Leatt Airflex Pro Review
Cons: A little clammy, sleeve could be longer at top
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Leatt Airflex Pro
|Price||$89.99 at Amazon||$79.95 at Amazon||$59.95 at Backcountry|
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|$64.95 at Amazon|
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|$37.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Wisely-placed protection, dialed fit, reasonable price, pedal-friendly for protection level||Protective, comfortable, retains nice pedaling abilities||Exceptionally pedal friendly, comfortable, lightweight||Well-rounded, attractive price, dialed fit||Light, breathable, comfortable sleeve material|
|Cons||A little clammy, sleeve could be longer at top||Heavy, not the best for long rides||Not very protective, soft material may tear easily||Poor ventilation, could be prone to ripping||Clumsy armor patch, slightly irritating while pedaling|
|Bottom Line||A high-quality and versatile knee pad that splendidly blends protection and pedal-friendliness||A perfect blend of substantial protection, supreme comfort, and respectable pedaling abilities||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 lightweight and airy knee pad suited for light-to-mid duty trail riding|
|Rating Categories||Leatt Airflex Pro||Fox Racing Launch D3O||Fox Racing Enduro K...||Dakine Slayer||Alpinestars Paragon...|
|Fit And Comfort (20%)|
|Pedal Friendliness (20%)|
|Ventilation And Breathability (20%)|
|Specs||Leatt Airflex Pro||Fox Racing Launch D3O||Fox Racing Enduro K...||Dakine Slayer||Alpinestars Paragon...|
|Weight (per pair, size L)||256 grams||445 grams||198 grams||366 grams||290 grams|
|Padding Material||AirFlex impact gel||D3O polyurethane||Not specified||DK impact foam||Stretch mesh and Ripstop nylon|
|Body Material||Moisture Cool, Airmesh||20% nylon, 40% neoprene, 5% polyester, 5% spandex||Perforated neoprene||Aramid fiber||Mesh|
|Safety Certifications||CE EN 1621-1||CE EN 1621-1 Level 1||Not specified||EN 1621-1 Level 1||CE|
|Available Sizes||S - XXL||S - L||S - XL||S - XL||XS - XL|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Leatt recently updated the Airflex Pro pads with a new main armor patch over the front of the knee. This new pad is more flexible and breathable than the previous version, improving the comfort and pedal friendliness of one of our favorite models. They offer a truly impressive blend of pedal-friendliness, protection, comfort, durability, and ventilation. These well-designed and well-executed pads work in nearly any situation, from rides with 3000 feet of climbing to bike park laps.
The Airflex Pro pads deliver impressive protection without feeling overly bulky. Bigger and more protective pads have a lot of padding and a lot of mass, meant for gravity-fed endeavors with less emphasis on pedaling. The Airflex Pro packs a healthy amount of armor into a slimmer and more streamlined package. This is a high compliment, and we think Leatt knocked it out of the park in terms of design.
The most prominent piece of armor sits front and center on the knee. This is a molded, silicone printed material that is perforated to provide a little airflow. It is soft and easy to bend with a cupped shape that feels good on the knee. This pad is relatively thin and lightweight, but it has a substantial feel to it. Upon impact, this material feels very robust and protective, especially considering how comfortable it is on the knee.
On both sides of the main armor, there are three patches of padding arranged vertically on the side of the knee. This is not the same sort of material as the flexible, molded armor on the front and center, but more of a traditional foam. This padding is broken up into three patches on each side of the leg that work together to cover approximately 5-6-inches. On the front of the pad, just above the main armor patch, there is another rectangular patch of foam padding. This spot on the knee is a prime location for smashing a knee on the bar should you slip a pedal.
The overall length of the sleeve is about average. Even where there is no armor, riders can enjoy some sun protection and have a layer of material between the skin and any branches or thorns hanging into the trail.
Fit and Comfort
The Airflex Pro deliver a nice fit — snug without feeling like they are constricting blood flow. They come in 5 sizes, S-XXL, so there should be a size for most riders. We measured our legs and used Leatt's size chart before ordering and found it to be accurate. The pads slip on and have no adjustments. The upper cuff is slightly looser than the lower. Silicone leg grippers on the inside of the upper and lower leg openings work well. They stay in place brilliantly and don't tend to spin or slip at all.
The Airflex Pro pads are also quite comfortable. That said, they can't match the comfort levels of the super airy options that emphasize comfort and pedal-friendliness over protection. They have a slightly thicker and heftier feel than the lightweight knee pads. But, while these pads have a bigger and thicker feel, they are still plenty comfortable. During testing, we kept them on for 3-hour long pedal fests with no hot spots or irritation to speak of. The main armor patch is contoured nicely, and they stay in place impressively well. They do feel a bit clammy on hot days, but that is the case with virtually all knee pads. Considering their protection level, we think they breathe relatively well.
One minor qualm about the Airflex Pro is that we wish the overall sleeve length was a bit longer at the top of the pad. If the top of the sleeve extended another 2-3-inches, it would eliminate all concerns of pad gap. Pad gap occurs when there is skin showing between the bottom of the shorts and the top of the knee pad.
While they look symmetrical, the Airflex Pro pads are side-specific. That information is printed on the back of the lower leg of each pad.
These pads are surprisingly pedal-friendly. They can't match the supreme pedal-friendliness of the superlight and less protective options, but considering their level of protection, we were impressed by how nice they felt on pedal-heavy rides.
When you are spinning away in the saddle, the motion of the Airflex Pro is relatively free. There are no restrictive points of the pedal stroke, but you are quite aware of the presence of the knee pads. When you are at the top and bottom of the pedal stroke, you can feel the 3D molded rubberized padding. This isn't all that uncomfortable or irritating to the skin but is noticeable enough to be worth mentioning. As a result, we find these pads are best for rides of about 3-hours or less. If you're looking to log some serious pedaling time in the saddle, we recommend reaching for some of the lighter weight and slightly less protective options. They are sleeker, lighter, and a bit less bulky, making them better suited for big rides.
We don't want to scare you away from the Airflex Pro pads. They do pedal well, but there are other options that are more pedal-friendly. That said, we still feel they offer excellent pedal-friendliness for their protection level.
Ventilation and Breathability
The Airflex Pro breathe well for a mid-duty pad. Even though they have a lot of substance, they also have decent cooling properties. Leatt appears to have gone out of their way to make these pads as breathable as possible while still maintaining a high degree of knee protection. A good example of this the main armor pad over the knee. This molded rubber pad is perforated with hundreds of small triangles that allow a small amount of air to pass through. That said, they are still relatively warm on the knees.
The back panel of the sleeve is made of Moisture Cool wicking fabric that is intended to allow heat and moisture to escape. In the center of that panel is a large circular cutout on the backside of the knee. The cutout allows air to flow at the back of the knee joint, which is a pretty sweaty location for most riders. The rest of the pad is constructed with a stretchy, wicking material that pulls sweat away from the skin. Despite all these features, you are still wearing knee pads, and there is inevitably going to be a clammy feel to them. Still, the Airflex Pro seem to perform well in this area, considering the protection they provide. After a ride, the pads dry relatively quickly.
If you're seeking the best blend of ventilation and protection, these are the pads for you. If you want something a tad bit lighter and airier, check out the pedal-friendly pads that have far less padding, which creates better airflow.
We don't have any serious durability concerns regarding the Airflex Pro. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we didn't have any crashes in these pads, so we can't comment on how they will fare. We can, however, make an educated guess based on experience with a great number of knee pads.
The front armor panel feels durable and won't be damaged easily. High-speed crashes on the outside of the leg could do some damage to the fabric, though — the foam padding that runs down the sides is our biggest concern. If you crash on this part of the pad and slide, we can't rule out some sort of rip or tear.
We would recommend removing your shoes to put on and remove these pads. It can be done without doing this, but stretching these over a shoe is a bit of a pain and will likely put stress on the seams, fabric, and silicone leg grippers and may result in premature wear. Overall though, if treated with a reasonable degree of care, we feel the Airflex Pro are a durable set of knee pads. No pads are impervious to damage if crashed on frequently, but that depends on the rider.
The Airflex Pro pads are a strong value. The price tag is fairly common for substantial and more aggressive knee pads. More importantly, Leatt delivered an excellent product that provides solid protection, a great fit, and high comfort levels.
Among all our tested pads, the versatile Leatt Airflex Pro deliver the best blend of protection, pedal-friendliness, comfort, and fit. They work well in nearly any situation. Leatt paid attention to the details and delivered a high-end knee pad at an attractive price tag.
— Pat Donahue & Jeremy Benson