Minimal Mountain Bike “Rash Guards” Could Replace Pads for Some Riders

More protection than knee warmers, but not bulky like a knee guard. Are mountain bike rash guards a new thing?

photo: Assos

I always love looking for new trends in the mountain bike industry at Interbike, especially trends that seem to point toward new product categories altogether. Maybe this is a false alarm, but more than one company is working on what Matt has helpfully dubbed “mountain bike rash guards.”

Essentially these rash guards are items that cover the knees or arms like pads, but offer little or no actual padding. Instead, they are designed to simply prevent abrasion, which for many riders, is much more common than actual banged knees and elbows. These are guards against rash, not bash.

We all know wearing pads can be hot, and most limit mobility on the bike in one way or another. Pads using viscoelastic materials have gone a long way toward making armor thinner and more flexible, but if we’re honest, they’re all still uncomfortable on some level.

photo: Assos

Assos’ Trail collection includes knee and arm protectors which incorporate a material the company calls dyneRope. The fiber material in dyneRope is said to be 15 times stronger than steel, and it’s woven in a rip-stop pattern for maximum durability. In addition to abrasion protection, the material offers protection from the sun at the UPF50+ level.

photo: Jeff Barber

While the Assos Trail protectors may look like arm and knee warmers, they are distinctly warm weather oriented. That might seem strange (and frankly hot), but when compared to traditional pads, these items promise to run cooler.

The Assos Trail arm protectors are set to retail for $75 USD while the knee protectors will go for $89 USD. Look for availability in the first half of 2019. Other companies are working on similar products, though information is not publicly available at this time.

Your turn: Could you use this type of protection on the trail? If you use pads now, would you switch? If you wear no armor, is a rash guard something you would try?