The RaceFace Indy knee pads are a practical option that delivers extended sleeve coverage and reasonable amounts of protection. Unfortunately, the Indy pads occupy a confused middle-ground among our test pads. They have a long sleeve length and offer loads of coverage, but they have minimal padding and can't quite match the protection of the competition. Also, they can't touch the comfort, pedal-friendliness, or breathability of the lighter duty pads in this test. While we feel they are a good knee pad, we preferred the performance, protection, and price of other models we tested.
Race Face Indy Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Widely available, long sleeve offers sun protection
Cons: Poor fit, low protection levels, heavy
Manufacturer: Race Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Analysis and Test Results
Our comparative analysis was a little rough on the RaceFace pads. They don't do anything especially poorly, but they pale in comparison to the other pads in the test. They are still a serviceable set of knee pads that could work for you if you come across a smoking deal. Comfort and durability are strong suits while we found them to be lacking in protection, fit, and ventilation.
At first glance, the Indy pads offer extensive coverage. The leg sleeve appears long, and one might think these pads offer similar protection levels to the Top Pick 7Protection Project Knee pads. Upon closer evaluation, the Indy pads don't have much armor. There is a reasonably long but narrow piece of D30 armor on the front of the knee. This soft material is flexible and fairly soft to the touch but firms up upon impact to protect the rider. This is a quality piece of protection on the front of the knee, but there is no secondary protection.
The problems start when you compare the RaceFace pads to other quality mid-duty pads in our test. Both the Leatt Airflex Pro and the Kali Strike have additional armor surrounding the main pad. The Leatt has a patch of dense foam above the knee as well as three patches on the inside and outside of each leg. The Kali Strike has two patches of armor on each side of the main padding on the inside and outside of each leg. This is not to mention the 7Protection pads which have a far more substantial feel. The Indy pads simply can't stand up to these other pads, and it's not even close.
One redeeming factor is the length of the sleeve. The longer sleeve offers protection from the sun as well as any thorns and sticks poking into the trail. While this thin layer of fabric is minimal, it can protect you from minor abrasions.
If protection is your chief concern, we recommend looking elsewhere. The Leatt Airflex Pro is a more protective choice at the same price. The 7Protection pads are more expensive but deliver far more substantial padding. The Indy pads just can't stand up in this metric.
Fit and Comfort
The Indy knee pads provide decent comfort. Whether you are standing around in the parking lot or standing on your pedals, they feel pleasant against your legs. The blend of lycra and butterfly mesh is soft, and they don't itch or irritate. The inside of the knee cup feels fine too. We have no major complaints about the comfort of the RaceFace pads.
The fit, on the other hand, is a little problematic. The sleeve itself feels alright. The elastic on the lower leg opening is tight enough to do its job without being too tight or cutting off circulation. The upper cuff has an adjustable velcro strap that allows you to fine-tune the fit. This strap is effective delivers a nice range of adjustment. You can reach this strap even if you are wearing gloves and is accessible while in the saddle.
Our chief fit complaint is how the pad fits over the top of the knee. As we sit here wearing the pads, and writing this review, you can easily reach down with small amounts of muscle and move the pad freely over the knee cap. When you stand up straight, the pad lifts off the knee cap so much that you can see a visible bulge. In other words, it just isn't that well formed to the knee. The 7Protection and Leatt pads blow the RaceFace out of the water in this respect. The fit on pretty much all of our other test pads is executed significantly better in our opinion.
The Indy pads are fine when you are spinning away in the saddle. They have an okay comfort level, but the poor fit comes back around to hurt the performance. The way the knee cup is poorly designed creates some unnecessary movement in the pads. When you are at the bottom of the stroke, the pad starts to lift off the knee. This doesn't hurt or irritate the knee in any way, but we feel it is a design flaw. While most of the other pads in the test stay put nicely, the RaceFace tends to move around a little bit more.
When you are cranking away in the Indy pads, you are quite aware you have something on your legs. The movement of the knee cup is one clear indication; the weight is another. The RaceFace pads are the second heaviest in our test. They weigh in at 182 grams per pad or 364 grams per set. The long sleeve design certainly makes these pads feel more substantial when climbing. The 7Protection Project Knee are approximately 30-grams heavier per pad or 60-grams heavier as a pair. The difference is the 7Protection pads offer enough armor and padding to justify the weight. The Indy pads do not.
If you're looking for a more pedal-friendly pad with better protective features, the Leatt Airflex Pro is the obvious choice. They are lighter, fit bitter, and offers substantially better protection. If you think you want to do some bigger rides, the Fox Enduro Knee Sleeve is a fantastic option for the minimalists, but you are sacrificing large amounts of protection.
The Indy pads do not breathe especially well but are not overly clammy. The one benefit of the relative lack of protection is small bits of increased airflow. Pads with tons of armor, especially hard, plastic armor tend to hold in heat and moisture. The thinner and softer padding on the RaceFace allows for increased airflow. Given the length of the sleeve, they still feel a little warm, but they are cooler than the Kali Strike or the 7Protection Project Knee.
The stretchy fabric on the rear of the pad is constructed with lycra and butterfly mesh. The mesh material has small holes that are somewhat translucent. This is intended to allow air to escape. It is always difficult to judge exactly how effective this is, but it seems to work well enough on the Indy pads. The material stays dry, and the back of the leg isn't nearly as toasty as the front of the leg.
If you are seeking ultimate ventilation, the feathery Fox Racing Enduro Knee Sleeve is a great choice. The catch? You are giving up a whole lot of protection, and these pads aren't meant for hard charging. If you want a step up in protection, the Six Six One Recon are relatively well-ventilated and are also very lightweight.
We didn't take any spills while wearing the Indy pads. As a result, we can't comment on exactly how the pads will react when crashing on mud, rock, roots, gravel, sand, and so on. We can, however, speak from decades of experience wearing knee pads. We are a little concerned with the fabric covering the armor on the knee cap. The soft material is prone to ripping much more easily than some of the hard-shell offerings like the Leatt Airflex Pro, Kali Strike, or Six Six One Recon. Again, this is speculation from past experiences with knee pads in general. Therefore we cannot knock the Indy Pads for lack of durability.
The craftsmanship of our RaceFace pads is rock solid. The seams appear to be stitched properly, and there are no areas of fraying and no signs of upcoming failure. You can put these pads on while wearing shoes, but we recommend being very careful. Stuffing a shoe through this fabric all willy nilly could result in too much stress on the stitching and the material. This can be a recipe for disaster.
The Indy pads are best suited for the mid-duty trail rider. Again, we would steer you towards other options like the Leatt Airflex Pro or 7Protection Project Knee which offer much better performance and fit. If you are hellbent on the Indy pads, the ideal buyer likes to ride a wide range of trails but isn't planning on wearing them on any mega rides.
At $90, the Indy pads are just an okay value. They are on the expensive side of things among our test pads. We think you can find better value elsewhere.
The RaceFace Indy knee pads are a little underwhelming when compared to other models in this review. The fit and protection levels are our chief complaints. While they still may be an okay option for some riders, we suggest taking a look at the Leatt Airflex Pro which is a significantly better knee pad at the same price. Seeking max protection? The 7Protection Project Knee is a no brainer.
— Pat Donahue