As with any piece of protective riding equipment, a good set of enduro knee pads are all about balancing comfort and protection.
It is all very well wearing bullet proof, mega-armoured pads, but if you can’t move in them and they boil your knees on a hot day then they are pretty pointless as they will be left at home.
We have been riding some of the top pads on the market to find out which offer the best balance and performance.
Photos by Dave Price.
Race Face Roam D30
- Durable TPU Skid Plate with Kydex Pierce-proof layer
- Open Back design
- Ventilated rear mesh panel
- Velcro adjustment
The Roam D30 feels incredibly secure around the front and side of the knee while offering
enough comfort that it will not give you grief while climbing to the next trail on your list. What makes it unique though is that you don’t have to climb with the pads on as they are the only ones on test that can be removed with your shoes on. This is great for hot weather or longer climbs that you may find on holiday in the Alps. They fasten securely and never slipped down.
Perfect for Bike park laps or your next enduro race, Race Face have created a serious knee pad here that is packed full of knee saving technology. The only grip is the sizing. All the other pads on test are size medium and fitted Ben and Joe who planned to run the test. These came up way too small and had to go to Wales for Lewis to test them who would normally ride a size small. Try them on or size up.
- Secure fit, comfort & adjustability
- Fit and remove with shoes on
- Multi layer protection
Could do better:
- Sizing comes up very small
100% Surpass Knee Guards
- Fully ventilated plastic protective cup with high impact absorption
- Pre-curved chassis for attack position
- Tacky silicone elastic webbing to prevent slippage
- Thigh cinch for customizable fit and security
- Calf cinch for added security
- Impacted Tested with Maximum Level 2 Protection
- £115.00 RRP
The 100% Surpass are hands down the comfiest knee guards I (Joe) have ever used. Before you even adjust the straps they fit really well to the shape of a slightly bent knee, I.e, in the standing attack position. The straps are not elasticated which means once fastened to fit your leg they don’t pull any tighter, and
because they can’t stretch there is no risk of the pads sliding down your leg. That may seem simple but most knee guards are elasticated and I find they dig in to the back of my thigh and become uncomfortable very quickly when pedalling. I can pedal all day in these with no digging in or rubbing from any of the silicone grippers.
Protection wise, they offer flexible padding around the sides and a hard shell plastic cup on the knee, yet they are still light, airy and comfy for all day rides. They look pretty cool too.
- Great fit
- Very comfy for all day rides
- Lots of protection
- Makes your knees look like Spider-Man’s
Could do better:
- Velcro straps curl in the washing machine
Bliss Protection Team Knee Pad
- Pre curved ergonomic fit
- Stretch Kevlar knee cover
- Adjustable thigh and calf straps
- Neoprene venting panels
- £68.00 RRP
By far the cheapest pads on test, the Team pad from Bliss Protection has a classic design that takes me back about 10 years to my old 661 and Nukeproof knee pads, complete with huge logo. It has a large, padded knee cap along with generous padded sections on the inner and outer knee. As a result it is quite large compared to some of the others on test and it would not fit easily under my riding trousers. It fastens with chunky velcro straps and the fit was bang on for a medium. The open back design does keep you a little cooler but can occasionally pinch the skin on the back of your knee. They are super comfy and the only thing holding them back is the dated looks and chunky build that restricts use with trousers.
- Bargain protection and comfort
- Side protection pads
Could do better:
- Big, dated design
- In your face logo
Troy Lee Designs Stage Knee Guard
- Lightweight trail protection
- D30 knee pad
- Mesh rear panel
- Silicone grippers and elasticated design
- £85.00 RRP
The Stage from Troy Lee Designs is the lightest weight and most minimal knee pad on this test. It doesn’t have any velcro straps or adjustment and the protection is isolated on the front of the knee, whereas all the other pads feature some level of protection on the inside/outside of the knee. As a result it was the coolest, least sweaty pad by miles, aided by the mesh back panel and the light breathable material on the main pad body.
As you pull it on you can feel that it is a snug, sleeve-type pad and you have to be careful to slide it gently in position. At this point, getting the silicone grippers correctly positioned for your leg is critical. As they are quite narrow, if you get them in the wrong place they can fold over, digging in and reducing the grip on your leg. Once positioned, they are comfy for a few hours, but on all day epics they can dig in a bit.
- Coolest, lightest pads on test
- Good protection for the weight
- Low profile, ‘sleeve’ design
Could do better:
- Narrow silicone grippers
Endura MT500 Knee Pads
- D30 Knee insert
- Extended side padding
- Wide silicon grippers
- 90 Day satisfaction guarantee
- £79.99 RRP
Developed in conjunction with the Athertons and a load of other top Endura athletes, the MT500 offers the highest level of protection in the Endura range. The main protection is provided by a D30 insert that sits beneath a hard shell. This is surrounded by PU foam padding, offering decent levels of side protection. The pad is held securely by a wide silicone strip at the top of the pad and wide hook and loop straps that cinch things down tightly.
Attention needs to be paid to get them in the right position at the start of your ride, but once located, they don’t budge. The MT500 has taken more abuse than any of the pads on this test and has stood up well to several decent crashes, doing a great job of protecting the knee. Given the amount of protection on offer, the MT500 is inevitably pretty hot and sweaty. It is down to you to weigh that up.
- Loads of protection for trail, enduro and DH use.
- Great price
- Wide silicone grippers are comfy and secure
Could do Better:
- Sweaty on a hot day
In outright performance we are calling it a draw between the 100% Surpass and the Endura MT500. They both offer very similar levels of protection in comfortable and secure packages and either pad would be a solid investment in the future of your kneecaps. They each have their own style, from the futuristic, ‘Spider-Man’ construction of the 100% to the more classic, but still modern look of the Endura. The only thing to separate the two is price, with the MT500 being £35 cheaper than the Surpass.
Given that it jointly won the overall test and that it is the second cheapest, the MT500 from Endura also wins the value award.