Superb, lightweight knee protector for the easier or longer trail rides where you still want something on your nobbly bits
Oct 16 2017
All day comfortable and reasonably priced too
Minimal movement, stays put
Durable and tough construction
Longer extension up thigh preferable
You want a super-lightweight yet capable knee protector which doesn’t need constant in-ride readjustments and is all day comfortable.
Minimalistic, slip-on knee protection is coming thick and fast in the mountain bike world these days, and for good reason. As the capabilities of bikes have increased, so have our requirements for the kit we wear and use. Ionmake a full array of protective kit, usually of high quality and durable construction. The K-Sleeve knee pad follows that trend perfectly, despite its very simple appearance.
Like dropper posts, I now rarely ride without knee pads, even on a pretty easy going trail ride I’ll often wear, or at least take with me, a pair of knee pads similar to the K-Sleeve. With so many good options these days, I find I like the feeling of some minimal knee coverage as every ride inevitably contains some sort of haphazard huckery!
The K-Sleeve is Ion’s most conservative knee pad option, no retention straps and shorter than their other products, as well as some of the competition. Upon unpackaging, I was sceptical, to say the least. The quality of an Ion product goes without saying however, ushered tones were spoken about the likely ineffectiveness of the K-Sleeve. Yes, I know, my mother did teach me not to judge a book by its cover but one develops a sort of intuition for things when going through numerous pieces of test kit. Well, intuition was wrong!
They look very, very lightweight and have pretty short bands of material above and below the padding itself, which, with other brands, has previously resulted in a pad that moves constantly and refuses to stay up and in place. Slipping the K-Sleeve on immediately reveals its comfortable, preformed shape which fits snugly around the knee and cups-your-cap adequately! Ion uses a lightweight, perforated memory foam as the protective padding, sealed inside a stretchy mesh material that breathes superbly well. The pad itself is covered in a material that Ion call ‘Power_Aramid’. Whatever it is, it feels super-durable, not too different to Kevlar only lighter and more flexible. When the K-Sleeve has had an opportunity to meet the floor it felt like it did the job it's intended to do and it hasn’t ripped at the first sign of a bramble or even the odd Valentino Rossi knee down experiment! Protection is, of course, limited, as is intentional, Ion have an array of ‘beefier’ options should you want to go full sender mode - gnarlier forays in any activity deserves more protection, imagine the K-Sleeve as the thinner contraceptive option for your knees!
Despite its lack of supporting straps or material length, the K-Sleeve is surprisingly stable and barely moves in action, even after extended climbs or off the bike hiking excursions. Probably due in no small part to the silicone grippers around the upper hem as well as around the knee cup itself, which I was sceptical of from a comfort perspective. However, they're all-day comfortable with no hot points or rub marks, so much so, once pulled on in the car park, I almost completely forget about them apart from the seldom trail head adjustment.
All in, the Ion K-Sleeve is a superb, lightweight knee protector for the easier and/or longer trail rides where you still want something on your nobbly bits, but nothing cumbersome. My only real criticism is, I’d still have the upper material length a tad longer. Ion stuff generally has a damn good lifespan and initial impressions suggest the K-Sleeve will be no exception.
A self confessed bike geek, Adam has been riding bikes for over two decades and breaking things for nearly as long. With more facial hair than on his head, his appearance is one of a hard paper round! He's friendly, approachable, critical and fair - loves a good stoppie and a turnbar tuesday, real ale and long bikes.