Troy Lee Designs T-Bone II Knee Guards - Review

May 20, 2014 at 15:27
by Mike Kazimer  
Pinkbike Product Picks

Troy Lee Designs T-Bone II knee pad review

Troy Lee Designs T-Bone II Knee Guards

Troy Lee Designs' popular T-Bone knee guards went on a bit of a diet over the winter, re-emerging for the 2014 season with a lighter and more form fitting design. Aimed at the all-mountain segment of the market, they are still a slip-on style guard, with an elasticised hook and loop closure at the top and bottom to keep them in place. A stack of several densities of memory foam is covered with an abrasion resistant material to provide knee cap protection, and additional foam is in place on either side of the pads to further ward off impacts. The back of the T-Bone is constructed from an Airprene mesh to help with breathability. MSRP: $68 USD. Sizes: XS/S, M/L, XL.

Troy Lee Designs T-Bone II knee pad review
The T-Bone guards worked well to keep our knees out of harm's way, but we'd like to see the orientation of the hook and loop straps reversed.

Pinkbike's Take:

bigquotesLighter weight knee pads are much more likely to make their way into our packs these days, especially on those long rides when the last thing you want to be doing is schlepping ten pounds of body armor up an endless climb. The T-Bones make the cut, with an easily packable design that makes it hard to justify ever leaving them at home. Once they're on, they conform well enough that it's more like wearing a slightly thicker set of knee warmers rather than knee pads. The pads did cause some discomfort on the first couple of rides - the circular seam at the rear caused a bit of chafing at the back of the knees during periods of extended pedaling, but once they broke in this was no longer an issue, and they became more and more comfortable with each ride. Weight and fit are one thing, but how a pad performs during a crash is another. I was (unluckily) able to give the T-Bones a full crash testing, as there was a period of time where gravity seemed to be stronger than usual, and on more than one occasion I found myself sliding through corners on my knees, or tossed ungracefully off the bike and into the middle of the trail. The pads did their job, remaining securely in place and absorbing impacts that would have otherwise left my knees abraded and bruised.

Is there room for improvement? Well, it would be nice to see a little additional or thicker padding at the side of the knee around the area of the medial condyle, the protuberance on the side of your knee that seems to have a magnetic attraction to top tubes. There is foam padding on the side of the T-Bones, but the gap that's left to make pedalling easier leaves this area vulnerable. A strip of foam that was oriented horizontally, running from back to front could fill this gap and still allow for pedaling comfort. The only other small change we'd like to see has to do with the upper strap. The pad's construction has the hook portion as the base, and then the elasticized strap holds the loop portion. Those little hooks have a tendency to grab and get hung up on shorts if they are not completely covered by the upper strap - reversing this orientation would fix this, as the loop portion is much less 'grabby'. This is a minor quibble, and on the whole the T-Bone pads are a worthy option for riders looking for an effective and unobtrusive knee pad.
- Mike Kazimer


  • 51 4
 If you aren't falling you aren't learning
  • 96 3
 If you ain't falling, you ain't hauling
  • 10 19
flag panaphonic (May 22, 2014 at 21:43) (Below Threshold)
 There is not anything as sweet as a smooth low-side.
  • 13 26
flag DJ-CARY (May 22, 2014 at 22:14) (Below Threshold)
 If you ain't falling, you are not Trying!
  • 88 3
 If you aren't falling, you are winning. -Every WC winner
  • 15 2
 That's true. Ask Neko Mulally...
  • 27 3
 No falls, No balls
  • 3 0
 Too soon.. Too soon
  • 1 17
flag Lilshredman (May 23, 2014 at 6:11) (Below Threshold)
 If you aren't falling, you aint bleeding, and you aint getting chics!
  • 20 1
 if you're not first, you're last
  • 14 1
 Second place is First place for losers
  • 35 1
 if my auntie had balls, she'd be my uncle
  • 3 14
flag poozank (May 23, 2014 at 9:17) (Below Threshold)
 I guess WC riders aren't hauling because they rarely fall for how much they ride and how fast they go.
  • 6 1
 Lol what you sayin poozank
  • 1 0
 i was lookin for a pair of knees... i think i found them.. .
  • 4 11
flag Pastafarion (May 23, 2014 at 22:10) (Below Threshold)
 My buddies don't know a single person who's crashed as many times as I have in my first year of mountain biking Big Grin I've improved quite a bit now and none of them can keep up with me Smile
  • 6 0
  • 2 5
 If you're not falling off you're not trying hard enough...FACT!
  • 4 2
 Im saying falling ≠ skill or speed
  • 6 3
 I'm saying shut up.
  • 3 1
 Nice contribution to the discussion there
  • 8 0
 Completely correct about the medial condyle. Mine on both legs are almost permanently bruised during the summer. Funny though, I almost never remember smacking against my top tube, so it must be multiple small impacts that add up.
  • 6 3
 You can't beat IXS dagger knee pads for protection. The design and thought that has gone into those its brilliant. I broke my knee cap last year after a 661 knee pad drastically let me down. I now wouldn't wear or trust anything else other than the IXS even though it's not the most comfortable knee pad in the world. If you want to protect your knees avoid soft shell pads like these.
  • 4 15
flag nouser (May 22, 2014 at 22:40) (Below Threshold)
 ......I very much doubt knee pads would save you from breaking your knee cap. All they do is stop cuts and bruises
  • 27 2
 I very much doubt helmets would save you from breaking your skull. All they do is stop cuts and bruises.
  • 10 1
 Your wrong actually. I was there you weren't! The fabric coating on soft shell knee pads actually gets snagged on the ground which causes the knee pad to pull down your leg. This is exactly what happened to me and my knee ended up hitting the ground with no protection on it and that's when it broke . Hard shell pads slide across the ground with out snagging on anything. It's not just me that says that I have read research into this too. Also the IXS has a far superior fit and also has grippers on the inside of the pad to also prevent it from sliding down your leg. I would never wear soft shell again and would not allow our 12 year old lad to wear them either .
  • 4 2
 dbaser. Very good point!!! :-)
  • 14 1
 Think about this: you drop your beer bottle on the concrete, it breaks, your beer is gone. You drop your beer bottle on your carpet, your beer is gone but your bottle doesn't break. Knee pads could be the difference between a broken knee cap and a really big bruise. Please don't put this to the test and be wasting good beer, we're better than that.
  • 3 1
 Ha ha good analogy.
  • 2 0
 why the hell would you drop beer?
  • 3 0
 I've got my second pair of t-bones now. Been riding them for over 5 years now and given the choice, I would still buy the old model. Feels safer to have a hardshell and they still are very comfortable
  • 6 1
 They remind me of Frankenstein's monster.

  • 2 0
 Just got these yesterday and took them out for a ride. They fit nice a little tight but they are brand new, and they allowed for pedaling easy enough. Over time im sure they will stretch out a bit and fit better. No falls yet but having a little extra protection gives me a false sense of security Smile
  • 1 0
 Got a set of these, they are not comfortable...stiff! I wanted to return them, but I've already used them for a day since I had no choice, they were the only ones I had. Better something, than nothing that day DHing in Tahoe.
  • 1 0
 I was refering to the T-Bone 1's, were stiff, didn't stay in place, and moved down from the knees, they were not comfortable at all. I hope these T-Bone 2s are better, it looks good.
  • 1 1
 sell them on e-bay and get a kyle straits
  • 4 1
 These things look awesome. Props to Troy Lee for innovating already amazing pads.
  • 7 3
 I prefer some plastic over knee cap. Not just foam.
  • 2 1
 Totally agree.
  • 3 2
 These look great! just got some 2014 TLD kit (A1, Ruckus shorts, skyline jersey) and it's all top notch.
Perfect match of comfort and style, nice work TLD!
  • 3 2
 It sounds as if your kit is brand new.
  • 2 0
 Not any more
  • 4 1
 But i dont want to take my shoes off at the top when i put on my pads....
  • 2 0
 agreed... fox launch pros (velcro, knee+shin) are alright for those quick transitions but I'm looking for a smaller (knee only) non-slip on. that doesn't make me look like a storm trooper. any suggestions, anyone?
  • 7 0
 RF flank for knee+shin or ambush for knee
  • 1 1
 The other option (and the one I'm looking into) is to go with a lightweight enough pad, that you don't have worry about not wearing them on the way up, like the iXS Flow. I still haven't gotten any to try, but reviews are positive. I might go with the Dianese Trail Skins though: Just seems like it will be easier to run a pad I don't have to think about, rather than have to pad up at the top of a climb.
  • 1 0
 Leatt dual axis kneeguard. Set the velcro once and forget it. Comfy too.
  • 2 0
 @The-dirt-farmer good call on the RF. think i will try on the RF Dig Knee too. Old school me still feels safer with hard shell knee protection.
  • 1 0
 POC DH pads combine hard and soft shell; I run the long version to keep my pedals from biting my shins or calfs. Having both pedaled up decent climbs with them, and crash tested them, I love 'em. The time I crashed it took me a moment to realize I had driven my knee into the hard trail tread and gravel with substantial impact. Yeah, I do have to take off my shoes to put em on and take em off, though I'm willing to do it...
  • 1 0
 Kali makes a nice knee pad , they stay in place really well. Got warm on the ride up but now they stay in the pack until I get to the top.
  • 2 0
 I fell, but was with Troy LeeSmile
  • 3 0
 je to porzondne ?
  • 3 0
  • 4 0
  • 1 0
 Don't bother with these pads if you never skip leg day, really come up small.
  • 2 1
 These or Semenuks? choices, choices...
  • 3 2
 Most uncomfortable knee pads i've ever had...
  • 2 3
 Ditto that.
  • 3 1
 1 word: VPD 2.0
  • 5 2
 Not really, that's an acronym and a number. Not to mention POC stuff is overpriced and falls apart in no time.
  • 1 0
 Totally agree... love my POC's!
  • 1 1
 @uk guy: sarcasm 0? really? POC maybe overpriced, but products are good
  • 1 0
 Not in my experience. Stitching on my POC knee/shins came apart in a matter of weeks rendering them useless. Likewise my POC spine armour thing the shoulder pads are falling off and the zip constantly jams so I can't do it up - and I rarely even wear it.

Don't get me wrong, they design nice looking stuff and performance in terms of protection I think is very good, but their build quality is lacking IMO.
  • 1 0
 Got you. It's weird, gloves and kneepads of mine have been good so far, two years of harsh use.
  • 1 0
 anyone else remember the days of three products every friday?
  • 1 2
 Don´t get me wrong. I really like TLD gear but the new T-Bone is kinda ugly, isn't it? The white stitches...dunno. Not mine
  • 1 2
 Oneal pumpguns all the way for me
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