South African protection specialists Leatt, produces a whole range of mountain biking pads and we’ve been putting the miles and occasional crashes into one of its lightest, high-performance best MTB knee pads for trail and enduro.
The main protection (and the name) of the pads comes from the pre-shaped knee pieces made of highly flexible triangular segmented geodesic AirFlex Gel. There are three additional firm foam pads up either side of the knee and another sitting above the knee pad, too. The kneecap gets a foam back with a silicon knee cap gripper and there are silicone gripper strips around the top and bottom edge of the sleeve. The front and sides of the sleeve use AirMesh wicking and stink fighting fabrics, while the back panel is MoistureCool mesh with a big circular cut out behind the knee. There are no tightening straps but that helps keep weight down to just 300g on the smaller of the five available sizes.
The pre-shaped, very flexible knee cap with silicone gripper helps keep the pads in place while pedaling. That lack of straps and reliance on the stretchy sleeve with thin silicon strips makes correct sizing via the chart on the Leatt website absolutely essential. If possible we’d definitely recommend trying them on to make sure you’re getting a properly stable fit and if in doubt go for the slightly smaller size.
Assuming you can get a good fit the noticeable breeze through the knee pad and back cut out makes for a cooler feel than most other pads. The pre-molded shape, low weight and easy flex make pedaling problem-free too even on long day missions. There’s enough length above the base of the thigh pad to avoid a tw@t gap on reasonable length baggy shorts.
While we’ve not wiped out seriously in them they’ve definitely helped reduce the consequences of a few lower-speed knee-down moments even on rocky or sun-baked surfaces. That’s backed up by full CE EN1621-1 safety standardization and while it’s not CE standard armor having the side and lower thigh pads is a nice bit of extra, unobtrusive protection. While the antibacterial fabric treatment does seem to keep them smelling acceptable longer than most they wash fine at a low heat (Leatt actually says use cold water) as well. The rubbery geodesic design is more likely to grip the ground and be pulled down your leg than a hard plastic knee cap in a sliding crash though. That means one of Leatt’s strap secured hardshell pads might be a better bet if you’re a regular high-speed wrecker.
Light, noticeably breezy with a soft, rubbery knee pad that stays put pretty well, the AirFlex Pro are great pads for trail riders who need comfortable protection all day. Gravity riders without uplifts or an electric motor will appreciate the air con effect and easy mobility too and the CE impact certification is definite peace of mind. Pricing is competitive with similar pads from other brands and if these aren’t quite what you’re after, Leatt does a big range of other soft-shell and hard shell knee pads, too.
Tech Specs: Leatt Knee Guard AirFlex Pro
- Size: S-XXL
- Weight: 478g
- Price: $79.99 / £79.99