Cam ripping Oakridge

POC VPD Joint System Knee Pads Reviewed

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae (unless noted)
Date Jul 13, 2018

You wouldn't think protection would be trendy, but fashion influences armour as much as frame colours. Remember when everyone was wearing a neck brace? Or if you are a little older, full body armour perhaps in the form of a Dainese suit? Most of my friends and the majority of riders I see here on the North Shore wear padding in three places; hands, head and knees. Of course there are exceptions, riders who wear shin pads or elbows, but they are becoming unicorns among experienced riders. 


There isn't much to these pads in some respects. They weigh only 175g apiece and there are no adjustable straps. Despite this, the protection provided has proven to be formidable. 

What's the deal with so many riders sporting less protection? Does it hurt less to fall? Is there a groupon for elbow stitches? Has gravity been turned down to 0.7? Are we all followers? Part of the reason is that it's more comfortable wearing less protection, particularly in the sticky and sweaty months. This stripping down to basics means what we choose is more important than before and riders are becoming more discerning as a result.


The "high-tenacity polyamide yarn" used to cover the abrasion zone is designed to slide over whatever you fall onto and to improve durability. 

POC's most recent knee pad release attempts to be as comfortable as minimalist pads while providing the protection of bulkier models. At first glance I wasn't very impressed. It seemed to me that there wasn't enough padding above the knee, an area I often seem to smack. These pads also lack any lateral padding but that is also part of the attraction of a lighter product with better ventilation. 


Comfort isn't compromised when you flex to pedal because there isn't much material to bunch up. 

When I pulled them on the first time I was more impressed. I was sent a pair of mediums and they fit perfectly. This is essential because the Joint System pads have no adjustable straps. You slip your feet through (turn them around to get them over your heel more easily) and pull them into place. 


Silicone grippers in the top elastic cuff help keep everything in place. Even while pedalling on hot days these stay put.

These are very comfortable pads. I tend to prefer climbing with pads around my shins, pulling them up for the descent, but when I have pedalled in these they have felt great. There is no bunching behind the knee, no hot spots and no movement to induce abrasion. Part of the credit goes to the VPD padding POC uses. VPD, which stands for visco-elastic polymer dough, is a material that is pliable to the touch, even moulding to your skin as it warms up. When subjected to an impact the material stiffens enough to be protective. 


No interference with your shorts. I'm not sure how they work under skinny jeans. 

And I can vouch for these pads in terms of performance. I went through a nightmarish stint of crashing recently, often landing on one or both knees, and they have worked perfectly, staying in place and keeping skin on my bones. The polyamide thread used to cover the abrasion zone has worked perfectly and it's even perforated to allow some air flow. 

Oakridge Alpine Trail

My recent spate of crashes has allowed me to fully test these POC knees. Photo - AJ Barlas

If you are a park rat or a dirt jumper you might want something a little burlier, and with a larger protective zone. For many of the rest of us these provide a great balance of protection and comfort. The bad news is the price. These suckers are 150 USD, 175 CAD, 160 EU or 150 GBP. The Joint System Knees are also very good so they just might be worth the extra cash. 

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+1 Cam McRae
Tadpoledancer  - July 13, 2018, 1:36 a.m.

Expensive, but they seem nice. Its pretty easy to get a discount on poc stuff at some point every year though so that might make them stomachable. Was the protection on top of the knee sufficient after all? You didn't mention it after the initial comment :)


Cr4w  - July 13, 2018, 6:33 a.m.

I have some earlier POC pads from maybe 3 years ago. Also expensive but I've worn them without a second thought for every second of every ride since. I put them on before I leave the house and wear them on the drive, the climb and the descent. They're that comfortable and effortless. And offered great protection when I've crashed. I would definitely buy again.


Nouseforaname  - July 13, 2018, 8:17 a.m.

I've recently read some comments abut the VPD hardening over time/use/washing Cr4w - have you experienced that? How do you care for them - wash and tumble dry or wash and hang dry? MY RF Ambush are what I like as I don't need to remove shoes to pull them on, but they're getting a little beaten up.

Cam McRae  - July 13, 2018, 8:23 a.m.

I had that issue with some earlier POC pads but not the more recent ones. These are fine so far and I've thrown them in the wash as well.


IslandLife  - July 13, 2018, 10:21 a.m.

From what I've heard and read, pads with this type of padding material (soft stuff that gets hard on impact) can be ruined by washing and drying in machines.

D30 is used in many padding applications including your Raceface Ambush pads, D30's own site explicitly says that laundering "will severely reduce the effectiveness of your D3O® product" -

Raceface's care sheet says not to put them in the dryer at all, but that you can wash them in cold on gentle. But they also have a special note at the bottom that says - "* Items with D30 should be washed a maximum of 30 times and a water temperature no higher than 40°C".

My current Dakine's with similar padding (they call it DK impact), tell you to hand wash and hang dry (which I do and works very well).


Nouseforaname  - July 13, 2018, 12:21 p.m.

Wow - that's a lot of info! Thanks. I wonder how effective my ambush pads were BITD before i washed them 50 times. They still seem to be protecting me - maybe its the form fitting with wearing that has worn off. I'm definitely still crashing hard in them..

Maybe it's time for new pads sooner than I thought.


Cr4w  - July 14, 2018, 12:33 p.m.

I machine wash mine in cold and hang them to dry. A little more often in the winter. In the summer I tend to leave them to dry out in the sun but still wash them occasionally. So far so good. They're still comfortable and still seem to offer good protection. In fact, they still look pretty much new after many really hard tumbles.


grimwood  - July 17, 2018, 6:59 a.m.

I remember buying these pads and thinking, jeez, this is a lot for knee pads. And then totally forgetting about it first ride. They are the most comfortable pads I’ve ever had, including on the pedal up. I haven’t tested the pads to the same extent that Cam has, but they have been good in some minor falls. 

In regards to washing, I have had POC pads harden up over time. I never put them in the drier, but they did seem to get a little harder after each wash. After a bit of riding, they would return to forming around the knee. However, I haven found that with the system. They are still as supple as day one after a lot of use and washing.


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