The thing that first drew me to the Mace Gear dirt jump knees was the price – MSRP on the pads is about $30 cad. After finding a set at my local shop, I was impressed with the quality of construction – there were no loose seams, the ‘loop and hook’ (aka Velcro) fastening system looked good, and the pads looked versatile enough that I could take them out of their element (dirtjumping) and wear them while ripping down the trails.
I chose a size ‘large’ because that’s the size I’ve worn with leg armour for ages. Like many of the other knee-only pads out there, most riders will need to remove their shoes in order to slide the pads over your feet. Unless you’re in a hurry, it’s not a big deal and it’s not something that I feel takes away from the product’s ability to protect. The hard shell plastic knee cup fits well and, once the straps are tightened up, they don’t move around too much while riding.
The first time I wore the pads I was a little concerned because the pads felt uncomfortably tight on my legs. Granted, I could have picked up a set of pads in an extra large size but, after I’d worn the pads for a few rides and the strap material relaxed a bit, I was glad I didn’t opt for the larger size. I feel that the Velcro fastening material could be a bit wider on the pad proper and this adjustment likely would take care of the tightness I experienced while, at the same time, increasing the adjustability of the product.
On the trail, the pads offered decent protection from the minor injuries that can result from falls or crashes. During the test period I laid the bike down a couple of times and came away with nary a mark on my knees, although the plastic shells did gain a couple of scrapes and shallow gashes. In terms of fit, I did find that the Mace DJ knees would shift a little bit over the course of a trail. This movement wasn’t enough to limit the effectiveness of the pad but it is something that might be an issue for some riders.
While I had few problems with the fit of the pads on descents, I found that the armour was restrictive during climbs. Like most other types of leg armour that I’ve used, I preferred to remove (or release the top strap) when I was heading uphill for a long ascent.
To sum up, I feel that the Mace DJ Knees are a decent option for mountain bikers seeking affordable protection for their knees. While there are other products on the market that offer a better fit, they’re more expensive and the Mace DJ pads do fit fairly well and don’t shift too much while offering decent protection against bruising and cuts. I probably wouldn’t take them along for an all-day epic that has intermittent climbs and descents but I have no problem recommending them for trail riders whose descents are not broken up by a bunch of climbing.
Manufacturer’s website: Mace