The Leatt Airflex Pro are versatile knee pads that lean toward the aggressive side of things. They are more robust than some of the ultra pedal-friendly options but don't feel as bulky as some of the most aggressive pads. They occupy a comfortable middle ground in our test class. The armor consists of a 3D molded rubbery plastic that hardens upon impact. In addition to the main armored patch, these pads have additional padding along the outside of the leg and above the main armor. The Airflex Pro have a dialed fit and are relatively comfortable and pedal friendly. These versatile pads earned the Editor's Choice award for best overall knee pad, and we feel they are a strong value.
Leatt Airflex Pro Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Wisely-placed protection, dialed fit, reasonable price
Cons: Not the most pedal-friendly, sleeve could be longer at top
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Analysis and Test Results
The Airflex Pro pads are our Editor's Choice for best overall knee pads. Why? They offer the very best blend of pedal-friendliness, protection, comfort, durability, and ventilation. These well-designed and well-executed pads really stood out with the protection they offer without sacrificing too much in the way of pedal-friendliness and comfort.
The Leatt pads deliver impressive protection without feeling overly bulky. Bigger and more protective pads like the 7Protection Project Knee have a lot of padding and a lot of mass. The Airflex Pro pads pack a healthy amount of armor into a slimmer and sleeker 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 3D molded, flexible, material with a rubbery feel. It is soft and easy to bend in any direction. The material is thin without feeling papery or flimsy. Upon impact, this material hardens up to disperse the forces of a crash. Given the flexible feel, the armor is quite comfortable.
On the inside and outside of the leg, there are vertical patches of padding. This is not the same sort of material as the flexible, 3D molded armor on the front and center, but more of a traditional foam material. This padding is broken up into three patches on each side of the leg. These patches work together to cover approximately 5-6-inches of the leg. 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.
If you think you can get away with a little less protection, it would be worth looking into the Six Six One Recon or G-Form Pro X2 pads. They are a lighter duty compared to the Leatt pads. If you feel like you want a burlier pad with more coverage, the 7Protection Project Knee is the obvious choice.
Fit and Comfort
The Airflex Pro deliver a nice and snug fit. They are snug without feeling like they are constricting your blood flow. The upper cuff is slightly looser than the lower. Neoprene textured bands on the inside of the upper and lower leg openings seem to work well. These pads stayed in place brilliantly didn't tend to spin or slip at all.
The Airflex Pro pads are comfortable. They can't match the comfort levels of the super airy Fox Racing Enduro Knee Sleeve or the Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve. They also have a thicker and thus heftier feel than the light-middleweight G-Form Pro X2 or Six Six One Recon. While these pads have a bigger and thicker feel, they are still plenty comfortable. On hot days, you may want to take them off after a few hours, but there are no areas of pressure or irritation.
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. The Leatt pads work well with the majority of shorts, but if the top sleeve was longer, they would be better suited for shorts with slightly shorter inseams.
These pads are side-specific, and there is a left pad and a right pad. That information is printed on the back of the lower leg.
The Airflex Pro pads are reasonably pedal friendly. They can't match the supreme pedal-friendliness of the superlight options like the Fox Racing Enduro Knee Sleeve or the Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve. They also come up short compared to the light-middleweight options like the G-Form Pro X2 and Six Six One Recon. That said, the Leatt pads do deliver superior protection, so we are okay with giving up some pedal-friendliness.
When you are spinning away in the saddle, the motion is relatively free. There are no restrictive points of the pedal stroke. You are, however, quite aware that you are wearing 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 you are very aware you're wearing a set of knee pads. As a result, we find these pads are best for rides of about 2-hours or less. If you're looking to log some serious time in the saddle, we recommend reaching for some of the lightweight or light-middleweight options. They are sleeker, lighter, and less protective, 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 better options for big rides. We still feel the Leatt pads offer the best blend of protection and pedal-friendliness.
Ventilation and Breathability
The Airflex Pro breathe well for a mid-duty pad. Even though they have a lot of substance to them, these pads have decent cooling properties. There is a large circular/oval cutout on the backside of the knee. The cutout is located in the crease where your upper leg meets your lower leg. This is a sweaty location, and it is nice to have some ventilation there.
There is also a panel of MoistureCool material on the rear of the pad. This semi-transparent fabric is intended to allow heat and moisture to escape. The rest of the pad is constructed with a wicking material that pulls sweat away from the skin. It can be challenging to evaluate exactly how well these features work. After all, you are wearing knee pads, and there is going to be an inevitably clammy feel to them. Still, the Leatt seemed to perform well in this area. After a ride, the pads felt pretty dry.
If you're seeking the best blend of ventilation and protection, these are the pads for you. If you want something a tad bit more light and airy, check out the Six Six One Recon or G-Form Pro X2 and give up a bit of protection for breathability.
We don't have any serious durability concerns regarding the Airflex Pro. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we didn't have any crashes in these pads. Therefore 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 plastic 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. The foam padding that runs down the side of these pads 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.
These pads are not easy to put on and remove over a shoe. The sleeve is a little too tight to confidently and swiftly get your shoe through. It can be done, but it puts a lot of stress on the seams.
The Airflex Pro scored very well in terms of durability. The hard kneecap is an important factor as that plastic withstands slides and encounters with the ground more effectively compared to the fabric covering. The Kali Strike have a similar approach and also scored well. The Six Six One Recon and G-Form Pro X2 are a step below. While they do have a hard armor, the plating is intricate, and it opens the door for more failures.
The Airflex Pro are best suited for mountain biking on a wide range of trails. They have the chops to tackle a healthy dose of gnar with confidence. These pads are a great option for riders who want a substantial pad that maintains a nice level of comfort and pedal-friendliness.
There are better options for longer rides with serious climbing. If your going out for 2.5+ hour rides frequently, we would steer you towards the Six Six One Recon. If your hucking big terrain, the 7Protection Project knee are the best choice
At $80, the Airflex Pro pads are a strong value. This price tag is fairly common for some of the substantial and more aggressive knee pads. More importantly, Leatt got it right with these pads, and they deliver solid protection, a great fit, and high comfort levels. We recommend buying these.
The Leatt Airflex Pro took home our Editor's Choice award for best overall knee pad. Among our eight pairs of pads, they deliver the best blend of protection, pedal-friendliness, comfort, and fit. Leatt paid attention to the details and delivered a high-end knee pad at an attractive $80 price tag. We love them.
— Pat Donahue