Rapha Trail Knee Pads wrap Rheon tech in SuperFabric for breathable protection
Noone plans to crash. But if you do, you’ll be happy to have a solid pair of knee pads. What’s that? You don’t wear knee pads because they’re hot and uncomfortable to ride in? That is the case with some out there, but with their new Trail Knee Pads, Rapha wanted to change that.
The basis of any body armor is, well, the padding itself. For their take on lightweight but breathable protection, Rapha teamed up with Rheon who specializes in active polymer armor. Claiming to have based it on an “algorithm that mimics how cells are packed in nature,” Rheon packages strain-rate sensitive polymers into functional structures. In this case, those structures include ventilation holes for breathability and a segmented shape to make them conform more easily to your legs.
Rapha is not the first company to use Rheon technology for knee pads, that would be Chromag. But the Rapha Trail Knee Pads do use a completely different padding structure which probably resembles the one shown above. I say probably because Rapha hasn’t provided an image of the full padding inside, and you can’t see what it looks like through the SuperFabric. But it feels like the above image from Rheon looks, if that makes sense.
Note that Rapha calls out the CE Level 2 protection rating of the Rheon knee pad. That’s the highest certification level you can get on a “lightweight knee pad” and means that in testing, the “mean maximum transmitted force is less than or equal to 20kN with no single strike over 30kN.” Put simply, they protect very well for a flexible, breathable knee pad. I was quite surprised myself in their protection after putting them on and dropping to my knees on a tiled floor. It wasn’t until my wife frantically called me from upstairs wondering why the whole house was shaking that I realized how big of an impact they were absorbing.
Since active polymer padding like the Rheon tech isn’t the most durable on its own, Rapha has covered the outer layer of the kneepad in SuperFabric. That’s a ceramic copolymer that is said to reduce friction and prevent tearing.
The SuperFabric then meets a high-stretch main fabric that fits more like a knee warmer than a knee pad. That is to say, it offers a leg-clinging fit that stays in place quite well.
Part of that is thanks to the wide silicone leg gripper up top, and the smaller one below. The vertical silicone stripes seem to lock the pads in place—even on hairy legs without making it uncomfortable. The knee pads themselves are just under 14″ long for a medium, which puts the thigh gripper fairly high, which further helps to keep them in place.
Admittedly, it will be a few months before I can really test their breathability claims on warmer rides. But from what I’ve seen so far, it seems like Rapha is on the right track. I typically find myself between small and medium for Rapha clothing, and I’m glad I’m testing a medium Trail Knee Pad. My legs are short and muscular, which often makes knee pad fit a challenge. Measuring about 19″ in circumference at the thigh, 13.5″ at the knee, and nearly 15″ at the calf, I usually find knee pads to be too tight, or too long. Thanks to the stretch from the main fabric, these seem like a great fit with just a bit of bunching behind the knee when bent. I’m looking forward to getting these out on the trails more as it warms up.
Pricing & Availability
Available only in black, the Trail Knee Pads will sell for $110.