Alpinestars Paragon Plus Knee Protector Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Light, breathable, comfortable sleeve material
Cons: Clumsy armor patch, slightly irritating while pedaling
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Alpinestars Paragon Plus Knee Protector
|Price||$37.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Light, breathable, comfortable sleeve material||Exceptionally pedal friendly, comfortable, lightweight||Well-rounded, attractive price, dialed fit||Nice balance of protection and comfort, price, widely available||Very lightweight, excellent when pedaling, sleek and slim|
|Cons||Clumsy armor patch, slightly irritating while pedaling||Not very protective, soft material may tear easily||Poor ventilation, could be prone to ripping||Fit issues, not as pedal-friendly or as robust as other options||Knee sleeve a little short, lacks protection, durability concerns|
|Bottom Line||A lightweight and airy knee pad suited for light-to-mid duty trail riding||A lightweight and extremely pedal-friendly knee pad with a minimalist approach||A well-rounded knee pad with a quality fit at an attractive price point||A well-rounded knee pad that effectively balances light protection and pedal-friendliness||A lightweight knee pad that delivers in the saddle but doesn't offer much in the way of protection|
|Rating Categories||s Paragon Plus Knee...||Fox Racing Enduro K...||Dakine Slayer||G-Form Pro-X2||Speed Knee Sleeve|
|Fit And Comfort (20%)|
|Pedal Friendliness (20%)|
|Ventilation And Breathability (20%)|
|Specs||s Paragon Plus Knee...||Fox Racing Enduro K...||Dakine Slayer||G-Form Pro-X2||Speed Knee Sleeve|
|Weight (per pair, size L)||290 grams||198 grams||366 grams||220 grams||228 grams|
|Padding Material||Stretch mesh and Ripstop nylon||Not specified||DK impact foam||RPT||4mm D30 impact foam|
|Body Material||Mesh||Perforated neoprene||Aramid fiber||Moisture wicking UPF 50+ fabric||Abrasion-resistant material|
|Safety Certifications||CE||Not specified||EN 1621-1 Level 1||NOCSAE, CE||CE EN 13688:2013|
|Available Sizes||XS - XL||S - XL||S - XL||XS - XL||XS/S - XL/XXL|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Paragon Plus are functional knee pads that do a lot of things quite well. They are light and breathable, the sleeve is comfortable, and they offer nice amounts of protection within their intended application. Fit and comfort are areas that could use some improvement. Despite any fit quirks, however, these knee pads are still a solid option for the trail rider seeking a light and airy knee pad with real protection.
The Paragon Plus pads deliver nice amounts of protection. The manufacturer markets them towards trail riders who want a light and pedal-friendly set of knee pads. They have plenty of protection for day-to-day light to mid-duty trail riding. Those seeking aggressive, enduro, or downhill protection should look elsewhere.
The Paragon has one main armor insert. A CE-certified protector sits under the outer material, and the armored patch starts a touch above the knee cap. The padding widens at the knee to protect the inner and outer knee in addition to the front. Moving downward, the pad tapers inward as it extends down towards the mid-shin area. The padding is relatively pliable to the touch. The coverage area is impressive, although we would have liked to see a little additional padding above the knee cap.
We feel these pads offer significantly better protection than some of the superlight options in our review while retaining a low weight and nice levels of airflow. They occupy a nice niche where they are significantly more protective than the minimalist knee pads while still being lighter and airier than the mid-duty, do-it-all pads. The Paragon exudes confidence in typical trail-riding situations. They are a viable option for riders who don't ride many rocky trails and like to keep the wheels mostly on the ground.
Fit and Comfort
Fit and comfort is a very interesting metric for the Paragon Plus. It feels like Alpinestars was really close to hitting a home run with these pads but simply missed the mark in some areas.
Let's start with the good: the mesh main sleeve is supremely comfortable. It feels cool and pleasant against the leg in all weather conditions. This mid-gauge mesh sleeve is quite long. It runs from approximately 5-inches above the kneecap to the mid-shin area. Our size large test pads offered a pretty consistent fit through the leg. These pads don't use any straps or velcro, they just rely on a precise fit. There is little excess material, and the pads remained in place throughout our test rides.
Unfortunately, the armor plate really throws a wrench into an otherwise excellent fit. The armor plate simply isn't articulated well enough and doesn't sit flat against the kneecap in most situations. When the knee is bent, the pad lifts off the knee and has a boxy, clumsy feel. In fact, this occurs not only when the knee is bent but also when it is straight. Pulling the whole knee pad down lower can help combat this issue — the problem is that this leaves your upper knee cap exposed. If Alpinestars can sort out this issue, these pads would be a true contender.
The Paragon Plus posted a respectable score in terms of pedal-friendliness. On the one hand, the supremely comfortable sleeve design allows for a free range of motion. These pads aren't restrictive and don't pinch the legs or skin at any point. Pair the comfortable sleeve with nice levels of airflow, and you have a pleasant pedaling experience. Unfortunately, the issue of the ill-fitting armor patch rears its ugly head once again. Throughout the pedal stroke, you can feel the armor patch lifting and shuffling around on the knee cap. This isn't dramatic, but it sure is noticeable on a long fire road climb. It didn't cause any real irritation or chafing, but it wasn't pleasant.
Ventilation and Breathability
These pads breathe exceptionally well, remaining extremely pleasant against the legs and staying dry. Despite the longer sleeve length, these are among the airiest pads in our review.
The mid-gauge mesh sleeve runs the whole length of the pad. The Paragon Plus does not have any cutouts on the rear to allow heat to escape, it just relies on the mesh. The mesh material appears thicker than it is when you are handling the pads. Once you slide them on, the stretching of the sleeve opens the mesh up and promotes excellent airflow. This material is really among the best we have tested. We rode these pads on some pretty warm days at lower elevations, and our legs were cool and happy.
The Paragon Plus scored decently in terms of durability. It is important to remember that these are lightweight pads that are designed for light-mid duty trail riding. They are not intended to be ripped down gnarly, rocky trails. These pads feature some reinforced material in key impact areas. This is intended to help keep them intact in the event of a crash. That said, we could see the mesh material getting shredded on a high-speed crash.
Throughout our testing process, we observed no signs of premature wear. We did hear some ripping noises the first time we pulled these pads over our legs. Visually, we couldn't identify any busted seams, but the noise was concerning. It should be noted that yes, we were wearing the correct size pads.
The Paragon Plus represents an above-average value. Yes, these pads did get dinged for some fit quirks related to the armor patch. That said, they are light, comfortable, and breathable knee pads that deliver decent amounts of protection. Despite one notable quirk, these pads do a lot of things quite well. On top of that, they come in at a substantially lower price point compared to the competition.
The Alpinestars Paragon Plus are solid, lightweight knee pads that deliver a nice level of airflow. They are a viable option for riders who want a healthy dose of protection while retaining an airy and comfortable feel on longer rides. Aside from a clumsy and somewhat uncomfortable armor patch, these knee pads are quite impressive. If Alpinestars can rework the funky padding situation, these pads could be a real contender.
— Pat Donahue