Racer is a French company, founded in 1927, that manufactures ski, moto, and bike gloves, along with other protective equipment. You may have heard of them, depending on where you live and ride, as their distribution is mostly in Europe and Canada. They are working to expand in North America.
According to Racer, the Profile Knee is designed for mountain biking, and also for snowsports and motorsports. It's CE certified. The pad is soft and flexible, using D3O instead of a hard plastic to absorb impacts. Profile Knees are presently available in Europe, as well as Canada, through Brick & Mortar stores and sells for $148 CAD.
Profile Knee Details
• Gravity/DH Knee Pad
• T5 D3O protection
• CE certified
• Slip-on, with Velcro straps
• Colors: Black
• Weight: 640 grams
• MSRP: $148 CAD
The Profile Knee is designed to be the most advanced and protective of Racer's MTB range. It utilizes T5 D3O to maximize protection. D3O has been used in a lot of different pads over the years. It is lightweight and flexible, but when it encounters an impact, it hardens to provide impact protection.
Holding the D3O pads in place is the shell - a combination of Airprene (breathable neoprene) and mesh. It is reinforced on the sides with aramid cloth and D3O. There is an anti-slip material that contacts the skin on both the top and bottom of the pad, which fits with the kneecap directly contacting the D3O material through an opening on the inside (see the photo below). There is more anti-slip material sitting around the kneecap to provide additional insurance against slippage.
The stretchy Airprene shell, coupled with the anti-slip material, work together to keep the pads in place. Additionally, a large strap at the top of the pad and a smaller one on the back help to fine tune the fit.
Anti-slip material on the inside of the kneepads keeps things in place, while the sides are reinforced for added protection.Performance
Typically, unless I'm in the bike park or on a more technical ride, I forego kneepads. Therefore, when I do wear them, I'm pretty picky about fit and comfort. There are a lot of options out there, several from some pretty big brands that I think are complete garbage. There's no sense in spending any money on a pad only to have to tape it to your leg or have a loose fit that doesn't properly protect you. In the hierarchy of importance, I would take a moderate reduction of comfort for a pad that remains firmly in place.
The fit of the Racer pads is tight and snug, but not too much so. The anti-slip material keeps the pads in place, exactly where they are supposed to be. In addition to providing protection against impacts, the pads fit me in a way that supports my knees. They feel almost like a brace. The top of the pad sits high enough that there was none of the unacceptable "gaper-gap" between the top of the kneepad and my shorts.
I'm typically in the middle of the "medium" size range on most pads. These fit me well, as a medium, but I wouldn't want them to be any tighter. Buyers should do what they can to try on a pair before purchasing, as the snug fit will dictate what size you use. As always, fit of gear is personal, everyone is built differently, so Racer's design may not work for everyone, but I would wager that with the correct size, they'll fit most.
The Profile kneepads offer much more protection than more minimalist pads and are still very comfortable. The shell is soft and flexible and allows you to have a great deal of movement and motion. There is no pinching or binding of the material at flexion or extension and there's no Velcro pricking you, as sometimes happens with hook-and-loop closures. The anti-slip material is soft and really clings to your skin. The area around the kneecap will pull on unshaven legs a little, which is most noticeable while sitting on the chairlift, but it's pretty minimal and was not enough to consider as an issue. That said, if you have a skinned knee, these pads are going to be pretty uncomfortable. You may as well forget trying to wear them with a bandage or a scab near your kneecap.Pinkbike's Take