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IXS Carve Race knee pads review

Are these all-day-comfortable, shell and gel knee pads from IXS worth the cash if you crash?

IXS Carve Race knee pads
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Impressively comfortable and pedal-friendly for the level of protection but expensive and sweaty when things get hot.

Pros

  • +

    Slide and slam protection

  • +

    Impressive impact absorption

  • +

    Secure fit in four sizes

  • +

    Removable pad for washing

  • +

    Light and low bulk

Cons

  • -

    Sweaty

  • -

    Pricey

Even before you look at youth and color options, IXS has 8 different knee protectors in its range and the new Carve Race combines mouldable impact-absorbing materials with shell protection. Fit and mobility are still good though which only leaves heat and cost as potential issues.

Performance 

The first layer of protection is a lightweight, flexible and relatively thin shell that covers the kneecap and upper shin. It’s not a full, pointy-object-proof hard shell like the toughest DH/BMX pads but it’s enough to shrug off rocks and sharp edges and add some slide protection. 

That sits over a 3D-molded piece of ‘Xmatter’ flexible CE-certified material that wraps around the whole knee and extends further down the shin. This is where the impact spreading, shock-absorbing work gets done in a crash.

The abrasion-resistant sleeve it sits in has extra outer-knee and above-kneecap padding together with silicon grippers and broad upper and lower straps to keep the pad in place. Four different sizes make accurate fitting easy too and bulk is relatively low for shell protection so they work fine under tighter pants. 

A strip of Aeromesh fabric up the back of the knee adds some ventilation and the Xmatter slab is perforated too but the majority of the pad is sweat-provoking neoprene so things get damp fast if you’re working hard. That said,we’ve pedaled for full days in them without obvious rub or sore spots as a result and you can also pull the Xmatter block out of the inner sleeve so you can wash the rest of the pad when it starts to stink.

IXS Carve Race knee pads

With the Xmatter block removed, the CarveRace pads can be machine washed to keep them fresh (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

By combining a thin shell with hi-tech shock-absorbing, the Carve Race pads give a lot of protection in a relatively lightweight, low bulk, mobile and all-day-comfortable format. They do get sweaty pretty quick on warmer/harder working days but that’s the case with most pads with similar protective powers. There are cheaper alternatives though. 

Tech Specs: IXS Carve Race knee pads

  • Weight: 522g (pair, medium)
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Price: €109.99

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg