100% Surpass Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Excellent protection, built-to-last, aggressive
Cons: Quirky fit, not particularly pedal-friendly, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The 100% Surpass are a solid entry into the competitive knee pad market. They are geared towards the aggressive enduro rider or freerider who is willing to sacrifice a good amount of pedal-friendliness in the name of added protection. Protection and durability are the most impressive aspects of these pads; they are well-engineered and should stand up to healthy amounts of abuse. Fit and comfort, pedal friendliness, and ventilation are significantly less impressive areas.
The Surpass offer high levels of protection. They are clearly designed for the more aggressive end of the riding spectrum, and the amounts of armor and the placement of the auxiliary padding reflect this. They are among the most protective knee pads in our test class.
The Surpass use a fairly hard armor patch on the knee cap. This main armor patch is of average size but feels more significantly harder than any other pad in our test. While other pads have more flexible and pliable armor, the armor patch on these does not bend easily and is confident inducing.
There is some supplementary padding that surrounds the entire main armor plate. This a much softer material that has a light and thin layer of rubberized webbing over it. Above the main armor, there are two small rectangular foam patches to offer additional protection against a smack against a handlebar or any other miscue. The inside and outside of the leg also have this soft, foam padding which can be very important in the event of a crash.
We are impressed by the way the protection is laid out on these. It is plentiful and clever. This is not the knee pad we would reach for to embark on a 25-mile ride, but they are definitely confidence-inducing if things get gnarly.
Fit and Comfort
The Surpass pads could use some attention as it pertains to fit and comfort. They aren't brutally uncomfortable or decisively ill-fitting, but there are definitely quirks. They are fine for a couple of shuttle laps or a 1-2 hour trail ride, but they definitely can't match the comfort levels of other pads in this review.
The knee sleeve itself fits quite well, is of adequate length, and has a nice secure feel. The upper cuff opening of the pad and a portion of the lower opening is lined with silicone to help keep it from sliding around. There are two velcro closure straps that are wisely hidden and help secure the fit. If we were just examining the sleeve, the fit is pretty impressive. At the top of the pedal stroke, the upper opening of the pad does tend to lift slightly off the skin, but it isn't a big deal as the pads don't shift or slip, it just ceases to conform to the leg.
According to 100%, the pads are strategically articulated, or pre-curved to mimic the attack position. This works just fine. The problem is when you are standing up straight or at the bottom of the pedal stroke, you end up fighting the pre-curved design. This causes the main armor patch to lift off of the knee significantly. In addition, it puts pressure on the top of the shin as some of the armor presses against the leg. The curve is logical, but riders will be doing a healthy amount of standing around wearing these pads, and this is definitely uncomfortable.
The Surpass are not especially pedal-friendly knee pads. 100% says the they do "everything well — light enough for cross country, protective enough for downhill and breathable enough for all your pedaling needs." We feel this assessment isn't so accurate. If you are interested in cross country or light-duty trail riding, look elsewhere. These knee pads simply don't offer the level of pedal-friendliness needed for spending hours in the saddle. There are far better options for that sort of endeavor.
When grinding in the saddle, the Surpass has a chunky and beefy feel. It feels like they are designed for gravity-fed endeavors putting more focus on armor rather than pedal-friendliness. The stiff armor patch doesn't conform well to the knee while pedaling. As we mentioned in the discussion about fit and comfort, there is also a pressure point at the bottom of the pedal stroke when the leg starts to straighten out.
Ventilation and Breathability
The Surpass offers passable levels of ventilation. They certainly aren't airy, but they breathe well-enough for more aggressive knee pads. If breathability is important for you, there are better options. That said, bulky and protective pads aren't known for their ventilation.
The plastic armor plate has ventilation channels that run through it, allowing air to pass through from the armor to the knee. It is often difficult to assess how well these channels work. We can say that these were far from the most clammy and humid pads in our review. The sleeve material works to allow moisture and heat to escape. It doesn't feel particularly airy, but it also doesn't feel especially wet after a ride.
We were impressed with the level of durability the Surpass offers — these pads are very well-constructed. While we have some gripes with the execution of the fit, these pads are well-engineered and built-to-last.
The hard plastic main armor plate will stand up to abuse significantly better than softer, rubberized pads. Where softer materials can rip and tear when being dragged across the trail, a harder plastic will fare much better. The soft padding surrounding the main armor plate is coated by a webbing of rubberized material to protect the foam patches. This webbing extends to the lower leg in the upper shin area. All of this should help the pads from tearing or scuffing too badly.
The Surpass knee pads are among the most expensive in our review, but we still feel they represent a solid value. While the fit and comfort levels have some quirks, the protection is extremely well-executed, and these pads feel like they are built-to-last. Yes, they are expensive, but you should get plenty of use out of them.
The 100% Surpass knee pads offer excellent levels of protection for the hard-charging rider. The durable design is particularly impressive, but fit and pedal-friendliness are not so fantastic. If you are a rider primarily concerned with gravity-fed shredding, the Surpass are worth a look. If you like long rides with loads of pedaling, save your money and look elsewhere.
— Pat Donahue