Having some form of knee protection when you’re riding over rough terrain is recommended for mountain bikers who don’t want bumps and bruises to put an end to their adventures.
There’s no shortage of knee protection options out there. Whatever level of support and safety you’re looking for, you’ll have a range of products to choose from. So, is there any difference between mountain bike knee pads and guards, and which option should you choose?
Knee protection is recommended for any mountain biker riding over rough terrain, on trails, or down rapid descents, as it will help to protect the joint from damage caused by impacts and abrasions. Whether it's a passing rock, stray branches, or spraying gravel, knee guards stop mountain bikers from suffering serious scratches or cuts and absorb impacts during a fall or crash.
As well as protecting knees from external dangers, some types of protection will give extra support to the joint itself. This makes it less likely for mountain bikers to experience tendon or ligament damage and reduces the wear and tear the joint is subjected to over time, allowing them to ride for longer, even over harsh terrain.
The knee pad sits within a knee guard to provide impact protection. The knee guard is the shell that holds the pad and straps onto the knee. A good way to think of it is you can wear a knee guard without a knee pad, but you can’t wear a knee pad without a guard.
Mountain bike knee guards should be worn by anyone about to hit the trails. The most protective knee guards, ideal for downhill riding, have a combination of a hard shell outer with a soft D3O® impact-absorbing knee pad inserted behind it. Some designs also offer joint support, including extra bracing. On the lighter side, more pedal-friendly knee guards will typically include a thin, flexible pad such as D3O® Ghost™and no external hard shell.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for what features will or won’t be included in your knee protection, so it’s key that you take a look at the specs of each pair before you make your final decision. It’s also worth bearing in mind some brands use the term knee pad and knee guard interchangeably, so read carefully before you buy to make sure you’re getting what you need.
When you’re considering purchasing a new pair of knee guards there are a few elements you need to keep in mind. Remember to look for knee guards that include D3O® knee pads in order to get the maximum level of protection on the trails.
When you’re looking for knee guards with protective knee pads, it’s worth checking the specs to see exactly what features each protection option provides. To help you choose, here are some D3O partner brand options that offer excellent safety and technical features for riders.
Striking the balance between mobility, efficiency and protection, Enduro Pro D3O® Knee Guards are an ideal choice for everyday mountain bikers who want an extra layer of safety. Made from moisture-wicking Lycra, the slip-on design is lightweight with an elastic strap and silicone grips to hold it in place. Plus, mountain bikers can trust the CE- and UKCA-certified, flexible custom D3O® knee pad inserts to keep them safe.
Suitable for mountain bikers looking for breathable protection, the Stage D3O® Knee Guards are made from mesh and have silicone grippers to keep them in place, allowing wearers to stay comfortable for longer. Durable and ultra-breathable, the D3O® pads inside harden on impact to disperse the impact’s energy and keep the joint protected.
Built with ventilation, protection and durability in mind, the Elevate D3O® Knee Guard is designed to help mountain bikers keep performing at their best for longer. The breathable D3O® pads offer premium protection, while the over-the-thigh length helps stop slippage as riders move.
For full leg protection, there’s none better than the Ambush D3O® Leg Guard. With an open-back design, they keep a mountain biker’s legs cool and protected while being easy to take on and off without the need to remove shoes. With D3O® pads, these are ideal for any mountain biker looking for all-around protection.
Lightweight, strapless and stretchy, the Soldier 2 D3O® Knee Guards are used by the SCOTT SR Suntour Team and are great for mountain bikers wanting functional protection. Pairing D3O’s shock absorption technology with abrasion-resistant fabrics, silicone grips and breathable mesh mean they’re comfortable to ride in and stay in place for longer.
Developed based on the popular Recon pad design, the Recon Advance D3O® Knee Guard offers CE & UKCA Level 1 protection alongside flexibility and comfort. Fitting up to the thigh and weighing 450g, they also connect to protective shorts and upper body apparel for complete coverage. Hard caps are also an option for serious off-road rides.
A great all-rounder, the Motion D3O® Knee Guards have a side zip to make them easy to take on and off. With stretch reinforcement and D3O® inserts, they are suitable for a range of riding needs. Wherever you’re heading, you can ride in confidence knowing that these pads have been tried and tested to the max by Team enduro RACER.
As the name suggests, the MT500 D3O® Ghost™Knee Guards offer some of the lightest and most flexible protection around. Made from moisture-wicking, ripstop fabric, these sleeve-like guards feel like they’re barely there while still providing trusted, CE- and UKCA Level 1-certified D3O® impact protection.
Mountain bikers can give it their all in a second skin they can trust with Skinny D3O® Guards. Breathable, lightweight and durable, the short sleeve design and thin D3O® protection means they can stay safe without holding back.