A few weeks ago, a select crew of MTB media folks were given a set of Dainese’s latest Enduro Knee Guards to try out. We got to ride a huge descent in them that first day. But since these are designed to pedal in I hit my local trails before writing up my first impressions.
While the pads performed well on the bike, they present a notable comfort issue when you’re not riding – I found these pre-curved guards are too biased to the riding position, and standing up straight or walking around in them is uncomfortable. Their high degree of protection might make the Enduro Knee Guards a viable race-day option, but I think Dainese needs to improve upon their off-bike comfort to make them suitable for everyday use.
Dainese Enduro Knee Guards
I was given a pair of size small pads, but they were too large for me. I had to cinch the top straps as much as possible, and with no relief cuts, the hems just fold over themselves. Surprisingly that bunchy lump didn’t bother me while riding, but nonetheless an XS size (not currently being produced) would likely fit me much better. I should also note that Dainese’s Trail Skins II kneepads, which I absolutely loved, fit me perfectly in a size small whereas these Enduros fit much bigger.
There isn’t a huge range of adjustment in the Enduro knees. You won’t want to cinch the top strap much because it will create bunching at the hem. The calf strap is not adjustable at all, so if you’re buying them I’d go with whatever size fits you as snugly as possible.
Despite the fact that both straps should have been tighter, the Enduro knees pre-curved construction kept them in place remarkably well while I pedalled and descended. I’m sure if you have the correct size, these pads would easily hold their position. Comfort wise, nothing inside the sleeve rubbed me the wrong way and the curved shape made the pads fit very well while riding. They offered enough mobility for unencumbered pedalling, but…
The troublesome limit to the Enduro Guards’ mobility is standing up straight! As soon as I stood up in them, the bottom of the shin plate pushed into my leg rather uncomfortably. After looking at the other writers’ legs post-ride, the indents on their shins assured me this isn’t a personal fit issue. I later noticed the top of the knee cap also pushes into my thigh when my leg is straightened out. An easy remedy would be to simply drop the pads down onto your shins while walking around, but should we really have to?
I figured if Dainese made the area between the knee cap and shin plate flexible, the pads would straighten out more. At this point I attempted a little modification; I cut out a few of the ribs between the knee and shin plates on my right pad. I got as far as the above picture shows and tried them on, but I found it made a minimal difference as the top of the kneecap was still pressing into my thigh.
I think Dainese needs to add a hinge or flexible panels so the pads will fully straighten out, and do some re-shaping above the kneecap so the Pro-Armor padding doesn’t push into your thigh when you’re standing or walking around. The above picture shows my leg extended to the point where things get uncomfortable.
I didn’t have any big crashes in the Enduro Knee Guards, but one MTB journalist did during our first descent. After going OTB and smashing his knee on a sharp rock, he had cracked through the rigid knee cap. It sounded like a pretty hard crash, so it’s hard to say if other rigid pads would have fared any better. On the upside, the writer’s knee survived the incident!
I recently reviewed Dainese’s Trail Skins II knee pads and pretty much fell in love with them, but I wasn’t impressed with the Enduro Knee Guards. Their fit adjustment is a bit limited, but most importantly standing up straight is downright uncomfortable. The only application I could recommend them for is race days, when you might be willing to sacrifice comfort for protection. The Enduro Knee Guards retail for $129.99 USD, and come in sizes S-XL.
*Note- I just found out that Dainese decided to revise the design of the Enduro Knee Guards, and have delayed their release until next year. We’ve requested info on the new design, so stay tuned to Bikerumor and we should have a follow-up article highlighting what’s changed appearing sometime around Spring 2019. Happy trails!