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Knee/Shin Pads

How to choose mountain bike knee/shin pads: As many of us learned early on, mountain biking is a recipe for skinned knees and scrapped shins. It is possible to pick a mountain biker out of a crowd simply from the scars of past bicycle mishaps. Thanks to modern knee and shin protection, those scars may be a thing of the past. There are a wide variety of styles and types available to satisfy all types of riders: from hard plastic knee/shin pads designed for hardcore freeriders, to thin foam knee pads for the cross-country enthusiast. No matter the type of riding, there is surely a set of pads out there to keep you safe.

Knee Shin Pads


Lower leg pads are available in two types: knee pads and knee/shin pads. Knee only pads provide the best protection against big impacts to the knee joint, provide great freedom of movement and seldom move around. Riders seeking ultimate protection against big impacts or great comfort while pedaling may want to look into knee only pads. Knee/shin designs protect a much larger portion of the leg from both crashes and errant pedals. They usually have a hard plastic shell combined with some foam for comfort.


Most pad manufacturers make small, medium and large pads. The sizing difference is based on the circumference of a rider's leg. Most companies have a sizing chart to help choose the right size, however, as not all bodies are shaped the same, trying the pads on in person is the best way to ensure proper fit.


Knee and shin pads use a combination of neoprene, plastic, different types of foam and velcro straps to help keep legs safe.

Things To Look For

The first thing to think about when shopping for a set of pads is whether you want to protect just the knee, or the knee and shin. Once that is done, the level of protection you want is the next thing to look into. Pads range in protection from thin foam, to thicker foams, to special materials that harden on impact, to the tried and tested hard plastic design. Trail riders and light duty freeriders may want something with less bulk, like a foam or hardening compound pad whereas downhillers tend to wear either a hard plastic or downhill specific model equipped with special impact resistant padding. Be sure to consider the strapping mechanism and locations before purchasing, as the straps will likely run your leg while riding.

How Much To Spend

Knee/shin pads range in price from $25 to $150.

In the $25-$65 range, pads are available in both knee only and knee/shin designs. They use either hard plastic or foam to absorb impacts and come in all sizes.

Moving up to the $65-$100 range, many different styles of pad become available from slide-on pads with neoprene sleeves to heavy-duty plastic knee/shin protectors. The extra money spent allows for much greater selection, which is essential to finding the right pad for you.

Finally, the $100-$150 range combines all of the available types and styles of leg protection, but adds the option of foam that hardens. This technology allows pads to be thin and comfortable, but still provide great protection from big impacts.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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