Our "Rider Review" article series features the honest reviews from verified purchasers of Worldwide Cyclery. They contain the photos, thoughts, feedback & overall review you are looking for.
There are a few things you can save money and compromise on but pads or body protection is not one I'd recommend. Having not only good protection but also pads that are comfortable can have a big impact on a ride. Our friend Daniel shares his thoughts on the iXS Flow EVO+ Knee Pads. Check it out!
Five years ago I decided it was time to purchase my first set of “real'' mountain biker knee pads. After much research and finally stomaching the thought of spending $75+ on knee protection, I pulled the trigger and purchased the penguined-out 2015 version of the IXS Flow Knee Pads. They were great! Everything I had hoped for. They provided flexible protection and were EXTREMELY comfortable even on those 20+ mile rides. You can see after years of riding they still look pretty good. But, a few months ago I decided it was time to freshen up my style factor and get some new pads! Also, two years ago a severe crash (endo-knee straight into the ground-MRI-sprained MCL diagnosis-5 weeks of physical therapy-type of crash) that caused the “x matter” (the stuff that actually provides the protection in a crash) insert in one of the pads to split which destroyed the insert but saved my knee from a worse outcome. Amazingly the exterior of the pads did not rip open and they were still usable but, come one, do we really need an air tight reason to get new bike gear!?! New pads time!
I’m your typical late-30’s weekend warrior wannabe biker so naturally I follow the normal MTB buying checklist hierarchy:
1) Must look sooo enduro
2) Functionality/comfort would be great
3) Safety third!
I would consider myself a “trail” rider (whatever that actually means) as my lone steed (well...actually a clydesdale... 23” XXL frame) in the stable is a Trek Fuel EX with 130mm travel on both front and back. My ideal day in the saddle would consist of 25+ miles/3,500+ ft of elevation over varying terrain of steep switchback climbs, narrow track ridgetop meandering, chunky downhill descents, and a 3/4-speed/conservative lap or two on the “downhill line.” Basically, I need a moderate level of protection that will keep me from bleeding out after I wash out in a corner and lay the bike down---but nothing like the hardened plastic body armor that a downhill biker would require. I also needed something comfortable. A knee pad that would not constantly rub me raw or need constant adjustment out on the trail.
Shortly into my research for some new pads it became very clear to me---I already had the exact type of pads that I needed. So I searched for the newest version of the iXS Flow Knee pads and was pleasantly surprised to see that Worldwide Cyclery had the newer version of the iXS Flow Evo+ Knee Pads and they were now offered in a very cool grey color! They were also less expensive than the other sites I visited. I was even more stoked to find out that “Evo+” means “Enduro+” in Mongolian (loosely translated). Furthermore, I had recently purchased an iXS Flow Trigger AM helmet (basically because it looked fresh and the chin strap closure was magnetic and I just can’t resist anything magnetic) and these knee pads complimented the helmet perfectly!
At that point I knew my search for the perfect pads was over.
These new knee pads fit pretty much true to size. I often read reviews about them that say “you need to size up one because they fit kinda snug.” It is true that they are somewhat snug when you order them in your “normal” size. What some reviewers don’t realize is that for the knee pads to stay in place you actually want them to be slightly snug out of the box. After the first ride, the materials naturally loosen up a bit and they feel perfect. The worst thing you want to do is order a set that are way too big and risk having to pull them up all the time.
Once I put on the knee pads, they stay put for my entire ride. Period. The strip of silicone around the top cuff of the pads holds the pad up and the strap at the bottom lets you dial in the perfect feel. That being said, I’ve experimented with not even tightening the bottom strap and they still stay in place. That adjustable strap may be useful though if you ordered a size that is slightly too big for your leg. Each strap also has a little tag on them indicating “left” and “right” so you won’t put them on the wrong leg.
The pads provide great protection while still being low profile enough to fit under your shorts. Now I know, I know, I know, hundreds of you are yelling at me in unison right now, “They sound awesome and all but how do they fit under a pair of size 34 bright red Troy Lee Skyline shorts??” Well take a look for yourself. Keep in mind that the model (me) is 6’5” tall and has a 35” inseam. For all you normal sized humans out there, your baggy-style shorts will certainly drape over these pads even more resulting in that ideal cool/safe look.
Overall the knee pads perform extremely well. They stay cool with good venting on the back of the knees and the “x matter” stays soft and flexible during normal use and only stiffens up when you need it during a crash. At about the 20-25 mile mark on hot and sweaty days I will notice a slight bunching of the material and irritation on the outside of the knee where the joint bends. This is a very slight irritation though as I have never removed the pads after a ride to find redness or abrasions on the skin. Would I feel properly protected using these pads while going 100% down a jump line course? No. That’s not what they are made for. Do I feel comfortable using these on gnarly all-day rides with a few drops thrown in here and there? Absolutely.
Many knee pads start falling apart because we don’t properly care for them. After a ride I throw all my gear into a cold water delicate cycle wash followed by a hanging air dry. Protective pads, chamois, shorts, and gloves all do better and last longer when you care for them properly. Even my 5 year old iXS pads look great...well... except the spot on the right knee from that day two years ago when Captain Endo visited me.
I’ve been very happy with my iXS Flow pads in the past and I expect these new ones to keep me safe for years to come. From the level of protection you get in such a lightweight pad down to the quality stitching of the materials, there is very little to complain about. Whether I’m churning out endless miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail or slicing through the flow in Santa Cruz, my knees will have IXS written all over them! See you on the trail!