Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve knee pads review

Durable knee protection built for trail rippers

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Troy Lee Designs (TLD) outfits some of the fastest and winning-est mountain bikers on the planet. TLD offers a full range of body protection, including armor for elbows, chest and back, and eight versions of knee or knee/shin pads. The Speed Knee Sleeve knee pads are built for trail riding. With that in mind, they're much less burly than traditional downhill pads, but have a bit more protection than the slimmer XC-oriented knee sleeves. 

4mm thick D3O protection is there to keep knees safe
4mm thick D3O protection is there to keep knees safe

TLD Speed Knee Sleeves spec overview

  • 4mm D3O padding insert
  • Increased performance advantage over 10mm HDPE foam
  • 360-degree seamless construction for comfort
  • Durable, abrasion-resistant cover
  • Reflective print logos
  • Silicone gripper band
  • Left and right specific
  • Three sizes: X-Small/Small; Medium/Large; X-Large/XX-Large

Build quality has been excellent with zero fraying or sloppy ends
Build quality has been excellent with zero fraying or sloppy ends

Troy Lee Designs Speed Knee Sleeve fit

TLD's Speed Knee Sleeves have quite a few positives going for them, the biggest being that they stay in place. There's really nothing worse than having your knee protection slide or spin, and ending up with a banged-up knee. Luckily, this TLD armor stays put. They are dedicated left and right specific, which I also liked.

I would have appreciated a bit more protection over the fibula head (outer bulge below the knee), but acknowledge these pads are built for trail riding, so they're lower profile and lighter weight. 

Another benefit to the Speed Knee Sleeves was the compression and warmth. Adding a little of both helped my creaky knees come to life a bit faster and is always welcomed by my get-away sticks. I put 'warm' in both the positives and negatives as your preferred temps will surely vary. The length worked okay, the dreaded gaper's gap of thigh was kept from shining through. 

They worked well with most baggy shorts
They worked well with most baggy shorts

They've survived a couple of crashes. Fortunately I didn't have any direct blows to my knees that I was aware of, but I did have a few get offs where I was rag-dolling to a stop and my knees came away unscathed. It's those instances that my level of appreciation shot way up. 

The fit worked for my legs but the material was a bit excessive in the rear. The seamless construction is a smart touch, but the material is a bit bulky behind my knees when turning the cranks. While completely unnoticeable on the descents or when riding near the limit, the back of my knees could feel the material bunching up on the climbs. Since these Speed Sleeves are meant for trail riding and therefore uphill riding where you're likely going slow, it's worth noting.

The material on the back bunches up especially when pedaling in the saddle
The material on the back bunches up especially when pedaling in the saddle

On the flip side and as mentioned above, I've worn and crashed in the Speed Knee Sleeves and they still look and function as new, so maybe there's something to be said for the weightier rear material.

I'm super impressed with the overall durability, I have yet to find an errant thread or blown stitching. And last, but far from least for most mountain bikers, the Speed Knee Sleeves haven't developed the dreaded stink that plagues most pads. 

Pushing is likely when you're wearing pads, the Speed Knee Sleeves can hang off the bike
Pushing is likely when you're wearing pads, the Speed Knee Sleeves can hang off the bike

Russell Eich

Tech Writer
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 38
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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