by Ian Collins
After three massive (bones visible) holes in the same square inch of my right knee over the last decade, I became a bit wary of most of the run-of-the-mill kneepads I've tried. Last year I saw some pictures of the Scott Grenade Pro II Knee Gaurds and they looked promising. Nothing way out of the ordinary, but a few refinements, techy features and a moderately higher price tag of $139.95 gave it a greater luster than most of the pedestrian offerings. Over the winter I got to check them out in person while trying to keep Brendog in sight during some shuttles in SoCal. I asked him about them and he claimed they're the best he's ever worn... He even claimed they don't slip on his pasty chicken legs while maching through the woods. After an endorsement like that I had to see what all the fuss was about.
Grenade Pro II Knee Guard Highlights
- Features D3O material
- PU molded anti abrasion front panel
- Perforated neoprene construction
- Ergonomic positioned straps
- Localized side padding
- Meets Level 1 according to the new EN 1621-1 standard
- Sizes Small, Medium, and Large
- MSRP $139.95
As I anxiously pulled these out of the retail packaging I was initially surprised at how light and soft they were. The inside was buttery and they felt light and airy. They were also a little more trim than your average full-on DH knee pad, which is mostly attributed to their use of D3O in lieu of a heavy plastic cup. D3O is a high tech material that is soft and flexible most of the time, but hardens on impact to spread out the blow.
When I first put them on, I struggled ever so slightly and was worried they'd be too tight, then I realized they are just cut very trim and pre-articulated. Once the pads are on they are so secure that I could honestly cut the straps off and run them that way - I simply attach the velcro with no tension at all. They felt like they were custom made for me. Everything in its right place.
You certainly get what you pay for, and Scott used nothing but top notch materials here. Right away another key point I noticed was the placement and layout of the padding. Since the D3O is a soft, moldable material, Scott was able to extend the main pad that protects the knee cap and also cover that exposed, sensitive bone just below it as well. Most pads utilize a hard plastic cup that stops under the knee cap, but don't really protect this bone. Additionally, the protection on the sides is far more logically placed as they thoroughly cover the bonier parts of the knee. This was refreshing compared to other offerings that left me scratching my head and wondering why padding was in particular places, but not in others.
On The Trail
My first day breaking these in was spent knocking out some downhill runs at Big Bear, California. While they offer substantial coverage, they aren't bulky. The Grenades fit better under DH pants better than anything I've ridden to date. It wasn't until the end of the day I realized that I never once had to re adjust them or pull them up. This is something I haven't experienced before. I'm that neurotic person who freaks out when everything isn't in it's right place. I attribute this to one subtle but important feature: the lower strap is cut low in the front but angles way up high where it anchors on the back of the knee. Whether I wore pants or shorts these bad boys just didn't budge while riding. At all.
Crashes aren't something you hope for when testing products, but I guess it's part of the game. I didn't have any massive get offs since these pads have found their way into my hands, but I did have a few awkward slip ups and some high speed slide outs. Everything checks out - they kept me safe and didn't slide down on impact. Though it's hard to gauge, they certainly felt softer on impact than the traditional offerings I've used before.
I initially planned to review these as a DH specific pad, but I've been wearing them constantly on both the DH and the trail bike with great results. They articulate nicely and breathe pretty well. Although I didn't feel any airflow, I really don't want to. I liked that the back mesh patch seals things up while leaving some room for ventilation, unlike pads with big gaping holes where your knee bends. Despite the lack of openings they stay pretty cool, and the material wicks and absorbs moisture better than anything else I've used. They also dry out REALLY fast.As an added benefit, when I did go down no debris got inside of them.
Things That Could Be Improved
It's tough to find fault in these aside from the relatively price tag. Digging deep, I guess I could mention that they're a bit tough to get on and off, but there's duality in that. It's the snug, ergonomic fit that prevents them from slipping, but it doesn't inhibit movement, make them hot, or restrict blood flow.
Also, I initially thought the rubberized outer bit seemed unnecessary and may grab at shorts/pants, but I was wrong, it didn't affect performance and I presume it's there for durability's sake. I didn't crash directly onto any deadly fixed rocks (knock on wood, but it's only a matter of time), but I could see the rubber part grabbing more than sliding on impact. This could, in theory, make them move.
Long Term Durability
Speaking of the long haul, they're doing well so far, and don't seem like they will fall apart any time soon. The D3O bits are removable via a small slit inside the pad so they don't take on water while being washed. This part is important as they probably won't dry as quickly and could get mold or mildew inside of them. I would just be sure to take them out before chucking them in the laundry.
No threads are unravelling and no materials are deteriorating, so I think this is a product that most riders could get a couple of years out of.
What's The Bottom Line?
If you're in the market for a full on DH knee pad, the Scott Grenade Pro II is a cut above the norm and you'll be stoked on how low profile they are. If you're in the market for a trail pad it will be a bit more heavy duty than some of the skimpy offerings, but it won't feel like it's overkill. This is far and away the best set of kneepads I've ever worn. The price tag could cause a bit of grumbling, but to me, aside from a helmet and a neck brace, kneepads are the most important form of protection when riding rugged terrain. These babies are cheaper than surgery and stitches, and they serve double duty for both DH and trail. I find no flaws in their fit or design, so in my book they fully deserve a 5-star rating, even with the relatively high price tag.
For more details, cruise over to www.scott-sports.com.
About The Reviewer
Ian Collins grew up racing mountain bikes on the East Coast before moving to California in search of the never ending riding season. Although he's generally a fan of slick and steep riding conditions, Ian has gotten acclimated out west and loves its speed. Also an avid surfer, what's most important to him in a trail is flow. Known for being meticulous and borderline obsessive about bike setup, he aids in product development for local frame builder Turner Bikes when he's not out on a photo mission.