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Over the past few months I’ve been using the Troy Lee Designs Stage Knee Guards. They are lighter weight, slip-on style pads that Troy Lee describes as offering “mid-range trail protection in a packable package”.
To cut a long story short, I’m impressed.
When winter begins, I start riding in trousers with knee pads underneath on every ride. ‘Trouser season’ generally means slippier trails, so a bit of extra protection is no bad thing. Plus, when the temperature really drops, pads are an added bit of warmth on my knees. No-one likes the feeling of soggy, wet, trousers on bare knees.
Because of this slippery sketchiness, the pads that I look for have to offer a decent amount of protection (as opposed to foam filled knee warmers). They also need be comfortable enough during a few hours of pedaling (and pushing).
These Troy Lee Stage knee pads are based around a typical style elasticated sleeve (“Spacer-prene” apparently) that has silicone grippers at the top to keep things in place.
The back portion of the sleeve is made from a mesh material for added comfort and to keep things cool in warm weather and when pedalling for extended periods. Across this mesh panel is an additional silicone strip to help keep things in place,.
The pads are left and right specific.
Protection comes in the form of a D30 pad on the front that covers the kneecap and extends a decent way down towards the shin, although the Stage forgoes any additional side protection. The D30 pad is covered by a thicker, abrasion resistant material for added durability and the pads are CE EN1621-1 certified.
The last time I reviewed some pads, people asked for some clarity on protection levels. So what is the standard? The EN tests are motorbike impact protection tests due to the original thinking that DH was like motocross, which has basically stuck around. Feel free to read a description of the EN1621-1 standards thanks to Wikipedia (who can explain things better than me).
The Stage pads are available in three sizes and based on the Troy Lee size guide, I was pretty much bang on for the M/L sizing (37.5cm calf, 47cm thigh).
The Stages have a good length with the top of the sleeve coming a good way up my thigh making sure there are no unsightly gaps with shorts, and the bottom sits on the widest part of my calf. The top is nice and snug, with the bottom being slightly looser, but not loose. For reference, I’m around 183cm tall and around 33in inside leg.
The D30 pad is pre-shaped and fits well on the knee with no rubbing. Whether stood around, pedalling, or in the ‘attack’ position on the bike, it covers the knee well and extends down over the top of the tibia.
The Stage knee pads fit well. They have been really comfortable for everything from lunch hour local laps to longer cross-country pedalfests.
Even when off and pushing, they’re barely noticeable. I’m yet to experience any discomfort or rubbing from them really. The long length keeps any seams away from binding at your knees and the material doesn’t bunch.
The pre-shaped knee pad fits nicely rond your patella and hasn’t caused any irritation or hotspots despite being ridden in rain, mud snow – and dealing with afair bit of sweat!
The top silicon gripper does a good job of keeping the pads in place. Even though the bottom doesn’t feature any silicone the pads have stayed put, even when worn for multiple rides/weeks without washing. The long length and shaped pad help here keeping things in position without sliding around.
While I’ve (luckily) not had a major high speed crash while using the Stage knee pads, I’ve had a fair few smaller crashes. Slide outs, washouts and various other ‘unplanned dismonuts’. In a good few of these the first thing to hit the ground has been my knee(s) and so far the Stages have done exactly what I would want them to. They’ve taken the impact, stayed in place, and not ripped or torn (a lot of the time they have been under trousers though). After each spill the pads have allowed me to carry on riding.
While they may not have any additional side protection, it tends to be front of the knee that takes the hit (at least for me) and I’ve currently no complaints on the performance of the Stage’ – in both comfort and crashing. The pad wraps over the knee cap (rather than just sitting on top) and while I may not have tested them to destruction, I’m happy that they meet EU certified levels, and have done what I’ve asked of them.
Durability wise, so far, the pads are doing okay. They’re still tight-fitting and there are no tears or loose stitching. When I have washed them, they’ve washed well. My only complaint is that the silicone on the rear has peeled off, but I can’t say I’ve noticed any performance difference.
The Troy Lee Designs Stage Knee Guards are really good. They’re quite possibly my favourite knee pads. They’re comfortable, offer enough protection for pretty much any riding I want to do and have lasted well so far. There are potentially lighter pads out there but you’ll start to sacrifice on protection, likewise there are better protected but then you’ll start to get bulkier. The Stages are the Goldilocks pads for me. If you want some pads that offer a reasonable amount of protection and are good to pedal in, then give the Stages a go.
|Brand:||Troy Lee Designs|
|Product:||Stage Knee Guards|
|Tested:||by Ross for 3 months|