Trail Rated: Troy Lee EG and KG Armor Built to All-Mountain, Enduro Spec

Armor

Internally, the EG and KG series guards use a combination of soft and hard sandwiched foam to create a robust but flexible padding matrix.

In real world testing I did, in fact, have some unplanned impacts, further confirming the assumption. Despite riding clip-ins, I manage to slip a pedal fairly often, usually resulting in a painful metal-on-shin “thwack.” I would go as far as saying–and my pocked and scarred shins would confirm–pedal thwacks account for the bulk of my minor “riding incidents.” I can recall at least two such incidents where the KG 5450s saved me from some shin damage. And also a couple times when they didn’t….which I’ll get to in a bit.

I also did some low-level, live-action crash test dummy-type impacts. Though it might not seem like much, simply dropping to one’s knees on a concrete floor can be pretty painful if unpadded. After several such drops wearing both sets of pads, I–as expected–detected a slightly higher impact energy through the Troy Lee’s than the Fox sample. Neither, however, was painful nor injurious. The KG just had a more noticeable thud.

I can say without question that both saved me from abraded knees as well as potential blunt-impact injury and distress. One could reasonably extrapolate similar results from a test of the elbow guards.

What’s not to like?
A couple paragraphs up, where the KG 5450s didn’t save my shins…that’s not a comment on how the KGs function but on what they don’t cover. My theory goes “if I’m going to wear shin guards (and I am), give me shin guards!” This is not the difference between an open face and a full-face helmet, it’s much more subtle. I’m trying to think of a downside to a longer shinguard and can’t come up with even a single one. Surely the prospect of a nice lower leg tan will be negated by the moonscape of shin craters!

Shin coverage is lacking on the TLD (left) compared to the full-Stormtrooper Fox Launch. While the Fox is overkill for trail riding, we do wish the TLD extended down another four or five inches.

Measurably speaking the Fox Launch shin guards cover my entire shin, extending a full 12-and-a-half inches down from the knee. The TLD makes it just over half way down at seven inches. That leaves a lot of canvas for Pedalo Shimano to get all Jackson Pollack on. If you look closely at my exposed shin in the comparison pics you can see remnants of damage that’s weeks old. It matches a complimentary pedal bite covered by the guard on the other side.

And while we’re on the subject of where protection isn’t, it should be noted that coverage on the sides and tops of the knees is minimal. It’s also fairly slim down the shin bone.

Pads on, pads off…means shoes off too
The only other gripe I have is less about this particular model and more about type. Inherently, this type of guard requires the removal of shoes to slip on and off–trying to slip them over shoes only results in grimy, stretched out pads if you can even do it. Unfortunately for TLD, I’m spoiled by the Fox Launch guards and their simple X-Up click-in strapping system. In less time than it takes me to get my shoe off, I can have a Launch strapped up and ready to go.

There’s better news on the elbow/forearm guards…for me they’re appropriately snug and stay put, even when I’m hot and sweaty. Some riders, however, reported restrictive tightness in one size, but excessive looseness in the next size up. Score a point for the Joe Average-armed tester, however, the mediums fit me spot-on.

Size up the situation
That situation brings up a very good caveat: try these pads on before you buy. Though I’m sure someone at TLD did a detailed sizing study to determine the size ranges, we humans have a myriad of variables nobody could reasonably capture on a simple chart, or even in four non-adjustable sizes for that matter. According to the hang tag, I should fit a medium in the elbow guards, and size large in the legs. Turns out I’m a medium in both, so definitely put on a pair and walk around for a while.

Though the guards come in four sizes–XS, S, M and L–it’s entirely possible that like the other test rider I mentioned, you may find a smaller size too tight and a larger one too loose–neither a scenario you want to ride in. If that’s you, consider buying the larger one and having someone with sewing skills take a little slack out for you…and by a little, I mean very little–it’s amazing what a couple millimeters one way or the other will do.

Coming clean–care and feeding of your guards
Like all wearables, the EG and KG guards are not immune to acquiring odors. Though I thought I knew all my personal aromas, the TLDs have introduced me to a new variety I can only describe as “pungent, rancid Cheetos.” Thankfully, they’re machine washable and one run through the cold cycle followed by some drip drying returned them to olfactory neutrality.

The bottom line on the Troy Lee EG 5550 and KG 5450 guards
The Troy Lee Designs EG and KG series guards are some of the best light- to mid-duty limb protectors on the market. The advantages of their light weight, relatively cool running temperature, and flexibility trump their somewhat limited coverage and klunky on/off routine. Their excellent portability and pedaling comfort make them a great choice for trail ride, all-mountain, and enduro riding and racing–technical cycling that could benefit from some protection, but doesn’t require DH-level defense and bulk.

Plusses

  • Excellent ergonomics
  • Superior flexibility
  • Massive weight savings over hard shells
  • Much more comfortable than soft shells
  • Extremely portable
  • Quality construction
  • Cut/abrasion resistant
  • Reasonable airflow
  • Machine washable
  • Subtle, tasteful color scheme
  • Commensurate protection-to-task ratio

Minuses

  • Sizing is hit-or-miss for some
  • Shin guard is too short
  • Lacks side knee and top protection

Pricing and Weight

  • Troy Lee Designs EG 5550 Elbow Guards, 210 grams – $65 MSRP
  • Troy Lee Designs KG 5450 Knee Guards, 260 grams – $75 MSRP

More info at: troyleedesigns.com; 1-800-239-6566

Trail Rated: Troy Lee EG and KG Armor Built to All-Mountain, Enduro Spec Gallery
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    Troy Lee Designs EG 5550 Elbow & KG 5450 Knee guards

    The Troy Lee Designs EG 5550 elbow guards and KG 5450 knee guards go together like Dr. Evil and Mini Me.
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    Troy Lee Designs EG 5550 Elbow & KG 5450 Knee Guards Padding

    Internally, the EG and KG series guards use a combination of soft and hard sandwiched foam to create a robust but flexible padding matrix.
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    X-Fit Fabric

    TLDs X-Fit fabric configuration along with rubber-backed grip zones keep the guards secure and in place.
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    X-Fit Spandex/Nylon Blend

    The snug-fitting X-Fit Spandex/nylon blend comfortably allows both the elbow and knee guards to flex naturally.
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    Troy Lee Designs KG 5450 Knee Guards Shin Coverage Comparison

    Shin coverage is lacking on the TLD (left) compared to the full-Stormtrooper Fox Launch. While the Fox is overkill for trail riding, we do wish the TLD extended down another four or five inches.
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    Troy Lee Designs KG 5450 Knee Guards Packed

    The minimalist TLD guards (left) pack and carry more compactly than typical full-coverage DH guards, like the Fox Launch (right).
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About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born editorial director Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area and pedaling for Mtbr, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.


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  • AJ says:

    My friend and I both have a set of these TLD knee and elbow pads, and they don’t work for shit! My friend ripped his knee open in a crash b/c the knee pads slid off during the crash. While riding around, I have notice the elbow pads move further and further down my arm. So now I wear my TLD knee and shin pad (plastic one) and fox titen body armor. The 661 knee pads are much better than these.

  • Dongoose says:

    AJ –

    There is no piece of safety equipment whose limits cannot be exceeded…that doesn’t mean something “doesn’t work,” for feces or otherwise. The fact that you’re wearing hard armor now makes it sound like you ride some pretty rough trails, which may warrant that level of protection.

    The first set of elbow guards I ever had –an old pair of Fox’–were too loose. and I had a smilar situation to that of your friend. They slid down when I needed them to stay in place and I got scraped up right where the pad should have been. Since then, I’ve taken care to ride with very tight pads and haven’t had that issue again.

    That said, I probably should have noted in my review that the EG and KG pads have a very rough surface, which may cause them to stick rather than slide, like hard shell armor. It’s conceivable that the high-friction material could contribute to the pads moving out of place.

    In any case, I found the pads to be suitable to the kind of technical trail riding they were built for. Your results may very.

    Don

    • Mossy says:

      I have a set of the kneepads and can recommend them for those looking for something they can wear during the climbs. Obviously these wont protect as well as full-hardshell moto style pads, but certainly do protect the front of the kneecap. I crashed pretty hard on them and bruised the kneecap a bit because the foam used in these is pretty thin, and the kneecap banged pretty hard against the ground. They did, however, save my knees from a more severe bruising if not worse.

      For something with a bit more protection, look into the POCs..

  • murrdogg says:

    I will also say these did not provide me much protection at all in a crash.
    I’ve switched to POC VPD’s and they seem to stay in place better and have more protection, however i have not crashed in them yet….knock on wood.

  • marvin rouge says:

    I have a set of the joint only for a couple of years now – fantastic. I have stacked once in them and they worked really well. Mashed my knee into the ground and came away unscathed. Very comfortable and not too hot. Ideal for XC/AM day wear, as you scarcely notice them on.

  • Jp says:

    Have both the EG and the KG and the shorter KG5400. I can vouch for them moving in a crash. I have had the wife sew an elastic strap onto the top and that seems to have done the trick. These are not downhill pads but for XC and recreational AM I have not found a better knee guard. Note however none of this applies to the Elbow guard. They stay in place fine. I still recommend them highly. Just a small mod needed though.

  • BILLYCRASH69 says:

    I’ve owned both TLD elbow & knee pads on my second season now for aggressive trail riding and agree with the other reviews that they don’t stay in place. Initially they did but the elastic has sacked out & become excessively loose. Not happy with these for this reason. Am looking into the new Leatt & THE products now…

  • leondelmonte says:

    these pads are nice at first, but they can be better.
    The ones I had were good on the first 3 rides, then, they slide down, the elastic bands get loose, and you know you spend more time pulling them up in place than riding.
    they are comfortable when new, but should have an adjustable band to tighten in place

  • steve says:

    wtf ? these are not for high impact hits , that’s what hard shell pads are for these pads are mainly for trail riding and to protect against branches and brush or low impact falls most people can tell the difference when looking at them” before” purchase. so when you dump going downhill at 35 mph jonny rock star don’t blame the pad blame yourself because you couldn’t tell the difference in low and high impact pads………………..

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