Round-up: Best new lightweight knee and elbow pads

To protect and serve on every ride

Apparel Armor

Leatt Collection

Bikes are getting faster and terrain is getting more exciting, yet the human body remains a soft tissue organism and many of us riders just keep getting older. So something has to give on those inevitable crashes and it’s usually our bones or tissue. We’ve tried armor and protection before, but while they feel right at home at the bike resorts or shuttle runs, they seem quite inappropriate for trail rides or any ride with sufficient climbing involved.

Well the industry is here to the rescue with lightweight pads! The most exciting category of protection seems to be targeted to folks ‘who wouldn’t wear pads otherwise’ and ‘who need to show up to work on Monday.’ There’s a huge market for armor and protection if compromises in climbing, ventilation and comfort are minimized.

So here is a promising new crop of products that seem best suited to address this market. Special attention has been given towards low weight, good articulation, comfort and ventilation.

But how well do they protect? None of the pads listed below are optimized for a week in Whistler Bike Park, but they all offer some level of protection. One good trend is many of the products are approved with the EN 1621.1 standard. Products sold in Europe that claim ‘bike protection’ need to pass this test. Some products are certified with this test, so take note for that in our report. And we included the definition of these EN tests at the bottom of this story.

POC VDP Air Knee and Elbow Pads

POC VDP Air Knee and Elbow Pads

These lightweight pads from POC are less bulky and more breathable than traditional MTB body armor, making them a great choice for your All Mountain rides. This pad is much shorter and lighter than their VPD 2.0 pads. So there is less coverage but they focus the protection on the critical joint area. Their polygiene fabric wicks moisture away from the skin to improve ventilation. This pad also uses just one strap at the bottom of the pad to hold it in place. This will be available in March of 2015.

Certification: EN Standard 1621.1
Price: $80 Knee Pads; $70 Elbow Pads
More info:

Dainese Trail Skins Knee

Dainese Trail Skins

The Dainese Trail Skins knee pad has both a front and side padding protection. The main pad is made of Pro-Shape, which is a 6mm thick honeycomb structure by Dainese. With Pro-Shape, the pads articulate and vent very well. The pads are held in place on the top and bottom by Velcro straps and with silicone gripper bands.

Weight: 292 grams Knee Pads
Certification: EN Standard 1621.1; 1621.2 Motorcycle Certified
Price: $70 Knee or Elbow Pads
More info:

Dainese Hybrid Knee

Dainese Hybrid Pads

These low-profile knee pads combine hard-shell technology with the comfort of a soft protector. Starting with the Dainese Trail Skins, a hard plastic plate is heat-bonded to the top of the Pro-Shape pad. This gives the pad additional puncture protection to supplement the impact protection of the Trail Skins. The outer armor gives the pad a smoother surface as well, to deflect and slide during impact. The breathable 4-way stretch, run-resistant fabric allows a conforming, comfortable fit. The silicone inner lining along the elastic openings keeps the elbow pads firmly in place when stepping on the pedal.

Weight: 430 grams Knee Pads
Certification: EN Standard 1621.1; 1621.2 Motorcycle Certified
More info:

Continue to Page 2 for more knee and elbow pad picks »
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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • Randy Cherry says:

    I am one of those riders who is getting older and I try to forget that and get a little to wild !!! Luckily I have not been hurt bad yet, but I have delayed buying pads cause no one could really tell me which ones were worth buying and be confortable too, and I need to swallow my pride and put them on !!! This is a good article !! Thanks !!

    • paul davo says:

      totally agree, im in my 40’s and still think im in my teens and i have come to the conclusion you dont bounce like a teen no more , i also think i need protection im sick of taking skin off my shins and knees :/

    • Stephen Couture says:

      I am 61 yrs old and have been mountain biking for just one year (divorced my road bike after a 30+ year relationship). Ride primarily single track (rocks and roots) trails in Southern Maine. I have fallen several times (at slow and high speeds) and have been well protected by my Dianese Trail Skin knee and elbow pads (occasionally wear Triple-8 shin pads in lieu of the knee pads). All are very comfortable (especially the Dianese pads) – I forget I am wearing them as they are very flexible/comfortable).

  • Kevin Woodward says:

    Not just the skin I’m trying to protect but the elbows and knees don’t bounce off rocks that well, not to mention the way a root or sharp object can penetrate to the point of ruining a perfectly good day. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or two weeks on the couch) as they say. Huge fan of TLD and the bang for the buck they provide: Super protection, well-designed, solid construction and material, cool in the heat and minimal on the climb. 5450s are not the first I’ve tried, but they are the best.

  • trailsnail says:

    I’ve been running knee pads for several months now and won’t ride without. I was surprised to not see RaceFace in your lineup. I have the Charge knee guards and they are light and have saved me a couple of times already. Even rigid single speed riders can benefit from some protection, not just the all mountain crowd:)

  • Andrew Cuddihy says:

    Had what I would consider a minor crash at fairly low speed a week ago. Lost it in a corner on loose soil. Got up to remount and noticed that my knee cap was completely open with the bone showing. Lost time at work and on the bike. Gonna ride with light knee/elbow pads every ride now.

  • Jeff C says:

    I’ve used POC VPD 2.0 Knee and Elbow pads for the last year+. The one time I didn’t wear them my front tire washed out and I had a nasty Knee injury.

    Just wear them! To me, if I put on a helmet, I put on my pads – and gloves.

  • Tim says:

    How about a review that talks about real performance on the trail?

  • Everything MC says:

    I have become crash proof. Everything I wear my pads, no crash. The rare occasion I take them off, I always crash!

  • jason says:

    from the looks of it, 7p aka 7IDP aka sevenprotection seems to be the top shelf protection company for 2015.

  • hellbelly says:

    One that was left out of this list that is remarkable is the Dakine Slayer. Again, these are not for DH combat (get the Helions for that), but rather solid AM/Trail/Enduro exploits that most people do. I have been a knee pad/armor wearer for years (back when we looked like hockey players, ha!) and I have to admit that these are the most stable of any I’ve ever used. They are ridiculously comfortable for all day pedalling and are reasonably priced.

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