Riders after maximum protection should take a closer look at the knee pads in the heavy-duty category. The ideal option for bike park sessions, enduro races and shuttle-assisted rides, we’d argue that some of the better knee pads in this category wouldn’t shy away from longer uphills either and are almost as comfortable as some of the models in our lightweight class.

This article is part of our knee-pad group test with heavy-duty pads for maximum protection. Take a look at the lightweight knee-pads review as well.

These heavier-duty protectors bring the brawns to your ride and are a winning choice for anyone that’s simply unwilling to compromise on protection. Our lab tests concluded that modern kneepads with viscoelastic foam protection are the most efficient when it comes to absorbing impacts, although the testing also shone light on just how much disparity there is between the best and worst models. Fit needs to be a key consideration, as even the world’s most protective garb is redundant if the knee pad doesn’t fit properly or causes you some much discomfort and agro that you end up throwing it over a hedge. Ventilation is another important factor–nobody wants to roast their knees on a blistering hot day.

Knee Pad Comfort Fit Ventilation Protection
Amplifi Cortex Polymer
FOX Launch Pro D3O
ION K-Pact Zip
O’Neal SINNER Kevlar Knee RACE Guard
Scott Grenade Evo
Sweet Protection Bearsuit Pro


On-Off relationship
An increasing number of knee pads feature a zip, which comes in handy if you want to put on or remove the kneepads without having to take off your shoes. However, this additional zip often comes at the expense of comfort –particularly in the case of the O’Neal and Sweet Protection models. ION were the only brand to successfully integrate the zipper without sacrificing comfort.
Could soft protectors really be better?
All of the kneepads in this category feature a preformed viscoelastic foam protector, which consistently demonstrated higher protective qualities in the lab when compared to ‘old school’ hard shell models.
Plastic shells like the ones found on the Fox and Leatt models don’t appear to make any significant improvement when it comes to cushioning, but their major appeal lies in their capacity for sliding, essentially allowing the knee pad to glide and prevent it from getting caught in the ground. This helps dissipate at least some of the residual impact force.


Skin contact
Seams, cut-outs and other features can cause friction burns, issues we encountered with the 661 in the hollow of the knee and the Sweet Protection’s zip.
The kneepads in our heavy-duty category tend to be quite warm and the heavy AMPLIFI, O’Neal and SCOTT models get exceptionally hot. The Fox and iXS on the other hand are pleasantly breathable.
Touring capability
Models from Fox, ION, iXS and Leatt are fortunately able to retain comfort on lengthy climbs, but not all knee pads proved fully fit for long rides. Stiffer models, like those from Sweet Protection and O’Neal, don’t have the greatest pedalling efficiency and feel uncomfortable after a while.


Modern knee pads are better than ever! Not only did most protectors in our test offer great protection but they were also very comfortable. This leaves very few excuses not to use the extra protection. The heavy-duty category saw an exciting head-to-head battle between three models, with overall victory going to the new ION K-Pact ZIP. In the lab the ION was amongst the top performing models and in the practical test it managed to convince our test crew with sublime comfort and a practical zip. Since the ION K-Pact ZIP is one of the cheapest models on test, it also secures our Best Value badge. SCOTT wisely redeveloped the Grenade Evo and made it even more comfortable without compromising its protectivity. The brand new Fox Launch Pro D3O offers good ventilation and high levels of comfort, but couldn’t quite keep up with the best performing models in our lab session.

Best in test & best value ION K-Pact Zip