Review: Ion K-Traze Amp Zip Knee Pads

Oct 29, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  
Ion K-Traze Amp Zip knee pad review


K-Traze Amp (Zip) looks like the filename of an attachment that you probably shouldn't open, but it's actually the model name of Ion's newest knee pads. The Traze Amp pads are designed for all-mountain / enduro riding, times where there's pedaling mixed in with the descending.

The main protective element is a SAS-TEC pad, which is designed to harden up in the event of an impact, reducing the force that reaches a rider's knee. The viscoelastic pad has a thin layer of plastic on top of it, which should help block any sharp pokey things that manage to make their way through the outer layer of fabric. There's also a bit of additional foam padding on each side of the pad, but it's the SAS-TEC material that provides the bulk of the protection here.
K-Traze Amp Zip Details

• SAS-TEC viscoelastic padding
• Full length size zipper
• EN 1621-1, Level 1 certified
• Size: S, M, L, XL
• Colors: grey, blue, black
• Weight: 342 grams (pair, size M)
• MSRP: $110 USD
ion-products.com

To keep the pads relatively light and breathable, Ion uses a perforated neoprene along the sides and back of the pads, along with mesh panels and an unobstructed opening at the very back of the knee. The fit is adjusted via a single velcro strap at the top of the pads, with silicone grippers found at both the upper and lower cuffs.

The zip-on version is reviewed here, but there's also a pull-on version that costs slightly less. The K-Traze Amp (Zip) is available in size S – XL in either grey, black, or blue.

A full length side zipper makes getting the pads on and off a cinch.
A SAS-TEC pad protects the front of the knee, and there's non-viscoelastic foam padding on each side of the leg as well.

Performance

I wear knee pads on nearly every ride, not because I crash a lot, but because I know that the day I leave them at home I'll somehow end up skidding along the ground on my knees. I'm not sure why, but the gravity level seems to increase whenever I ditch the gloves or knee pads. In any case, the Ion Traze Amp pads have been in regular use for the last three months, and passed the comfort and protection test with flying colors.

As far as comfort goes, I've worn these pads on everything from long trail rides to days in the bike park and haven't had any issues. They're very unobtrusive, the type of pad you can put on and forget about until the ride is over. They're not overly hot, either, and I didn't have any qualms about wearing them on warmer summer days. For really long climbs I still usually slid them down to let my knees breath, but overall they're well ventilated. The upper cuff isn't all that tall, but the form-fitting shape of the pads kept them stayed securely in place, without needing to make the upper velcro strap uncomfortably tight.

Perforated neoprene and an opening at the back of the knee helps with ventilation.
Aside from a few stray threads here and there durability has been excellent.

The size zippers didn't cause any discomfort either, and they both still operate as smoothly as ever. A few years ago I reviewed a set of Ion pads that didn't hold up as well, but it looks like Ion's decision to go with a burlier zipper paid off. I don't usually take my pads on and off in the middle of a ride, but it's nice to have a zipper for those embarrassing instances when you realized you've put your shoes or pants on before your pads. It's a handy feature at the end of a muddy ride too, since you can unzip them and hose them off rather than sliding them down and smearing mud all over the place.

I've taken a few spills with the K-Traze pads, and in all instances they stayed in place and worked exactly as intended. They're not designed to be burly, Rampage-worthy pads, but they do a great job at providing protection from an inadvertent knee-slide through a turn, or an impromptu tumble off the trail. Ion does make the K-Pact knee guards for riders looking for more heavy duty protection, which are essentially a beefed up version of the K-Traze.


Pros
+ Comfortable & unobtrusive
+ Well ventilated
+ Zipper adds convenience

Cons
- On the higher end of the price scale for this style of pad



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesThe K-Traze Amp knee pads are comfortable, lightweight, and effective in the event of a crash – you really can't ask for much more than that. Mike Kazimer







70 Comments

  • 10 1
 @mikekazimer: are these zippers made of some sort of polymer or plastic? In my experience as a very salty sweat machine, I have corroded zippers just from my perspiration.

I have a hydration backpack which has multiple zippers almost fused shut from my sweat and I have to use various saltwater grade zipper lube to prevent this.
  • 5 0
 Start by cutting the salt lick out of your diet. Seriously though, that’s impressive and an issue I’ve yet to come across.
  • 1 1
 Had the same problem with my IXS Flow's ... had to throw them away last week due to seizing zippers. I'm hesitant to get another pair with a zip (even though it was amazing) because I want the knee pad longer than 8 months.
  • 2 0
 @Staktup, no, the zipper is metal (YKK 5cs), but the neoprene backing behind it should help prevent some of your sweat from corroding it. I've been wearing these in hot weather and on a bunch of rainy days with no signs of corrosion.
  • 4 0
 Just put candle wax on the zippers. Keeps them going.
  • 1 0
 use ppl on zippers, prevents the corrosion of my packs
  • 1 0
 @kieran: Butt lube...for zippers.
  • 1 0
 @kieran: or buy some spray for zippers..

Actually I'll never understand why the companies insist on usage of metallic zippers with teeth. Plastic 6 mm spiral zipper is everything you need. It can hold 50 kgs easily, it can be folded and will last forever.
  • 1 0
 @swartzie: Wow, I've been on my IXS flows for a year now, and their isn't even any build-up near the zipper, let alone corrosion. You guys must be some impressive (and moderately toxic) sweaters.
  • 8 4
 "Aside from a few stray threads here and there" - that thread is completely coming unstitched. Personally I find that unacceptable to happen within 3 months to something that cost $110. I've got a pair of Alpinestars pads doing the same thing after five rides. Is there a pad company that stitches (or glues, bonds, builds, etc.) with some pride in their quality or is it all sweatshops and bottom lines? (Asking for real, I'm in the market for knee pads)
  • 1 2
 If there‘s a knee pad out there, that does not come in the same Chinese sweat shop quality, I’ve yet to find it. Tried Ion, 661, Raceface, O Neal, and Alpinestars so far, and they all were nearly identical quality-wise. (The 661 seemed to hold up a little better than the rest).

As soon as you don’t just wear them occasionally in the park, but actually ride in them, all pads come apart rather quickly.
  • 4 0
 I've got some Dianese trail skins (1st gen). They have been the best wearing pads I've used so far. Survived multiple machine washes. Can't comment on where they were produced though.
  • 1 0
 *Dainese
  • 1 0
 I’ve got an old pair of POC bones vpd knee pads. The stormtrooper model. They’re worn out at this point but the protection of them has been ridiculously high. They’ve saved me from multiple injuries.
  • 1 0
 @FuzzyL: My gforms lasted me 2 years and over 6000 km of use before the padding itself fell completely apart. My new ones have lasted 2000 km with zero issue.
  • 1 0
 Thanks guys, I‘ll try Dainese, POC, and g-form next...
  • 1 0
 ...or rather I‘ll buy the one of those next that fits best.
  • 1 0
 Bought some dakines. Threads came undone completely on the first ride
  • 3 0
 I crashed hard on the new E-Traze elbows and was amazed at how well they worked. I still f'ed up my shoulder, which shows how hard the impact was.

Also, a big plus is the new SAS-tech is now able to be washed with the pads so no need to make them removable (or remove them).
  • 3 0
 How is the sizing on them? I have the K_pacts from I think 2 or 3 years ago, and they are great. But I am not the tallest person, and while I have pretty sturdy legs, I had to get the XL as everything else was too small.
  • 3 0
 Had the K-Pact for 2 years now, and as they were worn out, I ordered a new pairs of them, same size. But big surprise, obviously they changed something with the sizing. Had to go from Large (old model) to Medium (new model)
  • 1 0
 I think it's more about the circumference of your legs and not about how tall you are. I don't believe they differ too much in length...
  • 1 0
 Size down. Even with the right measurement the Large is way too big for me.
  • 1 0
 @shaerle: same here! i've bought the medium size now, which fits a lot better than the large before.
  • 1 0
 @Upduro, I typically wear a size medium from most manufacturers, and that was the case here too. I wouldn't have wanted to size down, but everyone has different proportions.
  • 1 0
 @everyone thanks for the advice. Looks like I’m gonna have to recheck the sizing on the next pair before ordering because no damn store near me carries ion stuff.
  • 1 0
 @Upduro: I ordered a pair in XL and my knees and sural (die Waden) are to big/fat for the Zip version. After that i ordered the normal version, whitout the Zip and they fit much better!
The movement with the pads is great. They don`t slide down or up and i`m not sweating that much in comparison to other brands.
  • 2 0
 "I wear knee pads on nearly every ride, not because I crash a lot, but because I know that the day I leave them at home I'll somehow end up skidding along the ground on my knees". I agree. The one day I didn't wear my knee pads I tipped over on an uphill switchback and hit my knee on a rock. After 10 months of pain and screwing with it I finally found out I tore my patellar tendon (about 30%). I had to have a full surgical rebuild of the tendon to knee cap and am facing 2-3 total years off the bike.
  • 1 0
 Have you tried/considered knee braces? They're not fun to pedal in, but for sessioning big moves and bike park they're amazing.
Just don't go for the leatts, replacement parts are too expensive and they break often.
  • 2 0
 Got these pads after trying on a few different ones, from the ones I tested these were both the most comfortable and the (seemingly) most protective. I like the zipper because I can quickly put them on after the long fire road climbing is done during alpine ascents. Haven't taken a big fall on these yet but came down pretty hard on one of the matching e traze elbow pads withoout any damage to the pad or elbow so I have quite a bit of confidence in them.
  • 5 0
 I usually put my pants on before I put my pads on. Am I doing it wrong?!
  • 2 0
 If the pads you use were made to secure to fabric, not skin, then you are good.
  • 3 0
 on a long day of pedalling i always happy to remove pads on the uphills
  • 9 0
 Pads protect your jeans if they are on the outside.
  • 6 0
 If you want to take your pants off on the uphills your pads will be in the way!
  • 3 0
 One suggestion for future reviews of knee and elbow pads: can you include a picture of the actual removable pad as well?
Maybe even tell how easy it is to remove the padding.
  • 3 0
 We typically do that, but in this case the padding is sewn in - it's not removable. You can take a look at the back of the pads here: www.pinkbike.com/photo/17897183
  • 1 0
 Ah, this must be due to the additional plastic layer on top of the SAS-TEC pad. I have the old K-Pact Zip and the pad is removable, but has no hard layer.
  • 1 0
 @InfraRed: IXS flows are great and have removable pad. 1 year and no signs of appreciable wear.
  • 4 0
 Who puts their pads before their pants?
  • 5 0
 pants, not shorts.
  • 13 0
 I prefer to put them over my pants, preferably a jean #respectthesend
  • 4 0
 The Denim Destroyer!
  • 1 0
 I do, because my shorts are in the way to properly pull up my pads (endura hummvee 3/4 shorts)
  • 4 0
 By far best pads I’ve ever owned. Will be buying another pair soon!
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer I´ve been searching that knee online and it says that the price is 99,95 or is the value on top ment to be in $CAD? just commenting as it might vary on the CONS
  • 2 0
 @mae-fr, $110 is the US MSRP - there's a good chance you'll be able to find them at certain online retailers for less.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: it´s all the pages that has them with the price of $99,95, no discount or anything...
  • 1 0
 Velcro is superior than Zipper for this type of applications.

Advantages of velcro:
- Additional adjustment to tighten up the knee pad
- Wont suffer of stiffness caused by sweat, dried mud or dirt
  • 1 0
 The pads have velcro too
  • 1 0
 The Traze Amp pads are designed for all-mountain / enduro riding, times where there's pedaling mixed in with the descending.

No Shit that's what we all do mainly BTW! LOL
  • 2 0
 High risk of "t**t gap" and consequent bike-park mockery
  • 2 1
 how does this compare to the K-pact Zip?
Is this model less protective than the K-pact?
Or, is this the new version of it?
  • 2 0
 It's in the article, K-Pact is a beefed up version of the K-Traze
  • 2 0
 The K-Pact is certified level 2 and the K-Tarze level 1.
  • 1 0
 There are some missunderstand. I have k-pact zip and it can’t be stronger then the traze. I think the articles writer swapped something...
  • 2 0
 @Basic79: nope, have a looks at Ion's site, Traze is the lighter weight of the two pads with "light impact protection"

www.ion-products.com/bike/men/body-armor/k-traze-amp

www.ion-products.com/bike/men/body-armor/k-pact-zip
  • 1 0
 @scottishmark: yes I checked, thanx.
  • 1 0
 Did ion mix up their descriptions?

K-Traze = Level 1
K-Pact = Level 2


A protector subjected to this test method is deemed to conform to this standard if the average transmitted force of nine tests is:

less than 35 kN (EN1621-1 CE Level 1), with no single test result exceeding 50 kN, and
less than 20 kN (EN1621-1 CE Level 2)
  • 1 0
 @klondick: I assume the level 1 and 2 that Ion are using is just their own grading scheme
  • 1 0
 @scottishmark: Their description references the motorcycle EN 1621 safety standard...
  • 1 2
 Don’t know why price is a con, these cost Less than the Troy lee raid knee pads which are total sweat boxes and don’t have the zipper feature.
  • 3 3
 $110 for knee pads? Haahahahahhaha
Bet they don’t even have a CE rating for the armor.
  • 1 0
 It says they are EN 1621-1 in the details blurb, that's the CE rating for knee/elbow pads for MTB and Moto.
  • 1 0
 and they cost $99,95 the price here is wrong
  • 1 0
 Yeah, that's only about 1/10 the cost of an emergency room visit. What a ripoff!
  • 1 0
 Better than pump guns?
  • 1 0
 Virus.jpg
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