by Monica McCosh
With the Khyber kneepads, a relative of the already successful Khyber clothing kit, Race Face is the only company we know of to offer pad protection specifically for women. First introduced in 2014, Monica McCosh recently tested the only sample of the 2015 Khyber kneepad prototype. Read on to see how it treated her and vice versa.
Khyber Knee Guard Highlights
- Open-back construction
- Women's specific fit
- Perforated Neoprene
- Terry lined
- Foam padded side walls
- Integrated stabilization pad
- Branded rubber grab tab closures
- MSRP $69.99
I felt privileged to receive an exclusive sample of the 2015 Khyber knee prototype that currently no one else in the world has. The main difference between 2014 and the 2015 sample is the front panel design: Race Face swapped the blue printed RF repeating logo design for a sleeker, textured “elephant skin” feeling panel that is black on black. Apparently, black is the new black.
Aesthetics aside, I was beyond excited about the fact that I would not have to take off my shoes to armor up or strip down thanks to the open-back construction and Velcro-headed elastic bands that wrap around the pad for attachment. The Khyber guard is soft, lightweight, and stretchy to create a snug fitting pad that is comfortable to wear. The terry-lined innards mean no chafing, itching, or scratching and the foam padded side walls provide robust knee protection while flying along the trails. Again, Race Face designed a piece with attention to detail: branded rubber grab tab closures, and Left and Right labels inside, to remind us of our special kid status when we needed to print the L&R on our sneakers.
First fit was a little like trying on a bathing suit. The pieces were snug and held everything (knees) in place – no sliding around or popping out of their designated space. I consider myself a size medium in most apparel being 5’5” and 130 (athletic) pounds. So I felt like I was in the swimwear fitting room when I realized that my size small Khyber shorts fit perfectly (bikini top, for analogy), but my size medium kneepads were too tight (pedal booty bikini bottom, for analogy). The embarrassing result was that the gap in the pad at the back of my kneepad resembled a pudgy cleavage of knee flesh. Granted, my legs are muscular and athletic, not svelte and Yoga-toned as other ladies’ legs, so I’m open to it being down to poor size selection on my part.
On The Trail
On the trail, the going got good. The perforated Neoprene fabric wicked wonders in the hot sun ripping laps at Alyeska Bike Park in Alaska – and yes, Alaskan summers get hot. I also was very pleased that there was no uncomfortable chafing after a few hours of wearing them; that Terry really lines the pad so luxuriously. After taking a few tumbles on an exposed shale-laden ridge line, my knees were thankful for the sidewall protection – especially after bashing the side of my knee on my top tube during ejection. While the bands were a little tight on my legs, they did ensure that the kneepad didn’t slide around on impact. Lastly, one of unsung features of this kneepad is that, with the exception of the hard shell center, the kneepad is primarily cloth that can easily be thrown into the wash after a hardy dirt brunch and I don’t find the material absorbs much in terms of sweaty odors, so I get to rock fresh clean kneepads each ride.
Things That Could Be Improved
Honestly, the only thing to improve is the sizing, or to make the straps longer for thunder thighs. Sizing is one of those finicky things for women: we don’t want to admit we have to “size up” in clothes. I’m a size small in the Khyber shorts (okay, I could rock a medium, too), and a size large (?!?) in the Khyber knee pads? That’s like walking into Victoria’s Secret looking for a XL thong to match an AA cup bra... The good news is Race Face is already investigating the sizing; however, I’m still open to it being an “it’s not them, it’s me” scenario.
Long Term Durability
Excellent. No tears, no loose stitching, no shifting pads, etc. So far the Velcro has not unraveled from washing, but in my experience the soft side of Velcro can in general be prone to wearing away after heavy use and laundry – something I will continue to implement, regardless.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Meticulously designed. Incredibly durable materials. Most comfortable kneepad I have ever worn. And I might need a size large, damn it.
For more information, head on over to www.raceface.com.
About The Reviewer
Monica McCosh has been riding bikes in British Columbia for over 5 years through the dusty desert interior, the gnarly roots of the North Shore, and the flow and jump lines of Whistler Bike Park. Not quite a competitive racer, but most definitely a freeride enthusiast, Monica attends various bike events and organizes her own guided women’s excursions throughout BC. A Marketing professional in the mountain bike industry from Ryders Eyewear to Easton Cycling, Monica lives, works and breathes mountain biking. She is a grassroots rider for Banshee Bikes, Royal Racing, Kali Protectives and DirtyJane.com.