While I freely admit to being a complete fan boy for Dainese's gloves, their elbow and knee protection guards falls under more scrutiny. This market is highly saturated and there are many fine elbow and knee guards for us riders to choose from. So what does Dainese have on the competition?
Well for starters the craftsmanship of the 3x Knee and Performance Elbow Guards are top notch. Stitching is very tight, nothing feels loose or skimpy, and everything seems to fit just right. Dainese gear is known for their breath-ability and perforation, and the new versions of these pads don't disappointed in that category. Having moved down from NorCal to the sweltering heat SoCal I was very thankful for elbow and knee guards that didn't get itchy or hot and irritating while sessioning the local doubles or running quick shuttles.
And while I mainly ride DH I do sometimes have to push or pedal my beast. The 3x Knee guard never slipped down or shifted out of place while doing these miserable task. Taking hard hits or getting through a rock garden like a epileptic downhiller on a pogo stick, neither the elbow or knee pads slid out of place. No matter how greasy I was.
Both pads use an articulated joint for maximum flexibility and hard polypropylene plates (CE EN 1621.1 homologation) with 3 independent adjustment straps and 'hyper-ventilated soft padding'. In fact there are so many air vent holes in the polypropylene plates it puts that Stan Sealant display tire to shame.
So is there any bad news with these? Well, yes and no. First off they are costly. At $89 for the 3x Knee Guards and about $80 for the Performance Elbow Guard. Oach. But that isn't the only issue. While I didn't find any fault with the Performance Elbow Guard, I can find some issues with the 3x Knee Guard.
First off the sides of the knee aren't very well protected. I've crashed many a time, and really the only place that almost never ever get hit is the very back of the knee. Everything is a target, and thus must be protected to some extent. And I think Dainese could do a bit more to cover the sides. Stopping an inch on either side after the knee caps isn't enough. Plus, and while this never happened to me while taking a digger, and this obviously isn't just an issue for these particular knee pads, the design of the 3x, the joint that articulates, really opens up the possibility of the pads sliding down if one puts a knee down while riding. Say around one of those dry dust bins NorthStar calls 'berms' on Livewire. The problem is the hard pad that covers the leg above the knee is behind the knee cap hard plate. So when you bend your knees the knee cap plate juts out and up, like a spoon, just screaming to be fed a sccoop full of dirt, to dig right into like a spoon in a pint of Ben & Jerry's, but this would make the pad slide right down your leg.
And like I said, it didn't happen to me while road, I end up going over the bars more than anything else, nor did it happen to Gregg when he reviewed the 3x Knee guard a couple years back. But I'm still hesitant.
The Performance Elbow guard though is bullet proof. While it doesn't extend down the full length of the forearm, which is fine by me, I normally don't even ride with elbow guards, it does extend down about 3/4 of the way. More than enough really. Same with the 3x Knee guard. It extends down to just above the ankle and offers ample shin protection.
If one wants a bit more shin and ankle protection one could procure themselves a pair of the Dainese ankle protectors. I never thought much about this type of protection in the past, but after taking my frame directly on my ankle, while wearing these, I'm a convert. Even when I am wearing just knee pads like the 661 Evo or the Rockgardn NEO pads, I'm going to always be rocking a set of these ankle pads. Combined though with the 3x Knee guards and one has almost complete coverage of their exposed and sensitive shins while maintaining a good amount of mobility.
The strap that goes down around the foot can't really be felt, so it doesn't bother while riding. And the elastic at the top is secure enough the ankle pad tends to stay right in place and not slide down.