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Sweet Protection Knee Guards Review

Minimalist knee pads for riders who prioritize a high level of pedal-friendliness over protection
sweet protection knee guards mountain bike knee pad review
These pads are sleek and minimal. Perfect for long days in the saddle.
Credit: Pat Donahue
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $70 List
Manufacturer:   Sweet Protection
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 7, 2022
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 18
  • Protection - 30% 5.0
  • Fit and Comfort - 20% 10.0
  • Pedal Friendliness - 20% 10.0
  • Ventilation and Breathability - 20% 9.0
  • Durability - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The Sweet Protection Knee Guards earned top honors as the most pedal-friendly pads we've tested. These minimalist pads weigh just 222 grams and are an excellent choice for riders who prioritize a free and natural pedaling motion over high levels of protection. The SAS-TEC armor patch feels very comfortable against the knee cap and conforms to your knee throughout the pedal stroke. The armor patch is small, soft, and thin but is designed to harden upon impact. Experienced riders who enjoy pedal-heavy multi-hour rides and want a little knee protection for the occasional unexpected crash will appreciate these pads the most. Enduro and gravity riders should look elsewhere.
REASONS TO BUY
Extremely pedal-friendly
Lightweight
Comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
Minimal protection
Durability concerns

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Pros Extremely pedal-friendly, lightweight, comfortableProtective, comfortable, retains nice pedaling abilitiesExceptionally pedal friendly, comfortable, lightweightWell-rounded, attractive price, dialed fitVery lightweight, excellent when pedaling, sleek and slim
Cons Minimal protection, durability concernsHeavy, not the best for long ridesNot very protective, soft material may tear easilyPoor ventilation, could be prone to rippingKnee sleeve a little short, lacks protection, durability concerns
Bottom Line Minimalist knee pads for riders who prioritize a high level of pedal-friendliness over protectionA perfect blend of substantial protection, supreme comfort, and respectable pedaling abilitiesA lightweight and extremely pedal-friendly knee pad with a minimalist approachA well-rounded knee pad with a quality fit at an attractive price pointA lightweight knee pad that delivers in the saddle but doesn't offer much in the way of protection
Rating Categories Sweet Protection Kn... Fox Racing Launch D3O Fox Racing Enduro K... Dakine Slayer Troy Lee Designs Sp...
Protection (30%)
5.0
9.0
4.0
7.0
3.0
Fit and Comfort (20%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Pedal Friendliness (20%)
10.0
8.0
10.0
7.0
10.0
Ventilation and Breathability (20%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
8.0
4.0
6.0
4.0
Specs Sweet Protection Kn... Fox Racing Launch D3O Fox Racing Enduro K... Dakine Slayer Troy Lee Designs Sp...
Weight (per pair, size L) 222 grams 445 grams 198 grams 366 grams 228 grams
Padding Material SAS Tech D3O polyurethane Not specified DK impact foam 4mm D30 impact foam
Body Material N/A 20% nylon, 40% neoprene, 5% polyester, 5% spandex Perforated neoprene Aramid fiber Abrasion-resistant material
Adjustments? No No No No No
Safety Certifications N/A CE EN 1621-1 Level 1 Not specified EN 1621-1 Level 1 CE EN 13688:2013
Available Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL S - L S - XL S - XL XS/S - XL/XXL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sweet Protection Knee Guards were an easy choice for Most Pedal-Friendly knee pads in our review. We have tested numerous pairs of super minimalist knee pads over the years. While other options are equally thin and a touch lighter, the Sweet Protection pads offer the best protection and the highest comfort level compared to similar options. The most impressive metrics were certainly Pedal Friendliness and Fit and Comfort while Protection was a pleasant surprise within the intended application. Riders who like to log miles and spend hours on their mountain bikes will be thrilled with these pads.

Performance Comparison


sweet protection knee guards mountain bike knee pad review - these pads offer minimal protection and are suited for buff, rolling...
These pads offer minimal protection and are suited for buff, rolling trails.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Protection


As a minimalist knee pad, the Sweet Protection Knee Guard offers a light level of protection with a focus on providing a high level of pedal-friendliness and comfort. These pads offer minimum amounts of protection compared to other options and are best suited for riders who just want a little knee coverage for infrequent crashes.


The Sweet Protection Knee Guards have a fairly short sleeve length. The main armor patch is approximately six inches long. The armor is about 3.5-inches wide at the knee cap and tapers down towards the upper shin. The SAS-TEC armor is thin and very flexible. When manipulated with your hands, the armor plate is pliable and slow to rebound. SAS-TEC, like the popular D30 material, is soft to the touch but designed to harden upon impact. The main armor patch is covered by an Aramid layer intended to resist tears and cuts.

On the trail, these are not the most confidence-inducing knee pads. This should not come as a surprise. The marketing copy on the manufacturer's website states these pads are designed for riders who are "into long-distance biking and want some protection, without bulk". We find this to be an accurate assessment. These are a great choice for riders who want to do significant amounts of pedaling and climbing and simply want a touch of protection in the event things go sideways. Skilled riders on short to mid-travel trail bikes who crash infrequently will love these pads. Enduro and gravity riders will probably be better off looking into beefier options.

sweet protection knee guards mountain bike knee pad review - these knee pads are pleasant and comfortable. this is especially the...
These knee pads are pleasant and comfortable. This is especially the case when turning the pedals. The short sleeve and soft armor are exceptionally pleasant.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Fit and Comfort


The Sweet Protection Knee Guards boast an extremely high level of comfort. The short sleeve paired with a low-weight and soft armor patch is a recipe for success.


Once we slipped the pads over our feet and into position, we were instantly impressed. The armor plate feels extremely pleasant against the knee and throughout the pedal stroke, it remains comfortable and soft. The fit through the sleeve is consistent and there are no pockets of excess material, bunching, or hot spots. At 222 grams, the Sweet Protection Knee Guards are very light. When walking or riding, they feel airy and absent of any bulk.

These knee guards come in sizes XS-XL. We tested a set of large pads and found them to fit true to size. The pads were snug enough to stay in place on multi-hour rides while remaining easy to take on and off. There is an elastic material on the inside of the upper cuff to help keep the pads in place. The overall sleeve length is relatively short. Riders who are concerned about a gap between the top of the knee pad and the bottom of their shorts should be cautious with these knee guards.

sweet protection knee guards mountain bike knee pad review - when it comes to turning the cranks, the sweet protection pads are...
When it comes to turning the cranks, the Sweet Protection pads are nothing short of fantastic.

Pedal Friendliness


The Sweet Protection pads offer an extremely high level of pedal-friendliness. If you love long rides with boatloads of climbing, these are the knee pads for you. We have tested a handful of ultra-light and minimalist pads and these are a clear favorite. The low weight paired with the short sleeve length makes it easy to forget about these slim and low-profile knee guards.


In the saddle, the pedal stroke is beautifully unrestricted. The small and soft SAS-TEC armor patch conforms to the knee beautifully. At the top of the stroke, the padding remains relatively flat against the knee. Other lightweight pads we have tested can have a tendency to lift off the knee at the top of the stroke which can be annoying and potentially irritating to your skin. The Sweet Protection Knee Guards are the closest thing to wearing nothing at all.

sweet protection knee guards mountain bike knee pad review - the relatively short sleeve length and lack of bulky padding allow...
The relatively short sleeve length and lack of bulky padding allow these pads to breathe quite well.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Ventilation and Breathability


The Sweet Protection pads offer excellent levels of ventilation. They breathe exceptionally well and we would have no problem reaching for these on a scorching summer ride.


There isn't much in the way of fancy ventilation features to be found on these pads. Instead, the minimalist design, short sleeve, and low weight work to create a pretty airy experience. The lack of a huge bulky armor plate and excess materials help keep the rider cool. The thin armor patch paired with the Aramid fabric allows some air to pass through the front of the pad. Should you get the Sweet Protection pads wet or ultra-sweaty, we found that they dry out quickly.

sweet protection knee guards mountain bike knee pad review - the sweet protection pads are very minimal. an aramid fabric covers...
The Sweet Protection pads are very minimal. An Aramid fabric covers the armor, but we have some concerns about how well they will hold up if crashed on frequently.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Durability


Throughout testing, we observed no signs of premature wear or breakdown of materials. The stitching remained perfect and all seams appear to be tight and tidy.


We did not crash while wearing these knee pads. We do, however, have some concerns about how these knee guards will stand up to crashes on rocky or loose surfaces. The main armor patch is covered with an Aramid fabric to add an element of toughness. Still, this material seems like it could be relatively easily torn in the event of a high-speed crash. Knee pads with a plastic or rubberized material on the kneecap tend to stand up better to high-speed crashes, especially if rocks are involved.

We have mentioned a few times that these pads are best suited for skilled riders who are not likely to crash often. As a result, we aren't too worried about these pads getting torn within a few weeks of ownership. Still, it would be a bummer to see these pads shredded after one or two crashes.

sweet protection knee guards mountain bike knee pad review - these pads prefer to be on the ground cruising down moderate terrain.
These pads prefer to be on the ground cruising down moderate terrain.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Value


We feel the Sweet Protection pads represent a great value. Yes, these pads are simple and minimalist. That being said, they offer a high-quality fit, are exceptionally comfortable, and are tremendously pleasant when pedaling. We feel the price tag is easily justified by the quality and comfort.

Conclusion


The Sweet Protection Knee Guards are the most pedal-friendly pads in our test class. They are light, simple, and offer an unrivaled pedaling motion. Riders who want a minimalist and sleek option that for long rides and hefty climbs will love these pads. The protection level is fairly modest, and these pads are best suited for riders who crash infrequently and want a little peace of mind for the occasional tumble.

sweet protection knee guards mountain bike knee pad review - the sweet protection pads in their ideal habit. smoothly navigating...
The Sweet Protection pads in their ideal habit. Smoothly navigating buff singletrack.

Pat Donahue
 
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