Leatt Knee Guard AirFlex Hybrid Pro review – knee pads with extra protection

The Pro version of Leatt’s AirFlex Hybrid knee pads add extra impact resistance but is it at the expense of fit?

Leatt Airflex Hybrid Pro Knee Guard
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Well vented, easy pedalling with extended hybrid soft/mid protection that works well in most crashes. Repeated slide down compromises security and safety though, and they’re not cheap.

Pros

  • +

    Effective mid/soft protection

  • +

    Good mobility and comfort

  • +

    Decent ventilation

  • +

    Extra thigh and upper shin protection

Cons

  • -

    Slide down easily

  • -

    Relatively expensive

  • -

    No side protection

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Leatt offer 12 different knee protection and the Knee Guard AirFlex Pro is one of the best lightweight knee pads we’ve tested. The Knee Guard AirFlex Hybrid Pro adds extra hard impact cover and upper and low leg protection, but you’ll need to check fit as our testers found it slid down easily.

Leatt Airflex Hybrid Pro Knee Guard laid out on the ground

Breathable 'AirMesh' front fabric, open gel padding and ‘MoistureCool’ rear panel keep the Hybrid Pro impressively cool (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design and specification

The Knee Guard AirFlex Hybrid Pro uses the latest version of Leatt’s AirFlex impact gel technology in a single knee cup and mid shin piece. Unlike the AirFlex Pro pads, the open triangular is hidden behind a durable woven ‘AirMesh’ fabric. That fabric also carries a flexible patella and upper shin plate, letting them slide over the base pad underneath. Compared to the Knee Guard AirFlex Hybrid, this Pro model then adds an extra soft pad above the knee cup (where the Airflex logo is) for better thigh protection.

The upper sleeve cuff has Leatt logo silicon grippers. The back of the sleeve uses two sections of ‘MoistureCool’ wicking fabric with an oval window behind the knee and a low energy elastic strap stitched across just below that window. Leatt get extra eco points for recycled, plastic-free packaging too

Leatt Airflex Hybrid Pro Knee Guard close up

Mid density impact deflecting segments slide over the extended 'AirFlex' padding underneath (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

The combination of easy stretch and the very malleable nature of the AirFlex gel  padding means the whole sock is easy to pull on despite its length. The preformed knee shape settles over the knee naturally too and the ‘AirMesh’ fabric has a natural rather than synthetic feel initial fit feels really good. While there’s some ventilation blocking from the two soft-shell segments over knee and upper shin there’s still plenty of air flow through the triangular AirFlex section. The fabric is relatively breezy too and the only neoprene style piece is the above knee pad so sweat levels are comfortably low even on long, hot days.

The mobility of the AirFlex and the way the shells slide over the top gives an unrestricted pedalling motion. The shells are smooth enough to move around under pants/trousers too.

Lack of side knee and full hardshell protection mean Leatt score them 14 out of 25 for protection, but they still get an EN1621-1 CE rating. The times I’ve hit the deck with them in the correct position, they’ve worked great too. The sliding outer pads definitely help dissipate sliding energy and I’ve jumped up and cracked on without an issue in terms of scuffing or impact.

Unfortunately, a weak upper sleeve grip combined with flexible knee cup and the extra thigh pad meant they repeatedly slid down while riding. At first I put this down to me having particularly pathetic weedy thighs but big calves (I spent too long pedalling stood up with slammed seats before test bikes routinely came with dropper posts). Talking to Mick from MBR magazine though, who’s got monster BMX bred thighs, he’s having exactly the same slide down issues. Its not a sizing issue either as the calf fit was tight for both of us

That’s irritating/safety compromising enough with shorts when you can pull them back up easily. But it's a real issue with trousers though, as you can’t obviously tell when it’s happened and then it’s a full trousers down situation to reposition them. Unless you stitch something on yourself there’s no adjustable strapping to help the fit either.

Upper sleeve detail shot

The long upper sleeve with extra 'bar bash' protection fits well initially but soon slides down when riding (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

In terms of comfortable, breezy, easy pedalling fit with extended, sliding protection that works well when it needs to, the Leatt Knee Guard AirFlex Hybrid Pro are great. Unfortunately the upper sleeve, extra pad and soft knee cup undermine security/stability drastically. They’re not cheap either. The good news is that there are still another 11 options in the Leatt range and we’re hopefully going to get a set of the Leatt Knee Guard AirFlex Hybrids in to see if the lack of the above knee pad helps matters.

Tech specs: Leatt Knee Guard AirFlex Hybrid Pro

  • Price: $129.00 / £129.99
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Options: Black only
  • Weight: 400g (pair medium) 
Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since launch in 2019. He started 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.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg