Easy to say that the Fox Launch D3O knee pads have been my go-to pad for the past two years. Here at MTB GearBox, we rate the Launch D3O very highly for trail riders through to enduro riders.
In this Fox Launch D3O knee pad review, we will look at what makes these knee pads great, the downfalls of the pads, and which riders they will suit best.
What Makes A Good Set of Knee Pads?
When looking for a new set of knee pads, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. Firstly, how much pedaling you will be doing in the knee pads.
If you do find yourself doing a fair bit of pedaling, one option is to take the knee pads off and carry them however you like. However, for some rides (particularly undulating terrain), taking off and putting back on knee pads is far too much hassle. Hence you want to look for pedal-friendly knee pads.
The next thing to look for is the amount of padding the knee guards have. You want to match the right level of protection to the kind of riding and terrain. Too much padding and you will be uncomfortable, not enough padding and you may end up injured. Fortunately for us, technology has meant we can get comfortable, reasonably lightweight pads that are still very protective. Take, for example, the Fox Launch D3O!
3. Construction and Durability
Another thing you want to keep an eye out for is how the knee pads are held up. Sleeves, which are held up by elastic and silicon grips, tend to be less durable. Getting them on and off can be tricky and lead to stretching the materials out of shape. We’ve always been a fan of having velcro straps on knee pads. This way, it is easy to get a customized fit, you can get them on and off easily, and you can loosen the straps while you pedal, tighten for descents.
There is a bit more to look out for, such as the comfort, breathability and costs of knee pads. But we will get straight into the Fox Launch D3O review now!
Fox Launch D3O Knee Pad Review
- D3O Technology
- Very protective
- Velcro Straps
- Not machine washable
- Ventilation not fantastic
Protection is something the Launch D3O is not short on. The knee guard itself protects the knee joint using D3O technology. The D3O technology is soft and flexible to pedal in but hardens on impact. This absorbs the energy very efficiently, directing the energy from the impact away from your knee.
The knee guard is a bit longer than a lot of its competition. This gives great coverage of the knee joint but also acts as a shin guard too. This is a huge benefit as the shin can often take a fair bit of force in a crash.
The Launch D3O also has the advantage of having foam padding on the inner and outer knee. A fairly common crash is when you land on your side, and your bike comes down with you. Having protection on either side of your knee stops the frame from hitting the inside of your knee joint hard and the ground from hitting the outside of the knee.
Having had a few pretty brutal crashes in the Launch D3O, I can attest to their ability to keep your knees safe. Walking away with dirt and rocks stuck in my pads but with my knee cap in one piece and not even a bruise is the exact reason I continue to wear these pads!
Besides the protection, there is a bit to mention about how the knee pad is constructed. Firstly, the knee pad is made of perforated neoprene. This is a highly durable material with a bit of stretch and a little ventilation.
The knee guards are held up with a velcro strap at the top and bottom of the sleeve. A silicon grip at the top will also prevent the knee pad from sliding down while you pedal or in a crash. The velcro strap is super handy for getting the knee pads on and off easily and allows for plenty of adjustment around the thighs and calves.
The ‘ergonomic’ pre-shaped pads mean you get a comfortable shaped knee pad that works around your movements, rather than you working around it!
My set of knee pads are getting close to three years but only shows minimal signs of wear and tear. Pretty impressive for a set of knee pads that certainly don’t have an easy life!
While it isn’t recognized as one of the best knee pads in terms of ventilation, it isn’t too bad considering the amount of protection it offers. The perforated neoprene allows for a bit of airflow and breathability. There is a hole at the rear of the knee, which allows air to get through and cool down the knee.
It does get quite sweaty as you pedal, as does any knee pad. The unfortunate part is that they aren’t machine washable as the D3O pads aren’t removable. For me, this means they don’t get washed nearly as often as they should and end up smelling pretty bad!
While they are a reasonably bulky knee pad (compared to the likes of the Enduro Pro), they are actually pretty comfortable to pedal in. You will find the pads are comfortable up to two-hour mountain bike rides, but probably not much longer.
I’ve never found them to rub, though the hole at the back of the knee may cause some riders some grief. The pads against the front of the knee are lined on the inside, so there is no discomfort while you ride.
As mentioned earlier, the ability to loosen the straps around the quads and calves is a real bonus. Having the straps loose as your muscles expand and contract gives you the freedom to pedal comfortably. This is especially important for climbing hills!
If you are looking for a very protective knee pad that is comfortable and easy to pedal in, the Fox Launch D3O is an excellent choice. Having ridden with the Launch D3O for the past few years, I can recommend them in terms of comfort and durability. And after my many crashes, I can confirm they are great at protecting your knees!
The Launch D3O is a great middle-ground if you want something with good protection for steep and rocky terrain but still comfortable to pedal in. The intended use is for more technical trail riders and the lower end of the ‘enduro spectrum.’
If you enjoyed this Fox Launch D3O knee pad review but are interested in more protection, check out the comparison between the Launch and the Launch Pro here.
Or, if you’d prefer to have a more pedal-friendly option, the comparison between the Launch and the Enduro Pro can be found here.