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Versatile MTB Knee and Elbow Guards Reviewed
An Impromptu Purchase:
Thanks for visiting my Pearl Izumi Elevate Guards Review. Keep reading to find out why I decided to get mountain bike body armor and why I am so thankful that I did.
For several years I have considered getting a set of body armor for more rides more aggressive than my local neighborhood trails. Aggressive trail rides aren’t that common for me so I kept putting off the investment. Recently I got the opportunity for a last minute trip to Moab, UT so I went without hesitation.
I had spent a ton of time in the saddle training for the 2020 BT Epic but all of that time was spent on cross-country type trails so my Enduro skills were a bit rusty. After making the 15 hour drive to Moab we went on a warm up ride to stretch our legs before tackling the Whole Enchilada the next morning. Falcon Flow is a Newish intermediate trail right in the Sand Flats Campground but is plagued by sandy corners. Almost immediately my front end washed in the corner and put me sliding through the desert on my elbow. No damage done besides some scrapes.
The next morning we arrived at the bike shop to wait on the shuttle and do a little shopping. Chile Pepper Bike Shop was kind enough to sell me some rental take off tires from their 27.5+ fleet since no one in town carried more than 1 option in >=2.8″ width. While they mounted my new rubber I tried on every set of pads they had (POC, G – FORM, Fox, iXS, and Pearl Izumi) with the intention of making a future purchase online. However, I discovered the Pearl Izumi Elevate Knee/Elbow Guards and learned they were far more comfortable than the G-Form pads I had looked at online a half dozen times. The swipe of a card later and I was feeling much better about the day.
The Maiden Voyage of my new Pearl Izumi Elevate Guards :
I stuffed my pads into the outer pocket of my Camelbak and hopped on the Coyote Shuttle. During the shuttle ride I slid on my new gear prepped to begin the trek up Burro Pass. To my surprise the Pearl Izumi Elevate Knee Guards didn’t hinder pedaling at all. They also stayed perfectly in place.
Unfortunately I can’t make the same claim for the Pearl Izumi Elevate Elbow Guards. Don’t get me wrong I love them and they totally saved my bacon down at the rim… My complaint with the elbow pads is that the upper arm elastic on the Large was too tight to get over my forearm, and I’m no Popeye the Sailor Man. I chose the XL simply because I couldn’t get the Large on my arm. Soon I discovered that the jarring impacts caused the upper arms to slide down to my elbows. Even with the poor upper arm fit the armor portion still provided adequate coverage and didn’t try to slide down toward my hands.
I can attest to this because I narrowly escaped a facial injury when I was bucked over the handlebars on Porcupine Rim. Luckily, I was able to get my arms up in time to take the brunt of the impact on the forearms and elbows (guards). My only injury from this potentially horrific crash was a small bruise on my hip bone from when I landed in the crevasse between boulders.
Pearl Izumi Elevate Guards are Confidence Inspiring:
My crash on Porcupine Rim crushed my confidence. For the remainder of that ride I walked anything that posed any sort of threat. The next couple of rides were all about regaining confidence. Knowing my my new pads actually did their job protecting from impacts with hard objects sped up the recovery of confidence. In addition to injury prevention I found that the shell material held up rather well to the abrasive rock and didn’t rip or tear at all.
After being alongside my 4 year old and his broken arm this summer. I’ve turned more cautious. Today, I’m now a full supporter of mountain bike armor for all of my more adventurous riding and on unknown trails. For simplicity I still frequently skip armor for the local back yard trail training rides.
Pearl Izumi Elevate Guard Final Thoughts:
These pads were an excellent purchase. Pearl Izumi Elevate Guards may not be the cheapest option but the protection and flexibility made them invaluable. Although knee guards are generally designed for enduro riding, I’ve had excellent experience using them for cross-country as well.
I joined the 2020 BT Epic with the goal of finishing (not racing). I had never been to the Berryman Trail so was preparing to ride 52 miles blind. Out of fear for the unknown I opted to wear my Elevate Knee Guards after hearing about a local rider crashing and breaking bones in her knee there the week prior. The morning was crisp. Impact protection and an extra layer on the knees sounded nice so I tossed my knee guards on at the last minute. I half planned on dropping the knee guards in my drop sac at the 25 mile mark.
To my surprise I finished the race, and wore my pads for all 8 hours of it. I didn’t experience any discomfort or rash from them. They even protected me from a washout in a corner with loose over hard gravel rolling out from under me. Having never ridden over 28 miles in a single ride I’ll chalk this one up as a win both for me and the knee guards!
- Knee Guards stay in place well
- Sun Protection
- Impact and abrasion protection
- No rough spots that create friction
- Removable guards for washing
- Fits in a Camelbak.
- Upper arm of elbow fits small (sized up and then wouldn’t stay up, maybe I just big joints?)
- Black. It looks cool, and then the sweat stains set in…
- I expect the mesh on the guard portion will eventually tear, time will tell.
- Being that guy at a cross-country marathon race in armor while everyone else is in road kits. (but I didn’t get a bloody knee like many of them)
My Kit for Race Day :
- ” target=”_blank”>Halo Sweatband (keeps sweat off glasses!)
- Smith Forefront Helmet
- Rudy Project Tralyx Glasses – Clear to Red Photochromatic lenses (transition)
- Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Watch
- Zoic The One Shorts (Galaxy – Large) (Rider 5′ 11″ 195#)
- Zoic Dialed 3/4 Jersey (Large)
- Pearl Izumi Elevate Knee Guards
- Zoic Carbon Bib Liner
- Giro MTB Shoes
- Ion Traze Gloves
My Bike for Race Day:
- Rocky Mountain Pipeline 770 MSL (2016 discontinued)
- Ergon GA2 Fat Grips
- All Mountain Style Mud Guard (Gorilla)
- Lizard Skins Carbon Frame Protection
- WTB Bridger 27.5 x 3 Rear
- Maxxis Minion 27.5 x 2.8 Front
- HT Components T1 Clipless Pedals (SPD, Blue)
Thanks for visiting my Pearl Izumi Elevate Guard Review. Feel free to share with your riding buddies and use my links for purchases to support the effort!
Pearl Izumi Elevate Knee Guards on Amazon
Pearl Izumi Elevate Elbow Guards on Amazon