The new Ion K-Sleeve AMP knee pad ups protection levels over its predecessor and is now a slip-on Lycra-style tube with a removable, pre-shaped, kneepad.
This design of the new Ion K-Sleeve AMP knee pads does more than just resist scuffs and abrasions, but still retains a very pedal-friendly design with good freedom of movement. The outer front portion uses a tougher damage-resistant material to allow it to slide a bit, rather than grip the ground and either pull down or get damaged in an impact. The removable, dense and rubberised, kneepad is shaped into a knee-hugging shape with two cutouts either side of the knee at the top and bottom.
This shaping allows it to flex while pedalling and ensures ION’s pad is one of the best mountain bike knee pads I’ve used that feature thicker kneecap coverage; almost invisible and very comfortable.
ION’s stretchy compression tube reaches far enough up the thigh to stay put (and even stash under the grippers on the bottom of liner shorts) and uses an effective triple row of silicone ribbing that’s as good as any rivals I’ve used. Basically, so long as you take care to pull the K-Sleeve up really high and ensure all the elasticated parts are well positioned and not twisted, the pads stay put for hours with minimal wriggling. I reckon this is also aided by how well the kneepad portion fits, and twists and distorts easily to keep the compression tube stable.
The K-Sleeves are also very well ventilated due to a mesh insert around the back of the kneecap. However, having the abrasion-resistant kneecap area and coarser materials targeted purely at the front leaves significant sections of the sleeve construction using thinner materials which can potentially get damaged.
Seeing as crashes are rarely that selective, and often damage the sides too (judging by every set of kneepads I’ve ripped over the years), this is a concern, and I wasn’t that surprised to put a small hole in the thin mesh behind the kneecap after a couple of rides.
The K-Sleeve is a great fitting pad that’s perfect to pedal all day in with a nice balance of comfort/ freedom of movement and minimal protection for most trail and lighter UK enduro riding.
The exposed mesh fabric which rips too easily and the higher cost for a lower protection level kneepad means it isn’t absolutely perfect though.
It’s crucial that kneepads don’t shuffle about or slip down legs while riding. Not only because this is extremely annoying, but it also means protection can be seriously compromised if a kneepad isn’t actually covering your kneecap by the end of a run.
ION K-Sleeve AMP stays put all day whether pedalling or pulling shapes. It would score higher if the build quality was a bit tougher and a couple of details were changed, like a bigger ‘slide’ zone on the front of the kneecap. In this lightweight kneepad category, I still prefer the latest Sweet Protection Knee Pads, but in warmer weather they do run a fair bit hotter and sweatier than the Ion pads.