Review: POC VPD 2.0 Knee and Elbow Armor

Armor

The POC VPD 2.0 armor seems to fall in a cusp between hard-shell armor and soft, due to the thickness of the VPD 2.0 protection material, robust stitching and rugged fabric, and an overbuilt character. It doesn’t offer the ultimate safety and protection of hard-shell armor, though it’s pretty darn substantial for a softer based system, and it delivers more comfort and is easier to carry. The VPD or Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough material hardens upon impact for better protection and shock absorption, and in addition, its lightweight, flexible and moldable. The second generation VPD, which is called VPD 2.0, offers better shock absorption and allows 3D molding, in which they can create multiple densities within the padding.

The Joint VPD 2.0 Knee armor uses a perforated 3D molded VPD 2.0 knee protector, with tough Kevlar reinforced stretch fabric in front, a stretchy and comfortable Lycra inner sleeve, a securing top elastic strap with Velcro closure, and another optional one towards the bottom. It comes in Black, and S, M, L and XL sizes and retails for $120.

The Joint VPD 2.0 Elbow armor uses a perforated 3D molded VPD 2.0 elbow protector, with tough Kevlar reinforced stretch fabric in front, a stretchy and comfortable Lycra inner sleeve, an upper slip resistant neoprene cuff, and one mid located elastic strap. Note that the latest model appears to have an elastic strap with Velcro closure at the top and bottom, instead of the singular version that I tested. It comes in Black, and S, M and L sizes and retails for $100.

A portion of the inner sleeve material for both the Knee and Elbow armor has Polygiene (natural silver salt) applied to the fabric, which neutralizes odor by stopping the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi.

Impressions

The VPD 2.0 Knee offers good protection and wide coverage, and extends just slightly outward at the knee cap. The straps make it easy to adjust the tightness around your leg, though on long rides while doing lots of pedaling they tended to droop sometimes, and a quick yank upwards was required to put them back into position. The pre-bend of the VPD 2.0 knee cap kept them in place during a crash, tumble and while pedaling, and though they offered enough flexibility and decent comfort, they still felt cumbersome and restrictive on long spinning sessions. During long rides where you’ll do lots of pedaling, I found that they slightly rubbed and pinched on the inside of my upper calf, sometimes leaving a slight welt mark. For that reason, I reserved the VPD 2.0 knee for more serious, gnarly and technical rides, and bike parks. They also could get warm and sweaty since their ventilation wasn’t the best, and the front’s general thickness and tight weave of the Kevlar material didn’t help matters. What they do offer is excellent protection when you crash, and I didn’t suffer outstanding injuries when that happened on those rare occasions when I cascaded into a rock field.

The VPD 2.0 Elbow offers good protection and wide coverage, and the VPD 2.0 padding extends just slightly outwards at the elbow. Even though it only had one strap, it stayed in place like it was attached to my elbow. It’s rare that any elbow armor stays in place, as they always seem to droop, and you’re constantly having to yank them back upwards. The VPD 2.0 Elbow armor never moved out of its location once I placed it there, and between the use of different fabrics, the pre-bend of the VPD 2.0 elbow cup, and the upper neoprene cuff, it felt like it was glued there. Even though it stayed in place, it was very comfortable and highly flexible, helped greatly by the stretchy and soft inner sleeve, VPD 2.0 protection material and front Kevlar reinforced stretch fabric. The VPD 2.0 Elbow cup is fairly thick and bulky, and it might not fit under every long-sleeved jersey and jacket, so it works best with loose fitting garments. I took lots of mild tumbles and side fall over’s wearing the VPD 2.0 Elbow armor, and outside of some minor scratching; I never had any big injuries, though I didn’t take any high speed crashes with them on. The VPD 2.0 Elbow is an excellent product, and is one that I wear whenever I am going to be in some nasty terrain.

With the robust stitching and materials, excellent construction, and overbuild, the VPD 2.0 Knee and Elbow have been extremely durable, and after prolonged use, they haven’t shown any premature signs of wear and tear. Other than an occasional washing to remove sweat stains and dirt, I have never done much else to care for them. They are both easy to slip on, and once the straps were adjusted; I didn’t find a need for altering them further.

Bottom Line 

The VPD 2.0 material offers excellent protection and shock absorption, flexibility and comfort. The pre-bent molded shape of the knee and elbow cups keep them in place, and it helps them to conform to your body for better comfort and safety during a crash. The use of the perforated and flexible pre-bent cups, stretchy and soft materials, offer maximum comfort and generous body movement, whether that’s pedaling for the knees or maneuvering for the elbows. I was satisfied with the Knee and Elbow crash worthiness during my occasional tumbles and fall over’s, and I didn’t suffer any undue injuries, which highlights their effective protection.

I personally found the Joint VPD 2.0 Elbow to be my favorite, as it always stayed in place while wearing, and was very comfortable and flexible. I tended to reserve the Joint VPD 2.0 Knee for gnarlier days when I needed the utmost in protection, since I found that they rubbed and pinched the back of my leg if I did too much pedaling. Overall, the Joint VPD 2.0 Knee and Elbow are great products, since they use the excellent VPD 2.0 material with its shock absorption and pre-bent molding, and have overbuilt construction, rugged stitching and materials; all which make for a durable, comfortable and safe armor product.

Pros
  • VPD 2.0 Material – Excellent protection and shock absorption
  • Easy to slip on
  • Elbow – stays in place
  • Elbow – comfortable and flexible
  • Durable and well made
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Knee – rubbing/pinching issues during long pedaling sessions
  • Knee – can feel warm (minor nitpick)
  • Knee – can droop (minor nitpick)
Joint VPD 2.0 Knee Rating:

4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Joint VPD 2.0 Elbow Rating:

5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Review: POC VPD 2.0 Knee and Elbow Armor Gallery
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    POC VPD 2.0 Armor

    POC VPD 2.0 Armor - Wearing both the knee and elbow armor
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    POC VPD 2.0 Armor

    POC VPD 2.0 Armor - Wearing the Elbow, not the pre-bend
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    POC VPD 2.0 Armor

    POC VPD 2.0 Armor - Wearing the Knee, note the pre-bend and elastic straps
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    POC VPD 2.0 Armor

    POC VPD 2.0 Armor - Side view of armor, highlighting the pre-bend
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    POC VPD 2.0 Armor

    POC VPD 2.0 Armor - showing the front and back of the Knee and Elbow




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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Joel says:

    Would be nice to have some info about how the knee pads fit with shin guards. I wouldn’t wear knee pads only.

    • LSP says:

      I use both the shin and knee together on occasion and have no problem with articulation. The shin pads are not as robust as the knee pads, but they certainly eliminate pedal strike and down tube brusing on stall side falls. I don’t have much to complain about with the knee pads. The VPD is thick and will protect you from the worst of a gritty track. The shin pads do not move one iota once the ankle strap is velcroed down. When in place it does not allow the knee pad to slide down. Really nice stuff and worth the price. For speedy downhill I use their bone products and VPD1 vest. I work… So the extra protection of the bone pads adds a degree of peace of mind. Hope this helps somewhat.

  • Boner says:

    I always wonder about protective equipment reviews. Shouldn’t those go to the clumsiest, most accident-prone mountain biker with the most to lose in terms of family and career? And what about the ads? I want to see an ad for a completely bashed-up, chipped and cracked full-face helmet on the desk next to a guy taking a MENSA test with his feet up on the table giving a thumbs-up sign. THAT’s the helmet I want to buy. I want to see an ad for someone going arse-over-teakettle through a cheese-grater rock garden, then putting down some fly moves up in da club. THAT’s the body armor I want to buy.

  • Jared says:

    How were they in the cold? I have the previous version of those pads and they’re great at body temp, but if its cold out the pads are much more stiff. If you leave them in the car on a cold morning you have to heat them in the defroster before they’re wearable.

  • Eric says:

    No Problem pedaling in mine! Stay put nice, just gets a bit sweaty under there.
    Had a front end wash out today and went down on my knee. Didn’t feel a thing.

  • bryan says:

    The extra straps on the newer generation is a definite improvement, hopefully that fixes my biggest complaint with the older generation, constantly fidgeting with them because they slipped all over the place. After two rides they drove me bonkers, I couldn’t wear them again. I really tried to like them, but at almost double the cost I was disappointed, ouch.

  • kevin says:

    I run the DH version of the knees; the big question I had was: but how do they work? Took a face-plant digger a few days ago. Apparently by the gouges in the hard plastic I hit my knees pretty good, too. Didn’t feel a thing. They also have longer coverage, which I love since I ride flats. Cortex Flow helmet also totally kicks ass; I’ve crashed in it twice and both times was sooo glad I didn’t just have my XC lid on. As for pedaling with the pads on, yeah, I’ll do it though at this point I just shove them and my full face onto my pack and swap out at the top. Then again, I’m riding less XC and more all mountain stuff these days.

  • Mike says:

    I think what many people are forgetting is that these pads are geared towards downhill. The are great for downhill, freeride, and slopestyle events, maybe even some gnarly enduro racing. But these are not pads that are made for riding XC trail rides everyday. No pads will feel comfortable when you are pedaling (except maybe g-form pads, which are hardly pads at all).

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