Commendable comfort and stability but the hefty price means we have to deduct a couple of points
Pearl Izumi Elevate pads are a minimal sleeve design, eschewing cumbersome straps or zips in favour of a Lycra sock and wide, elasticated hems.
New for 2020 from Colorado-based clothing brand, Pearl Izumi, is a range of mountain bike protection. There are four products in the line-up, with two levels of elbow pad and two kneepad options (does anyone still wear elbow pads?).
They weigh a not inconsiderable 348g a pair, so they’re not minimal in the true sense of the word. As with most sleeve designs, you have to remove your shoes to get them on and off, and with a gaping hole at the back of the knee, you also have to be careful when putting them on not to catch a heel and rip the mesh fabric. Held within stretchy pockets within the sleeve are two substantial D3O pads. These harden on impact, and being quite thick means they also feel quite squishy and comfortable when bashed or kneeling down. By extending down the shin, they also form a decent barrier against slipped flat pedals.
Although the D3O pads can slide around inside their pockets, once you’ve pulled them over your legs, everything stays put really well. Even pedalling under riding pants, the wide elasticated collars and silicone grippers do an effective job of keeping them secure, but nothing seems to dig in or cause discomfort. Under shorts, the long sleeve extends a decent way up the thigh, reducing unsightly flesh gaps. As such, I largely forgot I was wearing them.
Externally, there are mesh panels over the perforated D30, but the pocket liner itself is not vented. As such, they do get pretty hot and sweaty, particularly around the shins.
There’s another big problem too: the price. I nearly choked on my tea when I looked it up. Even the most expensive kneepads with D30 inserts, such as the Bluegrass Skinny and Troy Lee Designs Stage, get close to the £90 ceiling, but the Pearl Izumi Elevate pads are another £30 on top of that.
So as much as Pearl Izumi has done a commendable job of designing a comfortable and stable kneepad, the hefty price means I have to deduct a couple of points.