The ultimate lower leg protection is achieved with a hardshell shin/knee combo like the POC Bone VPD Leg Guards. Don't be tempted to ride with less just because the guys on the videos do it. This is exactly what you'll be wishing for at the moment you hang your front tire in a soft berm at warp speed, and you and your bike become separate in mid air. Round and round the rider goes, how they'll land, no one knows. POC Bone protection is like insurance for your limbs.
The Bone Leg Guards' first defense against impacts is a tough polypropylene shell. It's highly abrasion and penetration resistant. The shields are padded with nicely finished EPP foam liners. The knee however, has the benefit of a dollop of VPD visco-elastic polymer dough. It's soft enough to conform perfectly over your kneecap, but hardens the instant a force is applied, absorbing much of the impact, while cradling and supporting your patella. And for those of you who habitually slip a pedal at inopportune times, there's a pad that ties into the elastic straps and it covers your calf and most of your Achilles. If it's too hot or unnecessary, you can remove this back portion. The elastic strap configuration is quite simple, and the quick release attachment at the outside of the shin is user friendly, offering a quick in-and-out, yet is super secure. Perhaps the greatest aspect of the Bone Leg Guards is the articulated knee -- the straps and padding do not wrap around the back of the knee joint, so there's never that annoying and uncomfortable knot of material that seems to plague other designs.
The POC Bone VPD Leg Guards are White w/ black closures. They come in two sizes -- Small and Large.
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If you are looking for a hard-shell knee and shin guard, look no further.
These provide awesome protection with great fit. Ventilation is top-notch for this kind of armor, with vents penetrating through the plate and padding underneath. At speed, you can actually feel the cooling breeze on your shins.
I have gone down hard at rocky Plattekill a couple of times with these, with no rotation or slippage. Last weekend I rode 30 miles of "pedaller's downhill" at Downieville and they couldn't have been better--great articulation for the pedalling, perfect protection from glancing blows when I came too close to stumps and rocks at warp speed, ZERO slipping or rotation, and not too hot in 90+ degree weather (without the calf-protection).
For reference: I am 6'2" with a 32" inseam wearing the size Large. The padding comes down to within 2" of the top of my shoe (5.10 Freeriders), with the plate ending an inch short of that. I ride gravity fairly fast and aggressively, but not at race speed.
So these are pretty full on protection and of all the others I've had, they are the most comfortable, for ones with hard plastic. They get better after breaking in, but if not properly cinched down will rotate during wipeouts as others have indicated. They have protected me from some bad hits though and I haven't found another hard plastic one that I light more.
DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO OLDER REVIEWS REGARDING POOR FIT! POC redesigned these since then. They are easy to put on and take off, requiring only 3 straps and one optional sleeve (you can leave the sleeve off if you are pedaling all day). The calf protector is also removable. They articulate with the wearer better than any design on the market. POC really thought this out.
These are the first and only guards I've tried (and I've tried about 6) that don't ride up, slip down, or rotate around. They are surprising breathable. They protect AMAZINGLY well. I have DH crash tested them and they have saved me from impacts that should have resulted in stitches or even surgery. They have the most comprehensive coverage of any guard I've seen.
I've also used Rock Gardn and Roach protectors what slipped up, down, around, and rubbed the back of my knee raw. I've tried at least 3 other types too.
I am 5'10", 165lbs, 31.5" inseam, and I wear the Large.
I'm only 5ft 3inches, 115lbs, male. My legs are about 36cm. (center ankle bone to center knee). From the size guide it seems I just about fit on the shorter end. But will these rub at the top of my foot? Also interested in the POC joint shins.
These would probably hit the top of your foot. I'd go with one of the smaller, lighter ones POC ones without the hard plastic, which I've found I keep stealing from my wife as they provide almost as good of protection and are more comfortable.
The two star rating reflects the inadequate size options poc provides, not the quality. I am a woman 5'5'' 115lb. Even the small size is way too big. Further, the end of the shin guard cuts into my ankle (in the front) just like another reviewer pointed out. So if you are like me, get the poc joint leg protector size small. It offers nice fitting.
Good range of movement. The extra calf piece does tend to get quite hot and the area around the ankles seems to dig in alot but all in all they fit according to size chart. To expensive for what you get however
These things are hella strong, but are seriously for DH. I tried a few cross country rides with em, but they have a few hot spots. After like a good hour of riding they started to rub inside my knees which was a bummer because that felling sucks. But if your doing dh races, then id seriously suggest these because they're lightweight, they don't shift around on your leg, and they can take hits really well.
I am not a downhiller, but I am 42 and somehow don't have the sense of balance I thought I had. I ride very rocky technical trails and after the last bloody shin, decided enough was enough. I looked around the internet at lots of pads and kept coming back to POC because of comments about the quality of construction, fit, and protection. The pads have lived up to the hype. I have ridden several times in the pads and yes, have managed to eat it in a couple of rock gardens. I know the price is quite a bit higher than other pads, but I have learned that you get what you pay for and quite frankly, I have enough scars already to prove my manhood...The best part, though, is the piece of mind I have to ride the way I want without the worry and hesistation.
First things first, I have bony skeletor legs so many of my issues wont be a the same for average Joes or manly meat heads.
No matter what I do, these pads rotate outward about 45 degrees and leave my inner shins wide open to injury. This is most likely due to me being bow legged, and all pads of this type tend to rotate a little bit. Fortunately for me I ride through dense city traffic and really only have to worry about getting side swiped or rear ended. So it's actually beneficial in my situation that these pads like to rotate outward. Being skinny, however, these pads only contact my legs at the ankles and the top of my knee caps. There's an inch gap between my shins and the inside of the pads. It makes no sense that the shin guard is designed to stick out further than the knee section unless the forward arching of the shins are supposed to flex inward upon impact, absorbing the blow like a spring. I have some big footballer friends and not even their shins stick out past their knees. In practicality this design works quite well for crashes but is also very uncomfortable since the ankle and knee cap are the only parts of my leg making contact with the pads. It feels like a constant pinch on my ankles and walking around in these can be painful after a while. While riding, however, this is not an issue.
My biggest gripe about this product is the crappy stitching quality. These pads are designed to be ridden by highly mobile, hard crashing, muddy and dirty adrenaline junkies. However, POC has the stupidity to use SINGLE stitching to keep everything in place. The first month of riding these without crashing, the stitching has already started to come out. I find myself every now and then cutting off loose strands that are 1-3 inches in length and having to redo the stitching myself. Unless you know how to sew with a fine needle, this sorta thing will seriously bug some folks. I wear with these pads 5 hours a day, four days a week, so they will see more usage than most, but for over $100.... c'mon POC, this is just lame.
I also own the POC bone arm protectors and they also have the same problem with the stitching. For the price, the quality just isn't there and the design of the whole thing still needs a lot of work. These knee guards feel like $70 pads... 90 at most.
The most important thing I must note about these pads is that they do indeed protect you and keep on truckin. The highly adjustable strap system is the best one I've come across after owning Six Six One and Fox Racing pads. Anybody can find the right fit after just a few minutes of tinkering with the straps. Once you get the fit just right, they will not move up or down at all....NOT ONE SINGLE MILIMETER that's awesome it is. These pads absorb blows like Mike Tyson taking a punch from a three year old. You can slam your shin into a fire hydrant or street pole at 20 mph and keep ridin without a hitch. I don't know about sharp rocks, but you can be sure you wont have to worry about your shins or knee caps in almost any crash. The agility you gain from the articulating joints is second to none. At full price, these pads will not fit the bill, but if you wait for a sale then you should certainly pick these up if they're in your budget.
Until a company designs these pads specifically for slim jims, you're not gonna find a better or more secure fit... so get them
UPDATE: I got sideswiped by an SUV blowing past a stop sign at 25mph. Not a scratch on me except my left knuckles where I punched out the jerk's headlight. I walked away just fine thanks to my knee and elbow pads.
Shame on me. Ok I've been burned twice by these shin guards. The first time my pedal slid under them and sliced my shin open 4" long which ended up getting infected. Atleast I got a mean looking scar from that one. I thought the use of the calf protector may have contributed by pushing the guard forward a bit so I removed them.
Well... I recently washed out in a loose corner and went down on my side. The guard twisted around my leg causing my knee to be raked over the rocks. Now i have very painful road rash on my knee that kills every time i take a step. Two non trivial injuries in areas supposedly protected by this equipment. These things are going in the fire so they can be burned instead if me for a third time.
I got these, along with the POC Bone Arm, and I'm very happy. The best part about them is the articulated joint that allows for great freedom of movement. I'm 6'1" and 180lbs, and I went with the large size. I found once I started riding, they would slide down a bit from my initial placement, but not much, and once they settled in there was no further movement. I've found that other pads fit fine when your leg is straight, then constrict when you bend your knee. That is not the case with these, as they are made of two segments with a stitched joint. It makes for a very nice feel when pedaling.
No crashes yet, so I can't comment on the impact protection.
They are hardshell pads, so there is some warmth and weight to deal with, but they aren't bad at all.
They are designed as step-in/slide-on pads, with a small segment at the top of the pad that wraps around your leg, just above the knee. These can be worn without stepping in or sliding on, by just using the velcro straps. There a thigh strap, an ankle strap, and a calf strap. The calf strap is a nice design with much adjustment that allows a very comfortable fit.
It has been mentioned by others, and I found this to be the case as well, when you bend your knee, the hardshell portion of the pad stays fixed over the patella, and only the "dough" portion of the pad moves to cover the top of the knee. It doesn't give me any concerns, as the "dough" portion of the pad seems like it will be enough to protect on an impact. It has also been noted that the inside/outside of knee coverage isn't as good as it could be. I will agree that it appears the pads could wrap around a bit more, but it isn't such that I'd call it a bad design.
Overall, the most comfortable pads I've worn, with the best range of motion and least slippage. Certainly not cheap, but worth it if they hold up and last.
A good look at the Bone Leg straps and D3O thigh protection. Probably the best protection and most comfort of all the knee/shin pads I've tried. This shot shows them without the removable calf protection.