As part of my season long journey training for my first Enduro World Series race, I put a bunch of MTB protection through rigorous testing. That protection included the ASTM-certified MET Parachute MCR, the Bluegrass Armour Lite back protection vest, the Bluegrass Solid D3O Knee and Elbow pads and the Bluegrass Magnete Lite gloves. This kit has seen over 12 months of action – you won’t find a longer term review anywhere. Here’s how we got on.
Feature image by Arron Barnes of Albashots Media.
Review: Bluegrass D3O Solid Knee Pads
Here’s our video review of the MET Parachute MCR convertible full face helmet and the Bluegrass Solid D3O Knee & Elbow MTB protection pads. Skip to 05:36 if you just want to hear about the latter!
Honestly, when I first got these knee pads in the post and I saw the zippers at the sides, I did not have high hopes. I’m a little heavy handed and have a history of breaking most zips I come into contact with. However, I’m pleased to share that the zips on the Bluegrass Solid D3O Knee pads have been very robust.
They are a little more fiddly to put on than your regular slip-on design knee pads. You do need to get the hang of the zip and be sure to insert the slider into the zip mechanism fully before zipping them closed, but that’s true for any zip. Obscene amounts of mud have caused zero trouble.
The major upside to the zip-up knee pad design is that you can out them on after you’ve put your shoes on. This may sound like an unimportant point, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve put my shoes on, only to have to remove them again to put slip-on knee pads on. It’s the small things… Only put the pads on when you get to the trail head.
My personal experience of the Bluegrass Solid D3O knee pads has been overwhelmingly positive. The D3O pad is pretty voluminous, so it feels over-sized when you’re standing up and walking around. However, that extra space is taken up as soon as you assume the pedaling position.
Overall, I think Bluegrass have done an excellent job with the fit. These are by far and away the most comfortable and wearable knee pads I’ve ever worn. In addition, the internal material that comes into contact with your knee is very smooth and frictionless. I experienced rubbing issues only a handful of times in the last 12 months, and only when the weather was real hot.
I loaned these out to some friends to see what they thought of them. Some made the mistake of trying to wear them over leggings or bib-tights, so they found the knee pads kept slipping down as they pedaled. It’s worth noting that the silicone strips at the top and bottom are designed to work with your skin. So, if you wear them directly on your skin as I do, they won’t slip down. Not even in a crash.
As for the protection, these pads are pretty high up there. The D3O material that the main pad is made of has plenty of flex for comfort when pedaling. Importantly, it hardens upon impact. These have saved me on countless occasions.
There is some additional non-D3O padding around the sides too. The only place I’d say these are lacking in coverage would be around the inside of the knee. I’ve come away with some bruising on a few occasions where I’ve whacked my knee off the top tube during a crash.
If you’re a rider looking for a knee pad that offers a good balance between comfort and protection, you’ll not go far wrong with these.
Review: Bluegrass Solid D3O Elbow Pads
There was a bit of a bedding in period with the elbow pads. The stiffness of the D3O pad made the tip of my elbow a bit sore for the first few rides. After a couple of rides the pad became more flexible in it and any initial discomfort went away.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the hole here. I can see that Bluegrass have put that in for ventilation purposes, and it probably prevents chaffing it this region too, but I can’t say I think it looks that great.
Pricing & Availability
The Bluegrass Solid D3O knee pads are their top-of-the-range knee pads. Get them in sizes XS to XL for €120. The mid-range Skinny D3O gets the D3O pad, as the name suggests, but it loses the additional padding around the forearms and lacks velcro straps. It costs €90. A non-D3O slimmer version of these MTB Knee Pads exist; get the slip-on design Bluegrass Solid knee pads for a more budget-friendly €75.
Bluegrass also offer two levels of MTB Elbow Pad. The Solid D3O Elbow Pads reviewed here are available in sizes XS to XL and will set you back €110. A cheaper, slimmer comes in the form of the Skinny D3O Elbow Pads; they retail at €90. Finally, at the budget-friendly end you’ll find a non-D3O version. The Bluegrass Solid elbow pads are priced at €70.
For racing the Enduro World Series in Zermatt, we paired the Bluegrass Solid D3O MTB pads with the ASTM-certified MET Parachute MCR convertible full face helmet, and the Bluegrass Armour Lite Back Protection vest. Follow the links for our reviews!