Leatt Airflex Hybrid Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Excellent fit, pedal-friendly, sleek design, just enough protection
Cons: Not for riders who want to push their limits, narrower range of applications
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Leatt Airflex Hybrid
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|Pros||Excellent fit, pedal-friendly, sleek design, just enough protection||Protective, comfortable, retains nice pedaling abilities||Wisely-placed protection, dialed fit, reasonable price, pedal-friendly for protection level||High levels of protection, quality constructions and materials, secure fit||Well-rounded, attractive price, dialed fit|
|Cons||Not for riders who want to push their limits, narrower range of applications||Heavy, not the best for long rides||A little clammy, sleeve could be longer at top||Heavy, not the best for substantial amounts of pedaling||Poor ventilation, could be prone to ripping|
|Bottom Line||A sensible option for trail and all-mountain riders who want to retain a high level of pedal-friendliness||A perfect blend of substantial protection, supreme comfort, and respectable pedaling abilities||A high-quality and versatile knee pad that splendidly blends protection and pedal-friendliness||An aggressive, gravity-focused knee pad that delivers exceptional protection and impressive quality||A well-rounded knee pad with a quality fit at an attractive price point|
|Rating Categories||Leatt Airflex Hybrid||Fox Racing Launch D3O||Leatt Airflex Pro||7iDP Project Knee||Dakine Slayer|
|Fit And Comfort (20%)|
|Pedal Friendliness (20%)|
|Ventilation And Breathability (20%)|
|Specs||Leatt Airflex Hybrid||Fox Racing Launch D3O||Leatt Airflex Pro||7iDP Project Knee||Dakine Slayer|
|Weight (per pair, size L)||363 grams||445 grams||256 grams||420 grams||366 grams|
|Padding Material||AirFlex gel, Sliding hard shell knee cup||D3O polyurethane||AirFlex impact gel||Sas-Tec kneecap pad with flexible hard cap/polygon foam||DK impact foam|
|Body Material||Knitted base layer, MoistureCool and AirMesh fabrics||20% nylon, 40% neoprene, 5% polyester, 5% spandex||Moisture Cool, Airmesh||Pro-knit breathable sock||Aramid fiber|
|Adjustments?||No||No||No||Center strap system (top), Velcro from both sides||No|
|Safety Certifications||CE EN 1621-1||CE EN 1621-1 Level 1||CE EN 1621-1||CE EN 1621-1||EN 1621-1 Level 1|
|Available Sizes||S-XXL||S - L||S - XXL||S-XL||S - XL|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid occupy a unique position in the knee pad market. They may not be the lightest or sleekest nor are they the burliest, instead, they are the comfortable middle ground with the perfect amount of protection for day-to-day trail and all-mountain riding while retaining a pedal-friendly attitude. If you don’t have a desire to push rowdiness limits on your daily trail rides and want a comfortable security blanket that you can keep on all day long, these are fantastic.
The Airflex Hybrid pads offer protection without the bulk best suited for trail and all-mountain riding. These pads are relatively slim and streamlined with a large Airflex gel pad topped with a two-piece sliding hard-shell knee cup. While they are far from the burliest pads out there, they offer enough protection for day-to-day operations on most trails and their high level of comfort ensures you won't have any excuse to not put them on.
The main armor patch isn't huge but it provides good coverage over the knee. It is constructed with AirFlex gel which is soft to the touch and comes lightly pre-curved to fit the shape of the knee. It can be bent very easily with the hands and conforms very well to your knee when on the leg no matter the position. The pad is wider at the top and wraps around the knee cap, and tapers to be narrower as it moves down the upper shin. On top of the Airflex gel pad are two harder plastic/rubber patches for a touch of added impact and slide protection. There is no additional or auxiliary padding on the sides of the main patch. The sleeve material is knitted and feels reasonably robust.
These are far from the most protective pads, but we feel they are substantial enough for riders seeking some added knee protection in a slim and pedal-friendly package. The overall sleeve length is long and the armor patch is sizable enough to feel protective for most unexpected and less-consequential slide-outs and crashes. They are decisively beefier than the ultra-minimalist knee pads while still retaining a high level of comfort and pedal-ability.
Fit and Comfort
The Airflex Hybrid pads have an excellent fit and high levels of comfort. We would have no problem wearing these pads on a full-day, pedal-heavy ride. At 363-grams per set, they aren't the lightest pads around, but they feel light out on the trail. The materials are comfortable on the skin and breathe reasonably well, and the long sleeve length and silicone grippers help to keep them in place.
The Airflex Hybrid come in sizes S-XXL, and we found our size Large pads to fit true to size. The front of the sleeve is constructed from a tough knitted material with large panels of MoistureCool comprising the back. The sleeve is relatively long, rising about 3-inches above the kneecap and dropping down to around mid-shin. The fit is snug without feeling too tight or constricting, and we found the pads to stay in place very well. The top and bottom of the sleeve are elasticized to hold onto the leg at the calf and thigh, with a bunch of silicone grippers on the inside of the top cuff to prevent slippage.
The main patch of Airflex gel protection has been lightly pre-molded to the shape kneecap and this relatively soft material conforms even further to the shape of the knee once the pads are on. It has a comfortable feel and doesn't irritate the skin no matter how long you ride. The mesh on the back feels cool against the back of the knee, even when the weather is toasty.
The Airflex Hybrid posted an excellent score in terms of pedal friendliness. For pads that offer some legitimate protection, they are about as good as it gets. This metric is often tied to the Fit and Comfort metric. In the case of these knee pads, the dialed fit and high levels of comfort are certainly factors that make them so pedal-friendly.
When you are spinning away in the saddle, the range of motion is excellent and there is nothing that hinders the pedal stroke in any way. The sleeve stays in place very well and there is no excess bulk anywhere in the pad's design. The armor patch feels exceptional against your knee throughout the pedaling motion. We would have no issues wearing these knee pads on hefty climbs and leaving them on all day for long trail rides.
Ventilation and Breathability
The ventilation properties of the Airflex Hybrid are above average. They are far from the toastiest set of knee pads we have tested, but they aren’t the airiest either. The beefy knit material and armored front feel a bit warm, but that is balanced by the airy MoistureCool mesh panels on the rear and the cutout behind the knee.
The knit material is relatively thick on the front of the pad. When paired with a sizable armor patch, it doesn’t allow for much airflow through the front. Like any knee pad, this area can feel a bit warm on hot days. The rear of the sleeve is made from a breathable MoistureCool mesh that allows plenty of heat and moisture to escape. This mesh is combined with a large cutout on the back of the knee to keep that area of the leg reasonably well ventilated.
The Airflex Hybrid posted a fine score in terms of durability. Overall, the construction seems solid and our experience with other Leatt pads in the past has always been good. Throughout testing, we observed no signs of premature wear or defects. We didn’t crash in these pads and they still look brand new.
Due to the primarily knit construction, however, these pads seem susceptible to damage if they are crashed in super frequently. The hard caps on the front of the Airflex pads should help in case of some sliding falls, but the limited coverage they provide won't protect that much of the knit material. These pads should stand the test of time for trail and all-mountain riders who don't crash a lot and wear them just in case.
Among our test pads, the Airflex Hybrid pads are on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Fortunately, we think the high levels of comfort, dialed fit, and sensible nature of these pads help justify the price tag. There are cheaper options, but few pads feel as good on your legs.
The Leatt Airflex Hybrid pads are sensible and effective knee pads that should work for a great number of riders. With moderate protection, a dialed fit, and a sleek, streamlined design, these pads look and feel great. If you're a trail and all-mountain rider seeking a pedal-friendly pad that you can wear all day, check out the Airflex Hybrid.
— Pat Donahue
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