Race Face Indy Review
Cons: Poor fit, low protection levels, heavy
Manufacturer: Race Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
Our final opinion of the Race Face Indy pads is a little rough. They don't do anything especially poorly, but they pale in comparison to the other pads in our test. That said, they are still a serviceable set of knee pads that could work for you if you come across a smoking deal. While we find them to be lacking in protection, fit, and ventilation, comfort and durability are strong suits.
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 aggressive and burlier options in our test. But, 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 Indy pads to other quality mid-duty pads in our test. Other mid-weight options have auxiliary padding around the main armor patch. These do not. Just a simple armor patch, that's it.
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. Other mid-weight options do a better job of balancing protection and pedal-friendliness. The burlier knee pads in our review blow the Indy out of the water when it comes to 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 the 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, leaving us with no major complaints about the comfort of these 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 is effective and 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 in how the pad fits over the top of the knee. As we sit here wearing the pads and writing this review, we can easily reach down and, with small amounts of muscle, move the pad freely over the knee cap. When standing 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 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 poorly-designed knee cup 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 our test stay put nicely, this one tends to move around more than is ideal.
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 — these are one of the heaviest in our test. They weigh in at 182 grams per pad or 364 grams per set. The long sleeve design also makes them feel more substantial when climbing.
Ventilation and Breathability
These 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 Indy allows for increased airflow. Given the length of the sleeve, however, they still feel a little warm. They are cooler than some of the super thick and burly pads, but that's not saying much.
The stretchy fabric on the rear of these pads 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. The material stays dry, and the back of the leg isn't nearly as toasty as the front of the leg.
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. Again, this is speculation from past experiences with knee pads in general.
The craftsmanship of our Indy pads is rock solid. The seams are stitched properly, and there are no areas of fraying or 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 willy nilly can result in too much stress on the stitching and the material, a potential recipe for disaster.
The Indy pads are just an okay value. Actually, that is being nice. They are on the expensive side of things among our test pads. We think you can find better value elsewhere.
The Race Face 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 some of the other options in our review.
— Pat Donahue