Since those early days of freeride, leg armour has come a long way. My first set of pads dug into my shins and rubbed my knees raw on longer rides…yes they saved my bacon on more than one occasion but they were hot, bulky and uncomfortable. Enter in the Race Face Flank Leg guards, these are about as far as those old pads as you can get. I have ridden the last two versions of these guards and it was interesting to see how they improved over the last few years.
|Taking photos of your knees while on a solo ride is not the best idea. Knowing is half the battle.|
The main difference with the new Flanks is that you do not have to take your shoes off to put them on or take them off! This is a HUGE improvement, thank you Race Face. They have also improved the fit and the overall quality of the Flanks. As you can see the old pads were starting to come apart where the venting and kneepad meet. The new pads have enclosed perforated neoprene, this makes it so they do not tear like the old ones and they do not feel any warmer…that’s some smart thinking right there!
|New on the left and old on the right|
I have ridden these pads in just about every type of weather and riding, from XC to DH and Sunny and hot to wet, cold and nasty for the past 8 months. Here are the highlights of my experiences:
- Super comfortable in hot or cold weather
- Saves shins when those pesky pedals try to take a bike out of them
- Easy to take on and off after riding or during a ride
- Do not move around while riding
- D3O is awesome stuff
- Slipped down in a crash resulting in a buggered up knee
While those are some great pros, for everyone that I know that con is a biggie. We wear protection to lessen the chances of going home with injuries, so what happened here? When you crash going over the bars like I did most likely your forward momentum is going to pull you down the trail, so when that happens and your knees hit the ground it pulls on your knee pads down. Since these do not have a slippery hardshell to skip off rocks and debris. With that said I have had the same thing happen when I was wearing hard shell armour as well, sometimes shit happens. This particular crash was a bad one, a broken helmet, concussion, screwed up neck and back, scraped up and bruised arms and shoulders, and while the knee did get scraped and bruised it would have been way worse if I was not wearing pads…way worse.
With that said, I still wear these every ride. They have saved my knees on more than one occasion and the Race Face Flanks are the most comfortable pads I have ever worn. Even if I don’t crash they save my shins from my Straitline pedals and even from rocks and other trail debris that my front tire has kicked up while getting a little rowdy.
After almost a year of riding there are no tears in the neoprene or fabric, they still look almost new! I have put them through the washing machine a few times after some nasty winter rides and they have not come apart in the wash. I did hang dry them though…better to be safe than sorry.
- D30™ high performance shock absorbing foam
- Additional foam extension saves shins from pedal bite
- Proven Race Face open-back construction; no shoe removal necessary
- Perforated Neoprene enhances venting and moisture control
- Terry lined for wicking and comfort
- Foam padded side walls offer additional coverage
- Branded rubber grab tabs
As for sizing I am a bigger guy with tree trunks for thighs (49cm) and am running an XXL so the sizing chart on the site seems to be fairly spot on.
If you are looking for some comfortable, fairly lightweight kneepads go down to your LBS and try the Race Face Flanks out. They are not the most heavy duty offerings out there, but they do their job better than most in their category, look good and come from a rad company. They are best suited for all mountain and *cough* enduro riding and if you ride them in those situations you will be happy with them.
If you would like to read my initial impressions of the Race Face Flanks you can check it out here.
If you want to know more about the reviewer check out my profile.
Have you tried the Flanks? If so I would love to read your views on them in the comments below!