If you’re looking for a great fitting pair of hard-shell kneepads at a reasonable price then take a gander at the Race Face Khyber Knee Guards.
Race Face are one of the few companies who make female specific body armour, and looking at some of the amazing women's MTB videos coming of Canada, where the brand is based, you can see why they developed them! Luckily, the female MTB market in the UK gets a slice of the action.
Designed for smaller riders, but with a good size range available, these are still a fairly bulky pair of pads. There’s a serious amount of padding going on in the knee department with a hard shell adding extra protection.
As Race Face put it, they’re a ‘hard shell knee pad with a soft shell look’ and this is because that hard shell is covered with a robust nylon fabric, printed with the Race Face logo.
One of the things I really liked about these kneepads is how easy they are to take on and off. They attach and hold in place with three Velcro straps – one at the top, one at the bottom, and a lower middle one that fits just behind the knee joint.
This meant they were easy to put on or adjust while still seated on the bike. This is perfect for when you might want to ride uphill with them in your bag and put them on for the descents.
I prefer to ride with them on the whole time, as the climbs around where I ride aren’t really that epic. They were comfy enough to ride in – not too hot, and they didn't chafe badly like some pads I've tried. I found that they didn’t slide down or roll round to the side whichever way I was riding; up the hill or down it.
The soft terry towelling lining kept things soft and comfy, and they didn’t get too toasty or sweaty as they have a completely open back. I did find that one of the Velcro straps rubbed one tendon just behind my left knee, which is a problem I've had with just about every knee pad ever.
As for impact protection, the Khyber Knee Guards totally performed. Having crashed a few times – just for testing purposes, of course – I can say that in my experience they kept my knees intact, didn’t pull down on impact, and absorbed the blows. Additional padding on the side of the knees kept these areas bruise free too.
One downside of the Khyber Knee Guards is the fabric cover over the hardshell on the pad, and this started to fray and tear a little after a few hard impacts. Personally, I wasn’t worried about this too much as they still worked fine, and as they are kneepads I'm not overly worried what they looked like.
I’ll keep an eye out and see how they do over a longer period of repeated use, but so far so good.
Regarding the fit; with an around-thigh measurement of 43cm and an around-calf measurement of 38cm I found the large sized pads to be a good fit, though I was at the top of the size range. Any bigger and you might want to consider going up a size.
Race Face actually have a great fit guide on their site, which lists the measurements of the top and bottom openings on their pads, so if you are ordering online have a check of this to work out your size. Although my thighs were a little over stated range, for me there was enough stretch in the elastic tabs for this not to be a problem.
Kneepads that perform well at a decent price. If you want a pair of guards that will keep you protected and comfortable when out on the trail, but are sturdy and strong enough to protect you’re indulging in a little down hilling, and you don’t want to blow your budget, then check these out.
- Easy to put on and take off
- Hard shell offers great protection
- Straps rubbed a little behind the knee
- Fabric cover on knee pad started to fray after a few impacts
Size: S, M, L, XL
More information: Race Face
Available from: SilverfishUK
What does Race Face say about the Khyber Knee Guards:
- Women’s specific fit
- Hard shell performance, soft shell look and feel
- Open-back construction: no shoe removal necessary
- Perforated Neoprene enhances venting and moisture control
- Terry lined for wicking and comfort
- Foam padded side walls offer additional coverage
- Integrated stabilization pad centres the knee and ensure ‘stay-put’ fit
- Branded rubber grab tab closures