Designed with help from the Atherton family and other top riders, the Endura MT500 Hard Shell kneepads offer substantial protection for trail and downhill in a fairly slim package. While protection is great, the fit is a little iffy and these pads get toasty on warmer days.
Underneath a custom-moulded cap for sharp impact protection is a D3O insert. The sides are polyurethane (PU) foam to guard against (typically less severe) lateral impacts and there’s a stretch mesh back for ventilation. The D30 itself features triangular vents for a bit of airflow, too, as it's otherwise a pretty good insulator. Importantly, the pad meets CE EN 1621/1 standards.
It secures via two burly Velcro straps, with silicone gripper strips top and bottom; the MT500 pad isn’t going anywhere. It’s a long pad too, reaching from mid calf and going quite high up the thigh.
These pads size up a little small: I tested the S/M size as I usually ride a small pad, and it still fitted quite tightly. It proved comfortable enough for this not to be too much of a problem, however – just a little tricky to pull off after a ride – but riders at the upper end of the scale may want to go up a size.
The level of protection the MT500 offers, while remaining unrestrictive and comfortable, is impressive. It can be finicky, though – the pad has to be placed precisely to avoid bunching behind the knee. It takes a bit of trial and error over the course of a ride, but as soon as you’ve sussed it they're easy to forget.
The PU foam sides are plus . They’re soft so they’re not intrusive, and they cover the important bits nicely.
I’m yet to ride the MT500s in proper heat, but during our mild winter, my knees were kept nice and warm, which means a toastier ride when summer comes. Due to the hard cap airflow is inevitably compromised, but there are ventilation panels all over the pad – notably at the top where the Velcro strap belongs. The mesh backs helps too.
The Endura MT500 Hard Shell is comfortable and easily forgotten once adjusted correctly. They offer a lot of protection and are seriously secure, especially if you don’t mind a tighter fit. If you want a little more air and a little less protection, Endura also offers the MT500 without the hard shell for ten quid less.
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