POC’s Joint VPD System Knee pads fits nicely in the trail riding range of riding protective wear. They offer a comfortable level of protection for a wide range of riding.
The Swedish brands VPD System pads are light and comfortable enough for all day riding, but still provide a solid level of protection. With a minimalist design, the pads are aesthetically sharp while still providing ample protection from sharp objects.
That protection comes from POC’s VPD material. Like other modern protective materials, VPD remains flexible while moving but hardens upon impact. This translates to pedaling comfort, reducing pressure on the knee. The VPD material is soft and flexible to keep you mobile on the bike, until you come off unexpectedly. If you’re into safety standards, the pads are certified EN 1621-1 for shock absorption.
Having put over six months of hard riding in on the VPD System pads, I’ve had several opportunities to test the pads tenacity when you get into a tough spot. The material does provide a good level of protection on impact. It’s not the same as a full, hard shell pad, but it’s not supposed to be. Compared to some lighter weight pads, the POC pads are thick enough to provide more confidence when the going gets rough. Over repeated impacts, the VPD System pads have protected from trees, errant rocks, and the occasional knee-to-shifter impact. The impact material remains flexible and comfortable while pedaling.
Just as impressive, the outer fabric of the VPD System pads remain in great shape after several good slide-outs. POC uses a high-tenacity polyamide yarn that is supposed to be low friction, while still being highly resistant to abrasion. The outer material still looks next-to-new after months of riding through dust and mud, and multiple machine washes.
To keep weight, POC uses a simple gripper band to hold the pads in place. There’s no straps or fasteners anywhere on the pad. Despite this, the pads felt like they were secure in place. There was minimal stretching from first wear to months of abuse, meaning the VPD system never started to feel loose, or like they were sliding around while riding. That said, if the lack of adjustment means there’s not a ton you can do if they don’t feel right, so it’s worth taking the time to try a pair on before you buy.
On the trail, the POC VPD System pads are light enough for long pedals. They’re not featherweight XC pads, but they provide substantially more protection than some of the minimally padded options. The keep heat buildup to a minimum, and allow plenty of airflow. Especially when you pick up speed, you can feel the air passing through to help keep the knees as cool as possible.
Overall, the POC VPD System pads work well. With little to tear or break, their simplicity helps make them a reliable pad through miles and months of abuse. Sitting in a sweet spot between “too light” and “too heavy to pedal in,” POC’s pads are good for a wide range of everyday riding. They’re also worth a look if you’re planning big adventures where you want added protection, but don’t want to add extra weight. If you’re doing shuttle runs or bike park laps, you might want one of POC’s heavier options. For anything short of that, though, POC’s VPD System pads combination of minimalist look with solid protection is an attractive option.
For more from POC, check the review of its Essentials trail and XC kit.