Fox Racing Enduro Knee Sleeve Review
Cons: Not very protective, soft material may tear easily
Manufacturer: Fox Racing
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Fox Racing Enduro sleeves score well in some very important categories. Fit, comfort, and pedal friendliness are strong suits, making these pads a fantastic option for long hours spent in the saddle. Protection and durability, on the other hand, are areas they don't fare quite so well.
The Enduro pads take a minimalist approach to protection. It is clear they aren't designed for charging down rowdy terrain or hucking it big — that was never the intention for these pads. Instead, they offer a dose of protection while remaining extremely light, comfortable, and pedal-friendly.
The padding on the front of the knee pad is soft to the touch, and it extends from the top of the knee cap down the shin a little way. In addition, there is some added coverage on the sides of the knee, which can prove critical. This padding is not a shell or an exterior armor like many other pads in our review. They are simply a cushy sleeve. The layer of padding is quite low profile and not bulky. There is minimal information about the material on the Fox website --it doesn't appear to be a technical layer that firms up upon impact, just some simple padding.
The sleeve itself of the Enduro is relatively long. It covers the leg from the short line down to the high shin area and delivers an element of sun protection. Also, this provides a bit of protection from thorns or branches that you might brush up against on the trail. However, these aren't burly by any means. We didn't crash while wearing these pads, but we did some very basic and simple impact testing and the Enduro offers the least amount of protection in our review. They will take the edge off a crash and might prevent some cuts, scrapes, and bruising. However, it will still hurt, you will still feel the impact, and they won't protect you as well as more robust models.
Fit and Comfort
The Enduro Knee Sleeve offers a great fit and high level of comfort. The long black sleeve is pleasant against the skin with no scratchiness or irritation. They are snug without feeling too tight — as in, they don't cut off circulation, but they are tight enough to feel like they will not move. There is no excess or bulky material; the fit is well-designed and well-executed.
While the softer and thinner armored pads of the Enduro mean less overall protectiveness, they are exceptionally comfortable. Some of the other pads in our review are a bit stiff and scratchy on the inside, where they sit against the knee. These feel good against the skin no matter how hard you're working.
The Enduro pads are tremendously pedal-friendly, which is why they won a Top Pick Award! If you are looking to do substantial amounts of climbing, these are the pads for you. They are comfortable, light, and do not restrict pedal motion in the slightest.
One quirk about the Enduro is that the one-piece pad doesn't quite sit flat against the knee cap at the top of a pedal stroke — it kind of squares off on-top of the knee cap. It is quite visible when looking down at the knee from the saddle. This isn't a serious problem, but it is a bit of a quirk. Since the knee pad is soft, this doesn't irritate the knee or cause any abrasion. It would be interesting to see if a multi-piece pad design could negate this issue.
Ventilation and Breathability
These pads offer decent ventilation. The stretchy material on the sleeve wicks moisture away from the skin. If you catch a breeze in the right direction, you can feel some wind coming through the rear of the pads. The soft padding in the front allows more airflow compared to hard shell options.
Given the nature of knee pads, they will never be as airy and cool as not wearing anything. That said, the Enduro breathe well and, given their lightweight construction, are cooler than most of the other pads we tested.
Throughout the testing period, we observed no signs of seams or stitching failing. Our Enduro pads look the same way they did when they were brand new. We have no reason to believe these will not hold up for the long haul under normal use.
We do have serious concerns about how these pads will hold up in the event of a crash, however. The soft material and pads seem likely to rip and tear if you crash at speed. The majority of other pads in our test have some hard, outer layer in the form of a hard plastic cup or a plated style plastic armor. These materials can survive being dragged on the ground during a crash. The soft fabric on the Enduro Knee Sleeve will not stand up to crashes in this way.
These pads can be taken on and off over your cycling shoes. It takes a strategic approach, but they are stretchy enough to get a shoe through. We recommend being careful, though, as trying to shove your shoe through clumsily can put a lot of stress on the seams and fabrics.
The Enduro Knee Sleeve are a decent value. Some folks may evaluate these pads and notice that they are quite simple — they are about as basic as can be. That said, they work well and offer great pedal-friendliness, which helps justify the slightly higher price tag.
The Fox Racing Enduro Knee Sleeve are a great choice for trail riders seeking a lightweight and pedal-friendly solution. People who plan on grinding uphill for substantial periods will love these pads. Also, riders with the skills to keep the bike upright and their knees off the ground will especially love these. A notable downside to these pads is that they may not stand up to more than one crash given the soft material used in their construction. That said, they felt so good while we were riding that we had to bestow them with a Top Pick for Pedal-Friendliness.
— Pat Donahue