POC Sports has some impressive protection pieces and inside we take a look at their latest Joint DH Long Knee 2.0 pads. These new pads offer some additional protection and slide-ability with the hard plastic shell over the knee area. Read more inside.
Words: Toni Walbridge
Photos: Jason Nixon / Zak Brown
POC Joint DH Long Knee 2.0
For 2013 POC introduced a longer, more heavily padded knee pad with a hard shell knee cap aimed at downhill riders dubbed the Joint VPD 2.0 DH Long Knee. I’ve been a fan of POC’s Joint VPD 2.0 knee and it’s predecessor so I was rather keen to get my hands on their new full blown DH version.
There are a few significant details that separate the DH from the non-DH versions but the most obvious is the hard shell knee cap. The DH is offered in a 2.0 long version at the moment and a Knee Pad only option with the same hard shell you see here is announced for 2014. One of the things that I like about POC’s armor is their use of VPD (Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough) which is very soft and unrestrictive while moving but then hardens instantly on impact.
Video: POC 2.0 2014 Pads
Hard plastic over the knee
There are several competing products on the market and while I’ve not sampled all of them, POCs implementation of VPD exceeds the impact protection of those that I’ve tried. Additionally, the 2.0 version of VPD is 3D molded for a more exacting fit compared to the original models. This results in the 2.0 pads fitting much more snugly and offering substantially better protection in my opinion. I should clarify though, that if you’re thinking about sliding these pads under your skinny jeans you’re going to be disappointed, even loose fitting jeans can be a hard sell.
The downsides to VPD technology other than the aforementioned bulk is that it isn’t a hard shell material to resit sharp objects and won’t slide easily against objects. Additionally VPD material can be a bit stiff when it’s cold. The VPD 2.0 DH Long Knee aims to resolve two of those drawbacks, primarily through the implementation of a hard plastic cover over the knee cap area.
In theory, sharp rocks will not pierce the hard plastic but equally important is that it will slide across surfaces instead of grabbing them which in turn will prevent the pads from being pulled off or moved in a crash. In addition to this cap, the upper strap is about 1.5 times wider than the original POC pad providing more resistance to slipping. All in, these are easily some of most bomber knee pads I’ve ever tried. The top velcro strap is also housed inside the pad stitching nicely to help reduce any movement or slippage. The full backing can be seen below as well.
Wide straps and back of pads
When I first pulled on these pads it took some effort to install given their newness. Out of the packaging, they felt a little stiff, tight, and feel a bit bulky in comparison to the traditional POC knee pads. At the same time, there’s no question that they’re not going to slip easily, no matter how big the fall is. They feel like they were built for Rampage. That said, tucked up under long shorts the POC DH pads actually look pretty normal, almost minimal. You could probably still clip a shin with a pedal but it’s fairly unlikely. Most importantly, your knees are very well protected.
The first couple rides I did were in the hot weather and with the pads also not quite broken in they kinda felt like combat leg warmers. Honestly, I wasn’t too keen on them. Protective, but uncomfortable. By the third ride though, they really started to break in, as a bonus it was a cold, rainy day at Winter Park and they certainly helped keep the core temp up. Since then they never really “disappeared” like the shorty knees do but I notice them less and feel like I can move freely in them. I haven’t had any big crashes in them and as much as I like to be thorough, I’m not about to go slamming at high speed just to see how well they work. I’ve crashed plenty in the short version and considering how well they’ve worked, I suspect these pads might very well be the ultimate in leg protection if you don’t need full length protection.
Final thoughts? As a pad to deliver the ultimate in leg protection they score high marks and that’s no doubt the most important point. I really like the hard knee cap and just dragging my knees across the ground, skate style slide outs will be great in these pads. For comfort, they’re a bit warm unless the temps are down and since summers in UT are pretty darn hot, I don’t suspect I’ll be grabbing them that often for summer riding. They’re also a bit bulky which is not so much a concern with shorts but you’re probably never gonna get these under jeans easily. Personally, I’ll probably keep riding the short VPD 2.0’s and pick up POC’s 2014 Joint Knee 2.0 DH pads with a plastic knee cap. Try as I might not to make too much of the comfort issue, I just can’t get passed it as I’m so used to wearing a knee only pad. However, if you wear full length knee/shin now I’d highly suggest that you consider these. Compared to any other knee/shin combo that I’ve tried these feel like they would provide considerably more protection in a crash and for that it’s hard to fault the VPD 2.0 DH Long knee pads.
Snug, no-slip fit thanks to 3D molding and well placed straps
High quality construction, these should last a while
Warm when it’s cold out
Takes a few rides to break in
Takes some effort to install in comparison
Never going to fit below pants/jeans
Hot when it’s warm out
These pads can get stinky. To get the funk out, I like to soak them in the sink a bit with a mild detergent and rinse thoroughly. Next, run through the dishwasher (I just use regular dish washing detergent). Once they’re clean, let them air dry in the sun.