In order to really put the POC Joint VPD 2.0 Knee Guards through their paces we handed them over to Karl Ebel of SA Alpine Addiction. Karl raced around Tokai in them and then took them with on a free-ride trip in the French Alps. Here’s how they held up…
Throughout my bicycling career I have always chosen disciplines in which knee protection is an absolutely unquestionable requirement. On the one occasion that I didn’t adhere to this I snapped my kneecap – it was not a good experience. I have tried all styles, materials and brands of knee and knee/shin protection in my time –some were great, some were good but most where utter crap.
When I first laid eyes on these POC VPD 2.0 knee pads I was mildly concerned that there was a lack of shin protection, which is not a problem if you’re clipped in, but it’s a bit of concern for those of us on flats. The VPD 2.0’s are an evolution of the POC knee pad and feature VPD. It is a material, designed to be flexible when warmed up by your body, in order to take the shape of what it’s attached to. But when subjected to one of those unforeseen ‘knee to rock/root’ impacts it instantly firms up, protecting the wearer like a hard cap would. The sleeve looks comfortable as well and there are two straps that ensure they stay in place. They also feature perforations for heat and moisture control and Polygiene odor control (I know people that would appreciate that feature). I had a good look at the construction of the pads and, like all POC products, they seems to be of the highest standard.
That is all well and good, but the proof of this is when they are actually strapped to your body whilst being put though real world abuse. For me the two major criteria to be met by these types of products are protective property and comfort… in that order. I decided on two tests. Test one started on my DH rig on the well-known trails of Tokai. I figured that the ultimate test of comfort (rash test) would be if I could crank/grind my DH rig to the top of DH1. I began, POCs in place on the knees (not the ankle DHers) and cranked (with a few rest breaks) to the top. In all honesty ten minutes in and I had already forgotten that they were there. Two observations when I arrived at the top: No rash and they didn’t even think about sliding down.
How is going down? Dropping into DH1 was the last time I thought about those POC Joint VPD 2.0s… they felt awesome. When I turned out of the trail I noticed for the first time that the coverage the POCs offer was actually a lot better than I thought. In fact a good portion of the shin is covered.
Test one was in the dusty conditions of Africa where a quick smack is enough to get most of the dust and debris off your kit. For test two I decide to up the ante of both the trails and the weather conditions. So it was off to Morzine, France on one of SA Alpine Addiction’s tours to the Alps. Here I was met with extreme gradient, fast trails and slick mud and some interesting rooty sections. The POCs maintained the comfort levels even when full of mud – no rash. The clever straps insured that they were always in the right place when I needed them – I can testify that the VPD material really does work. And they were a pleasure to clean. They were so good that a number of the guys on the tour went out and bought them right then and there.
My conclusion after this real world test is that these are without doubt the best knee pads I have used to date… and no, no-one paid me to say that.