Mountain Bike July 2006 - Armor All

Love Specialized Kani Knee/Shin and Elbow Pad System. Specialized developed the new Kani pads to be lightweight and breathable. A custom-molded outer shell has vents that work with perforated foam padding to keep sweat to a minimum. Right and left-specific designs mean fit is better than most and both the knee and elbow pads are pre-bent to reduce restriction. We especially liked the silicon grippers on the bicep and thigh strap to help keep things in place. Kanis are so comfortable and light they can be left on for short climbs, which we won't do with most pads. The only downer is that the upper thigh strap is a one-piece elastic band that you have to slide over your shoes. It's doable, but not as convenient as an open strap. Protection-wise the Specialized pads may not offer as much armor as others, but the tradeoff is comfort. Price: $80 (knee/shin); $70 (elbow) - specialized.com

Like Fox Launch Knee/Shin and Elbow Pads. If protection is priority number one, then look no further than the Launch pads. Ribbed, hard-shell plastic plates cover most of their exterior while molded Biofoam on the inside creates channels for cooling air to circulate. the best feature of the Fox pads is their patented X-Up strapping system that provides a snug fit without chafing or being uncomfortable in any way. Locking clasps make the knee pads one of the easiest and quickest to get in and out of. Because there's so much protection, these pads, although not uncomfortable, feel a bit bulky and are best worn only on descents. Price: $70 (knee/shin); $50 (elbow) - foxracing.com

Sixsixone Race Knee/Shin and Elbow Pads. Race pads are stout enough to be worn on the fastest and gnarliest of downhill's, yet have a reasonable price tag. Velcro straps with mesh knee and neoprene bicep socks lock the pads in place for the inevitable get-off. Vented plastic plates cover thick, perforated EVA foam, providing a decent amount of airflow. The biggest chink in the Race's armor is the knee sock, which makes them a bit tedious to get over shoes,  especially for skinny riders with big feet. if that's an issue, try 661's Race Lite knee pads ($45), which sport nothing but Velcro straps to keep the pads in place. Price: $50 (knee/shin); $35 (elbow) - sixsixone.com.

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Last Modified: March 9, 2008