Added a product review for POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pad 7/14/2015 10:44 PM

Tested: POC Joint VPD Air Knee Pad


The Good:

The Bad:


Review by David Howell // Photos by Brandon Turman, Lear Miller and Colin Meagher

With trails getting faster and trail/all-mountain/enduro bikes becoming increasingly capable, more of us are looking for lightweight, yet protective knee pads that can comfortably be worn in any situation, including a good pedal. The POC Joint VPD Air Knee pad steps up to fill the gap between a clunky downhill pad and one that offers nothing but looks.

POC Joint VPD Air Knee Highlights

  • Lightweight and impact absorbing VPD compound
  • Neoprene anti-slip panels inside
  • Reinforced stretch fabric
  • Elastic strap for a comfortable fit
  • Designed with a low profile
  • Polygiene odor control technology
  • Sizes Small, Medium, and Large
  • $80.00 MSRP

Available in both knee and elbow pads, the VPD Air uses the same VPD 2.0 (Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough) material as their burlier pads, but in a lighter, more breathable package. The pad material is said to be "highly impact absorbent" while being "comfortable and adapt[ing] to create an individual fit." The material transitions from soft to hard during an impact, so it can offer both safety and flexibility, at least in theory.

Initial Impressions

Straight out of the packaging, I couldn’t wait to get the VPD Air knee pads from POC out on the trail. The pads feature clean lines and a subdued look to go with its lightweight and quality feeling materials. The fabric is sturdy, yet stretchy, and feels substantial enough to give the pad its structure without hindering movement. Neoprene anti slip panels provide ample grip across the top and bottom of the pad to keep it firmly in place while an elastic band helps firmly anchor the top of the pad across the thigh. The VPD compound padding is indeed very malleable when warm, which should easily fit a large range of knee and leg shapes comfortably while remaining flexible while pedaling and moving around on the bike.

On The Trail

Many of us that ride trail with knee pads know that pads always seem to move around, offer too little protection or just get in the way and distract from the ride. The POC VPD Air has found a perfect balance of staying in place, comfort and protection. Compared to other knee pads I have tried, I found the sizing of the large pad (biggest size offered) to be a bit too small in the thigh initially, though the pads still proved to be comfortable. Even on the longest rides, the VPD Air pads stayed in place – just where I put them at the start of the ride. If you're wondering, no, the neoprene strips at the top and bottom inside of the pad does not typically pull leg hair.

While the pads are thin, they have good coverage of the sides of the knee in addition to the front and top of the kneecap. For those of us who need a bit of plastic courage to try that new line we have been eyeballing, POC built the pads to be substantial feeling enough to give you the confidence you need. The pad material is actually pretty thick, and the outer fabric seems sufficiently resistant to tearing or punctures. While I have not put the pads through a big crash, they have more than held up to small crashes, high speed slide-outs, shift levers, bushes and abuse of downhill days while remaining looking like new after a hit from the hose at a bike wash station and a few times through the washing machine. They are still very comfortable after several months of use, and the neoprene is still soft/grippy to the touch.

It should be noted that the packaging the pads come in talk a bit about the temperature limitations of the VPD padding material. The first time I tried on the pads the ambient temperature was in the low 40 degree Fahrenheit range and they felt stiff, though once they warmed up the pads felt supple and flexible. POC warns that usage of the pads in extreme cold could result in the VPD material becoming brittle and potentially breaking – though most of us will probably have the pads packed away for the winter when it is that cold.

Integrated Polygiene odor control technology means you can toss the pads in your trunk or riding bag at the end of the day and not worry about them developing that locker room smell we are all too aware of and try to avoid.

Things That Could Be Improved

Behind the knee, the pads are constructed with a soft yet solid panel of fabric that is two layers thick. While not overly hot, the double layer of fabric seemed to hold in some heat and make the pad feel a little bit clunkier than a lightweight pad should. Overall, I found the pads to be quite comfortable while pedaling, though the backing of the pad would occasionally bunch up behind my knee in certain situations. A reduction in the material in the back of the pad or some added venting would be a welcome improvement.

What’s The Bottom Line?

If you are in the market for a low profile, lightweight knee pad that stays in place, the POC Joint VPD Air Knee is the knee pad for you. They have proved perfect for both dirt jump and trail use, as well as a lightweight downhill pad if you can't afford a burlier pair. They truly are an outstanding product.

Visit for more details.

About The Reviewer

David Howell has been riding bikes for the last 12 years, with the majority of that being downhill and trail riding. He raced some downhill in Colorado, but now prefers dirt jumping, trail riding or downhilling with his friends. Working in shops for six years fueled his passion for riding all styles of bikes and has provided an in-depth knowledge of current parts and trends in the industry. His favorite trails are fast and have a good mixture of rough, rocky sections mixed with smoother flowy sections – natural jumps and berms just add to the fun. With a plow riding style and tipping the scales at 235-pounds, he puts the hurt on even the beefiest components.

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Added a comment about product review Tested: X-Fusion Metric HLR Fork 3/2/2014 6:53 PM

It should be fun anywhere you would ride your Scratch!

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This product_review has 13 comments.

Added a comment about product review Tested: X-Fusion Metric HLR Fork 3/1/2014 9:21 PM

Alon, I would feel comfortable riding this fork on any trail I would take my trail bike down (also about 160-170mm travel). It has been a very solid performer for me and I would expect it to perform great on whatever you can throw at it. The Metric is very similar to the X-Fusion RV1 downhill fork, so you could check out that review if you want another similar, but slightly different perspective.

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  • Vital MTB member Alon
    28735 Alon /images/default/avatar/c50.png,28735/all 12/06/13 15

This product_review has 13 comments.

Liked a comment on the item Tested: X-Fusion Metric HLR Fork 3/1/2014 9:18 PM

Hi David, if you could please help me with a few questions:
I have one bike which I use for all the riding I do (Trek Scratch, 170mm travel bike). most of the trails I ride are AM in nature, where you have to earn the descents, and some DH here and there. I prefer DH over AM but there...more

Added a product review for Canfield Brothers Crampon Ultimate Pedal 2/27/2014 8:41 AM

Simply Amazing Pedals


The Good: Super thin pedal body Aluminum construction with machined pedal body surface Threaded traction pins provide ample amounts of traction

The Bad: Pedal pins can fall out if not loc-tited or kept snug (replacement pins included though) Pedals develop a bit of side to side movement with heavy use


These pedals are great. I recently did a review on the Crampon Magnesium pedal, and while these are slightly heavier, they performed better for me. I really like the machining on the pedal body - it gives me the extra traction I just couldn't quite get on the magnesium pedals. The shape of the pedal body itself is amazing - it is flat enough that you don't feel like it is a convex pedal but still gives you a very thin leading pedal edge.

Overall, these pedals are my go-to favorites and get ridden more than any other pairs of flats I own. Definitely worth the money.

This product has 3 reviews

Added a product review for X-Fusion Metric HLR Fork 2/27/2014 8:30 AM

Tested: X-Fusion Metric HLR Fork


The Good:

The Bad:


Review by David Howell // Photos by Dave Trumpore

Until the last few years, parking lot suspension experts have been talking about how good their “dampening” is, how supple their mid-stroke is and how their suspension wallows when they pin it through the gnar faster than you. We have all heard it. Well, more recently the familiar brands like RockShox, FOX, Manitou and Marzocchi have started seeing competition from less familiar names like X-Fusion, SR Suntour and DVO. And having heard excellent things from my friends that were already on X-Fusion products, I jumped at the chance to nerd out over the newest offering in X-Fusion’s trail/enduro lineup – the Metric.

X-Fusion Metric HLR Highlights

  • Internally adjustable travel (160mm to 180mm)
  • Air sprung using Flux Piston
  • 36mm stanchions
  • 26 or 27.5-inch compatible
  • High and low-speed compression, rebound, and air spring adjustments
  • Tapered steerer
  • Bolt on 20mm axle
  • Neutra Valve pressure relief valves (air bleeder valves)
  • Carbon fork guards on lowers
  • Maximum rotor size of 203mm
  • Available in matte black and smoked chrome finishes
  • Advertised weight of 5-pounds (2,268 grams)
  • MSRP $1,000

Initial Impressions

Right out of the box I had to do the obligatory weight-weenie scale check to see if X-Fusion was trying to pad their advertised weight. My scale showed the fork coming in just over 100 grams UNDER advertised weight in ready-to-ride condition (including an uncut steer tube, axle, carbon lower guards and air bleeder valves). Continuing my examination of the fork, it was very obvious that X-Fusion has put time and money into the development of the Metric. The machining on the knobs and knob guards is very detailed and the finish immaculate. Adjustment knob guards on the bottom of the fork seem beefy enough to actually help protect the compression knobs from damage, should you be unlucky enough to smash them into something. All the adjustments are very smooth and the detents have a distinct click to them; firm enough to hold your adjustment where you set it, but not so firm as to be a nuisance.

After I got the steer tube cut and mounted up on my bike, I couldn’t help but notice how smoothly the crown blends with my frame – another example of X-Fusion’s attention to detail. Brake hoses or cables are held in place with a well thought out plastic clip and bolt instead of a zip tie. X-Fusion also includes a pack of colored stickers cut to go on the fork guards, a shock pump, owner’s manual and a packet of bleeder valves.

The carbon fork guards have a finish that may not suit everybody's style, but they look beefy and definitely give the fork a bit more of a bombproof feel. The guards cover the lower legs and feel strong enough to protect them from all but the most violent impacts. The Metric comes with an additional set of black, yellow, blue and red stickers to cover the raw carbon finish on the fork guards; however, they still feature the same design, which isn't necessarily appealing to everybody. The plus side about these fork guards is that they are held on by just four screws and could easily be taken off and painted or stickered up however you want.

X-Fusion included Motion Pro micro bleeders which thread into the Neutra Valve ports on the back of the fork (just under where the dust wipers seat). Installation was very easy and required nothing more than an allen wrench, a large flathead screwdriver and a few minutes – instructions are included with the bleeder valves. These valves allow the release of pressure that can build up in fork lowers to give the fork the most consistent feel possible, with just the push of a button. The pressure build up can be caused by an elevation change, temperature change or just air that works its way into the lowers over the course of regular riding between service intervals. With the Neutra Valve you don’t have to drop the lowers of your fork to relieve that pressure anymore, which will be especially convenient for those who ride at varying altitude.

On The Trail

The Metric is stiff enough to allow my 230-pounds to track straight through rocks and off camber sections, though a subtle amount of flex can still be felt in very rocky sections of trail. Somebody lighter may not feel any flex at all. During my first ride I ran the recommended air spring settings without high or low-speed compression. Jumping every water-bar way too far and deliberately plowing straight into every big rock and root I could find, I could never get the fork close to bottoming out. The ride was just too harsh. I brought the air spring pressure down about 30PSI under the recommended pressure setting for my weight and bumped my low and high speed compression settings up to compensate. These changes brought around a night and day difference – this fork eats up anything you put in its path.

Both low and high speed compression dampers have a massive range so turning the adjustment knobs on this fork actually yields noticeable results, which is not something I can say for just any suspension manufacturer. This means that most every rider should be able to find settings they are happy with, without having to shell out for a custom damper tune. Despite using a lot of low-speed compression to compensate for air spring pressure changes, the fork does tend to dive a bit when set up this way. Personally, I was able to overlook the slight fork dive because the Metric made up for it with very smooth travel initiation and predictability throughout the full travel range.

Straight out of the box, the Metric is buttery smooth and instantly feels comfortable. Travel initiation from full extension comes without that bit of stiction everybody is used to feeling at the top of their fork travel. This meant the front wheel stayed planted on the ground during steeper, rougher climbs when I was seated. After just one ride, the predictability of this fork had me feeling very comfortable and confident on it – descending and climbing.

While it may seem like a gimmick at first, the Neutra Valves with the Motion Pro bleeder valves installed actually do work as advertised. I’ve always felt the progression of my air spring change between rebuilds or when I change elevation. These bleeder valves are a very easy way of keeping the fork feeling consistent throughout the travel range, despite whatever other variables get thrown in the mix. You can press the relief valve button and actually hear the air pressure equalize between the fork lowers and atmosphere on the side of the trail without tools. That is cool.

While I haven’t been unlucky enough to give the fork guards their first major impact test yet, they have warded off minor impacts with ease and still look great. Comparing the scratched, scraped and dented areas of my used and abused Lyric to the Metric, the fork guards on the Metric cover enough area to prevent most of the damage you would expect to see a trail fork suffer.

Things That Could Be Improved

Some improvements could be made on the front axle. I am sure that the engineers at X-Fusion have their reasons for using a bolt on axle, but a tool-free design is much more welcome on a trail fork. Also, the axle threads in to one side of the fork leg but although there is only one pinch bolt, you still need two tools to remove the axle– a 5mm allen for the pinch bolt and a 6mm allen for the axle itself. While not a deal breaker, just changing the hardware to use the same size tool would be an improvement over the current design.

I’m splitting hairs here, but the only other feature that could be improved is the angle of the brake hose guide. While it's very functional, the angle of the guide doesn’t line up at all with the natural path your brake hose wants to run.

Long Term Durability

X-Fusion designed the Metric with long term durability in mind. Carbon guards protect the magnesium lowers from damage, and even if these guards break they would be cheaper and easier to replace than a full set of lowers. X-Fusion also provides a full range of videos on their website which include servicing the lowers and performing travel adjustments on the Metric, making it easy to keep the fork in good working order. With plenty of harsh miles on mine, the fork is still holding up great - I have yet to see any oil find its way out and no bushing wear is apparent.

What's The Bottom Line?

While X-Fusion may not be the first name people think of when geeking out over suspension, forks like the Metric will surly give them strong footing in the suspension marketplace. Overall, I have been very impressed with it. The Metric stands out with a wide range in adjustments, light weight, quality construction and attention to detail, all of which come together to make X-Fusion's latest a great fork.

Visit for more details.

About The Reviewer

David Howell has been riding bikes for the last 11 years, with the majority of that being downhill and trail riding. He raced some downhill in Colorado, but now prefers dirt jumping, trail riding or downhilling with his friends. Working in shops for six years fueled his passion for riding all styles of bikes and has provided an in-depth knowledge of current parts and trends in the industry. His favorite trails are fast and have a good mixture of rough, rocky sections mixed with smoother flowy sections – natural jumps and berms just add to the fun. With a plow riding style and tipping the scales at 230-pounds, he puts the hurt on even the beefiest components.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Canfield Brothers Crampon Magnesium Pedal 6/25/2013 12:01 PM

Tested: Canfield Brothers Crampon Magnesium Pedal


The Good:

The Bad:


by David Howell

Some say you only get one chance to make an initial impression. Well, Canfield Brothers nailed it with the Crampon Magnesium pedal. Sleek lines, a generously sized platform and super thin leading edges combine together to create one of the most attractive pedals I have had the chance to lay my eyes on. With the magnesium pedals coming in at around $200, they may not be cheap, but you get what you pay for.

Crampon Magnesium Pedal Highlights

  • 6-10mm Thick Magnesium Body
  • DU Bushings
  • Chromoly Axle
  • Replaceable Dual Sided 10mm Steel Traction Pins
  • Durable painted finish
  • Black, Gray, Blue, Red, White Colors
  • Weight: 9.9 oz (282 g)
  • 106mm Square Platform
  • Patented Convex Shape
  • MSRP $200

On The Trail

Simply saying that these pedals are thin doesn’t do them justice – you need to feel how thin they are to believe it. Traction pins with allen heads on both sides mean that just because you damage a pin, you can still easily unthread it from the pedal body from the opposite side. Each pedal is clearly marked with an “L” or “R” on the body, which makes installation incredibly easy, unless you don’t know right from left.

Canfield Brothers says that having a super-thin, 6mm thick leading edge leads to less pedal strikes and more efficient pedaling - and I have to agree with that statement. Riding with such a thin pedal makes pedaling up your favorite trail less of a chore because you can concentrate a bit more on spinning rather than just mashing climbs like the hulk.Experiencing a leading edge strike with these pedals is going to take some serious skill – if you ride with a soft rubber shoe, like Five Tens, your shoe will probably hit the ground before any metal ever does – they are that thin. Chamfered outside edges also give a bit of added insurance that your pedal won’t hang up if you clip it on an obstacle as well as give the pedals a sleeker, smoother, more thought out appearance. The generous platform size is massive for a pedal so light and is large enough to give riders with bigger feet plenty of real estate for a comfortable ride.

Things That Could Be Improved

The only thing about these pedals I’m not in love with is the convex profile over the spindle. At times it feels like you just can’t keep your foot planted in one spot due to the bulge at the spindle. Taking out the pin just in front of the spindle and adding a bit of grip tape may help a bit, but in some rougher sections my feet had a tendency to skip around the pedals more than on my other “new style” super thin DH pedals. Once I got some miles in I did notice a few millimeters of lateral play of the pedal body on the spindle, but after a few seconds with a wrench to snug things up a bit they were feeling great and smooth once again.

Long Term Durability

After plenty of rides and a couple crashes, these pedals seem like winners in the long term. The durable, painted finish still looks beautiful and has only come off in the spots I have clipped rocks or crashed on them, and the axles still spin straight and smooth despite taking some pretty large impacts.

What's The Bottom Line?

Although there may be some pedals out there that work slightly better for me, the Crampon Magnesium pedals are the perfect combination of form and function. The grip is good, the weight is good, and long term durability isn't much of a concern. Be prepared to get noticed with these pedals and spend some time answering questions about them – people will want to know where they can get a pair of their own.

Visit for more details.

About The Reviewer

David Howell has been riding bikes for the last 11 years, with the majority of that being downhill and trail riding. He raced some downhill in Colorado, but now prefers dirt jumping, trail riding or downhilling with his friends. Working in shops for six years fueled his passion for riding all styles of bikes and has provided an in-depth knowledge of current parts and trends in the industry. His favorite trails are fast and have a good mixture of rough, rocky sections mixed with smoother flowy sections – natural jumps and berms just add to the fun. With a plow riding style and tipping the scales at 235-pounds, he puts the hurt on even the beefiest components.

This product has 3 reviews

Added reply in a thread All-Mountain Tires? 12/6/2010 9:43 AM

Specialized clutch on my trail bike, you can get it in three casing options depending on how hard you want to blast. Little bit slower rolling than a larsen TT or anything, but not enough to make too big of a difference since your descent will be that ... more »

Added reply in a thread MT BMX Bike 11/8/2010 5:02 PM

suspension/rigid fork preference is up to you. 25-9 ratio will be pretty damn hard to pedal.... totally different than your bmx ratio with the different wheel sizes

Added reply in a thread MT BMX Bike 11/8/2010 2:00 PM

DMR used to (still might) make a frame with 14mm dropouts, but the spacing on a bmx rear hub is 110mm which is too narrow for a MTB frame anyways (135mm). a new BB for your cranks should only be about $40 at the most, but you may also need a longer spindle. ... more »

Added a comment about press release 2011 Nevada State DH Championships at Bootleg Canyon 11/8/2010 1:50 PM

I agree with TRex... championships early OR BRING THEM BACK TO SOL VISTA. Official unofficial champs need to happen. We don't need the USAC to have a solid race with "rules" and the extra junk they like to bring along with their bad attitudes.

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This press release has 8 comments.

Added reply in a thread Fender bender freakout 10/7/2010 5:07 PM

that kind of ridiculous reaction by that lady could ONLY happen at winter park....

Added a comment about video The Art of "Hucking" 4/30/2010 1:23 PM

I cant believe I just watched ten minutes of hucks to flat.... wow. Definitely brought me back to the good ol days though. The CU scenes were pretty cool to see.

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This video has 17 comments.

Added reply in a thread Online Store For DJ's? 4/28/2010 11:03 PM

Yeah. There is. It is called your local bike shop. They have this great feature... you go in and ask for a part and actually talk to people!!! It sounds crazy, I know, but you should try it. They can get almost any part you want, and the best thing is, ... more »

Added reply in a thread Best Place to Get a season pass 4/26/2010 8:58 PM

It is true that keystone has generally shitty maintenance, but you bought a downhill bike to ride rough trails, not the bike path, right?? Sol Vista maintenance is on an ad needed basis, but mainly pertains to safety issues (super sketchy boulders after ... more »

Added reply in a thread Best Place to Get a season pass 4/25/2010 7:44 PM

If you like wooden berms, definitely Keystone.... so many epic wooden berms everywhere!!! You can get in there and just go beefy on wooden berms all day long. Also they have a lot of good beginner terrain, so probably there.

Added reply in a thread Wooden Berm 4/25/2010 6:56 PM

Yeah, I know how. Here is how to build it and ride it, step by step. (You can print this out and refer to it as you go) So you want to go to that store that sells wood. Buy some. Take it home. Put it near where you want to build said wooden berm. Dig ... more »

Added reply in a thread Full Face Helmets 4/20/2010 2:43 PM

Me.... This year's graphics are overdone and disgusting IMO

Added reply in a thread Photo of the month? 4/17/2010 8:03 PM

Agreed. Sick idea!

Added reply in a thread Lowering Argyle 409 Options 4/17/2010 7:44 PM

Why wouldn't you just get some actual spacers? They are probably cheaper than a length of PVC anyways. Just ask your boss if you can take some out of an owner's manual from a new build to get them for free.

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