by Lee Trumpore
Downhill, freeride, dirt jumping, enduro, cross-country, park... you name it, iXS has a knee pad to fit your needs. With athletes like Darren Berrecloth, Hans Rey, and Kurt Sorge helping to design and test new models, you know these pads are meant to take some serious abuse.
Dagger Knee Guard Highlights
- Designed in collaboration with Darren Berrecloth
- Hard plastic, double injected external knee cup
- Extended shin padding for added protection from pedal strikes and rocks, plus additional thigh padding
- Squeezebox joint between knee and shin to provides protection while maintaining flexibility and mobility
- NockOut shock absorbent padding around knee and extended on upper leg
- AeroMesh antibacterial, moisture wicking material used throughout
- Soft silicon strips and Velcro closures keep everything in place while riding and crashing
- Tear resistant nylon layers
- EN1621-1 certified
- Weight: 360 grams per pair
- MSRP $80
The Dagger was designed by iXS at the request of their freeride and gravity riders. The riders wanted more protection than offered by traditional knee pads, but without the added bulk of a full knee/shin combination. The result is a pad that borrows technology and inspiration from both designs to provide additional kneecap and lower leg protection from rocks and pedal strikes while maintaining a minimalist fit and feel.
A hard plastic cup on the outside of the Dagger assures your kneecap is safe from even the sharpest rocks, while substantial padding around and above knee provides protection from indirect and secondary impacts as well. After initial testing an additional joint called the Squezebox was added between the knee and shin to eliminate any gap in protection while maintaining flexibility. Internally, the Dagger has a relief in the soft padding around the kneecap which adds stability to the fit as well as making the pad more comfortable while pedaling. They come in specific left and right models and are slightly pre-bent to better match the contour of your leg while riding and pedaling.
To be honest, my very first impression after trying the Daggers was that I was going to be in for a very long day. Maybe it was the shock of brand new material compared to my usual well-worn and broken-in pads. Or perhaps it was the way the pre-curved pads fit while standing with straight legs, either way I was initially skeptical. However, any concerns I had quickly disappeared as soon as I headed out of my garage.
The pre-curved shape and the internal knee cup result in a knee pad that is incredibly comfortable to pedal, almost to the point where I couldn’t tell they were there. My favorite feature by far was the relieved area around the point of my kneecap. Unlike many other pads that increase pressure as you bend your knee, the Dagger design maintains several millimeters of separation throughout the pedal stroke. I spent the first day flat out starting with some cross-country followed by shuttle runs, all while shooting photos for another assignment. It was a full 10 sweaty hours before I took the pads off or even pulled them down. Despite being brand new there were no raw spots and no chaffing after wearing them for what for many would be a week’s worth of riding time.
As much as I tried to avoid it, I did manage to use the pads for their intended purpose on several occasions. This included accidentally walking into a two foot deep gutter and smashing my knee directly on the 90-degree concrete corner. Dagger 1, concrete 0. In the next few months I continued to be impressed by the protection the pads offered, but over time a few possible issues with the fit became more apparent.
Things That Could Be Improved
Keep in mind that while knees, calves, and quads come in dozens of possible sizes and configurations, knee pads unfortunately only come in three or four sizes. So while you can buy the same pair of medium Daggers I tested, you’ll likely be putting them on a very different pair of legs.
While not apparent on the first ride, I later experienced some rubbing on the lower inner seam. The culprit seems for be the stitching in that area which is noticeably less supple than I would expect, and a bit odd given that none of my other iXS pads have the same problem due to their much smoother construction in the same spot.
It could just be my legs, but perhaps borrowing some construction techniques from other pads in their line might be a good idea. As much as I loved the pre-curved shape of the pads for actual riding, they are not as comfortable while standing upright in a lift line or on extended hike-a-bike sections. The shape also makes it more difficult to pull the pads down around the ankles to help cool things off while riding the lift or pedaling between sections. Hopefully with the growing enduro trend someone will design a fully functional knee pad like the Dagger that can be taken on and off without requiring the removal of your shoes.
Long Term Durability
After two months or regular riding, crashing, and numerous photo sessions spent crawling around the jungle on my knees these pads show no signs of premature wear. There is no loose stitching or visible damage to the plastic and the Velcro is still as new. They’ve been put through the laundry with no ill effects and have remained odor free in between washings despite Taipei’s balmy, bacteria friendly climate.
What's The Bottom Line?
With the Dagger Knee Guards, iXS has created a unique knee/shin pad combo that is extremely comfortable to wear while pedaling, but without sacrificing much in terms of protection. For the flat pedal rider, or anyone whose trails tend to spit up loose rocks off the front wheel, the extra shin padding is much appreciated. While obviously not as protective as a full knee/shin combo, the Dagger is far less restrictive, lighter, and more portable.
Minor issues with some of the seams aside, these pads are a real winner and it’s easy to see why they’re already a favorite among guys like Darren Berrecloth and Kurt Sorge. For some riders these pads are likely to tick all the boxes. Others may might want to consider a slightly different option from iXS’s extensive range.
Visit www.ixs-sportsdivision.com for more info.
About The Reviewer
Lee Trumpore has been riding bikes for more than 20 years on just about every material and technology the bike industry has come up with. In more than a decade of professional DH racing, Lee won a Collegiate National Championship and was a mainstay at major North American races as well as occasionally snagging a last page result in the World Cup series. Testing prototype components and suspension setups was common during his racing days. He has a smooth, light style on the bike even while holding it wide open. An East Coast native, his favorite trails are fast and flowing technical descents with as many corners as possible and just enough moisture to keep things interesting. Nowadays, rather than racing the clock, he'd rather enjoy a rad descent after a hard pedal to the top. A closet nerd with a Master's degree in education policy Lee currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan where he splits his time teaching mathematics to the next generation of computer geniuses and behind the lens as a photo mercenary for VitalMTB and other industry clients.