At A Glance
Italian company Dainese have a mission to 'deliver safety to people exposed to traumatic injuries in dynamic sports'. Now I, like most others I suspect, have no desire to get involved in any traumatic injuries so choose to ride with a bit of protection, knee pads being one of them. I do, however, like my knee pads on the softer side, and these aggressive looking pads from Dainese are certainly not my usual cup of tea.Buy Body Armour on
Articulated and hard-shell construction is designed for gravity riders, using thermoplastic polyethylene shells to ergonomically hug the important parts. Dainese suggest they include a 'functional pattern inspired by fractals principle' which sounds pretty high tech and give a funky exoskeleton look to the plastic shell.
The pads are slide-on, and have a Velcro closure top and bottom, but the main securing strap wraps around the middle, passing over the calf twice before a velcro fastening holds it all down. The main protection is in the form of three articulated plastic shells which can move slightly to allow for bending whilst on the pedals. The sides of the knee are covered with less aggressive foam padding, and the back is a super light stretch fabric.
On The Trail
Now, if Batman rode a mountain bike, these would be his pads of choice. With a look of something from a secret military research lab, the Armoform pads give an impression of weapons grade stealth protection. Not only does it look like knees would be protected, but the ground which is unfortunate enough to bear the brunt of the impact would be left crumbled to dust.
The hard plastic nature of the pads couldn't be more different from the soft and comfortable feel once on. The stretch mesh holding the package together is both lightweight, soft and figure hugging. The Velcro straps top and bottom are fairly simple affairs, but the main strap is where the fitting comes in. With a quick cinch up, the pad immediately becomes locked in place, feeling totally solid but in no way restrictive. This is what is so good about these pads; their ability to be seriously hardcore with the plastic exterior, but exceptionally comfortable and allowing unencumbered movement. The only issue with the fit was the lower Velcro strap which was only just long enough to go round my calf muscle, yet as always with fit, it's very personal.
Now, the aggressive plastic outer shell does pose a couple of questions, such as how much friction there would be in a crash between the knee and the ground? But I feel this is probably just a psychological issue due to the aesthetic of the pad.
Pedal-abilty has been good, and no rubbing has occurred even in hot weather, as unlike heavy fabric and soft visco-elastic type pads, they are pretty good at keeping cool. That low weight comes in on my scales as 245g per pad, and coupled with the very thin mesh backing, helps keep the temperature down. They have lasted well, and although I haven't tested them in any major crashes, they certainly haven't showed any major signs of wear. Stitching has remained excellent other than a few stress points on the mesh backing where I've been over zealous and a bit ham-fisted in pulling them on.
Although these may look like something only a freerider or downhiller might wear, they are in fact a very lightweight, versatile and comfortable set of pads. With great knee and upper shin protection, these are at home on any trail and while they may look aggressive, offer serious protection in a lightweight package.
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.