The 7Protection Project Knee pads are the winner of our Top Pick for Aggressive Riding. In other words, these pads are the best for riders getting rad, gnarly, or rowdy on the trail. They are the most substantial pads in our test class, and they balance serious protection with high levels of comfort. As you might expect, such aggressive pads are not exactly built for multi-hour climbs, but they are still respectable in the saddle. The finish quality and craftsmanship from 7Protection is quite impressive. At $120, these are the most expensive pads in our test by a healthy margin. That said, the quality is there, and the on-trail performance is impressive. Therefore, we feel the high price tag is justified.
7Protection Project Knee Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: High levels of protection, quality of constructions/materials, secure fit
Cons: Heavy, not best for substantial amounts of pedaling.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Analysis and Test Results
The 7Protection Project Knee impressed our testers with high-levels of protection. As a result, it scored very well in some of the metrics, like protection and fit while ventilation and pedal-friendliness weren't necessarily a strong suit. After all, there are other pads designed for long rides and burly climbs. These 7Protection pads are built for getting rad and are our Top Pick for Aggressive Riding.
The Project Knee pads offer serious protection. The design of the armor and padding isn't as intricate looking as the multiple padded zones on the Leatt Airflex Pro or the eye-catching design on the G-Form Pro X2. That said, this pad does offer the most serious protection of all of our test pads. The main patch of armor is located front and center on the knee. The main piece of protection is actually a removable insert. You can remove the insert to wash the pads. This insert is flexible and bendable but not quite as soft as the Leatt Airflex Pro or the Kali Strike. The stiffer, more firm, insert inspires confidence to push the speed limit. The main protective zone has a plastic shield on the exterior that is designed to slide over surfaces in the event of a crash. Where other ribbed plastic or fabric knee caps may catch on the ground and make the crash more severe, the Project Knee pads are designed to slide.
Outside of the main protective zone, there is a padded foam border. In other words, where the flexible insert ends, the foam rim protects the perimeter and abutting areas. The padding is approximately .75 inches thick and .75 inches wide. Our Editor's Choice Leatt Airflex Pro also had padding in this location. This is extremely important in the event of an off-kilter crash that isn't straight onto the knee.
The Project Knee has the longest sleeve in our test. The sleeve is constructed of a substantial fabric they refer to as a knit sock. The material feels far more robust than the other pads in the test. This extended coverage and sturdy fabric serve as a nice layer of protection from branches or thorns hanging into the trails.
The Project Knee pads are our most protective pads. If you feel like they may be overkill, consider the Editor's Choice Leatt Airflex Pro. These pads offer nice levels of protection that is a small step down from the 7Protection pads. You also shed a good bit of weight and increase the pedal-friendliness substantially.
Fit and Comfort
The Project Knee pads have a fairly well-sorted fit. The fit can be adjusted with two velcro straps at the top of the knee pad. It is easy to get the upper cuff dialed into the right level of tightness and comfort. When your leg is bent, the fabric is taught with no big ripples or excess materials. When the leg is fully extended, there is some excess fabric at the top of the sleeve. This isn't a big deal, and it may be somewhat inevitable. Either way, it is noteworthy.
The 7Protection pads are comfortable, and they have a cozy feeling on your leg. There are no pressure points or areas prone to chafing. They are, however, a little toasty. We will discuss this in more detail in the ventilation section. The major takeaway is that these aggressive and heavier duty pads are constructed with serious materials. More material and the extra weight will inherently be warmer than the lightweight and thin pads.
The Leatt Airflex Pro pads also deliver a high level of fit and comfort. The ultra-light options like the Fox Racing Enduro Knee Sleeve and the Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve have a sky-high comfort rating. That said, they are not very protective at all.
The 7Protection pads are reasonable while pedaling considering their level of protection. These are not the knee pads we would suggest if your idea of fun is a 5000-foot climb. They are better suited for shorter climbs or shuttle laps. They pedal fine but there are better options if this is a particularly important metric to you. If you plan on frequently wearing your pads for more than a couple hours, we would steer you towards something lighter and less bulky like the Leatt Airflex Pro, Six Six One Recon, or G-Form Pro X2. Simply put, these were not designed for tons of pedaling. On the product page on the 7Protection website, several references are stating these pads were designed for racing. Presumably enduro or downhill racing, neither of which focus heavily on pedaling.
When you are cranking away, the pads stay and place and don't shuffle around at all. They are comfortable against the leg/knee and don't cause any irritation. There is no restriction to the pedal movement at all. Despite the relative bulk of these pads, the armor still has plenty of clearance on the frame. The heft is quite apparent with the 7Protection knee pads. You feel like your spinning the pedals with a big, armored, sleeve strapped to your legs because you are.
Again, it is essential to recognize what these pads were designed for. While they post a mediocre score in terms of pedal friendliness, it is not a huge deal. That is like penalizing a 19-pound cross country race bike for not handling bike park laps very well.
Ventilation and Breathability
The 7Protection pads do not breathe very well. The thick and hefty construction limits the amount of air that can circulate. The front of the pad is not easy penetrated by air as the big protective patch acts like a shield. The tightly knit sleeve also traps air fairly effectively. Other pads like the Leatt Airflex Pro have a panel of mesh on the rear of the pad to encourage air to escape. Other pads use a lighter duty sleeve material that releases a bit of heat. The Project Knee pads do not have either of these features. That said, even if it is warm, the tightly knit sock feels extremely secure while some of the materials on other pads are so soft and stretchy, they can feel flimsy.
The Project Knee pads do have a circular cutout on the rear of the pad just behind the knee cap. The cutout is located at the crease where your lower leg and upper leg meet, which can be a particularly humid location. The cutout helps get a little bit of that moisture escape. Although the cutout is small relative to the entire length of the pad, it is a nice touch, and it works to regulate moisture
Much like the pedal-friendliness metric, we need to keep in mind what these pads were designed for. They were not intended for long rides in the saddle. As a result, we are okay with them giving up some points in the ventilation metric. The Leatt Airflex Pro is a step down in protection but breathe significantly better. The light-middleweights like the Six Six One Recon and G-Form Pro X2 offer substantially better ventilation but sacrifice a lot of protection.
The 7Protection pads are built to last. This helps justify the highest price tag in our test. We have some concerns about how well some of our test pads would withstand a season of crashing and being dragged across the trail. We have very few concerns about the Project Knee pads taking some abuse.
The main armor patch is a hard material and is sizeable. This will help the pads survive crashes far better than the fabric-covered armored on the RaceFace Indy pads. While fabric might tear in a crash, the hard armor is far more substantial. Also, the tightly knit sleeve material has by far the most robust feel among our test pads. It is the thickest and burliest by a good margin. As a result, we feel they will survive the abuse of mountain biking far better. Seams and stitching are well placed, and they are more or less out of the way of significant impact zones.
It is challenging to take the pads on and off with shoes on. We don't recommend trying to do so. The long sleeve is just too narrow to fit a shoe through safely.
It is easy to assign an best application to the Project Knee pads. These pads are built for getting rad and going fast. These are best suited for the gravity-focused rider who doesn't want to wear these pads on big, long, rides. These are a fantastic option for shuttle laps, bike park rippin', and freeride sendin'. The armor, construction, and quality finish make these our favorite for Aggressive Riding.
If you're frequently embarking on rides with substantial amounts of climbing, or if you are on a tight budget, we recommend checking out the Leatt Airflex Pro. You will be sacrificing a little bit of protection, but you are gaining a whole lot more pedal-friendliness while saving $35. If this all seems too aggressive and you like blasting around on mellow flow trails, the Six Six One Recon are worth considering.
At $120, the 7Protection pads are the most expensive in our test, and by a sizeable margin at that. That said, they still represent a solid value for the right buyer. The quality of the design, execution, and finish is top-notch, and the protection is there. The quality, design, and performance justify the high price tag, in our opinion.
Thanks to their impressive level of protection, the 7Protection Project Knee pads take home a Top Pick for Aggressive Riding. Folks who are seeking a pad that offers higher levels of protection so they can push the limits will love these. Durability and protection are the particular strong suit of these pads, while pedal-friendliness and ventilation are a little outside the design scope. If your idea of fun is shuttle laps and feeding it down gnar, the Project Knee pads are for you.
— Pat Donahue