in place better than anything else we have used thanks to the clever position of the lower strap. Scott have proved beyond doubt that it's possible to make a single kneepad suitable for every type of riding, but it does come at a price. - Matt Wragg|