Slimline protection, full-bodied comfort
The Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve provides minimalist style trail protection. Several enviable qualities combine to make them some of the best out.
Troy Lee’s Speed Knee Sleeve might come across as pretty simplistic knee pads, but like all the best ideas, this simplicity is what makes them so, so effective. There are no superfluous straps, hard parts or pointy bits; just a tube of thick, elasticised material and a light sprinkling of padding at the front.
What makes Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve so damn good?
For me, the vital factors that constitute the perfect (trail) knee pad are pedalling comfort and the ability to stay in place. Too often a pad might get one trait right but the other isn’t quite there and then there’s nothing worse than knowing you are wearing a set of pads. By this I mean having to constantly pull them up or being aware of a little rubbing or chafing. Slipping on the Speed Knee Sleeve and you can tell almost instantly that Troy Lee have got it almost bang on (they aren’t perfect, but we’ll get to that in a short while).
Are you sitting comfortably?
Firstly the Speed Knee Sleeve slips on like a thick knee warmer or one of those knee supports you might find in Boots the Chemist. You know, the ones your gran would wear (unless your gran was ‘extreme’ and then we would recommend the Speed Knee Sleeve!). It has a slight compressive feel to the fit, helped by the multi-directional elasticated construction, so instantly feels comfortable and supportive. The chances of chafe are virtually nil thanks to Troy Lee using no other materials or surfaces inside the pad, other than the relatively wide upper silicon gripper of course.
So initial comfort levels are high before riding. Start pedalling and it’s blindingly obvious that these suckers aren’t going anywhere. That knitted construction holds them in place wonderfully and conforms to the pedalling movement of your legs far better than most pads with a mesh backing. And with no tight points they practically disappear from your thoughts throughout the ride. I was expecting them to get a little baggier with use but amazingly even after 6 months of use, the elastic is holding strong. Just so you know, they are available in three sizes (I use the M/L size) If you’re not sure what size you need Troy Lee has a handy fitting guide.
They protect as well, right?
Padding is courtesy of a shaped and malleable sheet of 4mm D3O. It’s the stuff that acts all softly softly when under normal circumstances but subject it to an impact and it stiffens to protect your most delicate of joints. Okay, this 4mm sheet isn’t going to stave off massive rock strikes but it does provide a level of protection designed to stave off the worst of an impact. Even the thicker nature of the main sleeve helps to ward off brambles and branch snags.
Are they perfect?
Not quite. If I’m going to be bit picky I would say that I would like the padding to extend around the side of the knees a little more. For me these are the bits I hate hitting, so a couple of floating padded parts would be perfect. Also (and this is both a positive and negative), the Speed Knee Sleeve’s knitted construction makes it pretty warm to wear. You could look at them as being perfect for cooler weather riding, when they act like a padded knee warmer. The obvious downside to this warmth is they can get a bit sweaty in the sunshine of a hot summer’s day. Fortunately, if they do get a bit whiffy they withstand repeated washing and keep coming back looking like new.
Troy Lee's Speed Knee Sleeve come so close to being the perfect everyday knee pad. Exceptional comfort and tenacious grip are the high points. The D3O padding does its job well but it would be good to get a little more padding to protect the side of the knee.