In this comparison, we will take a look at the Fox Launch D30 vs Fox Enduro Pro. Both are aimed at the trail to the enduro rider, and both are excellent, high-performing knee guards.
The significant difference separating the two is the level of protection. There is generally a bit of a trade-off between the level of protection and pedal friendliness. Meaning the more protection you have, the more challenging pedaling becomes.
In this case, we will look through which set of pads will suit which rider or situation.
What to Look for in Knee Pads
When looking for a knee pad for mountain biking, there are a few essentials you will need to keep an eye out for.
The amount of padding the knee pad offers generally correlates to how protected your knee joint will be. The D30 technology (explained further below) is highly effective at dissipating high-energy impacts while still allowing you to move freely while riding.
You need to consider how hot and sweaty it gets, any rubbing or pinching of the skin, or how easy it is to pedal in. This will determine how often you actually wear the knee pads. If they are uncomfortable to wear, it won’t matter how protective they are, as they likely will be sitting in the shed while you go out riding!
Thinner materials are more likely to either rip or be pulled out of shape. Look for thicker materials that will stand the test of time (and a few crashes in the mix).
Fox Launch D30 Mini-Review
- Pedal Friendly
- A large amount of protection (D30 technology)
- Comfortable fit
- Very durable
- Very adjustable velcro straps
- Inner Pads aren’t removable
The Launch D30 is a high-performing knee pad from Fox. It is ideal for those situations where you need a bit of protection, but you’ve also got a bit of pedaling to do.
While it may not be as ‘pedal friendly’ as the Enduro, it certainly provides a bit more protection. The D30 pads offer flexibility and protection, which is the ideal combination for a mountain bike knee pad.
Fox Enduro Pro D30 Mini-Review
- D30 Technology
- Very pedal friendly
- Superior Breathability and moisture wicking material
- The Mesh panel on the back isn’t durable
Despite the title, the Enduro knee pads aren’t necessarily your safest bet in an enduro. Obviously, it will depend on the trails and terrain, but generally speaking, an Enduro pad will tend to have a bit more bulk. Instead, the Fox Enduro is better suited to trail riders.
Whether you are a ‘take it easy’ kind of rider, or a ‘full send’ kind of trail rider, the Enduro is an excellent choice.
There is a reasonably significant difference between the construction of the Enduro Pro and the Launch. The Enduro is a fair bit lighter and less intrusive, while the Launch is undoubtedly a little bulkier.
Starting with the materials, the Enduro Pro is constructed of lightweight, breathable materials. The back panel is a very thin, flexible mesh fabric, which allows for excellent ventilation.
The Launch is primarily made of perforated neoprene (wetsuit material with holes in it to make it breathable). This is a bit less breathable than the enduro pro, but it is more robust, and you won’t feel the rain so much if you are a wet weather rider.
The Fox Enduro Pro does not have any straps but is held up by elastic at the top and bottom of the sleeve. There is a silicone gripper at the top to help stop it from sliding down as you ride and will supposedly prevent the sleeve from sliding down in a crash. The sleeve is tight enough that it is unlikely it will slide down on you anyway. And after several years of use, the elastic and sleeve material hasn’t stretched out of place.
The Fox Launch D30 has a velcro strap at the top and bottom of the sleeve. This allows for greater adjustability and means you can loosen for climbs and tighten for descents as required. The velcro is undoubtedly good quality, mine have lasted a couple of years and show no signs of wear yet!
The back panel of a knee pad is generally crucial for ventilation. It allows the hot and sweaty air to escape out the back as you pedal. The Enduro, as mentioned previously, has a lightweight, breathable mesh panel that allows you to keep cool while moving.
The Launch has taken a different approach, constructing a hole at the back of the knee to allow air to escape. The hole also allows a little more freedom when pedaling.
Protection is clearly one of the most essential features of a knee pad. If you ride around wearing a knee pad that isn’t sufficient to protect you in a crash, there would be next to no point in wearing them!
D30 Impact Protection Technology
To start with, what is D30? D30 is a high-performing impact protection technology that has taken the mountain biking world by storm. It is now common in gloves, elbow pads, and other body armor due to its protective capabilities. The technology hardens on impact, which disperses the energy from a crash away from the knee joint.
Both the enduro pro and the Launch feature the D30 technology as the central part of the pad. This protects the knee cap and the upper part of the shin.
The Enduro Pro doesn’t have a lot of extra padding. The D30 pad does reach down to the shins, but there is no padding on either side of the knee cap, which leaves you a little exposed in a crash.
The Launch, on the other hand, is the king of additional padding. The inner and outer sides of the knee have foam padding covering them both. This stops any knocks from the bike frame or rocks if you happen to take a bit of a tumble. While the foam padding isn’t as energy absorbent as the D30 pad, it will take the brunt of the force out of the knock.
The additional padding on the Launch is placed with pedaling in mind. There is a cut between the pads to allow the knee to bend and straighten freely.
For more enduro style knee pads, see here.
Due to the materials of the Enduro Pro, it is quite a cool and breathable knee sleeve. The front fabric is thin and lets the air through easily, as does the mesh on the rear of the leg.
The perforated neoprene on the Launch doesn’t quite compare. It does have a circular cut out at the back of the knee to let the air escape, which helps a bit, but it can get a bit warm and sweaty on longer rides. And the pads aren’t machine washable, which means for people like me, they don’t wash as often as they should!
The winner of the ventilation comparison goes to the Enduro Pro. The lighter materials keep the knee a bit cooler than the Launch.
Both knee pads are super comfortable. However, if you were to ride in one pair straight after the other, the Enduro would probably be the more comfortable sleeve. It is just a little less bulky, and you can quite easily forget it is there.
This isn’t to say the Launch Pro is uncomfortable. I find that the Launch Pro is pretty comfortable, especially having the Velcro straps at the top and bottom of the sleeve, which allows you to adjust the tightness. As I am riding up hills, I prefer it to be slightly looser to enable my quads to move a bit and tighter for the descents.
The Launch even has an ergonomic fit. The slight bend in the knee means you will be most comfortable for descents as it captures the typical stance of a downhill rider.
As a guide, the Launch is probably comfortable for a 1-2h ride, while the enduro pro is suitable for three hour plus rides.
Put simply, the Enduro isn’t as durable as the Launch D30. As you can see in the image below, the back mesh panel of the Enduro tends to be a little weak. This rip occurred from an encounter with my bike pedal. Unfortunately, this isn’t a one off. I have noticed a few mountain bikers with the same tear in the back of the sleeve.
Fortunately, the knee pads are still wearable even with the tears in the back of the leg!
The other common weakness in the Enduro sleeve is the section between the top elastic strap and the top of the actual pad. As you pull on the sleeve, take care not to pull too hard from the top as it stretches the material and causes rips in that upper section.
The Launch, on the other hand, has been put through its paces and is still going strong! I have not noticed any stretching, certainly no rips, and the velcro (which was my initial concern with the pads) hasn’t worn out at all. The Launch has been through a few crashes over the years, and the only noticeable wear is the front of the pad has a few threads pulled.
The clear winner in the durability category is the Launch D30.
Value and Comparison
The Fox Launch D3O is similar to the Race Face Ambush knee pad, which offers a similar amount of protection. My preference is the Launch D3O, as the Ambush has too many velcro straps, making it somewhat fiddly and often uncomfortable. The Launch D3O is simple and effective, and can generally be found slightly cheaper than the Ambush.
See the full review on the Ambush here.
The Fox Enduro Pro is similar to the Leatt Airflex Hybrid, which is another lightweight sleeve designed for pedability. Both offer similar benefits in terms of protection, ventilation and comfort, but the Leatt Airflex Hybrid has proven to be more durable. The Enduro Pro however, is usually slightly cheaper.
Check out the full review on the Leatt Airflex Pro here.
When looking at the Fox Launch D30 vs Fox Enduro Pro, you need to consider what is really necessary to you. While the Fox Enduro is the more comfortable, breathable sleeve, it doesn’t offer the same protection as the Launch Pro.
If you are riding quite serious terrain (especially rock gardens) where you think additional padding is warranted, the Launch is probably the safer option. The only downside is that you will likely get a little warm on the climbs (if you keep them around your knees).
If you are just cruising the trails on your mountain bike, the Fox Enduro Pro is still a very safe option. The knee pad will prevent damage to your knee in a harsh ground strike, and allows you to pedal comfortably for hours on end!
Your knees are one of the most exposed parts of your body in a crash. They often take a fair amount of force as you are thrown to the ground. You want to make sure you don’t just have a glorified knee warmer separating you from the earth. Given both pads cost around the same, it will be your decision as to the level of knee protection you require.
If you are interested, check out this post on the Fox Launch D30 vs Fox Launch Pro D30 here.