7iDP Project Knee Pad REVIEW
Review by Nic Hall | Photos by Dusten Ryen
7iDP is a protection company with a well-rounded product lineup and have made one of our all-time favorite knee pads, the Sam Hill’s, which we reviewed last year. They also recently released the Project 23 DH helmet that is one of the lightest and most ventilated options on the market at a price point well under many of their competitors. While we normally ride the Sam Hill knee pads on our more aggressive eMTB and DH bike days, we decided to try the new 7iDP Project Knee pads, which are a hybrid polygon foam pad with a flexible hard cap in the center of the pad that claim big protection and freedom in a comfortable package.
When 7iDP developed the Project Knee pads focus was placed on pedaling flexibility, protection, and retention. The knee pad is an enduro-focused hybrid pad built out of a Proknit fabric tube to control movement and elasticity. Pedal Flex Mobility theory is intended to keep riders moving as fast as possible thanks to the breathable knee sock and compression-fit pad. The fabric sleeve is long and has silicone grippers on the top and bottom to prevent movement.
Seven Protection also designed the 7iDP Project Knee guards with a thigh length main body to ensure they stay in place and don’t slide down while riding. An elastic double strap system is utilized to provide even pressure over the upper thigh to further increase retention while also keeping the pads comfortable.
The pad is articulated to provide an anatomical fit while on the bike and build of viscoelastic foam. Along with those features it has a flexible, hard top cap over the knee to increase sliding over surfaces and dissipate impact. 7IDP also included extra padding around the outside and lower surfaces of the knee to increase protection, but it’s not quite as much as the Sam Hill pads or enough to have us recommend them for downhill mountain bikers looking for max coverage. If you are a DH, park rider looking for protection where you need it without extra bulk, then these CE EN 1621 Level 2 knee pads may be worth a look too.
The CE Level 2 certification really caught our eye when looking for a new aggressive mountain biking knee pad. Most pedal-focused pads have a CE Level 1 rating which allows for an average transmitted force of <35kN while Level 2 protection significantly reduced the average transmitted force to <20kN. This added protection makes them a bit warmer than Level 1 pads, but also had us taking them on trail rides and bike park days. Some small to medium low side crashes and flat tire changes have been easily handled by the 7iDP Project Knee thanks to the combination of the hard exterior and heavily padded Sas-Tec interior.
Retention is outstanding but it took some time to get used the longer thigh sleeve. The sleeve sits just above where a standard set of bibs would end and the Proknit fabric is pretty compressive. That being said, the Velcro straps lock the whole upper sleeve down and we never had migration of the pad while riding or pedaling. Although we found that if you plan on pedaling a lot on hot or humid days, your knees will be warm and wet.
Pedaling performance is on par with other burlier trail/enduro knee pads. It’ll be warming and heavier than lighter Level 1 pads but not as thick as a full-blown DH pad. After several back to back days of long rides, we found some patella rub and discomfort, although it’s hard to find any pad that won’t start to wear on the skin after repeated long days of hot, sweaty rides. If you’re looking for a pad that protects well on rowdy trail and enduro days, the 7iDP Project Knee is a contender and a little bit cooler than our favorite DH-ready Sam Hill Knee pads. For those who’ve ridden the Sam Hill pads, these don’t offer quite as much protection around the sides of the knee or down the shin, which makes the Projects slightly more pedal-friendly too.
The 7iDP Project Knee pads blur the boundary between pedal-friendly aggressive trail pads and DH-level protection in a functional way. We appreciated the full lock down of the long sleeve and strap system but found it too warm to be our only pad for long pedals in the middle of summer. If you’ve got a lightweight pad and want a little more protection for burly days, this could be a great option. Likewise, if you are looking for one knee pad to replace a bin full of old smelly gear, the Project Knee are quite versatile, although you’ll find compromises on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to full-blown DH coverage or lighter weight XC pad breathability. These fall right smack in the middle.
And, if you’re looking to compare these to the ever-popular Sam Hill Knee pads, we’d say these are slightly more pedal-friendly and lighter duty. For DH bike days we’d probably stick with our Sam Hill’s and opt for these on more eMTB rides, enduro days and rocky trail rides.
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