If you are looking for some knee pads it is normally a case of comfortable, cheap or protective, pick two! Now a mandatory requirement at a lot of enduro races it is important to get a pad that fits well and offers sufficient protection while still being able to sprint. We have been testing the POC VPD 2.0 for the last 12 months to see how they shape up to a season of abuse and racing.
Relative newcomers POC have been putting out some great gear over the last year, and if UK trail centre car parks are anything to go by they have proved very popular. It is no secret that £110 is a lot of money for a pair of knee pads, you could quite easily buy a full set of decent knee and elbow pads from other well respected brands. However POC have never been shy about their premium prices, and present innovative technology to back up their high end price. We have been testing the new VPD 2.0 knee pads and have subjected them to some tough times in the Megavalanche, SuperEnduro racing, Alpine Bike parks and over 1500’s hours on long hot all-mountain rides.
After 12 months of hard riding, just a few errant strands are all that distinguish the pads from a new set – durable? Yes!
If we look at the tech first, these pads feature Kevlar reinforced stretch fabric, a stretchy back panel to aid comfort and ventilation and the new VPD 2.0 padding. POC claim that the VPD – Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough, a modified soft Polyurethane foam, is comfortable and adapts to create an individual fit. The clever part being when exposed to impact the material stiffens and has extreme energy absorption properties. In a nutshell the padding material is initially soft and conforming and will stiffen up on impact. My scientific testing, involving whacking it with a spanner does seem to prove that that the VPD hardens up with impact and they certainly feel quite malleable when bending the pads. Advertised as the true multi-purpose knee pad, supposed to be light and cool enough for all day trail riding but still offering state of the art shock absorption for hard core DH riding, the pad is well targeted at the enduro racer.
Living with the VPD 2.0’s
Since I damaged my knee skiing, knee pads are now as important to me as a decent helmet, and I never low-ride my pads unless I am on a super smooth road climb. So every day I am out guiding I am in my knee pads, so they HAVE to be comfortable! I have to say that in the last 12 months and over 1500 hours I have been riding in these pads they have been excellent. I have heard many a scare story about the POC stitching being a weakness, but aside from a small amount of fraying here and there they are still totally sound. The material they are made out of seems extremely hard wearing, taking a few hits from my DMR vaults without ripping, my old pair of 661 Kyle Straits looked shredded after only 2 months, whereas these pads still look pretty new. The pads have been abused too, stored in the bottom of a kit bag wet, shoved through the washing machine and even survived the dog running around with them. Comfort wise, they are top notch, the anatomical shape really works and they never slip up or down. I never suffered from any rubbing or pinching and you forget they are on after a few minutes. The Polygene coating works well too, they do not smell despite infrequent washing.
Great pads for long AM days, I found them perfectly comfortable for long days climbing!
They have taken some big hits and each time it was a quick dust off, and back on the bike. I feel pretty confident that these pads will offer all the protection you could expect of a soft pad! I can happily wear these for an 8 hour day without the burning desire to pull them down at every opportunity. Ventilation is OK; my knees still get a bit warm on a 30 + degree Italian day but that is similar with most pads that offer the same level of coverage.
I value my knees, and the biggest accolade I can give these excellent pads is that I did not buy a pair, I brought two and the matching VPD 2.0 elbow pads. If you are in the market for some new pads and want comfortable and protective, if the POCs fit, they are a truly excellent enduro pad, top marks and mighty good gear.
The VPD 2.0’s took the Megavalanche in their stride!
Words and Photos: Trevor Worsey / SummitDown Mountain Bike Guiding