POC is quickly becoming a leader for mountain biking-specific protective equipment. POC prides themselves in equipment that is not only safe, but comfortable for the rider as well. The Joint VPD 2.0 DH long knee pads are no exception.
I typically prefer a very minimalistic style of knee pads, as the bulky style drive me crazy on climbs. I’m also not a fan of swinging bulky knee pads to the side while climbing and then having to adjust them right before tackling a gnarly descent. Addmittedly, this is less of an issue if you’re playing in a bike park all day, as it’s pretty easy to adjust all your gear prior to pointing the bike downhill. But even in that scenario, constant adjustment just drives me crazy.
I also manage to crash. A lot. Sometimes it’s my own fault, with bad form and bad habits typically to blame. Sometimes it’s the combination of speed and ill-placed, loose baby head rocks to blame. As such, you can rest assured that these knee pads were tested to their full ability.
Details from POC
- 3D molded VPD 2.0 knee protector
- Perforated for heat and moisture control
- Flexible low friction hard shell knee caps
- Secure fit with kevlar reinforced stretch fabric
- Optional elastic strap for enhanced protection and fit
SIZES: S, M, L
The Tech and Design
POC’s gear features Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough (VPD). The primary objective is to offer a very flexible, comfortable knee pad without sacrificing the rider’s safety. POC accomplishes this with a soft material that transforms into a hard, shock-absorbing material upon impact. This VPD material makes up the majority of the knee pad. The VPD 2.0 DH also sports a hard shell on the knee cap region for increased durability and longevity. Judging by the number of very deep scratches now present on the knee caps, I can assume that they serve their purpose. The VPD 2.0 DH “Long Knee” is similar in design to POC’s standard VPD 2.0 DH knee pad, except that it covers more of your shin: particularly nice for the most aggressive and/or clumsy riders.
Though designed for very aggressive downhill style riding, the VPD 2.0 DH long knee pads are the “set it and forget it” type, which I absolutely love. They feature a kevlar-reinforced fabric that is somewhat stretchable. In addition, the knee pads can be purchased with an optional two velcro straps for extra secure adjustment, preventing knee pad movement while biking. The combination of the two provides a tight fit.
I was on the upper end of sizing chart for a medium, and it seemed to me that these do run a bit on the small size. I would recommend going a size up if you’re borderline. Since I should have been a size up, the knee pads felt a little too snug above the knee. However, even with a tighter than preferred fit, I didn’t feel any bunching behind my knee. Most sleeve-style knee pads such as these have a tendency to bunch.
The Test Rides
As I mentioned above about fit, these were personally a bit tighter than I would have preferred. As such, I was keenly aware of their presence in the beginning. But as the rides progressed, I quickly forgot that they were on, even while climbing over 1,000 vertical feet. Though explicitly advertised as a more of a downhill-style knee pad, these are not just for downhill riders by any stretch of the imagination. The knee pads really conformed to my knees as time increased, thereby improving comfort.
Since they are technically a sleeve-style knee pad, the knee pads got a bit hot for me when riding in 70-80 degree weather. I’m not sure I would consider these as a first choice in the dead of summer unless I was riding extremely technical terrain. POC highlights the fact that these are perforated to improve cooling. I’m sure this is a great upgrade from non-perforated fabric. However, at the end of a 3-hour ride, they were quite soaked, and I’m not one to sweat that much (well, compared to my husband at least).
Additionally, though I hate to admit it on the interwebs for all to see, I unintentionally tested its safety capability and can vouch for its performance. After a crash hard enough to require the replacement of a helmet and a keen reminder to pick up a pair of elbow pads, my knees and shins were pain and bruise free. The day after, however, I had light bruises develop on my shins below where the knee pads covered. I can only imagine how black and blue the rest of my legs would have been had I not been sporting these knee pads.
The POC Joint VPD 2.0 DH Long knee pads lived up to the claims boasted on POC’s website.They were much more comfortable than I had expected, especially considering the downhill style of design and the fact that I tested them not only on rocky descents, but long, sustained climbs as well. They are knee pads that you can set and forget, while not compromising safety or comfort. The main goal for POC with these knee pads was to offer an extremely safe pad, without sacrificing any comfort–quite unlike most knee pads, where the design tries to optimize the two and ultimately sacrifices one aspect in the long run. Even after throwing my knees at rocks, the only qualms I could find with these are that I would expect these knee pads to get pretty hot at the peak of summer.
Overall, if you’re a downhill rider or even an XC rider facing gnarly terrain, I highly recommend these knee pads. Just err on a size larger if you find your measurements borderline.
A big thanks to POC for providing the Joint VPD 2.0 DH Long knee pads for review.