Kali Strike Knee Pads - Review

Dec 19, 2017 at 15:46
by Mike Levy  
Kali pads


Knee pads range from slim, barely there pull-ons that won't do much more than keep all the pieces of your knee in one place after you smash it apart, to thick and burly hard shell pads that look more at home being used on a vert ramp than a trail. Kali's Strike knee pads lean more toward the first option, with a pull-on design, a single hook-and-loop strap to adjust the fit, and something that Kali refers to as 'Xelion' padding that's 3D molded and would have looked the part in Prometheus.

The Strike knee pads go for $85 USD, and are available in four sizes from small to extra-large.
Strike Knee Pad Details

• Intended use: all-mountain, trail
• 3D molded 'Xelion' padding
• Soft knee padding at sides
• Breathable back panel
• Single hook-and-loop strap
• Dual non-slip cuffs
• Weight: 166 grams (single pad, large)
• MSRP: $85 USD
bike.kaliprotectives.com


Design

They're not bright but, with their science fiction-like appearance, it's still hard to miss the all-black Stike knee pads. That look comes from Kali's use of what they're calling Xelion, a rubber-like material that's 3D molded into a highly perforated shape before being sewn onto the Nylon and polyester sleeve. The claim is that the "nano-carbon elastic compound'' material can absorb and disperse impact energy by "instantaneously converting it into heat, which is then dissipated across the entire pad.'' Converting energy to heat is a pretty basic reaction, even if it's not quite how I'd choose to describe a knee pad doing its job, but Kali says that the Xelion material is so good at doing exactly that that it allows for the extremely vented design that you see on the Strike pads.


Kali Strike knee pads
Need some knee pads to pull double duty on the trail and in your local goth nightclub? The Xelion padding is said to firm up when hit, but remain pliable until that moment.


If you think that the Stikes look familiar, it might be because Dainese does a comparable pad that employs what appears to be the same material in a similar fashion. The Italians even have their Trail Skin 2 knee pad at essentially the same price, although I think Dainese beat Kali to the market.

Kali has used more conventional padding to protect both the inside and outside of your knees, with small inserts that should keep those mysterious toptube-caused bruises to a minimum. The compression sleeve that the padding is sewn to sports non-slip bands at both the top and bottom, and there's a single hook-and-look strap at the top of the pad to tweak the fit. Because the Strike is intended to be pedal-friendly, the back panel of fabric is a lightweight, nearly see-through mesh that should keep that behind-the-knee sweat to a minimum.


Kali Strike knee pads
Kali Strike knee pads
The three silicone gripper strips, as well as the wide silicone band, help to keep the upper cuff from sliding down your leg. A mesh back lets them breathe.


All of the above adds up to 166-grams for a single Strike knee pad in size large that's intended for a 45 - 48cm diameter leg above the knee. For comparison's sake, I often use Fox's older Launch Enduro knee pads that, while weighing less, are also basically just a knee warmer with a bit of foam to cover the important bits. Demon's much larger, D3O-equipped Hyper Knee/Shin X D3O V2 pads are what I'll sometimes reach for when I'm in the bike park, and this far more substantial pad weighs 293-grams and offers protection for the shin as well. Unlike the Strike or Launch Enduro pads, I wouldn't want to pedal much more than just to the chairlift while wearing the Hypers.



Performance

The majority of slim knee pads are of the pull-on variety to keep them light and simple, and the Strikes are no different. Both the upper and lower cuffs are quite stretchy, and it's pretty easy to pull them up without taking your shoes off, which is nice if you prefer to leave them stashed in your bag during the climb. I'm more of a 'put them on at the beginning of the ride' kinda guy, however, as I'd rather not stop and be faffing about with pads at the top of the climb.


Kali knee pad
The thin foam padding on the inside and outside of the knee is nearly invisible but also effective.


Because of that, I find that I'm extra sensitive to how pedal-friendly a set of pads are, and having to constantly pull them up during a climb is on par with slow drivers, The Big Bang Theory, and a stubborn case of the hiccups. I also don't think we should have to be pulling our knee pads down to our ankles during the climb - that's just as bad as needing to use a pedal-assist switch on a trail bike.

The slim Strike pads do a good job of staying put, so there's not much having to pull them up while pedaling. I think I may have had to reach down and tug at their cuffs once or twice during climbs of around an hour in length, but that's completely acceptable in my mind - I also needed to adjust the fit of my shoes and tinker with my shorts in that time, so I'm good with it. Compared to my other go-to slim pads, the Fox Launch Enduro pull-ons, the Kali pads needed far less attention and were just as invisible while offering much more protection than the soft padding that Fox uses.


Kali knee pad
Kali's Xelion padding doesn't fare well when temps dip close to freezing - it tends to get stiff and the pads aren't as comfortable.


All was not perfect, though, as I did discover something about the neat looking Xelion material: it doesn't like cold weather that much. When approaching freezing temps, as it is right now in southwestern British Columbia, Xelion gets about as stiff as I do in cold weather. When it's warm, or at least not near-freezing, the Stike pads are invisible and comfortable, but when it's cold they don't want to bend with your leg, and the Xelion section below the knee wants to lift up off the leg rather than stay put. This was not an issue in temps above 40-degree Fahrenheit.

The design of the Xelion padding, with Kali's logo integrated into it, sure looks cool, and the slim profile means that they play nice with tighter fitting trail-oriented shorts, unlike many bulky knee pads that won't fit under the cuffs of sporty fitting bottoms. To be honest, I didn't go out of my way to see if the Strike pads would keep my knee caps in one piece, but I did smack them with a hammer a bunch (the pads, not my knees) to see if I could feel the material firming up upon impact. No luck, I'm afraid, as this Xelion stuff firms up and then softens near instantaneously, but I have no doubts that it's far more effective than the disposable feeling foam in my other pedal-friendly knee pads.



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesWhile not the best choice if you're a cold weather warrior, the Strike pads are a solid option if you're in need of a pedal-friendly set of slim knee pads. Mike Levy






99 Comments

  • + 133
 Hey Guys, you know that back side of your fork crown that collects mud and everyone hates to clean? Lets make that a knee pad!
  • + 11
 I am assuming that a waterpik is included with purchase.
  • + 8
 The question is how do you make vents without making holes. Apart from that I think you can chuck these in a washing machine... (unfortunately not tested in the review)
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING:
Even a garden hose would rinse these holes out well and quickly I'd think.
  • + 3
 Eh, I've got a set of Dainese trail skins w/ honeycomb holes, and they rinse easily w/ hose spray from interior > exterior. And that's with honeycomb-cut fabric lining the kneepad exterior. These Kali pads would be even easier to clean.
  • + 1
 @silvbullit: Purchase?!?! HA! Myself and a bunch of co-workers have been waiting MONTHS to buy these. It would appear that Kali has stock issues. We had to settle on only half of our order going through Frown
  • + 3
 Good point. I never noticed a bunch of dirt collecting in the pad, but I could see how it might. I've had some pretty muddy rides lately, too.
  • - 4
flag tuumbaq (Dec 20, 2017 at 15:04) (Below Threshold)
 @kurtz433: rinse easily , lol you know what I like about just every other knee pads? They don’t require to be rinsed off ! Hahahaha, its such a dumb design for mtbikes
  • + 13
 you guys are whiny female canines
  • + 1
 hahaha! True!
  • + 3
 I had the dianese trail skins an they where Terrible. Great for riding in but shit for actually crashing....
The texture on the outside would grip the ground an move around when the knee hit the deck in a crash leaving me with big, deep grazes, not really the point of a pad eh?
Yeah an they where shit in the cold an got full of dirt/mud in the texture
Good for under jeans though......
  • + 1
 @kurtz433: I had those to, hated it to clean them in the washing machine because then the rubber sheet comes loose from the honeycomb front layer. Takes 30min of hand picking to put it all back together.
  • + 1
 The difference is that you can't throw your forks in the wash...
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING: You are right, just rinse them of heavy debris first and toss them in the wash and they clean up really easily. After over a year of riding and washing the preproduction models, we’ve not had a problem with debris getting permanently stuck in or behind the molded Xelion pad.
  • + 1
 @BadMotorScooter: Sprry to hear you have had issues getting your hands on these. They were more popular than we anticipated and had to rush another order through production. Earlier this month, we took delivery of our second shipment in the USA. If you can’t find them at your LBS, you can purchase them directly from us online.
  • + 1
 @TheHill: I've def. been there.
  • + 76
 When you have a ride at noon but need to start a bee colony on your knees at 1.
  • + 1
 Kali Strike, the 661 Kyle Strait, but smuggled ones
  • + 7
 Do you get a post-ride buzz?
  • + 15
 Sorry, I'm going to stick to hard shell knee pads, much better aerodynamics.

Kidding aside, this model doesn't seem to be in line with the Kali philosophy that the pads shouldn't grip the terrain as the rotation can be just as bad or worse than the impact. At least that is their idea about helmets and of course my knees are pretty dumb so they're not worried about brain damage. But I can't help but think protective gear should be smooth on the outside, be it a helmet or other pads. I understand they may want to show the technology used but I believe it would also work just fine if filled up with foam (inside all these small chambers) and a sleeve over it.

That said, modern but big and heavy don't bother me when pedaling so I'd take the added protection any time. But considering there are still people riding without knee protection because they find it obstructs their pedaling, there definitely is a place for these super slim knee pads.
  • + 2
 Filling the cavities with foam will reduce the flexibility. A sleeve might not be the worst idea, but these are minimalist kneepads.
  • + 1
 Although you pretty much answered your own question... With cavities or without, the soft shell dynamic material is going to grip the ground in a pretty similar way, regardless of texture.
  • + 0
 I think you might be overlooking something here. Impacts over sliding. Knees go against a lot of impacts rather than sliding. Theyre lanky and stick out from the body and often times hit other objects on the ground rather than just slide around. Compare it to someone like a MotoGP racer. They slide around a lot. Mountain bikers roll and tumble a lot through obscuring objects. Its not going to be smooth regardless. So softening a blow is the more important. With the head though, Kali is right with their philosophy.
  • + 1
 @chillrider199: No, I disagree. There are a lot of videos out there of pros and amateurs crashing and loosing or turning their softshell kneepads. And I even experienced it myself. That's why I am going back to hardshell. I would like to see more hybrids like the IXS Dagger. But they dont offer enough damping.
  • + 1
 I'm with you on that one @vinay. I'm with Scott Granades which are fantastic knee pads, but they also have some rubber on the knee cap. And I can't stop thinking to myself if I can get some injury of twisting my knee because of rubber catch the terrain.
  • + 13
 Those are the bees knees... I’ll escort myself out
  • + 12
 I've seen a movie where Will Smith is flying a jet and kills this kind of things.
  • + 18
 fresh prince of bel air 2: geoffrey's revenge
  • + 6
 Shave those legs @mikelevy, you'll go faster, the pads will stay put and when you wear those nifty goth kneelers out to whatever dark corner of nightlife you spoke of you will be looking gooooood. or bad or weird or whatever is better in that situation.
  • + 4
 I'm not even a tenth as hairy as the guy in the photo.
  • + 4
 i'd like to see more knee pads where the material extends up to your mid-thigh like the speclialized atlas pads. from my experience, this keeps the pads in the same place for the entire ride so you don't have to adjust. as well, i think seeing that gap of your skin between the pad and shorts is soooo passé
  • + 5
 You mean the twat gap?
  • + 1
 @metaam: mtb's gaper gap...
  • + 4
 I'm still waiting to see any Bike Manufacturers live tester crash video on their kneepads/ helmets and see if these actually protected any testers knee or head?
  • + 6
 These are actually the same knee pads Batman rides in
  • + 4
 Kneepads manifacturers, please start making the thigh sleeve higher and include multiple silicon strips there not just one on the edge. Thanks.
  • + 2
 like knee warmers? trapped under a pair of spandex liners to keep them from sliding down? but...that would be impossible because it makes perfect sense.
  • + 2
 Speaking of Kali, wonder what happened to that lightweight, full-face Kali Invader helmet that had a release ETA of Summer 2017? Hope they're still working on it.

www.pinkbike.com/news/kalis-new-enduro-helmet-first-look.html
  • + 1
 Kali has been making great strides in the area of visual appeal with their recent designs. I honestly think that helmet would be regressive, but to each their own.
  • + 2
 @spankthewan: I disagree, looks a lot like a fox proframe, which is a newer design.
If Kali can make that helmet, i will 100% buy one, guaranteed.

That being said, i'm gonna stick with my dakine kneepads.
  • + 1
 @spankthewan: Hard to tell from a drawing. But if it's light and works, I'll probably buy it even if it's not the sleekest design.
  • + 1
 @spankthewan: great strides wasn't that hard when they set the bar so low to start with.
  • + 1
 Hi, A lot of pads have that tough outer shell now, but I have the dainese trail skins 2 which look virtually the same but they hurts as hell when you fall as they are quite hard on the inside. Do the strike pads have padding on the inside to cushion the blow. I dont care for cuts and grazes I want to avoid blunt object pain like when you knock your elbow or knee somewhere. Thanks! Alex
  • + 1
 @mikelevy One thing I would like all knee pad reviews to mention is something I deal with and I know many other folks do to. There are only 1 or 2 riding knee pads that have a great pre-curve at the kneecap to keep the kneecap from pressing the patella against the knee joint.
The slightest pressure against my knee cap causes a LOT of pain after 10 minutes of pedaling, so the only one I've found that is curved enough is the Troy Lee Raid. From what I can, the POC pad may curve enough as well, but haven't tried them on, but virtually no others.

In the future, if you guys could tick that box for those of us with old knees, it would really be appreciated.
  • + 1
 Interesting - I hadn't ever thought of that. Do you have a knee injury or anything that aggravates this? Noted.
  • + 1
 Fox Launch Pro might work for you.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: yep. ACL & Meniscus. Have spoken to a few other riders that it will cause a dull ache if the knee pad pushes on the patella, even in just a light compression manner.

Seems to be that it doesn't let the patella float and with the crappy knee internals I have, it will scream after 10 minutes.
  • + 1
 @bizutch: Not sure how'd they work for you, but I have torn meniscuses in the past and popped bursas in both my knees but had no issue with the Strike pads. Ugh, joints.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: thanks. Now, if ony there were a "sweat like a pig and return them if your knee aches" money back guarantee. Big Grin
  • + 1
 @bizutch: Has the doctor checked the angle of your patella in relation to your femur? Take a look at this information -- orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/patellofemoral-pain-syndrome

I used to have this and tried to correct with physical therapy, but ended up having to resort to this surgery after 6 months of no improvement -- www.medicalexhibits.com/obrasky/2014/14102_05X.jpg

They did mine with a scope though.

I could hopefully be something that you can fix with PT. The surgery option will likely put you off any real exercise for about 14-18 months. It is a brutal PT after the surgery.
  • + 2
 @meesterover: ACL surgery 20 years ago is my main ploy. The replacement ACL is never perfectly aligned like the original, so if I wear my unloader knee brace, I can do good. But literally when riding these days, only the knee pads that press against it hurt when riding.

My main problem is having no meniscus to cushion my walk. Bone on bone. Until they can find a way to regrow that cartlidge, my only cure will be knee replacement, which I plan on putting off until late in my life.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy Have you tried the g-form pads? Curious if you have a comparison to these? Considering your 1337 level of riding, have you ever crashed in either one?

The g-form seem to be a false sense of security with how thin the padding is.
  • + 2
 they work great in bmx racing. g forms held up during a week of clinic training lots of crashes.
  • + 2
 Sooooooo do they actually work? Before buying any kneepad, I always jump up and come down on my knees to see if the things actually protect against impact. Why aren't you doing the same?
  • + 5
 I'd like to go shopping with you someday. I need complete full body armour and full face helmet. I want to make sure we've properly and open mindedly considered all options before I'm going to spend my money.
  • + 2
 Condom shopping must be really awkward
  • + 1
 @mikelevy How do you think that Xelion material would hold up to repeated abrasion? For the photographer that likes riding with unrestrictive pads, but also gets down low a lot on the trail to get the shot. I have been using POC pads to shoot races for years, but on hot days the D3O material compacts pretty quick if your doing a lot of shooting from knee level, but I haven't found any hard shell pads that are not hot and restricting in some way.
  • + 2
 To be honest, I'm not too sure how it'd hold up. I've had a few spills on them but I wouldn't comment on long, long-term use for awhile still. I'll update you here down the road.
  • + 4
 When you wear these knee pads your fanny pack suddenly becomes a “reverse utility belt”.
  • + 3
 The thumbnail on the mobile site looks like a hood clad clan member. Can't unsee
  • + 1
 I don't think I could get past the "super hero" look.

I also think the velcro strap is in the wrong spot. The iXs Flow really do the strap properly IMO and look a little less 50 shades of... something...
  • + 1
 Noticed that you use Fox Enduro Knee pads. Had a pair myself, until this Summer. Very comfortable until you fall. Hit my knee on a rock at low speed and it hurt for about a month. Had to buy something with more protection.
  • + 1
 Lovely knee warms with thin foam in them, though haha
  • + 1
 I've never worn knee pads before so this might be stupid, but wouldn't the body heat from your leg help keep these pliable when the temperature dips south (at least to a point)?
  • + 1
 You answered your own question, I think. It probably does help... to a point.
  • + 1
 No, my body heat didn't help when it was near freezing temps - they were still pretty stiff. Not an issue if it's above 40 degrees, it seems.
  • + 4
 @mikelevy: They heat up if you crash though.

"disperse impact energy by instantaneously converting it into heat"

Solution: if you're cold, just crash moar.

Question: If you crash hard enough, can you use these to start a fire? Would these be a good alternative to carrying waterproof matches for a survival kit?
  • + 2
 @TucsonDon: I eat shit too often as it is.
  • + 1
 does this xelion padding feel more like a gell mattress, or like a hard plastic? I'm having a tough time imagining it protecting my knees from serious damage.
  • + 1
 Looks pretty similar to the Leatt Airflex Pro, just with the Kali pattern on the front, and a velcro strap of questionable usefulness
  • + 2
 Too bad they're not shown with rider in riding position so we see how high up thigh they go...very important to me.
  • + 1
 Or you could buy the Dakine Slayers for a third less sans the goth easily a-fouled padding.
  • + 2
 this tune comes to mind
youtu.be/EtoMN_xi-AM
  • + 2
 How do these compare to the Dainese Trail Skin? Look almost identical
  • + 1
 Same material, same price. I haven't tried the Dainese pads, though.
  • + 2
 #climbswitch4life
seriously
  • + 3
 #crutch
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I bet you never learned to drive stick either.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy : watchu got against Big Bang Theory?!
  • + 2
 Everything.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: fair enough
  • + 1
 Oh Bee Hive! Sorry I meant be have.
  • + 1
 looks like all sorts of crap would get in those holes.
  • + 1
 Dainese called and they want their knee pad back.
  • + 1
 Eventually will fill up with mud and insects and will be fine.
  • + 1
 It's a good thing to see that these knee pads didn't strike out!
  • + 1
 Does anyone make MTB equipment who actually has to clean MTB equipment
  • + 0
 Kyle Straight?!? Nope! Kali Strike. I totally misread the headline and though Lyle had a new sponsor.
  • + 1
 Just get the troy lees
  • + 1
 ...Batman???
  • - 1
 I'm sorry, but you totally lost all my respect when you implied The Big Bang Theory is annoying.
  • + 5
 But it is
  • + 1
 It jumped the shark a few seasons ago.
  • + 12
 It's the worst show on television, which is really saying something these days.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: I'd say it ties for worst with most of the other sitcoms. Made me smile when I saw the shout-out in the review. Glad you're out there getting some with your icicle knee pads instead of huddled indoors in front of bad tv!
  • + 1
 Which CE certification?
  • + 1
 Ini Kali la!!
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