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Dainese Hybrid Knee Guard (discontinued)

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
Dainese Hybrid Knee Guard
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Tested: Dainese Hybrid Knee Guards

Rating: Vital Review

by Justin Schroth

The name Dainese brings with it a reputation of creating well-designed and innovative protection for riders. Today we're taking a closer look at another recent addition to their revamped mountain bike line, the Hybrid Knee. Hoping to find that happy medium between downhill-ready armor and light-weight ‘sleeve’ style knee pads, the new pads claim to offer the protection of a hard shell with the comfort of a soft protector.


Hybrid Knee Guard Highlights

  • Rigid knee cap and shin plate in thermoformed shock absorbent Polystyrene
  • Low-profile, flexible Pro-Shape honeycomb structure
  • Anti-abrasive coating
  • Memory Retention Foam
  • Breathable 4-Way Stretch run-resistant fabric
  • Elastic openings with silicone inner lining
  • MSRP $99 USD


Initial Impressions

It seems that Dainese is looking to design the Holy Grail of knee pads by blending hard shell coverage with the flexibility and comfort of their “Pro-Shape” soft padding on the sides. Their proprietary material is a very firm ‘memory foam’ material that, although most likely won’t prevent injury from sharp/pointy impacts, can provide ample protection for most broad impacts and still allows the material to conform to the contours of the body.


The hard shell is coated with an anti-abrasive layer, leaving them with a super slick feeling, which could help keep the pads from hanging up on rocks/dirt/etc during a crash. Tight mesh covers the front of the pads with a more open mesh at the back of the pads. Securing the pads in place is done with top and bottom straps with silicone lining, along with a cross strap over the calf.


On The Trail

Getting the pads on and off took a little bit more effort than some of the other lower-profile knee pads we've tried, and as a result are not likely a great option if you plan to put them on/off throughout the duration of a ride. Although the Pro-Shape soft padding aids in the overall flexibility of the pads, they still were not as flexible as we had anticipated right out of the box, causing the top strap to lift/pull when in a seated pedaling position for gravity runs. After a few more rides they seemed to break in bit, and this strap issue wasn’t as noticeable.

Once strapped on, the stretch fabric, cross strap on the calf, and silicone inner-lining were beneficial in keeping the pads in place with only a bit of shifting/movement after extended pedaling sections. Minimal adjustments were necessary but nothing where protection was compromised.

When it comes to overall protection, the extra shin coverage and the side padding on both in the inner and outer knee area make these a great option for gravity riders, but most likely overkill for the all-mountain excursion. Sizing was spot-on with the measurements Dainese provides online, which makes ordering the proper size a breeze.


Long Term Durability

As with other Dainese products we’ve tested, the craftsmanship is some of the best. Quality materials along with rugged stitching and seams are no stranger to the Dainese line. No big crashes in these (thankfully?), but after a few months of continuous use they’ve held up well to daily rigors, and with a quick toss in the washing machine after some muddy runs they are just like new again.

Things That Could Be Improved

As with most protective gear, having something that is very comfortable while on the bike for the whole day is a big plus. The tight mesh increases durability, but is a trade-off as airflow through the pads was minimal, even with the honeycomb Pro-Shape padding. On a hot summer day our legs were quickly warm and sweaty after a few laps. Although the hard shell protection is two pieces, flexibility between the two sections could be improved for more out-of-the-box comfort.


What's The Bottom Line?

Dainese is consistent with their quality and craftsmanship once again. Although not the Holy Grail of knee pads, their offering still provides a level of protection a step above a simple, soft-protection pad while still maintaining a level of comfort that makes them enjoyable throughout the day. Although not ideal for warmer days, this is a trade-off most riders would accept for quality protection. Compared to other offerings on the market, the price point is in-line with similar options and offers the same (if not more) protection.

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About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all-mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot-out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast NORBA and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.


Product Dainese Hybrid Knee Guard
Riding Type Trail, Freeride / Bike Park, Dirt Jump / Slopestyle
Pad Type Soft Shell
Material Rigid knee cap and shin plate in thermoformed shock absorbent Polystyrene // Low-profile, flexible Pro-Shape honeycomb structure
Knee/Shin Coverage Knee/Shin Pads
Size S, M, L, XL
Color Black
Miscellaneous Anti-abrasive coating // Memory Retention Foam // Breathable 4 Way Stretch run-resistant fabric // Elastic openings with silicone inner lining
Price $99
More Info

Dainese website

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