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IXS Flow Evo+ Knee Guard review

The Flow Evo+ from Swiss brand IXS packs an impressive punch into a rather compact design, but a shorter-than-average overall height limits protection and all-important aesthetic appearance

IXS Flow Evo+ Knee Guard review
(Image: © Jim Bland)

Our Verdict

The Flow EVO+ guards from IXS are a great option for those riders wanting near invisible protection and comfort in sweatier climates

For

  • - Comfortable fit
  • - Low weight and efficient wicking make them a dream to wear all day
  • - Superb levels of mobility

Against

  • - Short overall design feels more exposed and you're more prone to the dreaded skin showing between the top of the pad and the shorts
  • - Hardcore riders may want slightly more protection
  • - Would be great to see a black colorway

The Flow EVO+ knee guards are intended for all-around use, which we see to be everything from light trail riding right up to lift-assisted days in the bike park. 

This is a softshell pad rather than the hardshell variety that features a layer of plastic to protect riders' knees against falls and flying trail material. Both configurations make for some of the best mountain bike knee pads, but what do we think of IXS' softshell model? 

Continue reading as we dive deep into the Flow EVO+ and all of its features like the X-Matter 3D-molded viscoelastic pad. 

Construction 

The Flow EVO+ is constructed using a sleeve-like design that features a perforated mesh back panel to help encourage ventilation and boost day-long pedaling comfort. Keeping things in place is a silicone band on the inside of the upper hem and a velcro strap on the lower rear section of the guard - we're a fan of how good the rear-mounted strap looks, too. 

Providing the impact protection is an X-Matter 3D-molded viscoelastic pad, which like several of its competitors, is designed to firm upon impact and distribute any crash forces away from the knee joint. This means on the trail it remains malleable for pedaling but offers way more protection than a normal foam layer trail pad in the event of a crash. The X-Matter pad is also removable, meaning the guards can easily be kept fresh with regular machine washes. The rapid drying properties of the Acro Mesh fabrics mean they'll dry for the following day's ride, too. 

Image 1 of 4

IXS Flow Evo+ Knee Guard review

The Flow EVO+ are a good all-around option but we wish the coverage was a little longer (Image credit: Jim Bland)
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IXS Flow Evo+ Knee Guard review

The pads use a breathable Aeromesh material and have a strap on the bottom (Image credit: Jim Bland)
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IXS Flow Evo+ Knee Guard review

The X-Matter pad is removable (Image credit: Jim Bland)
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IXS Flow Evo+ Knee Guard review

The knee pad uses a flexible X-Matter Viscoelastic polymer to absorb any impacts (Image credit: Jim Bland)

Performance

What's immediately apparent when wearing the EVO+ guard is the low overall weight and impressively slim design - the slim silhouette is comparable to most brands' properly lightweight trail guards which offer substantially less impact protection. 

As a result, the EVO+ sits well under even the tightest of riding pants and jeans. The flip side here is the shorter overall length leaves things feeling slightly exposed at both the thigh and shins. For trail riding, it's not too bad but when rallying at downhill speeds on downhill terrain, our shins did feel more vulnerable to stray rocks and general airborne trail debris; this feeling is further amplified during back-to-back test sessions with longer coverage pads from other brands. For those wanting more protection, IXS does have things covered though - check out our review of their longer, harder-hitting Carve Race knee pads

We wish the upper cuff was a little longer too and while it will only affect those that are fashion conscious, we can't ignore that the dreaded 'twat gap' was all too frequent when sporting the EVO+ guards. This is purely aesthetic, but hard to ignore. 

The accurate and wide size range means secure fitting is easy, too, and the silicone band and velcro strap did a perfect job of keeping things in place, even during sweatier test sessions. 

We're also impressed at how effectively the Aero Mesh sections manage high-intensity, sweat-fest sessions. Sweat is wicked away quickly, meaning the guard actually dries on the fly. This is also helped by impressive breathability and airflow. We spent most of our testing period riding in warmer weather without being overly warm. In fact, it's often easy to forget you're wearing any pads at all. 

Verdict

Bang on price and seriously comfortable, the Flow EVO+ guards from IXS are a great option for those riders wanting near invisible protection and comfort in sweatier climates. But while the fit is awesome under pants, we wish the overall length was a few inches longer. 

Tech specs: IXS Flow Evo+ Knee Guard

  • Price: $99 / £69.99
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL
  • Colors: Grey 
Jim Bland

Jim Bland is a review and buyer's guide writer based in North Yorkshire, England. Jim’s chosen riding genre is hard to pinpoint and regularly varies from e-bike-assisted shuttle runs one day to cutting downcountry laps the next. Always on the hunt for the perfect setup, he can regularly be found hammering out test runs in odd shoes, playing with volume spacers or switching tires in between laps to see what performs best. His ultimate day out includes an alpine loam trail, blazing sunshine, and some fresh kit to test.  


Rides: Santa Cruz Tallboy, Specialized Kenevo


Height: 170cm 

Weight: 60kg