In Issue #112 of Singletrack Magazine, we put 14 different knee pads through the grinder as part of our ‘Pads For Pedalling’ group test.
With its futuristic cyborg looks, the G-Form Pro-X knee pads were certainly some of the most distinct looking pads in our group test. While there have been some updates, the general design aesthetic has remained the same since G-Form first launched back in 2011. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, G-Form markets its range of knee, shin, ankle and elbow pads for cycling, skateboarding, football and snow sports. The idea being that its lightweight and flexible RPT material is ideal for any sport where both protection and mobility are required out of the same product.
The Pro-X pads are G-Form’s dedicated knee pad option for mountain bikers, and come in sizes from X-Small through to XX-Large. For smaller and younger riders, G-Form also offers the same knee pad in two youth sizes as well.
“G-Form knee pads feature innovative rate-dependent technology (RPT™) for maximum impact protection and virtually no bulk. These versatile knee pads are great for mountain biking, BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding and soccer. You’ll never again worry about compromising your movement and performing your best – in fact, you won’t even realize you’re wearing them” – From G-Form.
G-Form Pro-X Knee Pad Features
- Pedal friendly lightweight, slip-on soft knee pad
- CE certified (CE EN 15613:2008)
- Body-mapped, impact-absorbing RPT pads protect from impact
- Moisture-wicking, UPF 50+ compression fabric keeps wearer dry and comfortable
- Sleeve-style, with 2-panel design for second-skin fit
- Technical mesh back panel for breathability and moisture-wicking
- Sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large
- RRP: £60
Electing for the minimalist approach, G-Form employs a lightweight Lycra sleeve for the Pro-X knee pads. This is the same construction it uses for its elbow and shin pads, and you’ll find the same design used on the G-Form compression jerseys and shorts too. The Lycra is slightly thinner than what you’d find with a set of knee warmers, and it offers both excellent flexibility and breathability. While the fabric itself is stretchy, G-Form adds a ring of elastic around both the top and bottom cuffs of the sleeve, with the top band also receiving internal silicone grippers to keep the pads in place around your thigh for all-day trail rides.
The fit of the Lycra sleeve is form-fitting, though while G-Form claim it rates as a ‘compression’ fabric, it isn’t as tight as other dedicated compression garments – it’s much more muted than that. Overall the fit is not unlike the 661 Recon knee pads, and while the G-Form Pro-X knee pads were similarly unnoticeable while riding, they also experienced some migration of the lower cuff, which would slowly move upwards along my calf towards a thinner cross section of my leg. Nothing drastic, but an occasional bunching of fabric that I’d discover at the end of a ride.
The most eye-catching aspect of the G-Form Pro-X knee pads is, of course, that multi-plate protective plate. The RPT protector is made from a clever material that has been the hallmark of G-Form protective wear since day one. In a similar vein to the VPD material used by POC, and D3O used by the likes of Troy Lee Designs and 661, the RPT material essentially aims to do the same thing; behave like a much more advanced version of silly putty.
To the touch, the doughy material is soft and malleable, but when you hit it, the material’s molecules lock together to firm up. In the process, the firm RPT pad is able to absorb impact energy by distributing that force over a broader surface area. If you want proof of concept, there are loads of videos from G-Form showing some rather extreme examples of how it all works.
G-Form then take this RPT material and form it into a series of blocks and panels that are designed to wrap around your knee. With the look of a padded wall inside a spaceship’s living quarters, this RPT pad is then bonded to a flexible backing plate, which is then sewn onto the Lyrca sleeve. And voila! You got a set of flexible knee pads that promise to deliver far more protection than their superlight construction would lead you to believe.
On The Trail
As I mentioned above, the G-Form Pro-X knee pads fit well, with the stretchy Lycra fabric hugging your skin from top to bottom. They’re also suitably light and breezy for when the temperature starts climbing into summer-territory, and having ridden with these back home in Australia on 35°C days, I can attest that they handle moisture wicking very well. The RPT pad on the front of the knee is a solid panel all the way around, so there isn’t a lot of breathability there, but because the Lycra sleeve runs between it and your skin, the fabric does manage to strip excess moisture away from your knees to dry off elsewhere.
Before assessing the Pro-X knee pads armouring abilities, it’s worth noting that these really are knee pads for people who don’t like wearing knee pads. They’re targeting the same rider who’s looking at the 661 Recon, Bluegrass Eagle, and Fox Launch Enduro knee pads. Basically riders who would prefer to leave their knees naked. So unlike burlier knee pad options out there, the Pro-X pads are first and foremost designed to be flexible and comfortable, while only really being designed to protect your skinny knee caps from handlebar-end whacks, top tube thunks, and an occasional lay-down tap on the inside of a corner after the tyres break out of traction underneath you. And in impacts where that kind of blunt force is applied to the RPT pad, the Pro-X knee pads do incredibly well. In fact, they surprised us by being one of the best pads during the whack-Wil’s-knees-with-a-frypan™ test.
What they don’t deal with so well is sharper and more pronounced impacts – say from a brake lever, or a stubborn imbedded tree branch. In these instances, the soft RPT material just doesn’t have enough resistance to ward off the protrusion. And as we found throughout testing, sharp rocks somehow have a habit of digging their way into your knees via one of the channels on the RPT pad. With this in mind, it would be great to see some kind of aramid fibre shell that could wrap over the top of the RPT pad, in order to provide some added puncture resistance while also allowing the pads to slide across the ground without being pulled about.
There’s a lot to like about the Pro-X knee pads from G-Form. They fit well and are quickly forgotten about while riding, making them an excellent choice for knee pad newbies and XC riders who are looking for minimalist protection without losing out on flexibility. And for protection against blunt impacts, the RPT pad does impressively well at absorbing the hit in question.
However, we had enough stacks on pointy objects that still resulted in a tender knee, that we think there’s room for improvement with these pads. Some kind of protective shell over the top of the RPT pad would do well to enhance the Pro-X knee pads line of defence.
Otherwise the Pro-X knee pads do offer a lot for riders who want a set of knee pads that they can slip on at the start of the ride, without having to worry about pulling them on and off at every point in the ride where the gradient changes. They’re flexible and extremely lightweight, and like the other lightweight options in our Pads For Pedalling group test, they’ll do a darn good job at removing any excuses you’ve got for turning up to a ride without them.
|Product:||Pro-X Knee Pads|
|From:||G-Form UK, gform.uk|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 9 months|