I gave up on better-than-nothing knee pads ages ago. After trying a tonne of different options of non-newtonian knee warmers, I decided it was hard-shells or nothing. Usually nothing. It’s not that I don’t understand that the materials continued to develop as options beyond D3O-brand have permeated the market. The dynamic doughs now respond faster to impacts, are less susceptible to stiffening in cold weather, and companies have become much better at shaping the material compared when they first came on the scene. No doubts. But, knee pads are not a new product category by any means and I think there’s a strong argument that good fits have been available for a long, long time. Even the most instant change in armour gel viscosity doesn’t offer the same protection to sharp-pointed impacts as a hardshell pad.
Flipped, even the best hardshell pads are not dreamy to pedal in. I usually climb with mine around my ankles and then pull them up for descents. Actually, I usually leave them at home but for riding trails where there’s a decent guarantee that I’m going to bail or the odd time I’m riding a chairlift or shuttling. In other words, it has been years and years since I regularly wore armour besides gloves and a helmet.
This brings me to the Leatt Airflex Pro knees. Just given our uncertain times I have been trying to ride in knee pads a lot more; trying – I can’t always bring myself to do it – and my hard shell pads of choice have long been Leatt. So, when the green & orange armour arrived at NSMB, I figured I would at least put them on. Then I went for a short pedal. Then I went for a long pedal. And wouldn’t you bloody know it, I can ride for hours with these pads in place and they are really, really comfortable. Annoyingly comfortable. No real excuse not to wear them, comfortable. I would prefer not to wear them but have barely done a ride without them since, comfortable. Argh.q