Crash Tested: iXS Trigger Knee Pads

Apr 22, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  
iXS Trigger review


iXS's new Trigger knee pads are aimed at riders who are looking for a little extra protection without crossing all the way over into the extra-burly downhill realm – something that's pedalable, but can still help reduce the reprecussions of a solid hit. The design is similar to iXS's popular Carve model, but the Trigger has an additional hard plastic section that's sewn to the outside in the mid-shin area.

The bulk of the pad's protective properties comes from an Xmatter foam insert that's designed to be flexible when pedaling, and then harden up upon impact. There's also non-viscoelastic foam on each side and the very top of the pad. Two velcro straps help adjust the fit, and the back panel is constructed from a mesh fabric for extra breathability.
iXS Trigger Details
• XMatter padding
• Asymmetrical design
• Silicone gripper on upper cuff
• Sizes: S-XXL
• Weight: 540 grams (med)
• EN1621-1:2012 certified
• $139.95 USD
bike.ixs.com

Available in size S-XXL, the Trigger knee pads retail for $139.99 USD.


iXS Trigger review
The pads provide a good deal of coverage while still maintaining a relatively slim profile.
iXS Trigger review
A ventilated mesh panel runs down the back of each pad, and two velcro straps are in place to adjust the fit. And yes, my leg looks broken from this angle. It isn't.

Performance

The Trigger knee pads do look big and a little bulky, especially sitting on a shelf next to more minimalist models, but they're much more form fitting I'd expected, and the overall profile is slim enough that they can fit under most downhill pants without any trouble. They're also nice and comfortable when pedaling – I didn't experience any chafing or hot spots, and they remain surprisingly cool considering how much coverage they offer. You'll obviously still sweat more than if you weren't wearing knee pads at all, but the fabric and the cutouts in the Xmatter foam do allow for a decent amount of ventilation.

I took a massive slam while wearing these pads, a crash that involved getting thrown from my bike and into a jumble of extra sharp rocks. My helmet was destroyed, the dropper post lever looked like it'd been run over by a truck, and I had a new collection of deep cuts on my arm and ankle that were in need of some immediate attention. My knees? Unscathed, despite the fact that a good portion of the impact was delivered to my left knee. The fabric on that pad was ripped, and the layer of hard plastic had some nice skid marks, but that was it. Ideally, the fabric wouldn't have ripped, but these rocks were about as sharp as it gets, veritable stone razor blades.

The fact that my knees didn't even get cut or bruised at all counts as a win in my book, although I think that the next step for iXS should be to put a layer of plastic on the center of the knee. After all, that spot's more likely to hit the ground than the shin area, at least in my experience, and the plastic would help keep them from sticking and ripping on rocks. I'd also like to see the upper cuff extended a little further, something I mentioned when I reviewed iXS's Flow knee pads. Just another inch or two of material would prevent any unwanted skin exposure, and keep them even more securely in place, although they didn't slip at all during my rock garden tumble.


iXS Trigger review
A big crash ripped the fabric, but my knee was unscathed.
iXS Trigger review
A removable viscoelastic 'Xmatter' foam pad provides the bulk of the Trigger's protection.




Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe Trigger knee guards are comfortable and effective, no matter if you're out on a trail ride or knocking out laps in the bike park. A layer of plastic over the knee cap would take them to the next level, but as it is they're a very worthy option. Mike Kazimer








94 Comments

  • + 67
 Shove a bit of fabric inside and throw an iron-on patch on that tear. Good to go. Source - my 1970s frugal mom.
  • + 17
 Bonus points if it's a hot wheels or Expo 67 iron on.
  • + 2
 Been running the same Leatt pads for years and they still going strong with no tears, maybe I just prefer to use my hands and arms to land on though....
  • + 1
 IXS changed the material on the pads about 12 months ago and it's not as durable as the previous stuff. I still find them the most comfortable pads going, but do wish they went back to the older material that was bombproof.
  • + 17
 This is great - actual crash experience. Maybe you can have Levy hide behind an unspecified tree on a descent with a broomstick, and toss it in your front wheel as you pass by for every kneepad review?
  • + 10
 Yeah I tried to implement this with the team but they weren't receptive for some reason. Something about lawyers and work safety standards? Smile
  • + 4
 @brianpark: Maybe get Steve-O to do that sorta testing for you guys.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: Yeah I wonder what OSHA has to say about full send off a gap jump.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: I would think though, to best duplicate real world scenarios, the riders shouldn’t be aware of a coming crash. Thus, only @mikelevy needs to be on board with the excercise...
  • + 12
 I have these. They're expensive, yes, but they're some of the most comfortable knee pads I've ever worn. Huge fan of the dual velcro straps but I really like where the lower strap is positioned. They don't ride up and down. And the shin coverage is great. I smash my pedals on my shins when it does happen and these protect that area. I crashed once or twice on them, but the plastic piece actually acted as a slider and I have no damage to the fabric. I love these knee pads.
  • + 2
 I've had these as well and found them to be great all around, although I will add that the material on the back seems to tear and stretch very easily. Mine are about 2 months old and I already have a few holes back there. I'm not sure how much it impacts anything, though, the main points of retention are the top and bottom.
  • + 2
 I think the slide effect of the hard shell is something we don't talk about enough. With d3o and the like, I think the impact absorption is on par with some hardshells but no shell means no slide and I'm not willing to give up that feature. Personally I run 7idp controls but same idea
  • + 1
 @shinook: gotta be real careful not to tear the hose fabric around the back, it's like tissue paper. Always has been on IXS pads. I usually end up putting a panel of lycra over the damaged hose.
  • + 15
 Anyone else remember when knee pads were reasonably priced?
  • + 35
 Yeah, I remember when knee pads resembled Master chief’s armor, weighed 3 lbs each and turned your shoes into sweat pools in 60F degree heat. Innovation comes with a price
  • + 14
 Don't worry. You can still pick up a pair of these bad boys for $27.95

www.jensonusa.com/Fox-Launch-Sport-Knee-Guard
  • + 5
 anyone else remember when health care was reasonably priced! Smile
  • + 2
 @EASIV: thanks
  • + 5
 I admit... I'm a bargain hunter. Ballin on a budget. However when it comes to protecting yourself, the extra $$$ is worth it.
  • + 1
 Yeah right. Like i would wearing 50$ pads with my 5000$ bike.
  • + 2
 @VicSandrin: No. It's always been a ripoff. Unlike IXS product!. When is IXS going to release a one size fits none plastic cast guard, won't even call it a pad, like @EASIV mentioned above?
  • + 1
 @Highgearcyclery: We are going to make them just for you Paul! Smile
  • + 1
 @Highgearcyclery: My comment was a little tongue in cheek. I have a pair of the IXS Flow knee pads which have been awesome and I use them for everything from the average ride to days at the bike park. Quality protection is expensive but IMO the combination of comfort and protection provided by good gear is worth the cost.

That said I have also owned a pair of the Fox Launch pads and while they lack in style they still provide protection and do it at a reasonable price if you do not want to spend the extra $$$.
  • + 1
 @VicSandrin: as a Canadian, I can say yes, currently.
  • + 2
 The best pads are pads you ware all the time, happily put on all the time, not the pads that are amazing at protecting you but horrible to ware so most of the time you don’t bother putting them on. This is where IXS flows in my case win for me. I don’t notice them at all riding or walking, they never slip or need adjusting. They do also work, I’ve taken a good number of big hits to my knees and yes may have ended up friction burnt and lost a little skin but never bruised or broken. My last pair I tore the back mesh where it’s stitched to the front section, they were almost 2 years old though so I just bought a new pair (and cut the inserts out and put them in my o’neil vest to replace the uncomfortable hard pads it had). Mine didn’t fall apart from being washed, I only ever wash bike kit at 30oC on minimum cycle though.
  • + 1
 Broken helmet hows your head ? what helmet ? I thought all the recent hype about head injuries was bs because I've had about 30 years of head injuries with no problem until I broke 2 helmets after the last fox dh helmet my brain was scrambled for a day or 2
  • + 3
 I broke a Bell Super DH, and my head is fine. The helmet did its job perfectly.You can see the dent / damage here: www.pinkbike.com/photo/17122953.
  • + 2
 @mikekazimer: Glad you're fine man. Cheers!
  • + 4
 @mikekazimer: Deformation is the whole point. Maybe these naysayers would also like a car without crumple zones?
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: glad your ok I'd try to avoid another head injury for awhile they really do add up
  • + 1
 I guess here's a good a place as any. I also crash tested some pads, Fox Launch Pro's, with the plastic cup armor. They held up pretty well thru some small crashes over 4 years, but last fall I had a high speed pogo event over a series of whoops that sent me OTB. This crash broke the plastic armor but saved my knees. In general the pads tended to move a round a bit, so I had to readjust every so often. They were also bigger than I'd like (hitting the bars on climbs) and were sweaty on hot days (what pads aren't). I never left them at home and in the end they did their job. I walked away unscathed.

I replaced them with TLD Raid Knee pads (114$) which are similar to the iXS pads (flexible but dense foam). I am not looking forward to reviewing them, but so far they are noticeably lower profile and slightly more comfortable than the Launch Pros. For the money (60$) the Launch Pros were great, but I will not miss their bulkiness.
  • + 3
 I’ve taken a load of crashes over the years, and a pair that had me in the ER, all with the same set of POC VPD 2.0 kneepads. The fabric has yet to tear. Just saying.
  • + 1
 LOVE my POC VPD 2.0, shame they've developed a nasty squeek when pedaling Frown
  • + 10
 @irollones: Sure it's not your knee? WD-40!!Wink
  • + 2
 @krashDH85: long live the Tin Man!
  • + 1
 Seems like those are the best "mid-weight" knee pad. I need to get a legit pair of knee pads. Went OTB last night on my Paragons and while it worked on dirt, it slid down and my upper knee is without much skin from the abrasion. Would you just stick with the POC VPD 2.0 for all purpose use or would you get something else if you did it again? Do the POC's have enough coverage?

My kid has the IXS knee pads (like these in the pic), they work well but the X-Matter seems really firm. They've definitely protected him (his G-Forms sucked) tho the material wears on the back of his legs.
  • + 2
 @Svinyard: I’m so sold on the 2.0s that I bought a pair of their lighter weight knee pads... crashed on them a few times and they’ve torn in the span of 1.5 season. Usable, but torn.. The 2.0s are ancient at this point. Would buy again.
  • + 5
 I love my IXS, so comfortable and useful!
  • + 3
 Why dont more manufactures built a hard shell on top of the fabric like the Fox Lauch Pro?
You can even buy the caps if they are used up.
  • + 5
 Testing shows that, even though intuitively a hard shell outside feels more protective, it actually is worse at attenuating impact forces than a soft pad only. German mag did a big lab test on this - enduro-mtb.com/en/the-best-mtb-knee-pads-you-can-buy The plastic does provide a slippery surface though for sliding which can help, but for direct hits it might not actually be the best option. This was a surprise to me.
  • + 5
 @bicycle019: I do think that slippery sliding surface really is important actually. You rarely have a straight impact on the knee, there is always some sideways motion. The less you introduce into your knee, the better (it seems to me). I don't think Enduro-MTB did oblique impact tests like that, as currently is being introduced in helmet testing. That said, iXS has the Dagger kneepad. I've been using these for a few years now, they're great. Sure that "squeeze box" (whatever it is for) has ripped off and it has some deep grooves and scratches. But they really are comfortable enough to pedal in. Before these, I had Sixsixone Tomcat where the hard shell is under the fabric. Fairly good but it still moves around more as the shell now slides inside the pad instead of with respect to the rock or whatever you were hitting.

The article from Enduro-MTB is from a while ago so I need to read it again, but I do recall being confused by that particular claim. Sure the viscoelastic material may be better at absorbing straight impacts but are these the kind of impacts we see most in mountainbiking and which are the most harmful, or are oblique impacts actually more harmful? And also, if this material really is that great, why wouldn't they also use it in the top end hard shell covered pads? That would be the best of both worlds. Considering the kind of money we're willing for protection these days, I'm sure there will be a market for it.
  • + 1
 @bicycle019: thats why the hard shell is over the D30 foam thingy... You get the good absorbtion from the D30 but it will slide over the surface and last longer because of the hard shell.

And they are really comfortable- not like real hard shell protectors Smile

Ive got Scott Grenade- they are bit hot but atleast really sturdy and safe... My Dainese Trailskin on the other hand are way less safe but more comfortable.
  • + 0
 @NotNamed: To add to your commets, the hard shell dissipates the impact over a bigger surface, while a fabric cover would allow the object to pierce/concentrate the hit on a given point. Add a viscoelastic foam on the back, and the chances of getting out of a crash with a serious bruise/lession will certainly be lowered.
  • + 1
 We do have hard cup pads but the soft pads sell 40 to 1 over the hard pad. The Plastic will do better in some crash situations but the comfort of soft pads far outweigh the benefits of hard cups.
  • + 0
 Between my Paragons and my newer POC vpd air (with upper velcro strap) I've had quite a few crashes. The biggest fault I find with soft pads is they get pulled down easily in a crash and I still end up with scraped up knees. I honestly think a hard shell would be much better and let the pad slide instead of giving up like a little bitch once it snags ground/rocks.
  • + 3
 @generationfourth: The metal plate I had installed 6 months ago in my elbow says that if you land on a rock and end up with "scraped up" skin that the soft pad has done its job.
  • + 2
 @VicSandrin: Do you mean to say that hard shell pads provide better protection but comfort is more important? I've got to say I've never ridden with these soft pads but my iXS Dagger hard shell pads don't bother me one bit when pedaling or moving around on the bike. It may be different for others but for me it isn't worth getting more comfort if it implies more injuries. I do understand that everyone draws the line somewhere else of course.
  • + 2
 @vinay: I think for most people they want protection and comfort. Our soft pads offer great protection, Pass the EN1621 moto standard!, but I feel that overall a plastic pad will protect better. But at the end of the day people will sacrifice slightly to have a pad that is more comfortable.
I totally agree the Dagger pads are super comfortable and offer great protection but sales wise we sell way more soft pads because of the comfort factor.
  • + 1
 @VicSandrin: Thanks. Good that we have the choice to ride with whatever suits us best Smile !
  • + 1
 I’m running the Carve pads. Comfy enough but too short at the top. I hit my knee last year right near the top where the pad is thin. These seem similar and that is a failing grade for me. But many pads out there are not tall enough.
  • + 3
 Wouldn't want a plastic layer on top. I get it for the shin where there's no movement and a lot of pedal strikes, but the knee needs ventilation more than anything.
  • + 1
 Front ventilation is almost a joke with 90% of all pads (with exception of some minimalist models) so a little bit of plastic can make wonders and maybe you couldn't even tell the difference.
  • + 1
 Question Mike. The pads, after you crashed in them, how long did you keep riding in them? That worries me having the fabric torn and with the motion of pedaling it keeps tearing. Never seen a company put such a thin fabric/material in front of the pad for more obvious-ish reasons. Looks like a good pair though. Thought Id ask.
  • + 5
 Unlike the foam in a helmet, these viscoelastomer pads can take multiple hits. The thin cover is of no consequence; it's thin for weight savings. I'd have thrown a stitch or a patch on the tear and kept it in play until I buy the next new thing.

Mike Kazimer gets the next new thing every couple of weeks.
  • + 0
 @Geochemistry: No I know how the pads work. The pads only work if they are secured though. With a slash like that it would suck to be on a trip or something and see your pads actively tearing away from your knee.
  • + 1
 I can't justify switching from a thin plastic cap to pure fabric, no matter the weight savings any brand claims. Plastic slides over rocks and dirt, while most of the fabrics will get hooked by the terrain and shred to pieces.
  • + 4
 I have similar IXS pads (Flows) and I'll just add that it'd take a BIG hit to tear the fabric. It can be patched/sewn like anything else.

I've been using my pads for around 2 years now. I got a small tear early on in the back of my pad and sewed it up no problem. The sew job has lasted this whole time. Also, I wear them every ride.

If I were riding DH I'd get plastic pads that can skip and won't tear, but at normal trail speeds I haven't had any issues.
  • + 6
 @chillrider199, I rode them for a handful of rides after the crash, and I'll be patching them up in the near future, likely using the technique that @JRutter and his mom suggest - it's on my to do list.
  • + 1
 I just crashed on my paragon pads. It was just hard dirt. They took the impact fine but slide down and REALLY scrapped the upper part of my knee. That's not going to work. I'll get something next with a strap up top, but I can see what a thin plastic upper might be nice to help slide across and not fabric that gets hung-up and pulls your pad down.
  • + 2
 Is the outer material of the #kevlar variety? That stuff usually lasts multiple crashes. My old 661s have no tears despite many crashes.
  • + 1
 Looks like pretty standard ripstop nylon
  • + 4
 It is made of Kevlar, but sounds like Mike landed in some pretty sharp rocks. Even Kevlar can get sliced but the knee pad did it's job in a bad crash scenario. Not sure what more it could have done. Every crash is different, just because you have never experienced a cut in your pads doesn't mean it can't happen. Sounds like you have been pretty lucky with your falls, hopefully you never have to truly "test" out your pads! Smile
  • + 1
 @VicSandrin: Sure, the fact that Mike was walking after the crash means it must have worked pretty well. I am now wearing ION K pacts which have a far better fit than my old 661 KS pads. I agree that fit is key. I have had pads move and suffered injuries I would not have had they stayed put. This aspect has been ignored for too long by manufaturerers and reviewers. IXS should try and make some inroads into teh market down in SA, small as it is :-)
  • + 1
 Nice looking knee pads here.....but curious What is everyone's feeling about D3O smart foams, vs other Smart Foams like Xmatter seen here?
  • + 4
 curious what you are implying Stick? I know you guys use D3O in your pads, are you wondering if people like what you guys have as opposed to ours? or VPD, RPT, or the others? Do you think D3O is better than what us or others are doing? I know D3O put in a lot of marketing in the early days, but it seems like G-Form has stolen a lot of that thunder they had.
Our X-Matter works a little differently than D3O but honestly I think design is what makes the most difference. If the pad doesn't move on falls it will protect best, if it moves on a fall, it doesn't matter what you got it will fail it's job of protecting you. Our pads do a nice job of staying in place in crashes.
  • + 1
 D3 is pretty amazing. I've got some Klim jacket and pants with D3 that I use for long multi day backcountry dirt bike trips and enduro touring on the KTM. It is pretty stiff until the heat of your body warms it up though but after that, it's incredibly pliable.
  • + 1
 @VicSandrin: Vic, no implications-truly. The smart foam offerings are getting so good these days, curious what the PB fans think of them all, our brand uses some other smart foams as well as D3O, and perform well also. The new range of pads from IXS looks fantastic and you hit the nail on the head with proper fit/not moving in a fall being very important.
  • + 1
 @stikmanglaspell: yeah, I agree that all of these foams these days are pretty darn good. And way,way better than my Hammer pads of 1990! haha
I still think plastic pads protect better, but as you know everyone wants the soft pads.
Good thing, also, is more people are wearing protection which is making our sport more fun for the beginner coming in, less worry of shredding themselves.
  • + 1
 Bought AlpineStars pads after destroying my knee on the dirt jumps. That lower strap on these however looks very well placed.
  • + 1
 So the improvements taht you are describing for the trigger pads would leave you with the design of the dagger pads! Which are great by the way.
  • + 1
 All my ixs stuff falls apart... For instance will the pad insert crumble in the wash like my original ixs flow pads?
  • + 1
 Why not just go for the Daggers? I'm not a fan of fabric pads because they rip.
  • + 2
 too bad the mesh at the back of IXS pads tears soooo easily
  • + 1
 Aye, looked good but entropy taken over all too quickly ..mesh tears all too easily, foam has broken & started to crumb at base of the pad ‘pocket’. Had to wire the top strap eyelets in place to allow proper tension for the Velcro strap on leg and these are 12 months old. Still running em but as trying to get some value out of em
  • + 1
 You should do this more often! It's very cool to see how armour holds up to crashes
  • + 3
 I try to avoid crashing at all costs, but I do typically hold off on reviewing a set of pads until they've touched dirt at least a time or two.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: Mike, do you have a top 3 "mid-weight" pads that you think are both comfortable for a little of everything and also fairly protective for bigger crashes? I'm considering the POC VDP 2.0 but these look interesting as well. Hard to know what works and is comfy enough.
  • + 1
 material looks like it comes up way to short, above knee compared to others like 7idp
  • + 1
 Very poor customer service and knee pads frequently break into 2 pcs in the middle - not cool
  • + 1
 Curious of your customer service experience, we usually take care of warranties here in the US pretty quickly and without much nonsense. But, like all pads that use a similar foam you need to take care on how they are stored, storing them bent can cause the foam to split.
  • + 1
 Why have IXS pads changed to grey?? Black is so much better..
  • + 1
 Not how X-Matter pad material works. The pads are comfortable though.
  • + 1
 Excellent review I'd like to see more crash test if you don't mind
  • + 1
 Crash Test Dummy Wink
  • + 1
 How much do they weigh?
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