Race Face Indy Knee Guards - Review

Dec 24, 2014
by Mike Kazimer  
Race Face Indy knee guard review

Race Face Indy Knee Guards

The last few years have seen bulky, hard plastic stormtrooper-style knee and shin guards knocked out of fashion by lighter, more low profile options. Race Face's Indy knee guards are the company's latest entry into this category of protection, using a layer of D3O foam at the front to provide knee and upper shin impact protection. The guards slide on and have an elastic cuff at the top and the bottom, as well as a larger adjustable elastic strap at the top of each leg for fine tuning the fit. Silicone grippers at the upper and lower cuffs help keep them from slipping and shifting. Weight: 324 grams. Price: $69.99 USD. www.raceface.com, @raceface.

Race Face Indy knee guard review
Race Face Indy knee guard review

Race Face Indy knee guard review
Race Face Indy knee guard review
The guards cover the entire kneecap and extend partway down the shin. Race Face have gone with a a simple, slip on design, using one elastic strap at the top of each leg.

On the Trail

The Indy knee guards have accompanied me on countless rides over the last few months, everything from laps in the Whistler Bike Park to long days of pedaling in Sedona, Arizona. The fact that they weigh only 324 grams and can easily be stuffed into a pack made it easy to justify bringing them along, even on rides where I might typically have chosen to forgo pads altogether. Overall, they were quite comfortable, but every once in a while the elastic strap at the top of the pads would roll up and twist behind the back of the knee, causing a slightly annoying bunching up of fabric and elastic. This usually happened on extended pedaling sections, and I never noticed it on on the downhills, but that's likely because my attention was directed elsewhere. Reaching down and straightening out the strap fixed this, but I found myself wondering if that upper strap was even necessary – the guards fit well enough that it doesn't seem like removing it would be detrimental.

Regarding durability, the fabric covering the D3O pad on the front of the guards has remained unscathed even after several scrapes with the ground, but the mesh fabric on the back and the sides has developed a couple of small rips due to slipped pedals or sharp sticks jabbing through the material. Those rips haven't extended very far, and I'd much rather have the fabric rip instead of my skin, but it's worth mentioning, especially for riders who run flat pedals with sharp pins.

When it really mattered the Indy knee guards did the trick, and whether I was bashing my knee into my stem, or getting separated from my bike after coming into a greasy turn just a touch too fast, on more than one occasion they kept me from adding to my scar collection. They also stayed in place remarkably well, something that anyone who has ever had a set of pads slide down during a crash can appreciate.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThere are more options than ever when it comes to knee protection, and Race Face's Indy knee guards are a decent addition to the field. There are a couple of issues, but they're not total deal breakers, although there is room for improvement when it comes to durability. On the whole the Indy knee guards strike a good balance between fit and function, with a low profile, lightweight design that will work well for a variety of riding styles. - Mike Kazimer


Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this review.





61 Comments

  • + 33
 Hey Santa you seeing these? Be a champ and drop a set off tonight. Merry Christmas!
  • + 7
 Me too please
  • - 13
flag minty1 (Dec 25, 2014 at 14:45) (Below Threshold)
 Has anyone really tried these. I wouldn't wear these for anything more than a vigourous wank. I'm a rf fan bit these are almost pointless,more protection wearing a nappy,sorry diaper.
  • + 1
 I have had them for awhile, as my comment below suggests. I actually think the level of protection is pretty good, depending on what kind of riding you're into. For AM of XC, they are fantastic, although I wouldn't take them to Whistler. I'm very unhappy with the overall quality of craftsmanship and fit, but I have no complaints with respect to level of protection or weight.
  • + 2
 @Minty, I have a set of these, and they're far from the knee warmer style sock offered by other brands. They look similar, but that layer of D30 isn't insignificant.
They seem to strike a very good balance.
  • - 5
flag minty1 (Dec 26, 2014 at 3:18) (Below Threshold)
 I felt they where almost useless. They offer no side coverage at all. The best I can see these doing is preventing low speed touch downs on non rocky ground. Maybe under jeans for riding ramps,but other than that I wouldn't trust them at all.
  • + 2
 If I'm riding downhill then I'd put bigger pads on, if I'm doing an all day ride where large pads are restrictive then chances are I'd choose not to wear any. These on the other hand offer a good level of protection due to the D30 and are perfectly comfortable all day. These pads simply make me more likely to pad up when I might otherwise have not. They certainly aren't 'almost useless'.
  • - 6
flag minty1 (Dec 26, 2014 at 4:25) (Below Threshold)
 Fine as long as you fall on front of your knee in soft ground,people bang on about d30 like its some kind of miracle substance,it's a high density foam not the coming of the Lord.
  • + 1
 No d30 doesn't replace any dh knee slider guard, the idea is they offer more than not wearing your knee guards for a short-long xc/am loop where pedaling comes 1st over knee protection.
  • + 8
 You what it made me really annoyed when I read that hard shell knee pads are starting to fall off the radar. I'm mean WTF? Ask your self this question....Do I want to protect my knees? If the answer is a resounding YES then for gods sake avoid soft shell foam rubbish like the plague. I was wearing one of these lovely soft shell knee pads back in 2013 and I had a crash on an xc ride and broke my knee cap. When I needed it to really protect me if let me down big time! I will now only ever wear hard shell and so will my lad. There are some great options out there from IXS , 7Protection, Dianese etc. These pads can be worn all day and offer for superior support and protection than any slip on sock like rubbish like this pad. Believe me I'm taking from experience so don't risk your knees it was the worst thing I've ever done to put my faith in soft shell.
  • + 6
 And what are the negative props for? For speaking facts from genuine experience?
  • + 2
 Hardshell all the way for me , these soft shelled things are for XC/am at the very most and for fashionistas who favor looking cool and not sweating , rather than good protection , completely ruined my knee a few years back using such pads , I would not of felt a single thing in a hardshell.

The problem with these soft pads in that when you hit the floor you dig in and it grips , wrenching your knee caps away from the body causing huge amounts of damage , where as a hardhshell just slides , you get back up and move on.

If you had a hardshell on one leg and a soft shell on the other and had to take a hammer on the knee I know which pad I would rather be wearing.
  • + 11
 Read up on d30. Its only a soft shell when not taking an impact. Thats why hard shell pads are on their way out, because they're being replaced by 'intelligent' padding. @Bigburd Id actually rather take a hammer to my raceface ambushs than my THE storms, the pad hardening actually absorbs more energy than just standard foam padding in most armour.
  • + 0
 Yeah that is how they are sold , but in reality it only firms up , I have owned all sorts of pads over the years and d30 is only good for light knocks , proper impacts go right through every time. It all depends on if you want some thing that protects from little impacts that don't hurt much or huge ones that do. Dig out one of your old hard shells and compare it to the d30 with haammer knock test , it's night and day different. The fact that they don't slide and instead try ripping your patella off is enough for me , my knees can't afford the damage. A combo of the two is probably ideal.
  • + 3
 Yeah its night and day difference, the ambushs being far better than my full knee and shins. I don't know what your going on about tbh, ive got 3 or 4 mates who also rub d30/vpd style knee pads and they all agree that the impacts are absorbed better than the hard shells they replaced. I've slid out at 20+mph and landed fully onto my knee and been absolutely fine, I think the fit of whichever pads you tried must have been awful to move that much, mine dont budge an inch
  • + 3
 I'm mostly a trail/enduro rider, and for 95% of the time, these pads or pads like them are all I need or want. A heavier pad--even a hard shell one--will tend to chafe the living shit out of the areas on the top of my knees during extended pedaling--they just won't breathe enough. If I'm park riding or shuttling on more aggressive trails, definitely something that offers more protection is the way to go. But since that kind of riding simply isn't my regular cup of tea, I'm a big fan of pads like this or the Gforms. It's all about using the right tool for the job.
  • + 3
 My hard shells look like they've been over a cheese grater a few times...never mind the impacts I don't feel. And it isn't one impact usually...but a sustained slide until I come to a stop. Hard shell for this Cat.
  • + 2
 I don't understand how people are sliding so much? Maybe on tarmac you would but on dirt its usually rough enough to make me either stop or tumble a little, ive certainly never managed to slide on just my knees
  • + 3
 We seem to have a lot of vert riders on this thread... You're spot on though metalhead, I'd rather attach a material with proven superior dampening characteristics to my knee than an alternative which inspires confidence because it looks and feels harder. Leave this one to the scientists.
  • + 2
 seriously 'f soft shell knee guards... slightly kidding allow me to elaborate. If you are hitting the dirt or any other flat surface the soft shell will be fine. If you hit your knee against a rock or a part of your bike then it could potentially slice through and cause severe damage. I don't XC ride or even AM ride in knee pads very much anymore. I should but I don't - for that- for people like me who don't like wearing them because they are not comfortable a soft shell has it's place. At least it's something. But in no way can I say they are better. When riding lift serviced trails or I'm jumping/riding stunts ... super aggressive trails.. I wear hard shell pads. And they have never let me down. My rule of thumb is if I'm slipping on a full face I slip those on. The last time I wore soft pads I ended up having my knee drained a couple days later. No thanks Smile
  • + 7
 I bought a pair of these a while back and at first I loved them, they were great super light, comfy and breathable but then after a couple of rides holes started to appear in the in the mesh on the pad and around them, and the stitching has eventually come undone. I then had a good sized crash on them and even the the pad felt super tight on my knee it managed to move around my knee, so my knee came out cut and bruised. To be fair the crash was at around 35mph but i would have expected it to have stayed in place. I would recommend the knee pads to cross county riders but to the more trail rider or 'Enduro' what ever you want to call it I would go for a bigger knee pad which is much more sturdy. I now ride race face ambush knee pads and the much better.
  • + 1
 I would concur - poor marks on durability and craftsmanship. I tend to stick with the larger, bulkier POC pads when I can get away with it.
  • + 6
 I've had these pads since the start of the summer. They are are sweet and super comfortable compared to anything I've used previously but the only downside is that as soon as you have a decent sized crash you are more than likely to get a rip at the top of the knee. Durability wise I wouldn't reccomend them. raceface was cool and replaced my first pair but as soon as I had another crash the second pair ripped in the exact same spot.
  • + 5
 No padding on the inside and outside of the knee? Frown otherwise, good looking low profile pad, but those areas of my knees are critical
  • + 1
 Agree. Just got the new troy Lee t bones and was amazing by how little protection there was on the sides of the knees.
  • + 3
 If you want side protection too, the Ambush pad is for you! Smile
  • + 1
 It's surprising how far you have to go for proper MCL/LCL impact protection. I use a compression brace under a ixs pad and it still could be loads better...
  • + 1
 agree duggles. l have been using ambush for a few months. l don't even notice them while riding. good protection. l like how you can put on/take off without removing shoes.
  • + 3
 I've been using them for quite a few month now and they are really good. The only down side is the the D30 get's really stiff in the cold. I took them on a bunch of winter rides and every time the shell is hard, so you can't really pedal up. It hasn't been much of an issue for going down though!
  • + 2
 If its that cold out put them on in the house or car? I do that with my ambushs then ride for 20miles, these should only be more comfortable over that distance
  • + 1
 Even so, I guess the warmth from my leg is not enough and they are still stiff, so that it is actually annoying to ride up with the pads on.
  • + 3
 Hey Mike, thanks for the review from a fellow Bellingham rider. I'm trying to see in the pictures how much usable coverage there is over the inside of the knee, where that bone that is magnetically attracted to the top tube during crashes resides. Can you elaborate on how much coverage there is on the sides, compared to the Dainese Trail Skins and others? Thanks, Mike!
  • + 3
 Rode the Indy's for the first time today on a ride that did not really require pads. All I can say it I did not even think about them all ride and I think on mellow to long trail, that's all you can ask for. I don't like pedaling uphill with pads but these did not bother me at all. I have the Ambush pads for gnarlier days.
  • + 2
 I feel like these would only protect against scratches and if I worried about that I sure as hell wouldn't have gotten into mtbing. Knee pads protect your knees and and when you take a rock to one you will be thankful you didn't skimp on them.
  • + 1
 I've had good luck with these and they have lasted even with a couple crashes. I've had the same problem with the top strap folding over and annoying the back of my legs. I also have to make sure they are all the way up or they will rub on the middle of the front of my shins. If they aren't completely tight they will rub back and forth and can hurt over a long ride. Generally very good pads if you are riding tame and want a little extra coverage. I wouldn't bring these to the bike park or jumping.
  • + 1
 These seem nice but if you want something more substantial check the RF Flank pads. They're very comfortable, offer more protection and can be removed without taking off your shoes.I went with the Flank because my local trails have many lose rocks which often get flinged right to my shin by the front wheel. Overal I'm impressed with tha Flank but I guess those looking for something lighter could go for the Indy.
  • + 1
 bought them as soon as they where released , they are my go to pad of choice for the most part . the arms fit too tight in the bicep area . the padding in the elbow seems like it,s jigsaw puzzle pieced together as they have separated and won,t stay in place anymore. the fabric in the legs above the kneepad is starting too thin out as well .

decent lightweight pad that can be worn for hrs and not get too uncomfortable apart the bicep strap IMO .
they offer just enough protection in a crash on the initial hit , but do move around during further impact .

IMO they need a bit more durable fabric , some kind of finger hole or pull strap to aid in putting them on and taking them off as they are like 2nd skin when one has been wearing them for hours and are sweaty/wet .

i would buy them again as i feel they are a decent all mountain pad one can wear from the start of the ride to the end without feeling like your all padded up like a football player .
  • + 1
 Ooof, I have had these for about 9 months with about 70 rides on them. A little disappointed as I've become used to RF's normal high quality goods. The mesh surrounding about 3/4 of the pad has ripped in numerous locations (not just on my pads, but others that have used them as well), and the upper plastic band rubs incessantly on my legs, causing me to not even wear them most of the time. If it were one issue or the other I'm sure that I could make them work, but compared to my POC pads that have made it 3 years of steady use, the RF pads don't impress.

I wouldn't knock the protection and weight, however, as both of those aspects have been fine.
  • + 1
 Totally agree, the POC pads are top notch. I have worn the DH-VPD2-Knees for two years now and they are still awesome. Wouldn't change...
  • + 1
 Received a set of IXS Carve knee pads yestrday. Put them on this morning. did a 6 miler, 4 up 2 down and I'm truly amazed at the fit and comfort. My last pair (name deleted) chafed the heck out of the back of my knee, could only wear them downhill. but these are nice. Now we'll see how they hold up.
  • + 1
 I have hard shell knee pads and they work awesome for days when I ride the rough stuff. But these or similar look like they would be great for the smooth flowing single track that I also enjoy riding.
  • + 0
 I've been using these for a few months now, and unfortunately, they're not durable. My first set only lasted a few rides before developing holes on the mesh. I think it was due to the top velcro coming in contact with the mesh. Race Face replaced them and I'm now extremely careful that the velcro doesn't come in contact with any part of the mesh when putting these on and taking them off, but unfortunately, several holes have began to develop anyways. If you don't mind replacing your pads every few months, these are fine, but otherwise, I'd look elsewhere.
  • + 3
 If you are a mellow rider you use melow pads and if you are a hard core rider you use hard shell kneepads thats it
  • + 2
 Ended up with Gform, ultra light weight and do the job 80% of the time.
If I'm going full balls out im always in my ambush d3o for that added protection.
  • + 1
 Love the protection of my POCs, but so damn hot in the summer. Also hate having to take off shoes to put on, but also love walking away from crashes.
  • + 3
 Look like a pair of knee-warmers not protectors.
  • + 1
 The Indy elbow ones have a series of really bad online reviews talking about the d30 melting on hot days Would probably put me off !
  • + 5
 Its ok, you live in England, we never have weather hot enough for that!
  • - 1
 I have these and the elbow pads, great in theory but they do not hold up. The inner pad is basic foam and disintegrates easily after only a few rides (I also have no falls on them). If the address the durability of the material they would be sweet.
  • - 1
 These like the fox enduro pads will protect you when you fall and slide and prevent scrapes etc. but they won't do much if anything to protect you from a rock strike to the knee. I've learnt the hard way. My old Kyle straits and six six one evos offer much more protection. It really depens on your terrain if you can get away with them.
  • + 1
 My Straights are several years old and still look like new. While I don't crash a whole lot I wear them every ride. Making it hard to justify a new purchase.
  • + 3
 These are a step above the Fox Enduro pads as far as protection goes. The D3O layer offers much more impact resistance than a layer of regular foam.
  • + 2
 It really does seem as though people don't read the article before commenting. The most important feature of these pads is the D30, and yet so many of the comments disregard this and put these pads in the same category as the Fox Enduros - clearly they don't offer anywhere near the same level of protection, they just looks somewhat similar.
  • + 1
 I asked for pads for Christmas. I am wondering what my wife got me and am hoping for something along these lines.
  • + 1
 Interesting now I want them Smile , but which one of fox / tld / raceface is the best product ?
  • + 0
 A big shop here in Vancouver says more RF pads come in for warranty issues than any other... I went with G-Form and could not have been happier..
  • - 2
 If one of the ways we're quantifying how good pads are is by their weight.
You might be off base.
But that's great that you've tried them In such famous places as Whistler and Sedona, how do you think they'd be for other places worth dropping names of like Pemberton or Queenstown?
  • + 2
 I name drop kamloops all the time lol even though I've only rode there about three or four days total!
  • + 7
 If a set of pads are light enough that it makes me more likely to toss them in my pack it's worth mentioning. And 'name dropping' Whistler and Sedona is simply a way to illustrate the different climates and terrain I tested them in. Since you asked, they also worked well in Pemberton, but I'm not sure about Queenstown - give me a few months.
  • - 2
 Nice spandex knee wraps but you forgot to include the picture of the pads
  • + 17
 Not everyone wants or needs something more substantial. There are plenty of days when I'm out on the bike for a four or five hour pedal but might end up some some sketchy stuff for a bit. I don't want to a bulky pad, I want something that feels like a knee warmer but has some minimal protection.

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