6 of the Best DH-Worthy Knee Pads Ridden & Rated

Jul 26, 2022 at 13:13
by Matt Beer  


No More Hamburger Knees

In case you didn't catch the action from the latest downhill World Cup in Andorra, the speeds that racers are reaching on tracks these days is ludicrous. Even your average weekend warrior sending it in the bike park isn't going slow on a basic blue square run, so why not leave those knee socks at home and load up on body protection for those lift-assisted days?

We've rounded up a half dozen MTB knee pads that are designed for a descent-focused ride plan and showcase different strategies for keeping cuts and bruises to a minimum. A couple of the options use plastic caps in addition to the usual padding, and some have extra length on the shin and above the knee. Considering these pads will stay on for a longer period of time and need to stay in place for heavier crashes, they feature more straps and grippers, but we'll still be analyzing the breathability and dexterity. Weight and price are two other factors that aren't subjective and have been included in the details.

All of these pads were tested on downhill bikes, with the exception of the two shortest pads, the Fox Launch Pro D3O and O'Neal Redeema, which spent a bit of time gaining elevation the old fashioned way. I'll weigh in as to why those two pads could find their way into downhill or enduro mountain bikers' closets and point out what type of rider each knee pad might suit.




Contents





Scott Grenade EVO Hybrid w/shin ext




Scott Sports doesn't just create featherweight carbon mountain bikes. Their catalogue runs deep, with everything from helmets to shoes and serious downhill race equipment like these Grenade Hybrid EVO knee pads with a shin-protecting extension. That's where the Hybrid moniker comes into play. It's an add-on to the existing knee pad that mates with velcro and is held in place by a stretchy lower calf strap. Sitting on the main D3O foam insert that Scott specifically built is a moderately hard plastic shell to ward off sharp rocks and help the pad to slide on the ground, as opposed to sticking and being pulled down your leg when you touch the dirt. Along the top and side of the knee area there is ample padding with minimal shallow areas and two large velcro straps that firmly lock the pad down.

Grenade EVO Hybrid Details
• Scott-specific D3O padding
• CE Level 1 of EN1621-1
• Weight: 765 grams (set inc. shin ext.)
• MSRP: $129.99/€129.95 (€59.95 shin ext.)
scott-sports.com
Reminiscent of a 90's vert ramp knee pad, the Grenade is the largest volume pad on test - they might be a challenge fit under your aerodynamic cycling attire. That did mean they felt the safest and were still plenty comfortable to wear all day for downhill laps. The ventilation is actually sufficient throughout since the pad sits slightly off your knee when standing straight, which promotes airflow. Although you can pedal in these, the extra material and coverage slightly restrict movements needed to conquer long enduro days - these are best left for lift access laps.

The Grenade EVO Hyrbids were my favorite knee pad in the test because of the comfort-to-protection ratio. Initially, they satisfied my search for an optional shin extender - just the right size and thickness to shake off any flying rocks or pedal slips. However, the male side of the velcro on the shin extension didn't have a purchase to grip on the inside of the knee pad. This was something that caught my attention before they even ventured outside. On the second ride, they began to slide down. Unless I wedged it in an uncomfortable place underneath the lower knee strap, they would slide down and become ankle protectors.

With some custom stitch work, introducing the necessary velcro to hold the shin protector in place would do the trick and is something I'm working on because I love everything else about the Grenade Evo Hybrid knee pads.


Pros
+ True DH security and safety (knee)
+ Sits off knee slightly allowing airflow


Cons
- Slightly bulky for long periods of pedaling
- Shin extension velcro attachment isn't sufficient enough to hold them in place




Race Face Ambush Leg



The Ambush series of pads have a large fanbase for their soft-shell, mid-range protection level, and the fact that you can install and remove them without pulling your shoes off. That holds true for the longer Ambush Leg too, but an extension covering the shin works wonders against pedal strikes and the odd rock that might fling up from your front wheel without being overly bulky.

Ambush Leg Details
• D3O T5 Evo
• Weight: 520 grams
• Easy-on, fully opening straps
• MSRP: $130 USD
raceface.com

Starting with the pad splayed open, there are three velcro tabs that close the pad on your leg, above, below, and at the knee joint. Next, three elastic straps loop around the usual leg locations to hold the system in place. When everything is buttoned up, there is still plenty of airflow across the semi-opened back, which surprised me by how well the Ambush leg breathed. There's also no silicone on the inside of the pad as extra insurance to keep them in place, which isn't a negative. In the past, I've found some of those silicone strips can glue themselves to your leg if left in one position too long and cause a burn.

When I first grabbed the full-length leg pad, I expected them to be substantially heavier due to their tough outer fabric that doesn't snag pedal pins, but they are one of the lighter options on test here. The knee portion of the pad isn't as thick as the Scott or POC, and ideally I'd prefer a plastic knee cap, like their Roam pad. I could see this option appealing to flat pedal freeriders who would benefit from pads that fit under their jeans because it covers the majority of the shin bone.

The positioning of the abundant straps kept them exactly in their original positioning, however, more straps meant more seams, and a portion of the stitching did start to chafe my leg. Due to the way the Ambush Leg opens, I found there can be excessive material that bunches up behind the knee and that's where the stitching could rub me the wrong way. The convenience of having the pad totally open up versus the slip-on elastic type highlights the tradeoffs here. Overall, the Ambush Leg are a suitable choice for someone who would like a full-length pad that can be quickly installed without the bulk of plastic caps.


Pros
+ Very breathable for full leg coverage
+ No need to remove shoes or shorts to put them on


Cons
- Lacks protection around the top and side of knee
- Increased amount of stitching can lead to more chafing




Fox Launch Pro D3O



No doubt you've seen these iconic knee pads in a bike park or out on the trails before and that's for good reason - they're versatile and bring a high level of impact protection in an ergonomic package. The Launch Pro D3O is another guard that uses that orange viscoelastic foam insert to absorb energy, but there's also a removable plastic knee cap to minimize the chance of them catching the dirt and being pulled down your leg when you slide out on a berm. That cap is backed with the hook side of a velcro sandwich so you can de-tune them if you want a slimmer fit under pants or longer days of pedalling.
Launch Pro D3O Details
• D3O® T5 Evo
• Weight: 631 grams
• Removeable plastic knee cap
• MSRP: $139.95 USD
foxracing.com

When talking about fit, the total length of the pad is fairly long, which includes a fair bit of fluff that doesn't bring any useful protection beyond the scope of the D3O insert. It does mean that the thigh strap sits up high and the articulated knee cut stays in place and is quite comfortable. I found the lower calf strap to also be a little long, but there was no way I'd fit in the medium size pads. Luckily, the fit and grip that the rest of the pad brings to the table kept them from moving around or chafing. I also noticed how well the Launch Pro D3Os breathed due to their mesh back and perforated foam base.

As Fox's premier downhill knee pad, I do feel like they stop a little short on the shin, and more foam at the side of the knee would be reassuring. Then again, these were the most comfortable pads in the test with solid puncture-stopping materials and proven shock-absorbing foam. All of the different materials and construction drive the price up there, but you do almost get a DH-level and enduro-esque pad in one. Often, I found myself choosing these for trails that require DH-level protection but are only accessible by pedalling.


Pros
+ Offers the most protection in a pedal-friendly knee pad
+ Versatile design


Cons
- Could use more padding around the side of the knee
- Calf strap is long in comparison to the thigh strap




Leatt Knee and Shin Guard EXT



Do you miss the days of plastic exterior shin pads that lasted until they grossed out even the largest dirtbag in your riding crew? With the speeds that downhill racers and bike park enthusiasts reach on tracks these days, I think upping the protection level is a solid choice. Leatt even mentions that they will fit in moto boots too, so that explains why they are one of the burliest options in their mountain bike line.

Knee and Shin Guard EXT Details
• 3DF ventilated impact foam
• Certified EN1621-1
• Weight: 705 grams
• MSRP: $130 USD
leatt.com
Three velcro straps wrap around the leg; one above the calf, another well up the thigh, and the third closer to the ankle than the mid-shin. Under the plastic shields, there is a sufficient padding thickness, although it's less than some of the other pads with polymer insert here.

Even with all of that coverage and plastic armor, the pads are very breathable due to the open back that doesn't use a stretching-style sock to hold it in place. Resting against your leg, the padding has channels to promote airflow and the construction looks like an older style pad compared to the short, slip-on style pads that are common these days. Don't let that fool you though, these are very comfortable in a riding position, but standing straight-legged made me rethink the fit.

There are only two adult sizes to choose from and I've used Leatt knee pads with L/XL sizing before that measure the same in terms of leg circumference. The next size down is S/M which was literally a stretch for some of the straps to reach the velcro areas, so it may be wise to try these on before you decide to buy them. Leatt doesn't sell directly from their website, so a dealer should be able to help you find the right size.


Pros
+ Excellent coverage starting above the knee all the way to the lower shin
+ Good breathability considering the burliness and length of the pad


Cons
- Extra length can make the pad extend vertically when straightening out your leg
- Limited sizes




O'Neal Redeema



O'Neal might fly under the radar in the MTB world due to their full line not being offered in North America until recently, but with plenty of experience taken from motorcross, their apparel and protection is nothing to be scoffed at. The Redeema isn't a moto pad that's re-targeted for MTB though - it's built from the ground up with O'Neal's licensed energy dissipating polymer foam called IPX gel and comes in at a reasonable price of $99.

Redeema Details
• IPX gel
• Easy-on, zipper opening
• Weight: 520 grams
• MSRP: $99 USD
oneal.com
Like the Race Face Ambush Leg, the Redeema can be installed without removing your shoes. Instead, they use a zipper that runs the full length of the pad, as opposed to the velcro straps on the Ambush pads. They don't cover the full length of the leg, although there are two small foam areas above and below the main IPX insert.

Around the back of the pad, the light web mesh lets heat exhaust well without bunching up but the built-in lower leg elastic never felt quite tight enough - they have a boxy fit and aren't tapered as well as, say, the Fox Launch D3O Pro. Up top above the knee, there are two straps that cinch from either side which is an unusual approach. I never found that it was necessary to adjust both and think it might be better to ditch one so the rubber tabs at the end of the strap are more streamlined to avoid snagging on the cuffs of shorts.

The zipper is a handy solution to pulling the pads on and off easily, however, like the Race Face velcro solution, extra material can lead to chafing on long rides. The zipper tends to resist bending with the articulating direction of the knee and wanted to tuck in and out literally to the motion of the knee. It wasn't actually the zipper itself that rubbed my skin because there is a layer of fabric that acts as a barrier, so it may not bother some riders as much.

Overall, the Redeema is a suitable pad for the bike park, since you don't typically don't spend a lot of time pedalling those trails, and there is ample cushion in front of the knee. With some more improvements to the fit and zipper articulation, I also think it would be a great option for enduro days because you could totally remove it for climbing, should your legs start to feel that chafing from the zipper area.


Pros
+ Convenient zipper removal
+ Thick knee pad is effective to reduce shock


Cons
- Zipper covering is bulky
- Lower opening is large and could be tapered more




POC Joint VPD 2.0 Long Knee



Hailing from the land of Volvos where safety is paramount, POC's Swedish roots are no different and the Joint VPD 2.0 Long Knee is a prime example of the brand's clean aesthetic combined with premium protection. VPD is the name of the magical foam that POC developed and this pad doesn't skimp on using it in ample areas - it's just as thick at the knee as it is in the shin and there is also a portion that articulates to cover the top of the knee which is too often left exposed.
Joint VPD 2.0 Long Knee Details
• POC viscoelastic padding
• Certified EN 1621-1
• Weight: 812 grams
• MSRP: $145 USD
pocsports.com

Two adjustable velcro straps wrap around the thigh and above the calf, while a medium-weight mesh covers the entire back of the leg. The VPD foam does have perforated holes to promote some airflow but because of the thickness, material and coverage, breathability is compromised. That makes this the warmest and bulkiest pad in test, but also one of my favorites because of the security that it provides. Remember, we're investigating DH and bike park-worthy pads here, not enduro-style pads.

With that said, I did find there was a tight spot behind the knee and after wearing them all day under DH pants I was relieved to get these off. The build-up of heat throughout the pad and the serious grip of the top strap did start to irritate my skin at times. That was more so due to the silicone strip and not because they were rubbing, so some chamois cream reduced that effect slightly and made the trade-off for ultimate protection worthwhile in my opinion.

Fitting these under most pants, like the Fox Defend, wasn't an issue, but similar to the volume of the Scott Grenade pads you might not slide into the skin-tight race fit that some riders have been rocking lately. It's also worth noting that these are the heaviest and most expensive pads in this test. POC does offer a shorter version of the pad that only covers the knee and a slimmer version for enduro that still use the same VPD foam with less thickness.


Pros
+ Serious padding throughout knee and shin with no weak points
+ Articulating section to cover top of knee
+ Very secure


Cons
- Stiff and bulky for pedalling
- Least breathable compared to others in this test
- Tight fit behind knee





Top Picks
My primary goal for this test was to search for a knee pad that covered some portion of the shin and offered ample protection for high-speed impacts. Venting and articulation were a secondary requirement, plus fit still had to be taken into account.


Editor's Choice
All round, all-out protection with decent articulation and ventilation are what make the Scott Grenade EVO Hybrid w/shin ext. my top choice for lift-assisted riding, although I wish the shin extension stayed in place more securely.


Most Protection
Even without a plastic knee cap, the thickness and solid VPD foam of the POC Joint 2.0 VPD Long Knee pads can take the hardness of knocks, stay in place and cover almost all of your shin. Although the Leatt pads look to offer the most, the padding thickness is less substantial in comparison. If I had to choose a pair of pads for exclusively racing downhill where I could remove them after a few hours, these would be at the top of my list.

Versatility
The Fox Launch Pro D3O knee pads have remained unchanged for a few years now and for good reason. They are comfy, breath well, stay in place and can be used with or without the plastic knee cap. That keeps them slim for more mellow days or burly enough for DH racing.


140 Comments

  • 38 1
 We all know it's not cool anymore to wear upper body/shoulder and elbow armor. But I do. Thankfully there are some really good non bulky options out there for wearing under a jersey that adds protection to the upper body. I've been using the 661 Evo armor shirt and G-form elbow/knee pads for the park and been very happy with them.
  • 8 0
 Truth. Ive been wearing a chest protector for lift access because i got so comfortable wearing it for moto. The gform elbow pads have also definitely exceeded my expectations. My goal is to have one setup of protection for either moto or mtb. I would suggest 7idp as they are my favorite fitting knee pads currently
  • 4 2
 Here, you aren't even allowed to enter most parks and trailcenters if you're not wearing full protection. A lot of people don't like that, but I believe that's a good thing. Because everyone crashes sooner or later and decent protection can really make a difference.
  • 22 0
 I met one of the medical leads @ the BC Bike Race 3 years ago who has done a lot up a Whistler, he said if you are going to wear anything......elbow pads are #1 before knee, shoulder or chest.....apparently elbows can have complex injuries that can be game over
  • 20 0
 15 YO Me: Pads are dumb!
30 YO Me: Pad are cool!
  • 8 0
 @RadBartTaylor: I recall some Red Bull DH video where they had some in-house, mtb specific doctors say that the one thing they wish athletes did more was wear elbow pads, so many unnecessary fractures.

That being said I find it hard to resist the urge to go t-shirt with no elbow pads, it just feels so good on hot days
  • 10 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Yup. My elbows always hit first. But it's not "cool" to wear them. That thinking landed me in ICU stepdown for a week ( and off the bike for two months) because of a gnarly elbow injury and an even worse infection.
  • 2 0
 Alpinestars A-10, b/c everybody crashes sooner or later.
  • 4 9
flag foggnm (Jul 28, 2022 at 9:02) (Below Threshold)
 Nailed it. I see knee pads, and riding pants, as mtb trendy fashion accessories and not really things most mountain bikers use (if they have been on a bike more than 5 years). It is part of the "look" rather than something practical. I'm not saying there isn't a place and a time....but I am saying that on 95% of my riding the only thing that is likely to get skinned up is my elbows or hand (by hitting a cactus or tree).
  • 6 0
 Yeah. I have heard that there are lots of elbow injuries. Fewer knee injuries I guess because most people wear knee protection. I just bought some elbow pads. A friend recently received stitches in her elbow and the guy that sold me me the elbow pads had stitches too. Sleeve type POC elbow pads fit me well and are perfectly comfortable and don’t move while riding. A bit hot right now but I don’t care. Also, no mosquitoes get through them or the sun’s UV rays.
  • 3 0
 @RadBartTaylor: I had a compound fractured elbow couple years ago, 3 surgeries and 100h of physio later and I'm still missing about 30degree range of motion in extension. Pretty stoked that I'm still able to bike with that, but that would not be most likely not the same case if that was my knee. Head, knee and back are my main protection concerns, but yes a elbow pad defenitly can't hurt either.
  • 2 0
 @Lanebobane: I usually find them pretty hot (it's okay, I'm a certified dad)
  • 2 0
 Heck yes. Cool kids don’t wear any armor, but this old man does.

It’ll come back around when it’s deemed “cool” again.
  • 5 0
 @EggsandApps: I broke both elbows commuting to work, the right needed a plate and 11 screws. They left the left elbow to heal naturally (on the basis that 2 completely non functioning elbows would leave me too dependent on care). I engaged with physio 110% (no pain, no gain, and boy did I hurt) I gained almost full range of movement and was back riding after 2 months. 7 years on and the right is definitely better than the left (less crunching sounds), but I have to wear an elbow pad on my right (but always wear both as one looks odd). I was warned an infection in the bone from a split elbow could mean amputation (the machine heads can be felt under the skin on my elbow, so there’s not much flesh to protect the plate, but makes for a great game of “guess the machine head”!).
They’re not cool, I get some looks, but I like my arm too much to not wear them.
I have always worn knee pads, except for the odd occasion, when I inevitably ’knock’ my knee (usually against the frame).
Having broke several ribs, several times, I am considering body armour and going full moto. Who cares what I look like if it means I can carry on riding!
  • 2 0
 @EggsandApps: well I think the guys point that I was talking too was that knees / knee tendons are replaceable or repairable and you can continue to ride, shoulders to a certain extent but elbows could be a no-go for riding in the future.

Glad you are doing better - sound brutal!
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: maybe in terms of the types of injuries, but for likelyhood of injury knees & shins have to be at the top of the list.
  • 2 0
 I wear chest protector (RXR), kidney belt(Troylee), and elbow pads (Fox sleeve ones) every day I’m on a DH bike

Trail bikes I’m very guilty of nothing. But DH bike and it just feels proper wearing all that especially with what we ride
  • 4 0
 (and @pargolfCool - truth out for sure: 2 weeks ago I had a brand effing new U.S.E Ultimate (Flow) carbon handlebar - entirely unwrecked and torqued less than stated Nm for clamps - snap off clean between stem & handlebar. The bar would've gone directly through my chest & lungs if not for TLD body armor (the soft under-shirt kind) - totally deflected it & saved my ass.

Elbow pads: why risk yr joints...elbow fractures may some of the worst of any bones. Can't tell ya how many slams I've had w/ pads saving the elbow or have witnessed - its a reeeeeeealy shitty place to crack. Don't give a F what anyone thinks - wear stuff that'll save you. Just not that Ant's Life bugged out looking grandad stuff...that's just overkill.
  • 3 4
 Man...I've not worn elbow pads for almost 20+ years. I used them in DH racing for banking off tight trees in my younger racing days & got myself into trouble. I'd wear elbow and chest protectors and just ride reckless and get tossed for trying to get away with too much bullshlt.

Got tired of hitting the ground and all the awkward pads yanking me around, dropped all upper body pads and only ride/race in knee/shins and pants/jersey. Decided to just really work technique and use the skills I'd ignored while padded up.

Do so much better because I'm not on the ragged edge and unbalanced by all that gear. Stay more centered on my bike and focus on staying on the bike these days because I'm not winning anything in my 40's unless it would be fastest old guy and that means nothing if I hit the ground, pads or not.
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: I'm a medical provider and that's not correct, think about it for a moment:

Do you walk on your arms? Would you have a hard time getting around with a straight leg vs a straight arm?

Most folks rarely hit their elbows, but knee injuries are very common.

If anything on your upper body needs protection, it's your wrists.
  • 1 0
 @Eland: I'm assuming you were hit by a car?
  • 3 0
 @nurseben: do you wipe with your legs, do you feed yourself with your legs, do you type with your legs? We can debate arms vs legs all day, but I've seen people ride bikes, effectively, with artificial knees, hips, prosthetic legs, I saw a guy in Whistler ripping in a cool wheelchair.....with a bum arm, it would be tough!

I'm just passing on info, he was the expert, but it made sense to me.
  • 1 2
 @blowmyfuse - You talking park too? If so, you're Iron Man.... I should add that I actually don't wear armor at all w/ general trail stuff - just park or super raw DH and even then its all stipped off until the drop...too hot! Helmets too - cannot won't not don't not ever ride uphill in one - even in winter!
  • 2 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: Trail rides, long rides, park and DH racing. Don't wear upper body armour. It also jostles too damn clumsy on me and I start riding over my pay grade.

But my knees....oh, they're the most sensitive little bisshes on the planet & I bash them on stems, bars, trees, pedals, gnomes...you name it so I ride DH with them and on trail rides where I'm gonna climb up and do an aggressive descent, I will either ride in my Leatt AirFlex Pro pads or slide them in my pack and put them on at the top.

I LOVE knee pads having side padding because my top tube hates me.
  • 3 0
 @nurseben: I'd say the Whistler staffer who made the statement about elbows didn't quantify their experience with the reality that he sees way more elbow injuries because almost everyone on a lift is sporting knee pads, so he'd probably see fewer injuries there.

Personally, I am of the opinion that a force that shatters your elbow or the plateau of any of the bones tying into the elbow isn't going to be prevented by elbow pads anyway. Elbow pads might stave off deep, bone exposing wounds or a chipped bone, but outright breaks and splintering impacts aren't stopped by them.
  • 2 0
 @blowmyfuse: Wow, baller. Heard on that side pad thing...I'm on IXS carve's which is paddy there but not enough, still reeling from a toptube bash there from a week ago. Its a life of getting beaten for sure. Effin' love it!

PS - those Leatt's have enough padding on sides or, maybe more than the IXS?
  • 2 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: Definitely have enough padding on the sides. I wear TLD Raid knee pads for DH and some winter trail rides, but the Leatt's work great for sweat weather.
  • 2 0
 @blowmyfuse: Agree about the Leatt AirFlex side padding being great. Heat-wise, they're even tolerable to wear all summer for me.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: Word...will check 'em. The IXS is holding nicely considering my hate of hot weather, but - down on the shins while climbing or hot-hot days, strapped on pack. Later...
  • 1 0
 I have the Leatt air fit hybrid body protector and it saved my ass last weekend. Had a big one and hit the ground hard enough to bruise the d40 pattern into my upper back and aside from it looking like I have tread marks I feel pretty great. The elbo and should coverage are awesome as well. Having elbow protection that doesn’t slide down to your wrists after 30 seconds of riding is amazing. Well worth the money
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: not quite, had to do everything to avoid it. OTB at speed, superman, landing on my face and palms. Arms weren't strong enough so both elbows hit tarmac as they collapsed. The driver drove off, didn’t give an eff. I had to pick my bike up and walk the rest of the way to work getting someone else to lock it up…
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: I’m surprised I don’t get more bother at airports: ep1.pinkbike.org/p3pb23055341/p3pb23055341.jpg
  • 1 0
 @IsaacWislon82: i gave up wearing elbow pads after having to jump off the bike three times (each time with a different elbow pad, was trying some out to find ones that fit) to avoid a crash because of a pad shifting down and blocking my wrist from moving. i should try again but damn its so much easier to move around without them
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: so you’re saying my decision to land on my wrist off a jump and the second the pain leaves go ride park 3x in the next 5 days including a botched no hander was a really good idea, right?
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: yes elbow pads can prevent outright breaks and splintering impacts, just like knee pads can. Are they 100% guaranteed to prevent serious injury? No. Just ask Matt Walker, but the notion that elbow pads don't reduce the occurrence or severity of serious injury is nonsense.

Glad to hear you have improved your technique to the point that you're better off without all the protective gear....until you have that one big crash.
  • 1 1
 @mountaincross: until? Fokk off with that doom and gloom stuff. I'll take positive comments only.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: sooooo you never crash? That's not doom and gloom, its goes with the sport.
  • 1 0
 @mountaincross: don't need a jinx.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: Oh, sorry! Good luck.
  • 29 0
 No Roach pads?
  • 15 0
 still wearing mine, vintage is cool, matches my kona stinky
  • 6 0
 I still have a pair of Roach shorts that I bought from Ingrid at a BC Cup race years ago. What a legend.
  • 2 2
 No ... pads? (insert brand below)
  • 6 0
 Yes! The full knee-shin version with skin-destroying velcro and odor-trapping fabric. The originals!
  • 3 0
 came here to say the same.
  • 1 0
 Hear hear!
  • 1 0
 @wetcoastrider: After this many years, I don't doubt that those pads are stinky.
  • 1 0
 Still got mine, though they are from after RaceFace took them over. Don't wear the knee pads anymore, but still use the elbows.
  • 19 0
 what i really would appreciate, to see what the pros in DH and Enduro are wearing for protection.

Which upper body protector or which ellbow pads?
  • 13 1
 They wear what the sponsors give, unfortunately this field is quite biased
  • 5 0
 @RM888:

Yeah this i know....

For an example the sponsor Fox, there are so many upperbody protection that they offer.
  • 1 0
 most of the Fox athletes are wearing the Raceframe under jersey, I wear the leatt 3.5 roost deflector under my jersey and its probably the most protective of the smaller under jersey style ones.
  • 1 0
 @Hamburgi: A lot more than just Fox sponsored athletes will be using Fox body armour. I know of at least 1 world champion using a Raceframe who has competitor sponsors. Part of the benefit of DH universally accepting long sleeve and pants is that the riders can covertly use what they want without upsetting anyone.
  • 1 0
 @Aem221: Raceframe or Baseframe? Base is designed to be worn under a jersey. I use the full jacket when racing. It's the Baseframe Pro D3O Jacket on the US site in the Moto section.
  • 7 0
 I own the Leatt brand due to the fact that they're the only ones that have ever stayed on my leg the entire day. Fox always slipped off. Leatt has smaller sized ones that just cover the knee which I use now at the bike park and they work great.
  • 1 0
 Dakine Slayer, aside from the awesome name, are pretty solid as well
  • 4 0
 Leatt pads are great.
  • 1 0
 Ditto for me and the 3DF pads
  • 9 0
 I really kneed to invest in these.
  • 3 0
 you'll have to shell out some dough to get them.
  • 1 3
 @Lanebobane: Luckily investments usually require capital
  • 4 0
 @Lanebobane: Sadly I'm strapped at the moment...
  • 2 0
 It’s a great way to shield investments from future medical bills (for the US at least).
  • 2 0
 You should consider padding your account for the purchase
  • 4 0
 I did a full on, skateboard style knee slide in my Poc VPD Air’s on dirt and couldn’t believe they didn’t get the slightest bit damaged. When my IXS Trigger Race pads get a bit more torn up I’ll likely replace them with those expensive POC 2.0 pads. The Poc pads are a touch warmer than I’d like, but they feel comfortable pedaling for me.
  • 1 0
 Keep your VPD air! I have both: 2.0 and VPD air. On a hot day crashed with 2.0 and half shell helmet (on my knees, palms, head). Pads slid right off, helmet broke at the front went, MX gloves - no damage. Next day bought Giro Switchblade (don’t care if anyone doesn’t like the looks) and VPD Air - better less protection, but it stays on!
  • 1 0
 Front vent
  • 1 0
 VPD Air are amazing for how light they are. So much side protection and they are durable AF. Bought a second pair to replace a well worn pair.
  • 5 1
 Unrelated but semi-related: why don’t we see more use of neckbraces (like the Leatt that motocross riders use) and chest armor by professionals? I am constantly amazed at the risk every rider is taking in EWS and DH races. Coming from a background in BMX, I’ve seen a few professionals have their careers cut short by the same type of crashes that I see in racing. Is it that they are just more efficient at protecting themselves when they fall? Or is the efficacy of the aforementioned protective gear insufficient for the ludicrous speeds that these racers are moving at? Curious to hear some opinions.
  • 4 1
 They limit mobility and unfortunately unless neck braces/armor becomes required, most pros won't use them when milliseconds matter.
  • 9 1
 Hardly any MX racers wear neck braces anymore I think it just compromises body position and also your ability to tuck your neck in a crash to protect yourself. Most neck injuries are from compression not from getting pushed forwards or backwards and the braces dont do much for that.
  • 22 1
 Off-topic: dig the way you slipped your BMX background into it
  • 3 0
 I would assume most of them wear chest protectors under their jerseys. Gotta keep those sponsors visible
  • 5 0
 @Mac1987: Does anyone not have a background in BMX? Asking for a friend
  • 2 0
 there was an interview with Laurie Greenland, i think it was the downtime podcast. where he spoke about how his body position changed when he got rid of his neck brace and he was able to attack more, then he had to change his bike setup completely i hope one day soon we can have a neck brace that allows such an aggressive riding position.
  • 1 0
 @Aem221: thank ryan hughes
  • 7 0
 the ability to take off and put on the RF pads ha made me a fan for life.
  • 2 0
 Yup, I'm more likely to wear them because I don't have to take my shoes off to slap them on, and if its hot I can whip them off so they don't get as hot and sweaty. And my original ambush knees are still fully useable after 12 years and hundreds of 30 mile rides, dozens of scrapes and knocks, and even using them at work for flooring jobs. I only bought a new pair because I saw someone selling some one ride old ones for less than half of new price.
  • 1 0
 I had some of their other ones and they started tearing almost immediately. After a few months they really stretched out meaning they kept falling down in the middle of a race - they ended up in the rubbish bin and I bought some POCs above and haven't looked back.
  • 4 1
 I find that using simple lightweight soccer shin pads (ones that just slip into your sock) in combination with my knee pads is a great alternative to combinations knee+shin pads. Much less bulky that a combo option and they provide more than enough protection for pedals strikes.
  • 2 0
 I have thought about it, when i took mtb a few years sgo.. however, my shins are ok, my calves not so much…
  • 4 0
 Must look pretty funny lol
  • 4 0
 I just rely on the damaged nerves in my shin to not send any pain signals when I slip a pedal for the billionth time…
  • 3 0
 @nvranka: Not when you're wearing pants over them Smile
  • 1 0
 @Paco77: haha fair point!
  • 3 0
 @unrooted: if only the nerves that make the tissue paper scar tissue skin not itch after a hot shower died.
  • 2 0
 @thenotoriousmic: is that what that is? I thought I contracted shin herpes?!?!
  • 3 0
 it's been said above but the ROACH pads that I wore which finally wore out after about 10 seasons were the best I've ever used, and while I get that having the full shin protection is hotter, I don't get just the knee pads without them. I would get hamburger shin way before ripped up knee especially pedaling flats with big studs on them...
  • 2 1
 Agreed - I have the leatts and they seem skimpy compared to my old roach hardshell, which go all the way to my ankle, rather them the Leatts which cover about 1/2 my shin. They were still the best modern replacements I could find after trying a few. I also have the RF ambushes and love these for being to stay them to my lumber pack for big fireroad climbs and then quickly strap on to bomb down...
  • 2 0
 @ccrida-pnw: honestly the fairly cheap TLD's that I use now have better coverage than a lot of brand out there as well.
  • 2 0
 Been running TLD Raid knee pads for a few years now. These are the best-fitting pads I've ever worn. I previously had the G-Forms (which delaminated) and then the RaceFace Indys (great pricing but dug into the top of my shins and didn't have the same side protection or comfort).
  • 2 0
 Just retired my Demon D3O Hyper Kneepads. Only reason I needed a new pair was because the elastic straps, after 4 years, got too stretched out to keep the pad located. I cannot stress how great these pads have been. Demon is a super underrated company.
  • 2 0
 So people don’t wear pads because:

1] they do not look cool, not fashionable.
2] too hot and or uncomfortable.
3] they ride better without them because they impend development of good technique.

Wtf, there is no glory in getting hurt.
  • 2 0
 Still using my old Nukeproof Critical knee pads from 2012 that were basically a version of the 661 Kyle Strait. Bit bulky in my Troy Lee pyjamas, but they fit so well, are comfy even for pedally trips and have shrugged off some pretty bad DH/bike park impacts just fine. They don't even look tatty yet and they go through the washing machine every month or so.
  • 1 0
 I have been riding Leatt Knee Guard 3DF Hybrid for a good few years now, my first pair lasted about 2-3yrs of riding 2-4 times a week before getting a bit worn out. Would have got more use out of them but they started to loose comfort. Not sure if those Leatt pads in the test would be particularly comfortable.
  • 2 1
 Not sure why the G-Form Knee/Shin Pad was left off here.
I've use a couple others on here, and I think the G-Form is the most comfortable of them all. More protection than a few on this list too.
g-form.com/pro-rugged-bike-mtb-knee-shin-pad
  • 2 0
 Use G Form shin pads and shorts, but with the POC VPD 2.0 knee pads which work really well. Leatt body armour and elbow pads for the uppoer body. Highly recommend the Leatt 6.0 elbow pads - very protective and comfortable.
  • 1 0
 POC VPD 2.0s are ver comfortable to pedal in, and seem to offer good impact protection. However there's been a couple of times when I've fallen and - as they don't slide at all - they end up being pulled down the leg and the "antislip" rubber they have on the inside ends up burning off the skin above the knee which is very annoying..! Could definitely use an old school hard plastic shell layer on top..
  • 2 1
 Knowing how much MX knee armor is, the price of these make me roll my eyes. Even a beefier Alpinestars SX-1 is $110, while plenty are sub-$100.

And before you cry about my post, go on Cycle Gear or some other MX-based site and take a look. You can get some Fox Titan knee and shin guards for like $35. You can get other decent ones for $50-90 at MSRP. These companies are a joke, because some of these don't even qualify as CE-level 1
  • 2 0
 You don’t wear knee braces on a moto? It’s the only thing I’ll ride in
  • 1 0
 Can confirm, my $12 hard-shell MX knee guards have been working well on both bikes for longer than I care to admit lest I jinx myself. Catch is, they suck to pedal in and sort of need pants to hold em in place. Oh well.
  • 1 0
 @stormracing: no way for me and i find 0 difference in knee pads marketed to mtb or moto. I feel like im forrest gump as soon as i put braces on
  • 5 0
 Bring back 661's Kyle Strait knee pads!
  • 3 0
 I can recommend the Leatt knee and shin pads. I have them for few seasons now and they are very good even if you want to pedal or walk in them.
  • 1 0
 How come no one's talking about D30 padded chamois' (chamois's?) and where's @mikelevy when you need some good chamois commentary about this? Also, what's the written plural of chamois? Gotta know. Kaz wants to hear more about chamois's's's

I will add that having mashed last year on a slab I've ridden 100's of times and getting a 1/2 egg sized hematoma on a hip - I moved to a D30 lined chamois (sides, fronts, rear, lots) for park or rough riding and that shit has saved me from more 1/2 eggs since. Hardly even know its on.
  • 4 0
 Ion K-Pact is level 2 protection and still comfortable and enough side protection
  • 1 0
 Ive tried a lot of pads, most dont last. The POC pads I now have have lasted 5+ years and are as good as new even when being thrown in the washing machine regularly. They might be a bit more expensive but they are still cheaper than the other 3 pairs you buy for the same period. My son has the fox ones and they are falling to pieces after merely 18 months.
  • 1 0
 Been running the raceface line for a few years after retiring my A-stars Moab's I love the Roam knee a little bit more than the fox impacts I got and passed on to a riding buddy, the foxes are great but especially new the silicone gripper removed a good amount of hair from my legs, and the caps dig in to your legs when standing. My ambush knees have been taking a licking and keep on kickin, I have no complaints
  • 1 0
 One design i always find weird is Dainese with their outer textured rubbery grid (no double entendre meant). Why would anyone want a GRIPPY surface on the OUTER side of the knee pad?! More friction with the ground pretty much guarantees the pads slide off the knee on impact. That's the reason most bmx/street pads are a smooth plastic shell- they can skid on them for an hour without the pad slipping. Such a weird design by Dainese. I know many people like them, but the physics just doesn't add up...
  • 1 0
 I am wearing Fox jacket with built-in elbow and shoulder protectors. On recent days in Kicking Horse when it was super hot, I was thinking that maybe it is finally too much protection. Then I hit the root with my bash guard, super lame, slow speed and crashed with my full body weight on my shoulder. I barely felt anything and just had it sore a little next day. My friend took similar crash and shutter his shoulder and now out for prob 2 month right before season ends. So yeah I will stick to my full upped body, hot and stinky jacket as well as fox moto knee + shin hardcase protectors for park days. Also, I see a lot of people not even wearing basic back \ torso protectors. Last year I fell on a sharp rock, again slow speed, landing hard. Had a bruise on my back, without my fox jacket that would have been a broken rib. I am a decent rider, but most of my crashes are slow speed, lame when I am not expecting one, and it seems like the most consequential one are always like that.
  • 1 0
 i'd love to see a lightweight trail bike version of this article. I've smashed my knees so many times for years, and still haven't learned my lesson. I think its high time for some!
  • 5 0
 This one came out a couple of years ago, but it still has some worthy options. www.pinkbike.com/news/review-6-best-new-pedal-friendly-knee-pads-2021.html
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: and those Chromag pads are still the best by a long shot, so no need to update the article yet!
  • 1 0
 Leatt knee pads have been great. I don’t use those with the shin protection, but their regular knees have been very comfortable and they stay in place.

Just got their elbow pads to try as well.
  • 1 0
 I have the ones with shin protection to replace my current setup that pairs the Leatt knee-only with g-form shins. I think I actually prefer the two-part solution for comfort and coverage. Funnt enough elbow pads are far more common in the DJ world; I started wearing them after a few dingers on wood and concrete and that's carried over into the DH / park world for me.
  • 3 1
 No Dainese? The brand that invented DH protection.
Yet two brands using D30 ( a uk based company you simply buy off the shelf for "your" pads)
Shame on pinkbike.
  • 1 0
 Light weight full face helmet combined with neck brace, and elbow, knee, and shin guards everywhere now. After reading some of the comments here, I'll be looking for chest protection next.
  • 2 0
 Plastic shells slides across dirt and rocks... fabric causes instant faceplant. If you need an example just watch Skateboarders.
  • 1 0
 My goto bike park pads are IXS Trigger Race.

I have the regular POC Joint VPD 2.0 and VPD Lite knee pads and both of them are too short on the upper thigh. They need to extend them about 2"
  • 4 0
 Ion K-Pacts still blow all of these out of the water
  • 2 0
 Can we complain about how our favourite kneepads haven't been tested, like we do with bikes?

I'd like to see Dakine and IXS included next time, as a fan of their products.
  • 1 0
 Every time I get POC knee pads they are tight the first few rides behind the knees. Shortly after they loosen up and cause no issues.
  • 3 0
 ixs dagger, 6 years of riding, still my favorites
  • 1 0
 Alpinestars Vector Tech knee pads are my favourite so far. Super comfy to ride in and you can take them off with your shoes or mx boots still on.
  • 2 0
 As lame as some see it, be cool to see an article like this of the best chest protection for days on the big bike
  • 1 0
 Loved my Fox Launch knee/shin and elbow combo. Hard shell protection that was light weight, breathed really well and basically you forgot you had on.
  • 1 0
 Fox Launch Pros have been my all-around for years now. Totally fine for climbing and long rides. Easy enough to pull down if hitting a long easy climb.
  • 2 0
 Still rocking my ROACH pads...
  • 2 0
 IXS Carve Evo, much lighter and cooler than my POCs
  • 1 0
 Should've added the Endura MT500. Bought them after looking through many many different reviews.
  • 1 0
 Was still wearing my kyle straights until just recently, now replaced with some TLD raid pads
  • 2 0
 No G-Form? By far my favorite knee pads I've ever worn.
  • 1 0
 Please pictures of how they look pulled down around your ankles for final purchase decision
  • 1 0
 Fuse Echo 100, is my only comment to this.
  • 1 0
 ENDURA MT500 HARD SHELL are AMAZING! Must be on the list!
  • 1 0
 Got my Fox Launch Pro D3O some days ago, very nic and they sit in place !
  • 1 0
 100% Surpass? Might be the only ones with level 2 impact protection
  • 1 0
 I was hoping to see those on the list. Oh well. I just bought a pair but haven't ridden with them yet.
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