661 Evo Knee & Rage Elbow Pads- by Grannygear
The last time we looked at some protective pads, they were from Alpinestars and you can read about that here. But this time we have some Rage elbow and Evo knee pads from 661. I seldom pad up, but there are times that it feels really good to have your bony, protruding parts wrapped up in some armor. Now if you are really pushing hard on techy trails or you are a hard charger by nature (or you just crash a lot), pads likely are just part of your normal routine. These 661 pads are not full-on, hard core, hard shell armor, rather they are in the soft-pad category. This type of pad has a good appeal to an XC rider that every so often steps it up a bit or even a full time trail rider that is not doing Red Bull Rampage stuff. A soft pad should allow you to carry them without needing a huge pack, not be too heavy, be at least decent to pedal in, and give you a good level of crash protection for anything short of a total yard sale.
The Rage elbow pad:
- Ultimate PROTECTION with internal hardcap
- Abrasion resistant with stretch Kevlar
- Side impact PROTECTION with EVA Foam padding
- Ventilation through perforated neoprene/mesh construction
- Superior fit with pre-curved chassis
- Stays in place with velcro closures
The Evo knee pads utilize the unique type of foam that is pliable but stiffens when impacted:
- Total impact PROTECTION and comfort with internal molded D30 knee
- Breathability and flexibility through Cordura construction
- Abrasion resistance through Kevlar panels
- Superior fit with pre-curved ergonimic chassis
- Stays in place with velcro closures
My first impressions of the pads, especially the Evo knee pads, were that they looked well made and covered the knee well, both front and sides. Pulling them on was like pulling on an orthotic soft knee brace. It had a close, secure fit but felt awful to walk in. Pedaling felt weird too, like the pad would not bend, but as the D30 padding warmed up, the knee pad could flex and give and things got much better. However, it is designed to be ‘pre-bent’ so it is the most comfy when you are riding with your knees flexed, like a typical DH position. Makes sense. The material seems very tough as well, with that kevlar panel of fabric on the front. The top has the velcro closure and the bottom is just an elastic ‘sock’ so you will get the best results with a proper size/fit to your legs.
The Rage elbow pads have an internal hard-cap in there so they REALLY only feel good when you have your arms bent, but that is fine. It is not like we ride around with our arms out straight all the time. When you flex your biceps like Hulk Hogan, there are no big gaps at the ends to scoop dirt or catch in a crash.
I found that the elbow pads nested together and both of those, in turn, nested within the two knee pads. That was not a tiny bundle, but it fit easily into the stuff-it pouch of my Camelbak M.U.L.E. NV.
On trail is where all this really matters and there were some things I really liked about the 661 pads:
- They stayed put. Neither the elbow or knee pads moved around or slipped down under riding conditions, even when the elbow pads were over a jersey.
- I never had any pinching or irritation from any part of the pads.
- The single velcro section on the Evo knee pads seemed to be good enough as well.
- The knee pads got better (more comfy/pliable) when they were warm, either with body heat or just the heat of ambient temps.
- They were easy to get on and off, at least as much as anything like this would be.
- It is still a pretty big bundle to carry if you are an XC guy looking to travel light and still have some protection with you. I had to wear a much bigger hydration pack than I really needed just to tote these along.
- The knee pads are still nothing I would pedal in for long distances such as a long climb, etc. They were fine for short sections in between DH runs or even for small segments where I was maintaining speed. But compared to the Alpinestars linked above, they are held closer to the knee and are more restrictive. As well, I do wonder if a bit more of an open area right at the kneecap…more space…would not be a good idea. I felt some discomfort in the left knee where pressure was being placed against the patella as I pedaled, but I only felt this when I was just cruising along or climbing for a while.
Other than that, I like them quite a bit. They seem sturdy and look nondescript…no neon or wild designs so they blend and look like real MTB gear. There is a right and left to each set, so pay attention to that if they feel odd. I did not always get that right when I was on trail and yakking with the crew as I was padding up. They feel better when they are on the right way. I am not even sure they are on right for this photo session. By the way, do you have any idea how hard it is to take a picture of your own elbow? Not easy.
The Evo knee pads retail for $100.00 and the Rage elbow pads for $50.00.