Troy Lee Designs sent us some of their new Raid knee guards a few months back to see how they treated us on our more gravity oriented rides. So whenever said rides included a chairlift, a shuttle or at least some really burly terrain, we donned the new D3O padded offerings. Aimed squarely at DH and enduro, we initially thought they wouldn’t be a very good set of pads to pedal in, but we ended up surprised by how comfortable and breathable they were on when pointed uphill.
• D30® CE certified knee pad
• PU “Fit-Lock” calf band to prevent slippage
• Neoprene construction for all-day comfort
• Breathable mesh back panel
• Durable abrasion-resistant cover
• Abrasion resistant side padding for protection against bike frame and trail features
• Silicone gripper band
• $115 US
• 3 Sizes – XS/SM, M/L , XL/2X
On first glance, we’d say this kneepad has the perfect amount of protection for lighter duty DH and heavy duty trail rides. Upon closer inspection we’d even rate them for racing and freeride. After all, Luca Shaw races in them and Kyle Jameson sends 80 foot jumps in them with no complaints of feeling under protected. This is largely because they utilize D3O for padding. In short, D3O is a soft, flexible foam that hardens immediately under impact. It works incredibly well in applications where it’s beneficial to have less bulk, you know…like in knee pads. You can read more about D3O and how it works here, but trust us that it’s cool stuff and it was wise of TLD to utilize this high tech material.After slipping on the Raids the first thing we really noticed was the Polyurethane print at the top and the “Fit Lock” behind the calf. Up top it serves as a band of grippy rubber to prevent slipping along with a single discreet strap. Down just below where your knee bends it also helps keep the pads in place by not letting the mesh back panel stretch too much in a critical area. Aside from the main contoured D3O pad, there are a few small, thinner pads spread about to provide additional coverage on critical areas. We tested the Medium/Large size and our rider who’s often right between medium and large felt the pads fit him perfectly.
On the Trail
Our first few rides wearing the Raid knee guards were mid winter on the DH bike wearing full length pants. We’re happy to report that they NEVER shifted around or slipped. No re-adjusting every run and best of all, no chaffing. It almost sounds like we’re reviewing a pair of underwear, doesn’t it? Anyhow, after a few rides on the big bike, we quickly realized not only how well the Raids breathed but also how nicely they articulated. That made us realize that perhaps we should spend some time with them on our trail bikes.
While the Raids are probably a bit over the top for your average daily trail rides, they were surprisingly comfortable while pedaling. They also managed heat quite nicely, likely due to the mesh back panel. This winter when we were riding steep, wet, gnarlier terrain these were the pads we reached for to give us a little extra confidence especially on unknown terrain; a bit of a multi purpose pad in that sense. For the long, hour plus ride up to blast down type rides, they’re fairly small and very light so you can strap them to a hydration pack and put them on just before your descent.
We did eventually have a couple of huge crashes while wearing the Raids. One of which we don’t remember all that well and another left us with more spinal issues than anything really. We did take a couple of direct hits to the knee and had plenty of slide outs. In all of those instances the pads did a fine job of not only protecting us well but also staying in place. We’ve used D30 pads in the past and prefer them to a traditional foam pads. Some riders prefer the extra reassurance of a hard plastic shell on the exterior of their kneepads. That’s understandable but it adds some extra bulk and can limit articulation as well as encourage slipping. Our experience with D3O has been nothing but positive and the Raids are no exception.
All in all these are excellent pads…one of the best gravity knee guards that we’ve used to date. The fit is excellent and the price is just about right. You can spend more and you could certainly spend less but you’ll regret it. At $115 they hit a nice sweet spot where you get what you pay for. If we had to dig a bit to find something to complain about, we might note that it would be nice if the main pad was removable. So far we’ve washed them a few times though and our set has showed no signs of premature wear or tear so it’s hard to really fault them. The Raid is the kind of protective wear that just about every mountain biker should keep around for days in the bike park or on unknown burlier terrain even if they aren’t a full on downhiller. For an enduro or DH racer, it’s likely just what they’re looking for in terms of getting a great deal of protection in a slim, discreet package. One of the greatest attributes is that you just don’t even know you’re wearing them. Hats off to TLD on a job well done with these knee guards.