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How Should Mtb Bike Knee Pads Fit?

G-Form Pro X2 Knee Pads Wearing

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A knee pad is a protective device that is meant to cushion the impact of a fall by absorbing the energy of a fall. It’s designed in such a way that it doesn’t restrict any movement and can be worn comfortably on the leg .

It is used for protection, especially when you are riding your bike at high speed or on extreme terrain. A knee pad is also used as an extra protection when you’re riding downhill as it cushions the impact and absorbs some of the shock.

Knee pads for MTB riders have been around for decades but recently they have been getting popularized due to their increased use in cycling and natural terrain. They are now becoming more common in all types of cycling, from road to mountain biking. The latest improved design has made them both more flexible and light to wear, and also more safe.

How Should MTB Knee Pads Fit?

Cycling knee pads are designed to help keep your knees safe and secure while you ride your bike. There are two main types of knee pads: the foam pad and the slim fit. Which one is better?

The foam pad offers a lot more comfort, but it’s also bulkier and doesn’t offer as much protection as the slim fit knee pad. The slim pads are thinner and offer less protection, but they feel more like you’re wearing no knee pads at all. If you want a decent amount of protection with less bulk, go with the slim fit knee pads like are used commonly in XC riding.

I should note that many knee guards are somewhere in between. There are even a couple of them if you look at my article on my mtb knee pad recommendations that are made so that they are flexible but on impact will stiffen up. Isn’t technology great?

How To Measure Your Knee For The Perfect Pads

In order to successfully find the proper knee pads for you, it is important that you measure your legs for correct sizing. Afterall, protecting your knees is the whole reason for wearing mtb knee pads, and to do that they need to fit properly.

For those of us who are not the best at measuring our own legs, an online tool can help. There are many online tools that provide measurements and charts to help identify your knee pad size. This way, you can go online and compare what different manufacturers offer to find the best option.

Generally speaking you want to measure the circumference of your knee and go from there

As a general guide:

Size Circumference
Small 12” – 14” circumference
Medium 15” – 17” circumference
Large 18” – 20” circumference
X-Large 21” – 23” circumference


How Do I Know If My Knee Pads Are Too Wide Or Too Tight?

There are some easy ways to tell if your knee pads are too wide or too tight.

This is because most MTB knee pads are either elastic or have stretchable sections. If you find that your knees are constantly pushing against the outside of the pad, it is probably too wide for your knee. Similarly, if you feel like your knees are only just touching the inside of the pad, it is probably too tight.

If you notice your knees pushing against the outside of your knee pads and vice versa, then it may be time to size up and get a new pair!

How To Choose The Best Mountain Bike Knee Pads For You?

If you love to mountain bike and want to keep a healthy and active lifestyle, you should choose protective knee pads that will help protect you from the bumps, bruises and cuts that might come up while you are out. You can see my recommendations for the best mtb knee pads on another post on this site.

The best mountain bike knee pads are seamless and breathable. They should also be comfortable, so that they don’t impede your riding experience.

Once you find the right mtb knee pads, you’ll wonder at how easy they are to wear and how much protection they can provide.

Of course, a factor is always the price. Knee pads such as Fox racing knee sleeves or TLD speed sleeves are both cheap and effective. So there is always an option regardless of your budget on price.

There are lots of options for fabric of the knee guards. Generally the more mesh there is, the more air will flow through them and help to keep your legs cool and not sweaty. Pay attention to the material behind the knee also as material that is too thick can bunch up behind the knees and make them uncomfortable.

Are MTB Knee Pads Worth Wearing?

Without a doubt, yes! Knee pads may be the only thing between your knee and a big rock or your shin and your bike pedal. It’s always a good idea to wear your mtb knee pads no matter what if possible.

Perhaps if you are doing very light riding it’s not as big of a deal, but I’ll take wearing knee pads any day of the week to avoid limping around for weeks.  Once you damage your knees you are out until they heal as well. It’s just a good preventative safety measure that’s always a great idea.

In fact, if you are doing light trail riding, I would just wear lightweight knee pads which are barely noticeable but will provide a fair amount of protection if you do wipe out. Basic knee shin pads will help protect both on crashes as well as if your foot slips off the pedal and you hit it with your shin.

Having a knee elbow pads set to protect both your knees and elbow and they are both recommended when possible.

If your current knee pads aren’t comfortable, instead of not wearing them just look around for a better fit for you so you can can keep wearing them.  If they are comfortable, take care of them and clean them and enjoy them for years to come.

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed