There have been times when my mountain bike knee pads have been the best thing I have ever bought. Those times are when I am sliding down a gravel trail on my knees. It has happened a few times and, if I hadn’t been wearing my knee pads there would have been a serious injury or two. But I have just got back up, found my bike and carried on riding.
And carrying on riding is what we all want to do, so I recommend buying some good mountain bike knee pads.
Which ones should I buy?
The type of mountain bike knee pads you should buy all depends on the style of riding you are in to.
If you mainly ride enduro or cross-country, you don’t want anything too bulky. You can buy great lightweight mountain bike knee pads that are comfortable and give you adequate protection. Riders who like to go out all day and go long distances, will really like these. Most won’t protect anything other than you knees, but they will be effective in most situations.
However, if you ride technical stuff or downhill, you may want something a bit more substantial. For downhill, you can get full knee and shin guards. These have extra padding that give you maximum coverage, not only do they protect you when you fall, but they stop you wacking your shins with your pedals. The thing to look out for with these, (other than protection) is how they attach to your legs. Some are more comfortable than others, due to how they fasten.
Race Face Ambush Evo+ Knee pads
As I have said before on this site Race Face make some great products. These knee pads are well-thought-out. They are aimed at the enduro rider, that likes to take on a bit of downhill too.
Protection comes from D30 foam, this is the clever stuff that is soft to the touch until it has an impact. This is when it hardens up and disperses the shock. They are made for comfort too, with the part in contact with your skin, being made from perforated neoprene. This means you get good ventilation and moisture wicking properties.
They are easier to get on than some mountain bike knee pads, as they open up at the back. This means you don’t need to take off your shoes to put them on or take them off.
These pads are very good and are most riders will get on with them. They look a bit bulky, but they are very comfortable. The only thing is, the sizing is smaller than you would expect. But don’t let that put you off, I recommend buying a size larger than you normally would.
IXS Carve Evo+
As with the fantastic elbow pad version, the IXS carve Evo+ mountain bike knee pads don’t disappoint. They are ergonomically designed to fit around your knee comfortably. You can adjust the fit accordingly with the loop lock closing straps. The Aeromesh technology means that they are well ventilated, breathable and moisture wicking.
Protection comes from IXS’s Xmatter protection foam. This takes on high impacts with ease, by absorbing the shock from when you hit the ground. What I really like about these, is the extra protection they give on the side and below the knees.
A great looking pair of knee pads that you can wear all day. They are comfortable and offer great protection for cross country and enduro rides.
POC Joint VDP Air
For something a bit more lightweight, you might want to check out the POC VDP Air knee pads. These offer good protection without leaving you feeling restricted. They are very flexible and light, meaning you will soon forget that you are wearing them.
The VDP in their name, is POC’s version of the D30 foam. So it hardens up on impact, but is very flexible to ensure a great fit. They are held in place with a velcro strap around the top and silicone strips on the inside to prevent slippage too.
Super comfortable and light mountain bike knee pads. They will protect your knees in most situations. Although the IXS Carves do have the extra protection to the side and below the knee.
G-Form Elite Knee Guard
G-Form make some really technical protection for lots of sports. They use the same technology for all of them, and it works extremely well for mountain biking. The Elite is aimed more towards cross-country riders, who like to go out all day on their bikes.
These mountain bike knee pads fit using a compression fabric. They slide on to your knee and stay there like a second skin. This means that they articulate with all of your movements. To help them stay in place, there are soft silicone grippers at the top and bottom of the pads. These work really well to stop them spinning around your leg when you fall.
The sizing of these, is a bit small. So if you go down the G-Form route, I would possibly go up a size to what you are used to.
The protection is very clever, and is provided by RPT pads that follow the contours of your knee. These pads are super shock absorbent and will look after you on a cross-country ride.
Great mountain bike knee pads for long distance riding. They have great protection and comfort too. Just make sure you get the sizing right.
Dainese Trail Skins 2
For the amount of protection these mountain bike knee pads have, it is amazing how light they are. Their clever construction and design, gives you the most ventilation for any mountain bike knee pad on the market. The latticework structure is pliable making it very comfortable, but it hardens up on impact to absorb the shock.
The Dainese Trail Skins 2 are definitely a contender for the best lightweight knee pads in relation to their high level of protection. They are lightweight and flexible, making them very comfortable. You need to make sure that you get the sizing right, but if you do, you will have an exceptional pair of knee pads suitable for trail and cross country riding.
Race Face Flank Leg Guard
If you like the sound of the Race Face Ambush, but want extra protection, you should check these out. The Flank leg guards have the same knee construction, but with added padding to protect you from those spiky pedals. They are essentially aimed at downhillers, but to be honest, they can be used by anyone that values their lower limbs.
These have all the plus points that the Ambush has, such as being able to take them off and put them on without taking your shoes off.
A great pair of mountain bike knee pads, with extra protection where you need
Which mountain bike knee pads do you like?
These are all great at keeping the gravel out of your knees during a ride. But the Race Face Flank are a bargain, if you can get to them before the sale ends. Which ones do you prefer?
If you are want to look after your other limbs, have a look at my review on some great elbow pads here.