The pricing was the first thing that grabbed my attention to the Mace Gear dirt jump knees; the MSRP on the pads is around $30 Canadian Dollars. When I went to my neighbourhood shop in search of a set, I was blown away by the quality of the construction. There were no loose seams, the ‘loop and hook’ (also known as Velcro) fastening system appeared to work well, and the pads appeared to be adaptable enough that I could wear them outside of their natural environment (dirtjumping) and use them while tearing down the trails.
I went with a size big since that’s the one I’ve been using for years whenever I’ve worn leg armour. The vast majority of riders will need to take their shoes off in order to slip the knee-only pads over their feet, much as with the vast majority of the other knee pads already available. It’s not a major concern unless you’re in a rush, and in my opinion, it doesn’t affect the product’s capacity to provide protection in any way. Unless you’re in a hurry. Once the straps have been pulled tight, the hard shell plastic knee cup has a good fit, and it doesn’t slide about excessively when the rider is on the bike.
The first time I wore the pads, I was a bit worried since they felt extremely tight on my legs. This caused me to have some doubts about their effectiveness. Although it is true that I could have purchased a set of pads in an extra large size, by the time I had used the pads for a few rides and the material on the straps had loosened a little bit, I was relieved that I had not gone with the bigger size. I have the impression that the Velcro fastening material could be a little bit wider on the pad proper, and that this adjustment would likely take care of the tightness I experienced while, at the same time, increasing the adjustability of the product. I have this impression because I have the impression that the pad could be a little bit wider.
On the trail, the pads offered decent protection from the minor injuries that can result from falls or crashes. During the test period I laid the bike down a couple of times and came away with nary a mark on my knees, although the plastic shells did gain a couple of scrapes and shallow gashes. In terms of fit, I did find that the Mace DJ knees would shift a little bit over the course of a trail. This movement wasn’t enough to limit the effectiveness of the pad but it is something that might be an issue for some riders.
While I had few problems with the fit of the pads on descents, I found that the armour was restrictive during climbs. Like most other types of leg armour that I’ve used, I preferred to remove (or release the top strap) when I was heading uphill for a long ascent.
To sum up, I feel that the Mace DJ Knees are a decent option for mountain bikers seeking affordable protection for their knees. While there are other products on the market that offer a better fit, they’re more expensive and the Mace DJ pads do fit fairly well and don’t shift too much while offering decent protection against bruising and cuts. I probably wouldn’t take them along for an all-day epic that has intermittent climbs and descents but I have no problem recommending them for trail riders whose descents are not broken up by a bunch of climbing.