Wil gives us his review of the new Endura MT500 Lite Knee Pads
Just two months ago, Endura released several brand new protective products under the venerable MT500 label. These included a very lightweight, (as in, 640g lightweight!) full-face helmet equipped with Koroyd protection, and two brand new knee pads.
Designed with input from the Athertons, the new knee pads are split into two versions; the MT500 Hard Shell, and the MT500 Lite. Both pads feature a slip-on style, with flexible D3O padded inserts designed to shield the rider’s knees.
The MT500 Hard Shell is the burlier option of the two, and it receives a plastic moulded cap that sits over the D3O pad for additional armouring against the sharp and pointy things that gravity-based riders are more likely to encounter. In comparison, the MT500 Lite is the lighter, more breathable and more flexible option, and it’s this pedal-friendly version that I’ve had on test for the last few weeks.
Endura MT500 Lite Knee Pad Features
- Lightweight, flexible and pedal friendly slip-on softshell knee pad
- CE certified as impact protection [EN1621-1]
- D3O protective insert
- Side PU foam padding
- Abrasion-resistant impact panels
- Jacquard loop and Velcro strap system
- Silicone cuff lining to reduce slip
- Lightweight mesh back panel
- Sizes: S-M, M-L, L-LX
- RRP: £69.99
As with many modern knee pad designs, the MT500 Lite features a tube-style construction that sees the pad built as one continuous fabric tube. Kind of like a really hardcore knee warmer. That means you’ll have to remove your shoes in order to slide the pads over your feet when fitting or removing them.
This differs from the standard MT500 and the SingleTrack knee pads, which use an open design that allows you to fit and remove the pad while leaving your shoes on. There are obvious advantages to an open design, particularly for riders who prefer to tackle climbs without knee pads.
That was something I noted when I tested the Endura SingleTrack knee pads, though I did find them the dual-strap construction to be less comfortable for pedalling. They were also quite poorly ventilated, which led to a lot of sweating and more chafing overall.
Personally, I prefer a knee pad that’s comfortable and breathable enough that I can just leave on and forget about for the entire duration of the ride. And that’s exactly what the MT500 Lite is designed for.
One Velcro Strap, Three Sizes
Whereas the MT500 Hard Shell has two Velcro straps, the MT500 Lite gets just one Velcro strap to hold it in place. It is quite a wide profile strap though, and with good elasticity to it, you can snug the strap down nice and tightly over your thigh.
The whole pad is made of stretchy fabric, and both the top and bottom cuffs are reinforced with extra elastic bands to secure the pad in place. These are then finished off with internal silicone grippers to help the cuffs to better stick to your skin.
There are three sizes available in the MT500 Lite; the S-M, M-L, and L-XL. Being a medium in most knee pad designs, I went for the M-L size.
Endura does have a sizing guide on its website, which recommends measuring the circumference of the widest part of your thighs in order to determine the correct size knee pad. If that comes out at less than 52cm, go for the S-M size. If it’s above 60cm, go for the L-XL size. My thighs measure around 53cm, which puts me into the M-L size bracket, albeit at the smaller end.
It’s worth noting here that Endura does offer a 90-day guarantee with its MT500 products, including these knee pads. So if for whatever reason you’re not happy with the fit after riding with them for a few weeks of riding, then you can return them for a different size or an exchange. Check out Endura’s Returns policy for more info there.
Perforated D3O Protection
Of course the heart of the MT500 Lite is the bright orange D3O protective insert. This insert has been pre-curved and moulded in a way that wraps around the rider’s knee cap, while also extending partway down the shin bone.
D3O is a familiar material used across protective products from various brands, and it’s something we’ve seen used in other knee pads such as those from Troy Lee Designs and SixSixOne. The magic of D3O is its ability to remain flexible and pliable under normal use, which makes it ideal for a knee pad that sees a lot of back-and-fourth flexion.
When you give the D3O insert a whack though, the molecules lock together to firm the material up – a bit like silly putty. When the material firms up under impact, it’s able to distribute that force over a broader surface area, which helps the knee pad to absorb the impact in the first place, so your knee doesn’t have to. It’s clever stuff, and it’s a well-proven technology.
To assist with flexibility, Endura has added perforations in a tessellated pattern across the D3O insert. These perforations also help to bring cool air through the pad and over the rider’s knee, which reduces heat build-up while helping to evaporate sweat before it causes chafing and discomfort. The outside section of each knee also gets an open mesh panel that provides a clearer pathway for air to enter through the pad.
On The Trail
As a lightweight pad designed for pedalling, the MT500 Lite is a big step-up from Endura’s previous SingleTrack knee pads I tested. These are significantly more comfortable to wear, and they’re a helluva lot more breathable too.
I’ve found the fit to be pretty good overall, though being at the smaller end of the spectrum for the M-L size, I do have the main Velcro strap tightened up about as far as it’ll go. Perhaps related, I’ve also found they need to be fitted fairly high up on the thigh, mostly to get the D3O insert in the optimal position around your knee cap.
Once positioned correctly, you get good coverage without feeling like the pad is crushing your patella. There’s a sufficient air gap between the pad and knee, with a silky smooth fabric panel occupying that gap to minimise rubbing.
While the fit is comfortable overall, I would like to see the Velcro strap sit right at the top of the pad, rather than underneath the cuff. I didn’t have too many issues – the pad would slip down a wee bit, but it would settle in place after 10 minutes of riding. Once I got a bit of a sweat on, the silicone grippers would actually stick better, keeping the sleeve in place both up top and at the bottom.
I do think putting the strap higher up would offer a little more insurance though. And the strap orientation was something I noticed when I was comparing these with one of my current favourite softshell knee pads, the Troy Lee Designs Raid. In comparison, the Raids place the Velcro strap higher up around the thigh, and as such, present no such rubbing issues around the back of the leg.
On that comparison, the TLD Raid is actually quite similar in design to the MT500 Lite. The Raid pads use a similar-sized D3O insert, which is also perforated for breathability. However, the Raids don’t breath nearly as well as the MT500 Lite, due to the choice of heavier duty fabrics. There’s also more padding with the Raid pads on either side of the knee cap and shin bone, which does restrict airflow, while providing more protection. Horses for courses and all that.
As for protection levels with the MT500 Lite, I’ve been impressed. They’ve copped some blunt impacts after I’ve lost traction and hit the deck on several occasions, though given the high quality D3O padding, I’ve no reason to expect otherwise. They are a lightweight and flexible pad though, and so if you’re looking for maximum protection, I’d recommend investigating the MT500 Hard Shell pads.
A high quality set of knee pads that offer impressive ventilation and flexibility. I’d recommend trying both your expected size, and the one down from that if possible, just to make sure you get an appropriately snug fit to minimise any slippage. Otherwise these are a big step up from previous Endura knee pads, and a great option for riders looking for a comfortable pad they can wear for hours on end.
|Product:||MT500 Lite Knee Pads|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 7 weeks|