deniz merdano 661 trevor hansen enduro.jpg
Review

SixSixOne Recon Knee (x2) and Elbow Pad Review

Words Trevor Hansen
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Mar 29, 2022
Reading time

Elbows and Knees

Whenever I test protective gear, I go back to wondering how much protection is enough. I would love to ride with nothing... well with clothes and shoes. Then my memory of stitches, infections, broken bones, big annoying bruises and concussions gets me back to the reality of this sport/pastime/addiction. I went through a phase when I would tailor my protection based on the degree of difficulty of the trails I was riding that day. Unfortunately, a lot of accidents have happened on easier trails that I thought I was prepared for. All of these past injury tenses made me interested in 661's Recon and Recon Advance pads because I can choose the level of protection I want based on the ride's difficulty that day.

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The most comfortable pads I have worn - the Recon knees. Do they work in the event of a bail? No clue; I was lucky enough not to crash during the test.

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I don't wanna ride that naked.

I have forced myself to cover my elbows, knees, head (that's a yes-brainer) and hands on all my rides. I do save the big burly gear, (knees with hard shell caps, beefy elbows, Smith Mainline full face, Leatt 4.5 chest protector) for the rides I know are gonna be steep, fast and dangerous. For all the others, lightweight low-profile 'bows and knees with gloves and half shell work for me. I use Race Face Charge elbows a lot as a means to end cuts and stitches and infections on easier terrain so I was happy to try 661's Recon lightweight low profile knees and elbows for these kinds of rides. I was also interested in the new Recon Advanced gear with the removable hard shell kneecap cover. Perhaps this one pad could do it all.

661 introduced thr Recon and Recon Advance line last year. I have been testing the Recon knees and elbows as well as Recon Advance knees with and without their removable hard shell knee cap caps, er, covers. The Recon knee and elbow offer minimalist protection that uses a D30 Ghost protective insert that stays in allowing it to be machine washable. The lightweight stretch design, mesh fabrics and elasticized silicone cuffs make for the most comfortable knee pad I have ever worn. The elbow would be more comfortable if it wasn't so gosh darn long and tight. 661 sent me a medium, obviously unaware of the gun show. Sizing ranges from small to XL. I feel like I am in between a medium and a large in all models of the Recon line; such is the plight of the princess and the pea that is me.

The Recon line is very high quality in construction and design. The silicone grippers on the top and bottom cuffs do a good (not excellent) job of keeping the pads in place. Good rather than excellent because without the proper fit there is only so much the silicone can do. On the medium pads the silicone did a great job but that was because the pads were so tight. On the large I got some down-sliding (discussed later).

All of the Recon gear comes with 661's integration system known as Padlock. Little snaps on all the pads connect to 661 compression jackets and shorts to help keep the gear in place. Did it work? No clue - I wasn't testing 661 clothing. Based on proper sizing, silicone and design, I do not see why the Padlock system is needed, and come to think of it I cannot see myself wanting to fuss with snapping it all together, nor wear compression jackets and shorts.

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Recons go high up the thigh.

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Almost the entire length of the arm is covered. This might be a bit hot in the summer.

Recon Knees and Elbows

These stealthy lightweight pads are excellent for easier trail rides...I think. Again, I don't know how well they work in a wipe-out because a flaw in these reviews is the lack of crash test dummies. If I do crash I will report back on the effectiveness of these pads. However, using my years of physical engineering experience I kinda think the less padding you wear, the less protection you have in a crash. But, D30 claims their Ghost tech exceeds Level 1 performance requirements (EN 1621-1:2012 ). So I guess if it's good enough for moto tracks it should be good enough for mountain biking? Although, tracks don't have boulders and punji sticks all around so again, until I or you crash (let me know in the comments about your crashes with D30 Ghost) we'll never really know how effective it is.

But did I say how comfortable the knees are? They go a bit too high on the thigh for me but because they are so comfy I don't even care. The extra length probably helps them in place. For the silicone to work, I made sure my chamois or ginch was layered over the cuff so the silicone would grab onto my hairy legs. It's so nice to have a thin pad under the pants instead of a bulging knee pad: I tested these in the winter so no shorts were worn other than when Deniz made me strip down for him - in the name of art and gear. The length below the knee is long enough for a bit more shin protection than most knees I have tried.

The elbows are elbows, as in I don't want to wear elbows but I force myself to wear elbows. They are the brussel sprouts of my riding gear. They smell bad, feel best when laying in a drawer and not on me and they are good for my health. The mediums I tested were a bit small so they were not that comfortable. In addition, they were a bit too long for my liking. In my elbow pad shootout I gave the Race Face Indys the trophy for best elbow pad and part of that had to do with the length; 28cm long for the Indy compared to 40cm long for the 661.

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Recon Advance no hard cap on the left, hard cap mounted on the right.

Recon Advance Knees

These knees seem like the perfect compromise between gnar and gnar-gnar. I rode sans hard shell cap on the easy days, then mounted the hard shell cap for the days I was riding the really gnarly trails. My only problem with these well-designed and built knees is the sizing. Again, I am a medium-large. The mediums fit but were a bit tight and dug into my calves and hams, while the larges felt great but slid down during rides unless I hiked the lower cuff above my calf to stop the down-sliding (see photo).

The D30 LP1 inserts are quite beefy. The Recon Advance pads get the same moto rating as the Recons. The straps with velcro closures are used to hold the hard shells in place. When not in use they tuck away into 4 slots in the knee pad area. They are a bit finicky to get out, remove then tighten up when the shell is on but whatever, it's not that big a deal. The shell has a male velcro piece to adhere to the female piece on the pad which adds a bit more security to the four straps.

Adding more protection beyond the knee padding, 661 incorporated extra thermo formed EVA inserts above and to the sides of the knee and a small part of the upper shin. The comfort, removable shell, EVA inserts, and high-quality materials and design make these excellent knee pads.

deniz merdano 661 trevor hansen enduro.jpg

Fresh dirt underneath, Recon elbows on the outside, Recon Advance knees on the inside, crazy light all around.

Wouldya?

I definitely would get both Recon knees and Recon Advance knees; if I had to choose just one I would go with Advance. Although I appreciate the convenience of strapped pads over slip-on pads, both the Recon and Recon advanced are so well built, comfortable, and seemingly protective that I would choose them over non-slip on pads. The Recon lightweight stealthy design and the Recon Advance lightweight but beefy protection combined with the removable hard shell cap make both sets a wise investment in my opinion.

Recon Knees 85 USD, 105 CAD - large knees weigh 322g.

Recon Elbows 75 USD, 95 CAD - large elbows weigh 280g.

Recon Advance Knees 110 USD, 145 CAD, hard caps 15 USD, 20 CAD - large knees with shells weigh 450g.

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Comments

DanLees1978
Dan Lees
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 Pete Roggeman silverbansheebike Cam McRae

Well, this is timely!

I have ridden 3 times in the Recon knee pads in the last couple of weeks and concur that they are very very comfy. Like forget you have them on comfy.

I took a punt on them as they were £32 at wiggle/crc and I'm really glad i did!

Not crash tested them aside from the old tap spanner on kneecap test which showed they are a big step up from my previous "Trail" kneepads the Raceface Charge wafer thin things but they don't appear to be any less comfy.  Most of my riding is up-down-up-down rather than UUUUUUUUUUUUP and DOOOOOOOOOOWN.

I have other less comfy knee pads, Race Face Indy and some IXS hard cup things, for when things get burlier or lift assisted.  You would think the Race Face Indy (previous thigh strap version) would be very similar to the Recons but the D3O is much stiffer and thicker which makes them less comfy for me.

I don't do elbow pads as I have never found some that fit right but might see if i can track down some recon elbows at some point.

Reply

rigidjunkie
Allen Lloyd
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Pete Roggeman silverbansheebike Cam McRae

I forgot my pads this weekend and felt completely naked. Stopped to hit a fun trail and everybody else was pulling up knee pads and I was thinking "I am probably going to regret this."  Made it through without crashing, but missed having my protection.  

My current pads are an odd halfway house and something like this looks perfect to cover all the bases.  Now to test fit some to find the right fit!

Reply

DanL
DanL
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Dogl0rd hairymountainbeast Velocipedestrian

"Unfortunately, a lot of accidents have happened on easier trails that I thought I was prepared for" - an increasingly annoying truth.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 DanL

I think most of my off-bike time has been caused by daft stacks on easy tracks. It's SO annoying.

Reply

silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Dogl0rd

Nice article. I am also re-evaluating my stance on wearing whatever protective gear I feel is "enough" for the ride, after having some injuries on trails I thought I knew.

I'm curious of your view on neck braces. They've been long debated, but especially in the context of where they fit in as everyday gear or only for those certain trails. I recently started using a lightweight full face helmet almost exclusively, so now I am considering the brace on even more rides... though have yet to wear it on anything but jump lines.

Reply

Dogl0rd
Dogl0rd
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Good topic, interested to know. I wear a chest protector on some trails with no neck brace, I see others wear a neck brace and no chest protector. I think there is debate about the neck brace, but is it any more settled? Anecdotal evidence?

Reply

silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Dogl0rd

Some say science some say anecdote. All I know is that I did get a neck injury while not wearing one, though this is not very helpful, lol

Reply

Dogl0rd
Dogl0rd
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Excellent, a  data point that no neck brace can result in big owie

Reply

Tbone
Trevor Hansen
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

That's a good question. In all my gear hunting, questioning and testing the only experience I have with the toilet seat is for my son. My surgeon friends think they are collar bone breakers but hey, collar bone vs spine. To that point those 2 docs say the impact plus twisting causes the spinal so the brace doesn't help. I guess all this info doesn't help. Going back to my original how much protection is enough is the real question. I am gonna stick with head, knees and elbows with the occasional big day wearing the Leatt 4.5. That enough is my enough.

Reply

Dogl0rd
Dogl0rd
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Same here, just failing to be consistent with the elbows

Reply

stinhambo
Steven Hambleton
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Cam McRae

I bought a set of Leatt AirFlex Pro knee guards and they've been brilliant - I rode them in high humidity conditions in Cairns and they didn't feel uncomfortable at all.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Considering their origins, it’s no surprise Leatt is good at airflow.

Reply

Ripbro
Ripbro
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Still looking for my unicorn knee pads. I’ve tried ixs flows, leatt air flex pros and find them all uncomfortable or they slip down. Maybe I’ll give these a shot

Reply

DanL
DanL
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I had the opportunity to try out a set of Chromag Rift kneepads and they were really silky smooth with no real material bunching in the back and as good a grip as you'd get from silicon bands. More comfortable than Dakin slayers and, for my knees, better shaped than 7iDP Sam Hills which I find have too much curve in the D3O or whatever it is they use. They're next on my list for the eternal quest

Reply

just6979
Justin White
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

"a male velcro piece to adhere to the female piece"

Hmm... Which is which? Literally never heard this terminology applied to velcro.

Reply

Tbone
Trevor Hansen
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Justin White Cam McRae

Ya we decided to keep that in just because it sort of does - sort of does not makes sense. Rough bristles (hook) for the male, soft stuff (loop) for the female.

Reply

just6979
Justin White
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Ha, I figured it was soft vs rough, but since I know some women who hate being called soft...

I also had some theories involving trapping, hookers, sewing, and various other potentially offensive things, hehe.

Reply

mayberex
Mario S
1 month, 2 weeks ago
-4 Justin White hambobet Cam McRae DanL

dude get this woke sht outa here

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 vantanclub DanL

Which is woke? We generally prefer woke to brain dead anyway. There must be other options but that’s the dichotomy I generally notice in any discussion decrying “woke.”

Reply

Masacrejoe
Michael Klein
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Hook goes in the loop...

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

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