Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve - Review

Oct 31, 2016
by Olly Forster  
Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve Review
After six months of regular use and abuse, they've held up remarkably well.

Troy Lee Designs' new D3O equipped Speed Knee Sleeve pads are aimed at the rider looking to maximize an appropriate amount of protection for trail riding, without compromising comfort. Hardening upon impact, D3O offers a series of benefits, even if it's only 4mm thick and especially in a minimalist knee pad such as these. Available in three adult sizes and two youth sizes, the Speed Knee Sleeve's are built around a seamless slip-on design. Lacking any adjustment, they instead rely on an elasticated body and a single silicone gripper strip to stay in place. We've been hammering the miles into our test set for a few months now to see how they fare.

Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve Review
Troy Lee Raid Details:
• 4mm D3O(R) padding insert
• Increased performance advantage over 10mm HDPE foam
• 360-degree, seamless construction for comfort and durability
• Sizes: XS/S, M/L, XL/2XL
• Durable, abrasion-resistant cover
• Reflective print logos
• Silicone gripper band
• Set of 2, left and right specific
• Weight: 274 grams (size M/L)
• MSRP: $54 USD

Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve Review
No straps, no velcro, and no buckles here, but is less really more?
Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve Review
The silicone gripper band does exactly what it's supposed to...

On the trail

Measuring approximately eleven inches from top-to-bottom (size M/L tested), slipping the Speed Knee Sleeves on is as easy as you would imagine. Size wise, they felt pretty good from the outset and retained their fit and feel despite the mileage, both from the bike and the washing machine. Lacking any form of adjustment, the elasticated sleeve takes care of size variables while the large silicon gripper strip, which runs around the circumference of the top opening and does a superb job of keeping them in place. The 4mm thick, or should I say thin, D3O pad, covers your kneecap and ends just past the top of your shin. The coverage on offer is intended to take the edge off slow-speed falls and crashes which it does rather well, especially considering how little of it there is.

The addition of D3O is, of course, the defining element that will get people's attention, especially on an attractive knee pad that retails for below $60USD (£50GBP). Providing more bang for your buck that also translates into more protection from bangs to your knees is not to be sniffed at, although 4mm of padding will only do so much. After having a big crash days before writing this, I can solemnly say that while the level of protection on offer from a 4mm thick D3O pad is eye-opening, it is by no means enough for the kinds of high-speed impacts associated with gravity riding. That said, had I not been wearing any protection on my knees, the outcome of that crash could have been far worse.

Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve Review
Taking a relatively simple design and adding a state-of-the-art material like D3O boosts the protection value, helps to keep costs down and ultimately delivers a knee pad that will help minimize the worst effects of everyday trail collisions.

Coming from a background in downhill and as someone who almost always wears knees pads, I didn't get any noticeable signs of discomfort on rides of around 2-3 hours and I'd go as far as to say they're some of the comfiest I've tried. This is down to a number of factors. For starters, the elasticated material used for the sleeve itself is incredibly soft, but it also hugs the leg perfectly without bunching, which was an initial concern. During long days in the saddle, especially during the summer months where a ride would go up to and over four hours, heat build up did become noticeable. The heat didnt get to the point of distraction and my knees never looked like they'd been dragged through a carpet factory, but I would pull them down during pit stops to let me knees breath. While the attributes of their construction offer superb short-term comfort and increased long-term durability, especially over a mesh-based alternative which can all too easily get snagged and torn on pedal pins and vegetation, they do also translate to heat build up which could be an issue for some, especially those of you in warm climates. It's something to bear in mind.

Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesOffering enough impact protection for everyday mishaps on the trails through an intelligent use of advanced materials, the Speed Knee Sleeves not only offer peace of mind should you crash, but do so in a well-priced and stylish package. A lack of ventilation could be a stumbling block for some, but their durability and comfort should put them on your kit wish list. - Olly Forster

Visit the feature gallery for high resolution and additional images

MENTIONS: @troyleedesigns


  • 175 1
 Can't believe nobody has called their D3O product D3pO. They could make a fuller coverage version called the R2Knee2.
  • 9 0
 You need to start working on that haha
  • 30 1
 I'd probably be sued out of existence in about 5 mins.
  • 29 4
 @h82crash: I didn't know Specialized owned rights to StarTrek.
  • 15 1
 @abzillah: LOL I hope that was intentional...otherwise FAIL.
  • 16 3
 @abzillah: Star Trek? Come on man
  • 2 6
flag Ziph (Nov 1, 2016 at 7:42) (Below Threshold)
 these pads I'm sure feel great and do a job of direct impact stopping but I guarentee if you fall on a berm for example these will do nothing to protect you. If they're anything like the model they're replacing then they'll just slide up/down the leg on impact at speed making them utterly useless at protecting THE KNEES
  • 3 1
 @Ziph: Which is every pad in existence. You don't really have a point.

You can say that X, Y or Z pad does not slide down on impact at speed, but they all do. Besides..these are literally a minimal coverage design intentionally for crap ass handlebar or root smackes to the shin and knee bone, not haul ass meat savers.

Try the TLD Raid instead. I've ridden in both and I swear the Raid's are way more comfortable, breath better and have a ton more protection. They're at 2 completely different price points though.
  • 1 4
 @bizutch: disagree. Price shouldn't be an issue when talking about protection. I had a set of the old model and I fell at fairly slow speed and they just slid dowm my leg.After needing a knee as a result of the crash I opted for a set of fox launch pro which offered more side protection and Velcro top/bottom.I can honestly say that these pads don't move under and circumstances and offer far more protection. I just don't see the need for these crappy ass "enduro" knee pads that could stop a fart let alone any kind of impact.enduro for the masses is more about looking cool than anything else.
  • 1 0
 @Ziph: I wear Dainese Trailskins and have had good luck with them now that they're broken in. The holes give me awesome venteliation and so far (knock on wood) because there is a tough rubber sandwiched in the pad I have hit rocks and not wrecked my knees.
  • 1 0
 @bizutch: I had a pair of the troy lee with the rubber padding and two things happened: I crashed and they did slide down resulting in my knee totally get scratched up, and when I rode with them again after my knees had healed, I got a crazy rugburn looking thing on my knee from the rubber rubbing. I may have needed a smaller size, and the design on these new pads might keep them in place better. Hopefully it does.
  • 2 0
 @Ziph: I didn't endorse these padsites or some rubber pad you wore in the past.

I said I like the TLD Raid.

And if.your Fox pads don't fold or slip down in high speeds crashes, it's obvious that you are either a far better riDer and have stopped goon crashing or you have gotten so slow you don't crash hard enough anymore .

Internet argument....randomized. take that!!!
  • 2 0
 Obi One KneeNobi?

  • 31 1
 Fits under skinnies. Dirt jumper approved.
  • 8 1
 Troy Lee delivers as always
  • 1 0
 I was thinking the same thing
  • 10 0
 Tell me about those XX1 socks!
  • 2 0
 They make you faster
  • 10 1
 @erwick: but they cost $500, and I don't need the top end of my socks that high. I'll stick with my XT socks thank you very much Wink
  • 18 0
 You have to buy new feet to get them to fit your current legs. Sorry.
  • 3 0
 @unrooted: 12 toes!
  • 8 1
 Uh oh - I don't see a "250 lbs max" sticker on the canister of the rear shock (last pic). STEP AWAY from the X2, buddy... it's for your own good....
  • 5 0
 I can't believe there hasn't been more clarity around the recall.....PB please investigate, we wanna know all the juicy details.
  • 5 0
 I've had mine for a while now. I also use them for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, under the Gi. These are a solid investment all the way around. I do wish the elbow pad version didn't slip down under braking bumps :/
  • 2 0
 I use these as knee pads , and g form for the elbows. Seems like the best combo so far . Tried 661 evo knee pads and hated them, way too unconfortable.
  • 2 0
 I wonder how these compare to the G-form pads, I've used my G-Forms for a few years now and I like them but after 3 solid seasons I'm in the market for a new set. My G-form knees are ok but I need to bunch them a little above the calf muscle or they tend to slide down, and the elbows have to go above my bicep muscle for them to stay in place. Protection wise they've always done whats expected of them.
  • 1 0
 Nice option for the many wanting to venture into protection but keep it light and simple. I have the equivalent elbow pads and they're great. Currently rocking TL knee/half shin combo hard pads but they're still pretty comfy.
  • 1 0
 I have these and a few things come to mind. First is that they are too short up top. It would help them stay up high and go over tights (under baggies) if you don't have really long shorts you have a gap up top. The other is the material. It is much thicker than my Fox Launch Enduro pads and consequently warmer.
The L stays up better than the Fox though and feels thicker, possibly offering a bit more protection.
  • 1 0
 I've been wearing these in the knee pad as well as the elbows. The elbows are a bit different in that they are more like a roadie style arm warmer and the knit-style of the knee pads. I trail ride the chunk here in our area of CA. Temps consistently in the 80's and even high 90's most of late summer and I don't find these to be a problem and actually wear them. I have Fox Launch and 661 D3O's and they're great, too....but I find myself not putting them on because of heat. Pads don't do much when you're not wearing them. That's not a problem for the Speeds. They're easy to wear and no, they aren't designed for the high-speed gnar downhill-fest but it seems that the slower speed,seemingly mundane little crashes are the ones that wreak havoc on knees and elbows when you wouldn't expect it. I've got the scars and blood loss to prove it. I'd rather be riding my bike than sitting on the couch healing so for everyday trail riding, these go on and do a good job.
  • 4 0
 anyone on the market make triple xl knee pads?...
  • 1 0
 Tell me about it. The only knee pads that fit me well are my 4XL G-Forms which they have stopped making (bummer) and Race Face XXL's which are not as comfortable. I have tried the largest sizes of ION, Fox, Troy lee, the new G-Form Pro X and they are all too tight.
  • 1 0
Try Thor Force XP. Fit perfectly except too bulky because they are for mx
Another one im riding is leatt 3df 5.0 but beat up af need something else
also I found out the old g form doesn't have much protection on the side...
  • 1 0
 @FrankLeung: Thanks for the tips. My abilities and type of riding are mostly XC with the occasional technical downhills so I need more "pedally" pads for the "just in case" moments. So the Leatt pads are built big? I will try to check them out.
  • 1 0
 How they compare to the Fox Launch Enduro Knee Pads?
(the review of them where you compared them to the thick knee warmers...)
  • 3 0
 Best product I ever owned.
  • 4 0
 I love mine !!!
  • 2 1
 I have these, they aren't really the greatest. I find they bunch behind the knee on longer climbs. I wouldn't recommend them.
  • 12 10
 he's riding an aluminum bike!! the horror, the horror....
  • 12 1
 It's OK dear, it's a Transition - maybe the most pinkbike approved brand in existence
  • 2 0
 @jamesbrant - the Apocalypse reference wasn't lost on everyone.
  • 1 0
 Anyone with thick legs use these? How do the XL and 2XL fit? I found the largest size Dakine Slayers to be too tight for me.
  • 1 0
 Any chance of some post crash photo's. I'm interested to see how they fair after a tumble
  • 1 1
 Probably like all knee pads likr this they rip down to your shins and your knees get fucked
  • 1 0
 I prefer the ION K-sleeve..
  • 1 0
 I yolove mine! I kneever crashed since I own them...
  • 1 0
 knee pad sock combo = awesome tan line
  • 1 2
 Too hot, not enough material above and below the pad=dredded skin show. 7idp is the benchmark now
  • 1 0
 I kneed these in my life
  • 1 2
 I'm nothing short of a beast, so I don't kneed padding.
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