BLUEGRASS SKINNY D3O KNEE PAD REVIEW
Review by Robert Johnston
Photos by Adam Lievesley
With tons of mountain bike knee pad offerings on the market, these Bluegrass Skinny D3O pads are just another option to consider. Bluegrass were formed in 2008 as an offshoot of the well-established Euro brand MET Helmets. The goal of Bluegrass was to target the extreme end of the sport with products specifically designed to meet the needs of downhill, enduro and BMX riders. With a roster of athletes featuring Vinny T, Kilian Bron as well as teams on the Downhill and Enduro scenes, they’ve slowly grown their portfolio of products to include gloves and body protection in addition to their initial helmet offerings.
Bluegrass kindly supplied a set of their enduro-focused Skinny D30 knee pads (in addition to their Rogue Core MIPS helmet – review coming soon) for a good thrashing on the UK’s finest trails. Read on to find out how these enduro mountain bike knee pads held up to the abuse.
As the name suggests, the Bluegrass Skinny D30 knee pads are a slim profile knee pad utilizing D3O as the layer of protection between your knees and terra firma. They’re a pull-on style pad, relying on a good fit and two thick bands of silicone on the top and bottom to keep them firmly in place when it all goes wrong. There are no Velcro straps here, so ensuring a good fit is key.
A mid-length breathable laminated fabric sleeve makes up the main bulk of the pad, with a subtly pre-formed shape designed to aid in comfort for long rides. The thin D3O insert is curved to help surround the kneecap, and is housed below a layer of tough Kevlar fabric on the front, which should help to keep the pad intact for multiple bails. The insert is reasonably thin and supple, wrapping around the knee and extending down the shin slightly to offer the protection where it’s needed the most. As you will have come to expect from D3O, the protective insert is pliable until called upon, where it hardens upon impact and spreads the load.
Pulling on a set of size medium Skinny D3O knee pads for the first time, I was a bit surprised by their relatively loose fit. Where other brands of pad require a huge effort to yank them up my calves and into place, the Bluegrass pads pulled up without a great fight. Once in position, they certainly don’t have the same compression-fit feeling that I’m accustomed to from a sleeve style knee pad, which had me concerned that they would struggle to stay in place. Thankfully, these concerns didn’t materialize. The fat silicone grippers did a great job of sticking fast to my legs, keeping the pads firmly in place for the duration of even the sweatiest of rides. Even still, riders who are between sizes should certainly consider sizing down when purchasing these knee pads.
The Bluegrass Skinny D3O’s are just long enough to avoid pad-gap on the majority of shorts, but are a little shorter on the thigh than some other pads I’ve been testing. Nevertheless, I was never left with that “bare thigh” feeling.
In terms of protection and confidence, the Skinny pads quickly earned my respect. The thin yet reassuring D3O layer covers a large enough portion of my knee that I didn’t have to give the descents a second thought. Despite my attempts to stay off the ground I was able to give them the ultimate test of knee-to-ground contact. I was relieved as the pads stayed firmly in place as my knee tried to attack the earth below.
The Skinny D3O’s fall bang in the middle of the pad temperature scale – you know you’re wearing them, but they don’t give the same claustrophobic hot knee feeling of some bulkier pads. During my test period I took them out for everything from aggressive trail shred sessions to some epically long days in the saddle. I was quite pleased to see they faded into the background and did their job without much discomfort or heat. Their construction is impressively sturdy considering their light weight, with no signs of seams popping or fabric tearing when being removed, even when saturated. This may be in part due to their looser fit, but either way it appears like they’re built to stand the test of time, helping to offset their lofty price tag.
The Wolf’s Last Word
A well-built, aggressive trail to enduro-friendly knee pad that blends all-day pedaling comfort with reassuring protection for all but the gnarliest terrain, the Bluegrass Skinny D30 represents a great offering in the premium knee protection sector. The lack of adjustability means that ensuring you get the right size is imperative to a secure and protective fit. The D3O insert isn’t overly thick but is certainly enough to give riders peace of mind, and after my first hand impact tests I certainly plan to keep these in my rotation depending on my ride that day.
Price: €100 ($118)
Protection without bulk
Comfortable pre-formed shape
Slightly large fit
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