it’s strange: when we are riding dirt bikes we dress up like medieval knights but when we get on the mountain bike we don’t think twice about tearing down the slopes with not much more than a thin layer of light fabric between our skin and all sorts of rather nasty and abrasive trail features. on our local trails that’s mostly sandstone boulders and various trees (i sampled one of those a few weeks ago). i have felt slightly uneasy about this for a while, but so far my only meaningful step towards increased protection was the new helmet. i admit, i generally ride without the chin bar, too.
as we were queuing up at the registration office for the thredbo rollercoaster event, kris observed that all riders were wearing knee pads; i didn’t check but i am pretty sure she was right. my argument was that i can’t remember ever hurting my knees while riding mountain bikes but then again insurance is pretty useless after an accident.
the thing with any bit of protective gear is it tends to feel hot after a while and cycling in australia is a constant exercise in avoiding heat stroke at the best of times. knee pads in particular can also restrict blood flow and become extremely uncomfortable after a while unless they fit really well.
so kris persuaded me to get this set of fox launch pro d30 knee guards (ok she said knee guards, i wanted those). the d30 bit is the orange foam that is supposed to do most of the protecting and is apparently soft in it’s normal state but hardens on impact.
it appears to work rather well: even after a few hours of wearing the knee guards they were only slightly uncomfortable and only really when standing up straight. in the normal biking position with at least slightly bent knees i did not notice them at all. they were also not uncomfortably hot either and while riding they were just perfect. and while the pads did not feel tight at any stage they did not move either.
they blend right in, don’t they?
i have not crash tested them yet and i’m not really planning on doing that either. i’m banking on some sort of reverse psychology effect: now that i have them i won’t need them either. it’s great to have insurance but it’s even better to not have to rely on it.