RACE FACE INDY KNEE PAD REVIEW
Review by Dario DiGiulio
I see knee pads as a necessary evil – it sure is nice to have them when you need them, but they can be a nuisance up until you put them to use. It may seem dumb, but in the soft wet woods of the Pacific Northwest it can be easy to go padless even on some pretty gnarly trails, though it still stings when you smack your knee on a wet root. That said, pads are getting good enough that it’s hard to eschew wearing them, even on the quickest of rides. Race Face has a long history making some of the most popular pads out there, so is their newest Indy Knee good enough to convince even a skeptic to ride with protection?
Not a far cry from the prior model that we enjoyed, the newest Indy Knee is a subtle update which seeks to improve on a few key features, but leaves the time-tested shape alone. The main change is a slightly shorter extension of the sleeve below the protective pad, which some adjustments to the fit to give the most comfortable and secure pad. Worth noting is the fit – I’m 6’3” and around 175lbs, with a fairly slim build – and the medium fit seems to be perfect for me. As with all gear, it’s worth trying a pair on if you can, but the measured charts seem to do a good job of giving you a sense of fit.
Other key details are as follows:
• 2 colorways: black or tan
• Pull-on sleeve with upper calf strap
• Silicone grippers
• D3O LP1 pad
• Lycra body fabric, mesh backing
• MSRP $90
I think these are the pads to convert me, and the proof is in the pedaling. Anything can feel comfortable when you’re shuttling or riding lift-accessed trails, but when it’s a sweat-powered excursion the good and the bad quickly shake out. The Indy Knee pads have handily proven to be some of the best pads I’ve used in a long time, and quickly found their way to being the only ones I’d grab, even on long days out. I’ve pedaled a couple 10,000’ days in these, and while I’m more than happy to take them off afterwards, it’s no hardship while wearing them.
Luckily this is the case, because you can’t drop them to the ankles quite as nicely as other pads, due to the elastic strap that hangs off if you do so. You can still wear them down on the climbs, but that velcro is liable to get caught up in your chain while pedaling, so it’s best to just keep them up. Otherwise I have no complaints, they just simply work.
Having tested their impact resistance a few times more than I’d like to, I can confirm that the D30 armor does in fact work as advertised, giving an impressive level of protection for its minimal heft and easy movement. Recently I landed on a sharp rock at the top of a 5200’ descent in the backcountry, and though it didn’t feel great, I was able to hop back on the bike and enjoy the day out – which probably wouldn’t have been the case with a lighter-duty pad.
So far the elastic and silicone grippers are holding up well, though inevitably they all start to bag out after enough use. Unsurprisingly, they don’t smell great at this point, but that’s another unfortunate reality with knee pads in general. Thankfully they’re totally washable, so I can keep them relatively fresh, and tighten up the fit every once in a while to keep them firmly put.
The Wolf’s Last Word
As someone who typically tries to avoid wearing kneepads, the Race Face Indy Knee has shown me the error in my ways. These pads are comfortable enough to wear all day, and they do their job well, protecting the knees and staying in place even after a healthy dose of pedaling. It’s safe to say they’re my go-to pad right now, and the only one I want to wear every ride. The rest of the team is in agreement, the Race Face Indy pads continue to be a top-tier pedal-friendly offering.