G-Form Pro-X2 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Nice balance of protection and comfort, price, widely available
Cons: Fit issues, not as pedal-friendly or as robust as other options
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Pro X2 is a noble performer in our test. They don't go above-and-beyond in any category, yet they are rock-solid in most. There is a reason these knee pads have been so popular in recent years. While the protection is relatively minimal and the fit leaves something to be desired, they score well in comfort, pedal-friendliness, and ventilation. Also, they are one of the more widely-available options in our review, easily found at many bike shops and online retailers.
The Pro X2 use G-Form's Reactive Protection Technology (RPT). This means the armor has a soft and flexible feel when you are wearing them or bending the armor in your hand. Someone unfamiliar with these pads might not think they have much in the way of protection at all. This is all by design. In the event of an impact, the material instantly hardens to protect the rider and distribute the force. How does it work? Science. According to G-Form, the molecules in the material consolidate rapidly to form a hard and protective layer to disperse the forces of the impact away from a single point.
The armored section of the knee pad is sizeable without being too large — the zone looks somewhat like a cross. There is a bit of protection above the knee starting a few inches above the cap. On the left and right of the knee cap, there are a few plates of armor that extend to either side of the knee. Below the knee cap, there is a large section of padding that extends down towards the upper shin.
We didn't have any significant crashes while testing these pads. That said, we did some primitive impact testing, and we can confirm these pads offer a little more protection than their looks may suggest. These are not the pads for riding bike park laps or serious shuttle laps, but they do offer enough protection for the day-to-day light to mid-duty trail rider. The amount of protection is adequate and impressive for how pedal-friendly they are. It should also be noted that the black fabric on the pads offers UPF-50 sun protection. The material extends fairly far below the bottom of the armor and keeps your legs out of the sun.
Fit and Comfort
The Pro X2 pads offer an okay fit, though our testers had a bit of trouble getting them to sit in the correct spot on the leg. Despite that, the comfort levels are respectable, and we didn't have any qualms wearing these pads on long rides.
When you slide your leg into the Pro X2 pads, you are greeted with a properly snug feel on the elastic sleeve. It can be a delicate game for manufacturers to balance snugness with a proper fit. We found the upper leg opening of the pad to be just a bit too narrow. When the pads were pulled up as far as possible, testers had the desire to pull the pads up approximately 2-3 additional inches, but the upper leg opening was maxed out and wouldn't slide up any further. The pads were not in an uncomfortable location, but we felt they should sit a little higher to get the most out of the armor. Riders with narrower upper legs may have an easier time with the fit.
These pads are quite comfortable with no areas getting squeezed uncomfortably hard. There are no skin pinches or abrasion-prone areas. The benefit of a lower-profile knee pads is higher levels of comfort and the Pro X2 delivers in this regard. We would have no problem wearing them for hours on end.
The Pro X2 pads score well in terms of pedal-friendliness. There are more pedal-friendly options in our test, but there are also models that are far less so. We feel the middle-of-the-road pedaling action somewhat coincides with the middle-of-the-road levels of protection. The bulkiest options tend to fare the worse in this category while the lightest and sleekest tend to fare the best.
The X2 pads stay in place while riding — silicone bands on the inner sections of the leg openings hold them in place effectively. We could spin the cranks easily without any restrictions, there is good range of motion, and we didn't have to reach down to adjust or realign very often at all. You can feel the armor on your knee cap with every pedal stroke, but this isn't irritating or painful. You will be, however, quite aware that your wearing knee pads.
The Pro X2 wouldn't be our top choice for rides longer than 2.5-3 hours, but they are above average in terms of pedal friendliness. They are a great middle-of-the-road option as they are more protective than the super sleek sleeve-style options and much more pedal-friendly than the big bulky pads.
Ventilation and Breathability
The Pro X2 pads deliver solid ventilation. The reasonable weight and quality fabric will keep you cool. The black, stretchy, UPF-50 fabric also wicks moisture away from the body as you sweat. Even after long rides on warm days, the fabric didn't feel saturated or soaked in sweat.
Obviously, when you choose to wear knee pads, you are giving something up in the way of ventilation. Knee pads will never breathe as well as your bare knee. That said, the X2 pads offer okay airflow. Again, these pads continue their middle-of-the-road theme. They breathe and deliver airflow significantly better than the bigger, more robust pads but can't quite match the slender, minimalist options.
Throughout testing, we observed no signs of these pads falling apart or failing. We didn't take any real crashes, but they appear to be holding up from us putting them on and taking them off frequently.
One area to be wary of is putting these pads on while you are wearing riding shoes. If you simply pull these pads on while you are putting your shoes on, you are fine. Some riders like to take their pads on and off during a ride. For example, if your ride starts with a two-hour climb, you may not want to put these pads on until your at the top of the climb. You can put these on over a pair of all-mountain style bike shoes, but it's rather tight. We worry about busting a seam on the pad if you do this too frequently. When putting your shoe through the leg opening, there is simply a lot of stress on the fabric and seams. We could see this being problematic over the course of an entire season.
The Pro X2 pads represent a decent value. Aside from some quirks with the fit, they deliver good performance in all areas. They won't blow you away, but they work pretty darn well. They are towards the lower end of the price spectrum among knee pads in our test.
The G-Form Pro X2 are solid knee pads. The protection is adequate without being overwhelmingly bulky or super light. They are comfortable and work well when you are spinning away in the saddle. Our chief complaint is an issue with the fit as they sit a bit below where we would like. Picky or obsessive riders might be irritated by this fit. All-in-all, however, the X2 is a well-rounded knee pad for trail riding at a reasonable price.
— Pat Donahue