From the Forums: Do you wear kneepads on every ride?

How frequently mountain bikers wear kneepads?

Armor From the Forums
From the Forums: Do you always wear kneepads when you ride?

Do you always wear kneepads when you ride?

In recent years, kneepads have advanced to the point that they’re light, flexible and comfortable enough for all-day rides, meaning there’s very little reason NOT to wear them for aggressive trail riding. There’s an interesting discussion going on in our forums about how frequently mountain bikers wear kneepads while riding.

Related: The best kneepads for mountain biking

Pads help when knee meets rock or in this case, hammer.

Some riders have become so accustomed to wearing kneepads that they feel naked without them—like riding without a helmet—and never leave home without them.

“I don’t even go put air in the tires, as I prepare for the ride, until I’ve put on my knee and elbow pads! With modern gear the comfort level is so high I don’t see the reason not to use them. To paraphrase this old line from dentistry (only floss the teeth you want to save)….only put a kneepad on the knees you want to continue to use!” one rider noted.

Related: 7 biggest mountain biking myths

The latest kneepads are so light and comfortable there’s very little reason not to gear-up when taking on technical terrain or pushing your limits.

Other riders only reach for them for really technical terrain or when riding in bike parks, and some riders don’t wear them at all. Some non-kneepad riders point to the fact that they rarely crash or don’t like how kneepads feel, especially when riding in hot temperatures.

Another mountain biker mused that the times you don’t wear kneepads are the times you really wish you had.

“I lose the urge, then it’s fine for a while, then the pedals put a hole in my shin, then I go clipless for a while, then back to flats, then put a hole in my shin, then use the pads, then lose the urge, then put a hole in my shin…”

Related: The Best Mountain Bike Pants In 2020

Naked knees seem to invite injury.

What about you? How often do you wear kneepads while mountain biking? Share you comments below or in our forums.



About the author: Josh Patterson

Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998, and has been writing about mountain biking and cyclocross since 2006. He was also at the forefront of the gravel cycling movement, and is a multi-time finisher of Dirty Kanza. These days, Josh spends most of this time riding the rocky trails and exploring the lonely gravel roads around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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  • Paul Cherry says:

    At times I wondered if it’s “overkill” wearing my kneepads. But why not? Whenever I come up on a log to jump or a slick root to go through, it just makes practical sense and gives me added confidence. Plus it serves another purpose. My G Form kneepads are sprayed with permethrin as a tick repellent. And so I have no reason not to wear them. Heck in all my years of riding no one has said anything or given me looks not to wear them. And even if they did , who cares? I know what’s best for me. oh and I’m pushing 60 next year. yah, I better keep them on!

  • Geoff Ashworth says:

    I try to wear a simple knee sleeve when I ride. I rode this summer without them on a system that I am used to. I ended up bailing on a bridge, and gashed my knee. Got 5 stitches and couldn’t ride for 6 weeks. Lesson learned.

  • Kent Robertson says:

    I wear knee pads every ride. I’m such a spaz, I never know when I’m going to crash and it seems like I always land knee first. I’ve been wearing the Leatt Airflex Pro and the G-form Pro X2 over the past two or three years. Both comfortable, although the Leatt pad part digs into the top of my shin a bit unless I turn it a little. G-Form are comfy and more protective on the shins and sides…. but the padding has started to peel off the spandex sleeve.

  • Rudi Freeguard says:

    I wear knee pads on every ride. If you have an off then invariably the first thing to hit the ground is your knee (unless you go over the bars). About 6 years ago my pedal hit a low lying stump and I ended up on the ground with my right knee taking the full force of the impact. It swelled up liked a balloon and was painful for several weeks. X-rays showed no breakages, just tissue damage which eventually came right. Now I wear knee pads all the time and since then I have had a few offs with the knee pad saving me. I use Fox Launch Pro knee pads.

  • federico marmolejo says:

    I used to wear them on gnarly terrain only, until one day i crashed on a very green trail and my knee hit the ground first. I thought i broke my patella, could not ride for two weeks. Now i wear them on every ride, they are for the most part comfy and just as a safety precaution is worth it.

  • Tom Reilly says:

    I bought some knee and elbow pads just because of the pandemic. Even though I’m just riding the same beginner level trail I’ve riden a hundred times, I don’t want to accidentally put additional strain on the medical system (or get exposed because I have to go to a hospital).

    I also find that my hands take a beating in most of my crashes. I looked everywhere for protective gloves that had meaningful protection on the palms. They were hard to find, but I eventually discoverd some Specialized Body Geometry Dual Gel Gloves. They don’t sell them on some big online retailers, so you have to know to look for them. The palm gel padding is thicker than it looks – great for crashes (but no special knuckle protection).

  • Camilla says:

    When I just started out with MTB I never wore protective gear. But then I tore three major ligaments in my left knee when I slid out of a tight corner and the bike frame smashed the side of my knee. I had to get ACL reconstruction surgery or else my knee would continue to give out of place and act like a noodle. 9 months to a year recovery time. Trust me, you may feel kind of silly at first wearing protective gear while on an easy trail, but even accidents on green trails can turn into a blown knee or worse. From now on I wear knee pads anytime I’m riding.

  • Alex Murray says:

    It’s way too hot here where I live. With temperatures up over 40degC in summer elbow and knee pads only come on when I’m shuttling in the heat. Heat exhaustion is another factor to consider here, even the choice of fabric for your shirt will affect how hot you get. Winter is fine to wear them all the time. Just depends, I’d consider wearing the full face, goggles and elbow pads as important as the knee pads along with some light moto gloves as I’ve torn through the mtb gloves like butter many times before. Usually if you fall off you’ll also do your elbow, and full faces protect you from swooping birds (bonus), and the goggles stop bugs from hitting your eyes (trust me, a big Christmas beetle to the eyeball at speed will give you an instant headache). I’m not afraid to gear up but it won’t be on a 40degC day on a green, blue or even black trail. Double black you’ve got no choice but to gear up but I won’t be riding it in the heat!

  • Rick Rohwer says:

    Interesting question! I haven’t worn knee pads since playing division I football. I also wore them while wrestling for 15 years.
    I do wear a helmet most times. I never ride without eye protection, or gloves.
    I have lost some skin since MTB biking since 1989, but most damage to my legs has been done by the pedals or sticks I have fallen on.
    I could see wearing a teeth guard before knee armor.
    I did hit a stump on a pedal strike on SPDs that really hurt my foot and tore the shoe free from the pedal (switched to flats soon after). Ruined a pair of excellent shoes.
    Most of my crashes have involved a launch over the handlebars and my shins were never the first concern.

  • Brian says:

    My knees barely work on a good day. Another injury would mean best case, weeks off the bike. I ride pavement without pads, maybe the pretty straight and flat trail that runs along the converted railway path. Any other single track and my knees and shins (Spank Spikes hurt) are covered with at least G-Form. I should probably get better about wearing my elbow pads too. I’ve got scars on top of scars and I’m too old and too fat to worry about looking cool.

  • Rusty Baillie says:

    Knee pads are comfy but don’t protect the shins…….and those shin bones are just waiting to be gashed!
    So I wear full leg pads……usually soft ones but for scary stuff nice and burly helps the mind…….

  • ai says:

    After snap’n a hip on a basic non-technical fire road descent at nite i will be getting use to hip pads as well?

  • Kyle says:

    What would you guys say are the lightest, most comfortable best knee pads for xc riding? Thanks

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