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7iDP Project Knee Pad

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Tested: 7iDP Project Knee

Thinking outside the box to combine DH-levels of protection in a pedal-worthy package.

Rating: Vital Review

The good folks at 7iDP have always been at the forefront of innovation, never quite happy to settle for the status quo or make me-too products. Driven by the ever-growing need for near DH-worthy yet pedal-friendly knee protection, they once again set out to seek a novel approach – Project Knee is the result of that endeavor. Combining the comfort of a slip-on sleeve design with the impact protection of a hard-shell pad, this all new protector also features a knitted fabric that will please those who are sensitive to neoprene or spandex. We’ve had an exclusive opportunity to test this new product ahead of it hitting the stores later this spring, and we’re here to tell you all about it.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Very comfortable
  • Compression fit increases stability
  • Adjustable thigh strap helps with retention
  • Does not move around when riding
  • CE-certified Sas-Tec knee cap with extra hard-shell protection
  • Highly breathable
  • Easy to clean, quick to dry
  • Lacks protection around the side of the knee

7iDP Project Knee Highlights

  • “Pro Knit” main chassis
  • Top and bottom internal silicone gripper print
  • External silicone logo print to grip on to lycra shorts silicone gripper print
  • Variable fabric stretch zones for secure and comfortable fit
  • Center strap system – adjustable thigh straps
  • Flexible external hard cap bonded into the fabric
  • Sas-Tec kneecap pad
  • High ride tube main body for secure fit all day long
  • Exceeds CE1621-1 safety standards
  • Precurved fit to eliminate side of knee fabric bunching
  • Sizes S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: 434 grams (pair, size L, verified)
  • MSRP: $119.99 USD

Initial Impressions

Traditionally, knee pads fall into one of two major categories: the full-on, heavy-duty pads often seen in bike parks, and the lighter, more pedal-friendly options that people tend to wear for trail riding or longer, back country epics. Now, “trail riding” has come a long way in the last few years, which increasingly means that people are looking for protection that can do both - the enduro racing format is obviously also to blame here. As the crew at 7iDP sat down to work on the next generation of knee protection, they really wanted to find a way to offer DH-like levels of protection in a more pedal-friendly package, and so they began to experiment with new materials and construction techniques. Based on a knitted “sock” and featuring a viscoelastic kneecap pad coupled with a bonded external shell, the Project Knee looks like nothing we had seen before.

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Based on a knitted “sock” and featuring a viscoelastic kneecap pad coupled with a bonded external shell, the Project Knee looks like nothing we had seen before.

A feature shared with the outstanding new Sam Hill knee protector, the tall design is meant to help the Project stay in place. The Project also gets a thigh strap – or should we say, two thigh straps. 7iPD’s split strap system was designed to provide more even pressure on the leg as you cinch it down. There are internal silicone gripper strips as well as external silicone print logos around the top hem of the sleeve, which help provide additional purchase for the silicone strip on your chamois short liner should you wish to double up and really secure the whole thing.

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The main material of the sleeve is elastic and very soft to the touch – it is also distinctly more fabric-like than the spandex-based sleeves found in the majority of protectors of this type. While the Project Knee still contains Spandex (11% according to the label), 7iDP says that it should be comfortable also for people with allergies or sensitivities. The fabric features different “stretch zones” which are said to help distribute pressure and create a more secure fit. The rear of the sleeve is open around the knee joint area. The Sas-Tec kneecap pad sits inside the sleeve which also features an external hard-shell cap that is bonded onto the fabric.

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On The Trail

Pulling the Project on for the first time, you are struck by how high it rides on the thigh compared to most other protectors, which can feel a little weird at first if you’re not used to it – it soon becomes second nature though, leaving you to just appreciate how secure the fit is. And yes, the Project is also incredibly comfortable. No pressure points were detected even when the protectors were brand new, and the main kneecap pad remains malleable and soft to the touch even with the addition of the external hard-shell cap (which is in itself quite flexible as well).

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When it comes to comfort, the Project really ticks all the boxes.

The fit and sizing are spot-on, and we noticed that the Project would stay in place even on long rides – and if you should happen to run a short liner with legs that overlap the top of the Project, you can forget about them ever moving around. The knitted fabric of the Project is very comfortable on the skin, and it also appears to breathe very well. Whilst we have yet to test these in the height of summer, a few warm desert rides have already allowed us to appreciate this quality. When it comes to comfort, the Project really ticks all the boxes.

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The main job of a knee protector is obviously to protect your knees. The principal kneecap pad of the Project is made from Sas-Tec, a viscoelastic material that is soft and malleable in its resting state, but which stiffens up under impact to absorb and redirect the impact energy. The Project is rated EN1621-1, the basic energy transmission standard that all knee protectors must conform to (although 7iDP claim that their pads actually test beyond this standard as well). We’ve yet to take a major digger with the Project, but some basic “tumbling tests” point to good results. We also appreciate the addition of the hardshell cap, which will let the Project slide off obstacles a bit more easily and thus avoid hanging up and/or shifting the protector out of place upon impact. On that topic, previous experience with Sas-Tec or other similar materials has proven them to be fully up to the task even for major stacks.

We tested the Project in size L. For reference, here are relevant leg measurements of this tester: Thigh circumference (measured 15cms above the knee): 470mm, calf circumference (measured 10cms below the knee): 380mm.

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Things That Could Be Improved

Over the course of the development of the Project and based on feedback from their testers, 7iDP moved more and more towards the pedal-friendly side of the equation. This led them to minimize the amount of padding found around the sides and the top of the knee, which we think creates a bit of an identity crisis here. The main kneecap pad is DH-worthy, yet the side of the pad lacks protection. Whilst we appreciate how comfortable the Project is for long days out in the saddle, we’d love to see a little bit more impact protection added to the sides, much like on the new Sam Hill protector we recently tested.

Long Term Durability

The Project is a brand new protector, and we’ve only managed to rack up a couple of months’ worth of trail time with it so far. In terms of general construction, the Project is holding up great. All the stitching is still in place, and the fabric seems to resist tears and scuffs very well. We’ve done some basic “fake crashing” to attempt to evaluate the resistance of the main kneecap pad, with equally good results, and although we’ve not taken any major slams with the Project yet, years of experience with the Sas-Tec material has taught us that it works very well. Being able to easily remove the Sas-Tec pad and throw the Project in the washing machine also bodes well for the pleasantness of your long-term ownership experience.

What’s The Bottom Line?

“DH-worthy in a pedal-friendly package” – we might as well be describing a modern enduro bike, and that is precisely what 7iDP were aiming for with their new Project Knee. Combining a novel knitted chassis with both a viscoelastic pad and an external hardshell in a lightweight and breathable protector, the Project is a fresh new approach that should satisfy those looking for all-day comfort and a little extra peace of mind. We love this kind of innovation, and we think 7iDP is definitely onto a winning formula – we’d just like to see a little bit more protection around the sides before calling it a winner outright. 

More information at: www.7protection.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 44 // Years Riding MTB: 12 // Weight: 200-pounds (90.7kg) // 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

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4 comments newest first

Knee pad review game strong! When will Vital follow up your "heavy duty" pad shootout w/ a lightweight trail pad shootout? In the market & would really like to see if there are new offerings that can go toe-to-toe w/ G-Form for ounce-for-ounce protection, fit, durability & comfort.

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It is in the works, but it's a few weeks out still. Without wanting to spoil the surprise, I can tell you that there are quite a few interesting options out there in this space. If you followed all the recent kneepad action here on Vital, you likely already know what one of our new favorite lightweight pads are... wink

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You cover it somewhat in your review, but it would be great to get a bit more direct comparisons with the Sam Hill pads.

It look like the Project kneepads have a leg up as far as stability goes. I love the idea of a hard-shell that hangs up less, and I definitely prefer the idea of having a couple solid straps to secure them down instead of just relying on a leg warmer type design.

On the other hand, from what I can make out from the photos it look as well as offering more protection on the sides the Sam Hills also do a better job of protecting above the kneecap and the upper shin. Shin protection is a big deal for me since I find that I'll often get cut just below where my kneepads stop.

The final question is a comfort. If you had pick one for all day comfort which pad would come out on top?

All in all they look like a neat concept, but once you factor price into the mix it seems like the Sam Hills are the better overall choice...

| Reply

Good questions, and it is an interesting comparison.

Stability: not much in it, they are both very secure in use. The straps of the Project help adjust the fit if you have non-average legs I guess, but both did an equally good job of holding on to my leg.

Protection: the main kneecap of the Project is a bit burlier, thanks to the extra hardshell patch, but as you rightly point out, the Sam Hill pad has the upper hand when it comes to peripheral protection. Had the same kind of protection been added to the Project, it was a lock for a 5-star rating as well.

Comfort: they are super close, both are really comfy and make themselves more or less forgotten on long rides. No chafing, and not too warm either. The funny thing is, for as much as the Sam Hill seem like the perfect lightweight kneepad to me, I do seem to end up reaching for the Project quite often as well. Something about how it looks and feels that is really unique and quite fresh. Like I said in the review text, I do think this concept has all the potential to turn into a real winner, and I really do enjoy using it. But at the same time, we definitely had to point out that you do end up with less protection in the peripheral area, so that readers can make that choice knowingly.

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1 member review

A true winner

Rating:
The Good:

Great fit
Breathable
Great protection
Comfortable

The Bad:

Some peeling of rubber pad
Upper internal grip could be better

Overall Review:

Hands down, my favorite knee pad for almost every trail. Have worn these on long, hot days, as well as cooler, wet days and they were great. If you could only buy one pair of knee pads, these should be on your list. Park laps, check. Loamy trails, check. Doing the Everest challenge on Everest...ok, maybe not this one. 


After a few hundred miles with these pads, I have noticed some wear and tear. The rubber pad has started to peel on one corner and the internal grip has lost some of its...er...grip. Regardless, these are still fantastic pads. 

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Specifications
Product 7iDP Project Knee Pad
Riding Type Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Pad Type Hard Shell
Material Knitted, breathable sock
Flexible hard cap, designed to slide over rather than grip the impact surface
Knee/Shin Coverage Knee Only
Size S (15-17" thigh)
M (17-19" thigh)
L (19-21" thigh)
XL (21-23" thigh)
(measurements taken 6″ above kneecap with leg bent at 90 degrees)
Color Grey/Black
Miscellaneous - Center strap system designed to apply even pressure around the lower thigh
- Open back for flex and ventilation
- Tested beyond CE/ EN 1621/1
Price $119.99
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