If you're looking for a set and forget style knee pad that won't end up in a meme, the K-Sleeve AMP might do the trick. Ion's knee pads might ring a bell with their sought after and burlier K-Trace AMP Zip knee pad
that has easy on and off convenience, as the name suggests.
The K-Sleeve AMPs are geared towards the rider spending all day in the saddle, but who would rather avoid hobbling into the office on Monday. They offer a lighter amount of impact protection in a slim design that is also fuss free.
Ion K-Sleeve AMP Details
• SAS-TEC pad insert
• EN1621-1 certified
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Colors: black
• Weight: 320 grams actual (size large)
• MSRP: $84.95
The pads inserts are made by SAS TEC. It is a PU foam like other protection inserts on the market except SAS-TEC foam is not based on mineral oil but on renewable raw materials (vegetable oil). This meets Ion's internal "Save Our Playgrounds" sustainability requirements.
On the front face of the three dimensionally curved and flexible padding, is Ion's "No_Sew" material. The durable swath is laminated on and said to stand tough against tearing and promotes the pad to slide on the ground, should you hit the deck.
The word "sleeve" in the product name refers to the slip on, strap free arrangement. Instead of velcro closures, there are elastic cuffs with silicone grippers on the inside, along with stretchy bit above the calf muscle. Behind the knee, near the bottom of the pads, lies a mesh material to circulate fresh air. Fashion mongers won't bother poking at these stealthy knee pads because the branding is less obtrusive and the over length of the sleeve won't reveal any thigh gap, unless you're wearing short shorts.
Fit and Price
As always, fit and sizing can be troublesome when trying to convey 3-D shapes into a length. I typically wear a size medium in knee pads ,and despite referencing the sizing chart the medium was impossible to slide on further than my calf. Even the elastic cuffs of the large size were on the tighter side and didn't change shape after a wash, thankfully. The absence of velcro straps saves on the bulkiness of the pad, but it would be best to try these on before purchasing a set. The fit can be smaller than most and the range of the stretch is also less. The pad coverage is an average length, but a little shorter than the Fox Enduro Pro knee guards, for example.
The $84.95 MSRP is a little on the high side for lesser protection, but I think it goes beyond that to the quality and workmanship of the pad. The long-term durability hasn't been put to the test, but so far there are no signs of the stitching fraying or delimitation of the front slide zone.
The K-Sleeve AMP pads offer a comfortable, fuss-free fit and keep the air flowing. The elastic material above the calf muscle keeps the pad in check and top cuff is lengthy to avoid an unsightly gap.
In action, these pads are super comfortable, are well ventilated, and don't rub anywhere. They also punch above their weight class for impact resistance and stay securely in place. I actually had a massive, scorpion style crash on my first ride with these pads. The ground was fairly soft, but there was a web of roots near the crash site. The SAS-TEC pad material dissipated energy well like other PU foams. I was able to brush off my intact knees and retreat back to the parking lot. The K-Sleeve AMPs get a giant checkmark in my books.
Further right-side up riding revealed that these knee pads do breath well and I gladly left them in place for climbing. I did find that the silicone, like almost all joint protection these days, irritates my skin after wearing them for an extended amount of time. Although, that might be more of a "me" problem.
Behind the knee, inside the sleeve, are two overlapping seams where the pad insert can be removed. The 3-D curvature of the padding removed any initial thoughts I had about chafing in this area, and I never noticed the seams once while pedaling. The lowering leading edge of some padding can sometimes cause chafing or a pressure point in the shin area, but I never experienced any unwanted points of contact here either.
The "No_Sew" material laminated to the outside of the pad is abrasion resistant and helps the pad slide, keeping it in place if it meets the dirt.
Rounded padding fits natural knee position without chafing+
"No_Sew" material slides on impact, keeping pads in place+
Long sleeve prevents dreaded "thigh gap" +
Overall tight fit, even when going by Ion's recommended sizing-
Silicone grippers can irritate skin after prolonged use