LEATT AIRFLEX HYBRID KNEE GUARD REVIEW
Review by Nic Hall & Drew Rohde
Photos by Dusten Ryen
You may already know we really liked the Leatt Airflex Pro knee pad, but we found that without an exterior hard shell, it could grab the dirt and move on big sliding impacts. Leatt listened to the feedback and recently released the Airflex Hybrid, which incorporates the Airflex impact gel of the Pro with a small sliding plate over the centre of the knee. Could this be the perfect balance of protection with a pedal friendly design? We have all been wearing them for the past month to find out.
Leatt has a huge range of knee pads for every discipline. The Airflex Hybrid is their lightest pad that still carries CE certification. It is designed to be their slimmest fitting pad but is still packed with features to keep your knees in one piece when you do take a slam.
A large Airflex impact absorbing gel insert forms the base of the protection covering a reasonable area around the kneecap and extending slightly down the shin. It has a pre-cupped shape designed to fit around the knee like a glove, and features perforations to allow air to flow through beneath the fabric covering sleeve. On top of this Airflex gel are two hard plastic shells at the kneecap, to double up on protection and help the pad to slide over impacts rather than catching on them. The knitted sleeve is made of AirMesh on the back for maximum breathability and all the fabric features Moisturecool wicking tech to keep things dry and fresh. The entire pad and sleeve is pre-curved to provide a natural fit without rubbing on the back of the knee when pedaling. Silicone knee and thigh grippers help to keep things firmly in place, combining with the pre-curved shape to keep them stuck tight when riding. The Airflex Hybrid Knee Guards are available in a large S-XXL size range, and retail for $109.99.
The Airflex Hybrid is longer than the Airflex Pro and offers better shin coverage to increase the usable protection in a crash. Its preformed curve is just about perfect for our skinny legs, and it does not bunch on the back of the knee when pedaling thanks to the cutout in the mesh. As with all strapless pads, it’s essential to ensure you choose the correct size, so be sure to refer to Leatt’s size guide or try them on before buying. The silicone knee grips have kept the pad in place for all of our testers despite taking some decent falls, making sure the Airflex protective material has the best chance of doing its job and protecting the knee.
The new hard shells are the big news for this knee pad, and something we’re really stoked to see on an otherwise fairly minimalistic pad. The two sections have just enough coverage to keep your knees safe by sliding over rocks and dirt, without adding any noticeable bulk. We like that the hard shell prevents the knee pad from wearing out prematurely when kneeling to work on your bike.
The only thing we feel is missing from the Airflex Hybrid is side of the knee coverage, like featured in the Pro. I have had some small bruising to the outside of my knee when taking a low-side crash in these, which could have likely been avoided by a simple foam insert. But the tradeoff is a slim fitting knee pad that disappears when pedaling and trail riding. The best armor in our opinion is the kind that you can wear all the time, and that is exactly what the Airflex Hybrid is. We’d say it’s a killer trail knee pad with extra protection, rather than a slimmed down pad that we’d choose for an enduro or park ride. The price tag is a little steep, sure, but our experience with the longevity of Leatt’s pads goes some way to justifying it, with them surviving seasons of abuse better than many.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid is an evolution of the slim fitting, pedal friendly knee pad that can take a fall better than previous generations of the Airflex line. We are stoked on the fit and new hard shell coverage but wish it had better lateral condyle (side of the knee) protection so we could wear it for slightly gnarlier rides. Leatt continues to impress us with their ability to incorporate rider feedback while maintaining their high level of pad performance.
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.