It’s been an odd winter. I’ve been able to ride much more than usual, which has given me more time on review products than usual. On an acceptable, mid-40s day in January, the delivery person dropped off a set of G-Form’s newest, heavyish-duty knee and elbow pads.
With a light top, it was warm enough to wear a pair of shorts and try out the new E-lines on a trail that isn’t really considered more than a blue; a trail I normally wouldn’t wear pads on.
The E-Line knee and elbow guards debuted last fall. Many riders love the G-Form Pro-X2s for their minimalistic fit and form, but they don’t offer much protection beyond the patella. The E-Lines have a wrap-around design, with a hard shell outer, covering an Armortex anti-abrasion layer. Underneath that is G-Form’s signature Smartflex Protection layer. On the inside is a ventilated foam layer for comfort.
The pads are built for airflow, with aligning intake vents on all layers. On the bottom of the pad is a zipper to break open the bottom portion of the pad and a Velcro strap for a double retention system. Up top, there is just a Velcro strap to keep the pads in place. With the bottom part of the pad opening up, riders don’t have to remove their shoes to get the pads on. On the flip side, if you are a shoe-remover, the bottom of the pad can stay zipped.
While pedaling with the E-Lines on, I noticed that they weren’t the most comfortable pads I’ve ever worn. They chafe a little bit in the knee pit. They’re a little warm, even with the ventilation. In other words, they’re noticeable, which has to be the most undesirable trait in a pad, though there is a spectrum of kinda noticeable to really noticeable — where it could feel like someone wrapped a spool of wool and hard plastic around your joints.
I’d say the E-Lines rate as a “pretty-noticeable” on the spectrum, but again, G-Form does have lighter pads for trail riders who want protection. The Pro X2s are one of those “hardly noticeable” pads. The size medium knee pads fit me well and are true to size, and stay right where they need to under knee flexion with the aid of silicone grippers inside. While a touch uncomfortable for everyday trail riding, the E-Lines do bring in some fresh air through the vents, and I wouldn’t say that they aren’t worth wearing on trail rides. Just noticeable. The elbow guards fit on the small side for me though and are a little too snug for my liking.
Back to this ride where I wouldn’t normally wear pads. I forgot about the E-Lines as I started descending, and cranked and pedaled, and with my attention poured into most of my day before the ride, I leaned into a turn where there was no support and smacked the left side of my body into the ground. I’m confident that if I hadn’t been wearing knee pads that most of the skin surrounding my kneecap would have been shredded to a mess and I would have been picking little rocks out of my flesh.
I also believe that that a sleeve-style knee guard would have succumbed to some twisting and sliding and I would have had a lot of bruising around my knee. But, the wrap-around protection of the E-Line, the hard outer shell, and the added padding on the inner and outer knee also kept my leg in better shape. Taking the knee pad off in the parking lot, I only had a small abrasion on my knee cap from the fabric inside. Below the E-Lines, my flesh was raw.
This was a great reminder that a set of knee pads doesn’t have to feel “barely there,” to be great. The E-Lines are obviously not the lightest or least noticeable pad on the market, but they work just fine for pedaling, and they work damn well on impact.