Photo credit: Jay Parrington.
One piece of equipment that many of us fail to use but that we really should consider is joint protection. Having stepped up to mostly gravity and aggressive trail riding, I have found that I really need to wear protection.
I used to run full-on hard body armor for DH, but found that to be too restrictive and way too hot during the summer. I had a true need for protection that was stiff and still offered movement when necessary. While talking with Dax Kelm (PR guru for POC) in December, he suggested I try out the new Joint VPD 2.0 Elbow and Knee pads, which are due to be released to the public soon. I decided I should give them a shot, seeing that the helmet already felt great, and that these pads feature a fresh redesign.
Due to the nasty weather in Canada over the winter months, I did most of my testing indoors at Joyride 150. When the days were warm enough I also used them on my trail bike at places like Mohawk (near Hilton falls). Both places are perfect for testing, seeing that they have rather large drops and places where you will get hurt if things go wrong.
Photo credit: Jay Parrington.
So what makes these pads version 2.0? Well POC took what worked in the 1.0 version and kept it. After that, everything else was a refinement. The already proven and durable VPD padding stayed, with a bit more contouring and molding added. A new 3D knee cup and elbow cup were formed and POC kept the original perforations for airflow and cooling.External changes to the gear include an extra velco strap to ensure that the knee pads stay where they should without rotation. The shell material is made of a multi-paneled stretchy aramid fiber which provides comfortable fit and durability, ensuring these pads will hold up to punishment and will feel good all day. There you have it: the VPD 2.0.
What exactly is VPD padding, you might ask? Well long story short, VPD (Visco-elastic Polymer Dough) is a modified Polyurethane that is both soft and form-fitting under normal conditions, yet under impact the material stiffens and increases its resistance, absorbing the energy of impacts. POC’s VPD gear reached the Level 2 high performance standard for protection, (CE-1621-2) which is a motorcycle standard.
The VPD 2.0 gear feels much better than the previous versions. For one thing, the new renditions of these pads don’t roll around on you. Once you fit them in place, they stay put. After an all-afternoon session jumping into the foam pit at Joyride 150, jumping on the progressive lines, and doing a few laps on the XC course, I didn’t have one issue with pad movement.
The pads are left and right specific, so pay close attention to the small tab inside indicating which side you’re using. One hurried afternoon I didn’t pay attention and noticed that the pads felt odd.
I can’t say that these pads were completely unobtrusive. I was aware of them while riding but they felt good and didn’t move around, although they did feel a bit tight at times. I did notice on the knee pads that the lower strap was a bit on the thin side and did tend to bunch a bit, which in one instance felt a bit annoying. Other than that, I had no real issues.
The straps are generous enough to grab nicely without having a bunch of extra strap flopping about. Taking the POC pads to Mohawk for a trail workout, I can say that after more than three hours of riding I still felt great in these. Again, there was a bit of bunching on the upper strap, but loosening it up fixed that problem. The ventilation in the pads kept me feeling pretty fresh without overheating.
If you find that you’re in-between on the sizing, go for the smaller size. The most important thing when ordering armor like this is to try before you buy, or carefully follow POC’s fitting guide on their website.
Now that the weather is better, and my testing at Joyride 150 has come to an end, I will spend a bit more time on the POC VPD 2.0 and will follow up with a final review at a later date. But for now, I can honestly say that these are very comfortable pads and that they offer great protection for the size.
MSRP is $130 for the knee pads and $110 for the elbow pads.
A quick thanks to the folks at POC for sending the gear up for review and another shout out to the folks at Joyride for keeping a great indoor riding location alive and well!