Fly Racing Cypher Knee Pad

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
Views:
Cypher Side
C70_s1600_cypher_3qtr C70_s1600_cypher_front
Create New Tag

Compare to other Knee/Shin Pads

Need more info? View our MTB Knee/Shin Pads buyer's guides.

Tested: Fly Racing Cypher and Prizm Kneepads

Comfortable and secure heavy-duty knee protectors for those who also like to earn their turns.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Fly Racing Cypher and Prizm Kneepads

Equipped with unique memory foam technology, Fly’s Prizm kneepad has been available for a few years already. We originally tested it with good results back in 2015, but since then, a more conventional and more affordable heavy-duty kneepad has joined the Fly lineup, so we thought it was time to go back and revisit what the brand from Idaho has to offer in terms of protection (we also included their Lite Knee in our pedal-friendly kneepad Roundup if you are looking for something even more unobtrusive, and you can find other heavy-duty options HERE).

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Stable fit
  • Good levels of protection
  • Adjustable
  • Open back design promotes breathability
  • Rear cut-out can feel tight
  • Prizm material is a bit stiff
  • Prizm pads lack protection above the knee area

Fly Racing Cypher

Equipped with unique memory foam technology, Fly’s Prizm kneepad has been available for a few years already. We originally tested it with good results back in 2015, but since then, a more conventional and more affordable heavy-duty kneepad has joined the Fly lineup, so we thought it was time to go back and revisit what the brand from Idaho has to offer in terms of protection (we also included their Lite Knee in our pedal-friendly kneepad Roundup if you are looking for something even more unobtrusive, and you can find other heavy-duty options HERE).

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Stable fit
  • Good levels of protection
  • Adjustable
  • Open back design promotes breathability
  • Rear cut-out can feel tight
  • Prizm material is a bit stiff
  • Prizm pads lack protection above the knee area

Fly Racing Cypher Highlights

Fly Racing Prizm Highlights

  • HDM (High Density Memory) protectors are made of a special blend viscoelastic foam with memory function allowing for repeat impacts
  • Impact tested and approved to CE EN1621-1:2012
  • Aramid fabric front panel
  • Four-way stretch mesh panels at the rear
  • Open back design
  • Added foam protection at the sides and top of the knee
  • Strategically placed straps at the upper calf muscle and at the thigh help to prevent the pad from slipping down during use.
  • Internal silicon gripper bands at the upper and lower opening
  • Weight: 434 grams (pair, size L, verified)
  • MSRP: $59.95 USD
  • RPF = Reaktiv Prizm Foam. High density memory foam that has been sliced with a prismatic pattern to allow the pad to mould to the shape of the user. The foam is also body temperature sensitive meaning it becomes more supple when you put the pad on increasing comfort when pedaling
  • Kevlar front panels
  • Side knee protection
  • Moisture wicking, antibacterial lycra pad liner
  • 'Floating' neoprene patella cup with silicon printing to centralise the pad and prevent it from slipping down
  • Strategically placed elastic banding with silicon printing to help prevent the pad from slipping down
  • Open back design
  • Asymmetric design for improved fit and function
  • Extensive use of flatlock stitching for increased strength, durability and comfort
  • Upper calf lacing system
  • Weight: 478 grams (pair, size L, verified)
  • MSRP: $84.95 USD

Initial Impressions

The Cypher is a classic knee guard, similar in design to many of the products we tested in our heavy-duty kneepad Roundup feature earlier this year. It is based around a visco-elastic kneecap protector housed in a soft chassis made from neoprene and stretch fabric panels. The front panel is Aramid reinforced for better resistance to wear and tear, and there are additional elastic straps both above the knee and at the top of the calf to help create a more secure fit.

The back of the Cypher is open, which Fly says helps with comfort and breathability. The inside of the main chassis is soft to the touch, while internal silicone grip strips can be found both at the top and bottom hems. A set of auxiliary pads around the main kneecap protector are there to ward of impacts to the side and the top of the knee. The protector is well put together with high levels of quality and craftsmanship on display.

The Prizm is a very different type of knee protector, although the intended use case is the same: pedal to the top and shred back down. The main protective element of the Prizm is made from Fly’s own “Reaktiv Prizm Foam”, another take on the classic “soft-yet-hard-on-impact” material. This material is a high-density memory foam which is quite stiff to the touch, but which softens up when in use to conform to the body’s shape. Is it also sensitive to heat, so it will warm up after you wear it for a while. To help secure the Prizm in place, there is an internal “patella cup” with extra silicone material to help grip your kneecap.

The main chassis of the Prizm is made from elastic fabric panels, reinforced with integrated elastic strips and silicone grippers around the back of the calf. The front panel is reinforced with Kevlar. There are also three large silicone strips around the inside of the top hem, and an adjustable elastic band with a closure that can be operated with one hand at the top of the calf for extra security. To avoid excess elastic flapping around in this area, there is a handy little elastic pouch to tuck it into once you’re done cinching it up as needed. The Prizm guard features auxiliary foam pads to the sides of the knee for extra protection, but nothing above the main kneepad. On the flipside, it does extend about an extra inch down the shin compared to many others, which could be a bonus for some riders.

On The Trail

The fit of the Cypher is snug, but true to size. The inside is very soft and comfortable, and this protector provides a good feeling of security thanks to the way it wraps around your knee. The auxiliary pads are well placed, and the straps are functional. We particularly like the inclusion of a strap at the top of the calf, as in our experience this aspect is crucial to a pad’s stability in use.

The Cypher’s main protective element is soft to the touch and easily conforms to the shape of the body, which makes it comfortable to move around in. Thanks to the straps and a good cut all around, the pad is very stable in use – we never really had to adjust it while riding, and it stayed in place during a couple of little tumbles too. The visco-elastic material works as advertised, stiffening up on impact to dissipate the energy away from your body. The open back design helps the Cypher breath relatively well, even though the front part can get a bit stuffy (no better nor worse than many competitors in this aspect).

The Prizm offers a different experience when you first pull it on. The “Reaktiv Prizm Foam” is quite stiff to the touch, and it makes itself known initially. Over time, it will take on your body’s shape to a degree, but it still remains a bit clunky when you pull it on for each ride. We were expecting this to be a problem at some point, but the fact is that the Prizm pads are really quite comfortable once you get going. The overall fit is on the snug side of the true size.

The Prizm lacks any kind of adjustable straps at the top hem, but the three large silicone grip strips found here do a good job of holding the protector in place. More importantly, the snug fit and the extra adjustable elastic strap around the top of the calf really contribute to making sure the pad won’t move around unduly. The hard Prizm material is a bit less comfortable to crash on, but it does seem to do a good job of absorbing the impacts. The Prizm also runs pretty cool, because the main chassis material is less thick than the neoprene found on many other pads in this category.

Things That Could Be Improved

The overall cut of both the Cypher and Prizm protectors is on the tight side. This is not a problem, except in one particular area: the cut out around the back of the knee. It works well to provide extra breathability, but the stitching used to seal off the fabric around the hole is a bit less elastic than the rest, which means you can feel it chafe a bit after a while. This may well be a general sizing issue with this tester being on the upper limit for the size tested, but it’s worth noting if this is something you’ve experienced with other pads (this particular aspect of the design is shared with many other offerings featuring a cut out around the back of the leg).

The Prizm lacks a dedicated auxiliary pad around the top of the knee.

The silicone grip strips around the inside of the top hem are almost too grippy, which can make pulling the pads on and/or adjusting them a bit painful. Retention is good, but in our experience, you can get away with less grip in this area if the fit around the back of the calf is good (and in this case it is exemplary).

Long Term Durability

We’ve had previous experience with the Prizm pad, and we’ve not had any durability issues with it whatsoever, over many long rides and lots of trail time. Based on a few months of testing the Cypher, we don’t have any reason to believe it will fare less well. Both these pads are up for the abuse, and the general level of quality and workmanship are good.

What’s The Bottom Line?

There are a lot of options available when it comes to knee protection these days. Both the Cypher and the Prizm can pull duty for anything from park riding to longer trail rides, such is the level of comfort and protection on offer. The Prizm uses a very unique material which has a few quirks but nevertheless delivers a good experience on the trail, while the Cypher leverages a more classic design which ticks all the boxes when it comes to fit and function. Make sure you try before you buy as the fit is snug and can lead to a little bit of tightness around the back of the knee if you get it wrong.

More information at: www.flyracing.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 45 // Years Riding MTB: 13 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Fly Racing Cypher Knee Pad
Riding Type Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Downhill, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Pad Type Soft Shell
Material HDM (High Density Memory) protectors made of a special blend viscoelastic foam with memory function
Knee/Shin Coverage Knee Only
Size S, M, L, XL
Color Black
Miscellaneous
  • Fly Racing’s HDM (High Density Memory) protectors are made of a special blend viscoelastic foam with memory function allowing for repeat impacts

  • Impact tested and approved to CE EN1621-1:2012 to ensure a high level of protection

  • Soft and lightweight to ensure they stay comfortable even on long days pedaling in the saddle

  • Aramid fabric front panel to ensure durability and abrasion resistance

  • Four-way stretch mesh panels at the rear help in giving a great fit and allowing hot air to escape keeping the pad feeling cooler

  • Open back design means you don’t get any fabric bunching up at the back of the knee when pedalling and is also great for breathability

  • Added foam protection at the sides and top of the knee give extra coverage

  • Strategically placed straps at the upper calf muscle and at the thigh help to prevent the pad from slipping down during use. We chose to use centred straps so that when they are pulled tight they provide even tension

  • Internal silicon gripper bands are used at the upper and lower opening of the pads to also try and stop the pads slipping down during use
  • Price $59.95
    More Info

    www.flyracing.com

    More Products