O’Neal AMX Zipper Knee Guard III 2016 Mountain Bike Review

O’Neal AMX Zipper Knee Guard III 2016

Reviews / Body Armour

O’Neal 124,429

At A Glance

As knee pads become nearly as common as helmets for mountain bikers, the range of options grows ever more extensive. From O'Neal, we have their AMX Zipper pads, which do offer something slightly different from the norm. The clue is in the name, and the zip up the side allows the pads to be fitted without taking shoes off, making the process more simple and convenient. The pads are based around IPX protection, which hardens on impact, and a flexible Lycra fabric mix which keeps things comfortable round the back. There have been previous incarnations of this pad and this is the mark three version, with a few changes to materials and fit.

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On The Trail

In order to get the most out of these pads it is really necessary to not wear them. I mean this in the sense that their principle feature is that they can be fitted with shoes on, and therefore riding without them is the thing to do. Carrying them in a pack, I was reminded how nice it can feel to pedal without pads on, and during long climbs it was nice to feel a breeze round my legs. Obviously this only works if the climbs are big, as short up and down sections would not be conducive to on-off pad swapping. The pads fit on well, with a quick zip up the outside of the knee and two Velcro straps to take in any slack above or below.

Once installed they are instantly comfortable, with a towelling backed pad and soft neoprene-like wrap-around fabric. The zip is kept well out of the way and doesn't rub at all. Riding in the pads has been very comfortable, so much so that I ended up leaving them on for more time than I needed given their ease of removal. The major feel from the pads is one of warmth, with the full wrap of material and a chunky IPX pad making for a hot time round the knee. It was this heat that made the decision to take them off on the climbs, rather than any discomfort. In terms of protection they offer great front-on kneecap impact safety with the large pad, but nothing round the sides.

The pad does extend below the knee, but these pads are all about front-on collision. This preference for forward coverage gives a bulky feel, and certainly inspires confidence, but the shape doesn't feel overly neat or tailored to the shape of my leg. They lack much of a curve to feel a truly snug fit over my knees and could do with perhaps a little padding on the sides. The IPX pad is removal for washing and they've been through the mud and the washing machine aplenty and come up great every time. I did have my doubts about the longevity of the zips, which are a great ire that can complain in the wet and the mud, but these have maintained their performance well.

Overall

Serious front-on knee protection is provided with the advantage of being easily removable for longer ascents. Probably best for winch and plummet type riding, where pad removal is infrequent, but the ease of fitting means it is a painless affair every time. They are comfortable to pedal in, but suffer somewhat from being on the toasty side (though of course this would be welcome during the harsh winter months!). The AMX Zipper are a durable, innovative and comfortable set of pads which offer something different from the rest.

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By Ewen Turner
Ewen 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.

Tried this? What did you think?