Dainese have been in the game of making pads and protective apparel for mountain bikers and moto for some time now. Over the years, their riding gear has been refined and revised as technologies have progressed and the sport has continued to evolve.
For 2019, Dainese is introducing their Enduro Knee Guard. The Knee Guard is their solution for enduro racing and aggressive trail riding. The pad is designed to offer a high level of protection, while also giving the mobility necessary for riders and racers who are going to be spending extended periods of time pedaling uphill in addition to racing down.
Enduro Knee Guard Details
• Enduro Knee Pad
• ABS molded protection
• Slip-on, with upper elastic velcro strap and fixed elastic calf strap
• Colors: Black
• Sizes: S-XL
• Weight: 18.34 oz (claimed)
• MSRP: $129.99 USD
The conundrum with knee pads for enduro racing and trail riding is that in addition to doing their job of protecting the knees in a crash, they need to stay put while pedaling and be comfortable. I think that it's safe to say that advances in bike technology have far outnumbered anything in the arena of protection. Many of the pads currently available either offer too little protection, or ample protection, but without the comfort.
Dainese have attempted a solution, with the development of their Enduro Knee Guard. The pads are a hybrid of soft and hard-shell construction. Hard ABS plates on the front of the pad to deflect impacts and offer more protection to the kneecaps and shins than a soft material can. The plates are designed to offer mobility while on the bike and pedaling, and they're mated with Daniese's "Pro-Armor" and "Crash Absorb" side padding to give additional protection and coverage.
The ABS plates are pre-curved in a position that allow riders freedom of movement when climbing and descending. There are elastic bands that grip the legs on both the top and across the calf, and elastic gripper lining inside of the top and bottom of the pads. The pads have a soft and breathable "Airnet" material that's coupled with a jersey mesh on the backs.
Pressure points at the top and bottom of the molded ABS plastic is less than desirable when your leg is extended
I had the opportunity to spend the better part of a day in the kneepads outside of Whistler BC. The ride we did had a couple hours of descending as well as a substantial amount of climbing, traversing, and had a little hiking thrown in for good measure.
I first put the pads on while sitting down. The material was soft and comfortable. I tested a size medium, which fit my, what I consider standard, 5'10", 150lb, long-legged frame well. Upon standing up, however, the ABS pads reached their limit of extension and the bottom of the pad pushed into my shin with a noticeable amount of force, while the top applied pressure above my knee.
This is quite obvious, to the point where, if I were trying on a set of pads and looking at buying them, without a doubt, I would write them off. I mean, who wants what feels like the edge of a table or MacBook Pro pushing into their shins while they're standing? Alas, it was a review in progress, and we had a full day of riding ahead. I slipped them down and proceeded on. I knew there had to be some saving grace somewhere, although they had me wondering if anyone had actually worn the pads before today. After I hopped on my bike, my opinion started to evolve.
On the bike, the pads didn't move - pedaling or descending. The sensation of a blunt object in my shins all but disappeared. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they stay put better than anything else out there, but for the amount of protection offer, they do a damn good job. The pads breathe well and actually feel soft. No Velcro scratching at my skin and no hot spots on my knees.
I was successful staying upright, but one member of our party wasn't as fortunate and took a strong digger. He suffered a rock, straight to the kneecap and while it put a small hole in the abs plastic, I imagine that it would surely have resulted in a trip to get sewn up at the Whistletown medical center had he been wearing a soft knee pad.What Dainese Says:
I brought up my concerns to the team at Dainese and they confirmed that others had similar thoughts about the pads being uncomfortable while standing upright. Some people may try to argue that it's a non-issue, since the pads are meant to be worn while riding, and that rigid armor offers a great deal of protection. I maintain, however, that it's a big issue and very possibly a deal breaker.
The Enduro Knee Pad isn't going to be available until November and Dainese say that they are actively working on a solution to this issue. While there's no confirmation of what the solution may or may not be, at minimum, I think we can expect to see some additional padding on the inside where the ABS pad contacts the shin on the final production models.