If there’s one thing the Swedes are well-know for, it’s their design innovations. Ever heard of a little store named IKEA?
Well, it’s no wonder the Swedish protection company POC followed suit in their native tradition, bringing minimalism, stylish curves and sleek lines into the mountain bike world. New this year to their protection lineup is the Joint VPD System Knee, a combination of their VPD Air and VPD 2.0 product lines. VPD stands for visco-elastic polymer dough, a POC-patented shock-absorbing medium that is found throughout their lineup.
The new VDP System pads are aimed to provide both maximum protection and breathability, a combination of qualities that is much easier said than achieved. Inside of the System Knee is a shock-absorbing layer, topped off with a Kevlar-reinforced rip-stop outer layer. Yeah, Kevlar—like the same stuff bullet-proof vests are made out of.
The System Knees are slip-on pads, so if you’re someone who likes to put their knee pads on after the climb, you better hope your friends are willing to wait for you to take your shoes off. For some, this might be a deal breaker, but I’ve never really minded it. I like the fit and security of slip-on pads better anyway, and quite often, I’ll pedal with my pads on.
I did notice the Systems Knees could bunch up right at the back of the knee which was annoying while climbing. However, simply wearing them around the ankles, or waiting to put them on before descending solved this problem.
While wearing the System Knees, it’s quite apparent that these pads can withstand some serious impact. The face of the pads is slightly on the thicker side, but not so much that it’s bulky. Thanks to the inner materials used by POC, the pads are also astoundingly light. On the back of the knees, a synthetic fabric that provides unrestricted motion, breathability and a comfy fit.
The coverage of the pads is perfect on the shins—enough to mitigate a pedal strike, but also leaving space to feel the air flowing by while roosting berms and straight lining descents. The top of the pad comes to a few inches above the knee, where it’s held in place by a honeycomb pattern of grippy rubber. Even with a considerable amount of movement, the pads refuse to slide down.
For me, these pads have been ideal for the bike park and shuttle days. Their comfort and durability cater extremely well to laps on laps of pointing it down hill. If I’m headed out on a long ride and know I’ll want to have my pads on throughout the climb, I’ll opt for something less heavy duty.
The clincher on the pads, however, undoubtedly lies on their price tag. At $150, they are some of the highest priced knee pads on the market. But these pads are the POC’s crème de la crème, and the company does offer more moderately priced pads. The System Knee’s price reflects their position in the pad line-up—at the top. After all, POC specializes in safety and the Swedes specialize in design, perhaps one of few combinations that can provide the quality, comfort and protection to justify the price.
See more at www.pocsports.com