Developed by designers whose bread and butter is Moto GP and motocross apparel, the Moab Knee and Shin Protecters have a more thoroughbred pedigree than almost any other mountain bike specific set of pads on the market.
Their manufacturer, Alpinestars, produces some of the best protective gear for recreational and professional motorcyclists, and that heritage is evident in the fit, finish, and attention to detail of all of their protective gear.
That moto background does bring with it it’s own quirks….
The Alpinestar Knee Protectors are heavily vented for breath-ability and their slim profile allows them to be worn unobtrusively under jeans (or racing “pajamas” if you prefer.) They come pre-curved and are intended to rest comfortably when in an aggressive riding stance. At first, this is slightly uncomfortable until they break in, but everything functions well once you get started downhill.
The pads are strapped into place by snapping the red buckles, and then adjusting the straps for fit. This “seatbelt buckle” design allows the pads to be put on without the need to remove your shoes, and makes them easy to remove between runs. The downside is the clasps can be difficult to remove when your hands begin to tire from doing continuous runs.
The knee strap uses a dual velcro system which allows you to adjust the inner strap, snap the buckle, and pull back the outer velcro strap to dial in fit. This system offers great adjustability.
The downside is that the knee strap is sort of bulky. Peddling while wearing the Moab Knee Protectors reminds me of playing catcher for the softball team and having to wear knee savers. You can really feel the bulk of the strap when peddling with pants.
When coupled with shorts, the bulk of the knee strap mostly disappears, but the velcro sometimes got caught on my shorts.
The Knee Protectors, like most hard shell armor, doesn’t provide full coverage. The entire back of the leg is left unprotected, which is great on hot days, but earned me pedal bite during a low speed crash.
A hard plastic shell surrounded by dual density foam protects the knee against direct impacts, but offers minimal protection against top tub strikes due to the lack of side padding.
The lack of extended knee coverage means the pad offers insufficient protection when sliding sideways. While the pads wouldn’t slip in a superman style crash, they didn’t save me skin during a high side crash.
The Alpinestar Moab Knee Protectors hit almost all the right marks, but a few small issues keep us from giving them a hearty recommendation. While the premium construction and unique fit help put these pads in a league of their own, they just don’t offer sufficient knee protection in certain situations. That said, if you’ve struggled to find a combination knee and shin pad that fits, the range of adjustability offered by the dual velcro system should put these $90 pads on your radar.
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