I wandered into Slytech’s booth during Interbike and was given the dog and pony show. Instead of rambling for days in geek-speak, the Slytech representative pulled out a series of pads—conventional EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam padding, a D3O pad and their own NoShock XT pad—and proceeded to drop a metal ball on each of them. The ball bounced impressively high on the foam pad and significantly less so on the D3O insert. When they dropped the ball onto their own NoShock pad, it sort of thought about bouncing for a millisecond or two and then just settled back on the pad as if it just couldn't be arsed.
Slytech Kneepro NoShock XT Trail Knee Pad Details
• Slytech 2nd Skin™ XT proprietary foam padding
• EN 1621-1 Level 2 certified
• Sizes: S/M, L/XL
• Weight: 510 grams a set (size L/XL)
• MSRP: $150 USD
The basic idea here? Slytech’s proprietary foam dissipates energy very well, which should mean less “Ow” when you eat shit. The question, of course, is whether or not little demonstrations with metal balls actually equate to less pain when you start plowing trail with your limbs. Slytech offers a variety of kneepads—I opted to test the Kneepro NoShock XT Trails, which, in addition to having an extraordinarily long name, is one of their burlier, trail riding options. On the Trail
While it sure shouldn’t be hard to remember to put your pads on before you squeeze into a pair of shoes, I have found myself making that error on many a pre-coffee morning. There are also a lot of people who prefer to stash their pads in their packs while climbing and only slip then on before the big descent. If you find yourself in either camp, you’ll be stoked on the Slytech’s basic architecture. As with RaceFace’s Ambush guards, the Kneepro NoShock XT Trails feature a completely open back. The pads are secured by two long straps. Getting them on and off is refreshingly simple. But do they actually stay in place? Yes, they do. Quite well, in fact. Each strap features two healthy Velcro patches and, while I had my initial doubts, I’ve yet to experience any slipping whatsoever.
The pads are also very comfortable—there’s none of the back-of-the-knee cheese gratering action going on here. Slytech claims that the pads’ hexagonal perforations also aid in improving airflow, though I can’t really speak to that as I’ve been using them in brisk to cold weather. For shits and giggles, I tried blowing on the front of the pad and, yeah, you can feel air coming out the back of them, but I think calling these (or any other heavier-duty pads) “well ventilated” would be a stretch.
Do they actually work? I’ve gone sailing over the bars a couple times since I started wearing these and, yes, they do a good job of blunting the trauma—my knees have been unscathed. That said, I wasn’t at the bike park and I wasn’t riding trails that were particularly rocky. My home trails are more of a loam and roots mix with the occasional mangling rock outcropping tossed in here and there. These pads do
meet knee and arm guard impact certifications (EN 1621-1 Level 2 certification), but it wasn’t as if I crashed several times at the same speed, on the same exact stretch of trail wearing a variety of pads from Troy Lee, RaceFace, Dakine, etc. So whether or not they are 10 or 20 or 30 percent better or worse at reducing energy transfer is, honestly, anyone's guess.
What do l like? As I said, they’re comfortable, they stay put while pedaling and they are convenient. I particularly like being able to easily remove the pad inserts when it’s time to wash and dry these things. Most importantly, they mute the devestation of crashing without being awkward and bulky. All solid points.
Downsides? First and foremost, the price is high. Pads in this category generally range in price from $60 to $100, so the $150 sticker price here is a bit of a shock. No way around that fact. Second, while I appreciate the relatively slim profile, the pads could use a bit more padding on either side of the insert. You know when you wreck and the inside of your knee smacks the hell out of your top tube or the outside of your knee bangs into Mother Earth's sharp and pointy bits? Well, in cases like that, these pads could use a bit more padding. Just a bit.Pinkbike's Take
|Very solid, comfortable and convenient pads. Definitely top-rung gear. The price though? It's a bit painful. - Vernon Felton|