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POC Joint VPD System Knee pads review

Pricey pads that promise a lot when it comes to protection

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £140.00 RRP | USD $150.00 | EUR €160.00 | AUD $225.00
POC Joint VPD System Knee for mountain bikers

Our review

The Joint VPD Knee pads are incredibly comfy and offer a great level of protection, staying exactly where they need to be. It’s hard to overlook the high price, though
Pros: Comfortable to pedal in; good level of protection; stay put and don’t need readjusting
Cons: High price; only three sizes
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POC is renowned for its high-quality mountain bike kit that generally comes with a relatively high price tag. The Joint VPD System Knee pads are no different.

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The brand packs a lot of tech into each piece of kit (hence the asking price).

It claims to offer the “ultimate in protection, comfort and flexibility”, but do the Joint VPD System Knee pads live up to such bold claims?

POC Joint VPD System Knee pads details and specifications

POC only includes silicone gripper strips on the inner side of the upper hem.
Andy Lloyd / OurMedia

Despite the high price tag, POC only offers the Joint VPD System Knee pads in three sizes (small, medium and large).

There are no Velcro straps to help hold the pads in place. Instead, the Joint VPD System Knee pads rely on a snug fit. This comes courtesy of the elasticated, soft-to-the-touch, Lycra-like sleeve, along with the cut and shaping of the pad. They’re also pre-shaped and size-specific.

POC only includes silicone print (used to help stick the pads to your legs) in the upper opening of the pad, while the lower opening forgoes any extras in a bid to maximise comfort.

At the heart of the Joint VPD System Knee pads is POC’s VPD (visco-elastic polymer dough) insert. Like the more commonly used D30, VPD is designed to remain flexible while in use, but hardens on impact to help dissipate force in the event of a crash.

The insert featured here is constructed using three different layers of VPD, which POC says helps to create an insert that’s not only great at absorbing high impacts (and is rated to CE level 2), but highly breathable, too.

The VPD protective knee cup is covered with a panel of toughened fabric, which is said to have a low-friction surface (great for sliding across the ground rather than snagging and pulling the pad down). It’s also claimed to be highly abrasion-resistant, so should boost the longevity of the pads.

The rear of the Joint VPD System Knee pads is extremely smooth. There are no mesh panels or cut-outs to speak of, which may mean they’re not quite as breezy as some, but it also means there are no irritating seams to annoy the back of your knees.

In terms of coverage, the Joint VPD System knee pads aren’t the longest MTB knee pads going, so don’t extend down over much of your shin. They do, however, wrap the front and side of the knees nicely.

At 372g, POC’s pads are a decent weight, too.

POC Joint VPD System Knee pads performance

With no seams running across the back of the knees, the Joint VPD System Knee pads are some of the comfiest on the market.
Andy Lloyd / OurMedia

As soon as I slipped the Joint VPD System Knee pads on, it was clear these are some of the most comfortable knee pads I’ve ever tried.

The smooth fabric used to construct the sleeve feels soft and very comfortable against the skin, and while they’re snug, they’re not overly tight and don’t pinch anywhere.

I opted for the medium size, which fitted me really well, without enough tension through the sleeve to hold the VPD protective insert tightly across my knee. They didn’t shift about or slip down while riding.

Aside from the fit and silicone print in the upper hem, it helps that the lower hem sits just above the top of the calf muscle. This not only helps prevent the pads from slipping down, but also means there’s nothing tight across the wider part of the muscle, as is common on a number of rival knee pad designs.

The smooth, uninterrupted back of the pad boosts comfort further and means no matter how long you’re in the Joint VPD System Knee pads, they never irritate the back of your knees or rub uncomfortably.

Instead, you’re left to pedal comfortably and can almost forget you’re wearing them. And just as promised by POC, the fit and flexibility on offer ensure movement through the knee is free and easy.

While the Joint VPD System Knee pads might not be as slim as some of their rivals, I found them to work just fine with a pair of mountain bike shorts. The top of the sleeve doesn’t extend too far up your thigh, so shorter shorts might leave you showing a bit of leg if you’re not careful.

The POC pads don’t offer quite the same amount of coverage or length as some of the best mountain bike knee pads, but they still feel reassuringly protective, secure and comfortable.

POC Joint VPD System Knee pads bottom line

The size-specific design and pre-shaping help to make them seriously comfortable on the bike.
Andy Lloyd / OurMedia

The biggest win for me with the Joint VPD System Knee pads is just how comfortable they are.

There aren’t loads of size options to choose from, but the stretch in the sleeve and nice shaping should mean most are catered for.

Even on long rides, these pads remain comfortable and it’s almost easy to forget they’re on. That’s a real plus when you remember they offer a decent level of protection.

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The biggest hurdle for many is the price. As ever with POC, you know you’re buying a quality bit of kit, but considering the competition, these are still quite expensive.

How we tested

In order to get the best possible idea as to how these pads perform, we rode in a variety of weathers, temperatures and on different types of trails, including everything from super-rocky and rough to long stints of pedalling for hours on end. 

Why do weather and temperature conditions matter? Well, due to the make-up of many of the pads’ protective inserts (often a malleable material that hardens on impact), the temperature can have a dramatic effect on just how flexible (or not) these inserts are.

While some need warming up to get them moving and feeling comfortable once over the knee, others bend easily from the get-go.

Then, of course, there’s moisture to worry about. That includes a soaking from puddle splashes or heavy rain downpours, along with becoming saturated in sweat when working hard on really warm days. Will the pads stay in place even when dripping wet? And do they become any less comfortable when drenched?

Finally, it’s worth trying each set of pads when wearing shorts and trousers. Will shorts simply glide over the pads as you pedal or do they get snagged and bunch up awkwardly? Equally, are they slim enough to slide under the trousers comfortably or so bulky that they simply won’t fit?

Riding these pads back-to-back, and often with a different brand on each knee, ensured we could pick apart the differences effectively and work out which pads were worth spending your hard-earned cash on.

Also on test

  • 100% Teratec Plus
  • Rapha Trail
  • Troy Lee Designs Stage

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $225.00EUR €160.00GBP £140.00USD $150.00
Weight 372g (M)
Brand Poc

Features

Features Sizes: S, M, L
Protection: VPD
Gender Unisex