When I am riding anything technical or demanding, I wear armor, since it always seems that you’ll crash if you’re not wearing it? Plus, my 5o year-old body needs some additional padding and protection, not only for safety, but for the longevity of my riding career, and in addition even a moderate injury can keep you off the bike for a long period of time. The knee pads are a no-brainer to wear, as they are comfortable, unobtrusive, and light. I like the full wrap around protection, and the small six side foam buttons are noteworthy, offering an additional layer of safety for those crashing side rollers and slides, and general banging and bashing into trees while riding in heinous terrain. The side sections give one a firm gripping surface when holding the bike frame or saddle with your knees, and provide some padding and cushioning when the bike gets slammed and bumps into you. I like that they use a combination of a hard plastic and soft material, and it makes a great compromise between the two designs. Both the knee and knee/shin are slip-on, with the shin requiring a reattachment of the lower strap at the ankle. Once I got the Velcro straps set properly, and allowed a slight break-in period, I never made another alteration to the attachment system, and everything stayed snug without any binding or pressure spots. Like any set of armor, they can droop after some long spins or climbs, but they at least still stay up high enough for critical protection. Compared to most of the competition, the “droop factor” was negligible. All the models are slim fitting, so I could wear them under rain pants without any issues, and they were stretchy enough to be used over tights.
Over time, the perforation holes on top of the knee where it stretches repeatedly, have started to elongate and get thread bare, although amazingly, they haven’t frayed or fallen apart (as yet) in my nine months of abusive and regular usage? I might suggest a heavier layering of material in this section? The plastic knee cap uses a Kevlar material for protection, and so it has been very extremely durable, and will certainly outlast the stretchy wrap around perforated material.
The knee guards have been one of my favorite sets of armor to wear, as they are comfortable, easy to take on and off, small enough to be packable, not too hot, offer great protection, and are tolerable while spinning. Let’s be honest, any leg armor, whether soft or hard has some sort of compromise when it comes to spinning, especially when doing long climbs and cranking out some distances. I have crashed repeatedly in them, and suffered no injuries, outside of an occasional scarped shin. I am always returning to this knee guard as my “go-to” set of leg protection, especially when I was doing more mileages and mellower All Mountain terrain, which isn’t to say I don’t use them on some pretty sick gonzo abusive environments!
I live in a place that has a lot of Scrub Oak, and without shin protection you can get pretty chewed up. I had used the AAZIS Knee Guards, and really liked them, but I had to keep wearing leg warmers to keep my shins from getting eaten alive when I was riding in that environment. In addition, the shin pads were nice when you get clobbered by pedals, hit by low slung branches or have sticks tossed at you, or crash into sharp rocks. I grabbed the full set of knee/shin armor when I knew I was going to be riding gnarly and steep ledgy terrain, heavy-duty rock gardens, and anything remotely sick, since I prefer to be better safe than sorry. When I was riding with the knee/shin set, I felt like I had fuller knee and lower limb protection, and still retained a decent amount of comfort.
After long spinning sessions, grinding up hills or along flats, they would ever so slightly creep down, but it was very subtle, and a quick yank on them returned them to the higher position. Even after completing longer rides, they were quite comfy, though they did feel just a tad warm, but with the most full-coverage leg armor, that’s to be expected. On endurance rides, they chafed the side of my knee, which was due to the slightly higher middle Velcro strap, which caused the side knee material to bunch up, and would cause a mild amount of irritation. I do wish they had some material covering the back portion just above the ankle, since I get scratched up by rocks, bushes and trees.