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.
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.
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.
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