Crappy knee pads don’t stay put. They shift around while pedaling and they slide out of the way when crashing, which renders them fairly pointless.
I’m happy to report that the G-Forms are solid on both fronts. I did a few mid-length rides (~15 miles) with plenty of pedaling, and the G-Forms stayed put without any issues. I didn’t get any weird rubbing, and for the most part, I forgot I was wearing them. That’s pretty much the highest compliment I can give knee pads.
I fortunately didn’t take any real crashes while wearing the G-Forms, but in the name of science, I did cast myself to the ground a couple times to see if they’d stay put. I did get them to slip down a bit when there was a sliding motion on impact, but I’d say they’re a bit better in this regard than majority of soft pads I’ve tried (including bulkier DH-oriented ones). The only pads that I find to work better in that situation are pads that have a hard plastic shell. In most situations, I think the G-Forms will stay put reasonably well, but again, if you’re looking for true protection from more serious crashes, you probably should bump up to a more substantial pad.
Compared to the Leatt Airflex Pro
I haven’t spent much time in many comparable pads to the G-Forms, but I do have a decent amount of time in the Leatt Airflex Pros. I wore a Medium in both, and the G-forms fit me better, which is to say they were tighter without being too tight. The Leatts have tight-ish bands at the top and bottom of the pads, but the spandex through the middle is relatively loose, and it felt like the pad could shift around more. The Leatts stayed put ok while pedaling, but they were more prone to shifting in a crash.
In terms of breathability, the Leatts definitely win out—the pad itself is perforated to allow airflow, the material used around the back of the knee is a lighter mesh, and there’s a substantial cutout on the backside of the knee.
In terms of protection, the Leatt’s Armourgel pad is smaller than the G-Form RPT pads, but the Leatt has some soft chunks of foam around the periphery of the “main” pad. The Armourgel Pad on the Leatt is a harder material that’s contoured to fit the knee, and it gets the benefit of being CE certified for impact protection. It’s somewhat arguable which is better, and really it probably depends on the precise nature of the crash. I’m not ready to declare a clear winner on that issue.
Personally, I prefer the G-Forms because they fit me a bit better and they seem to stay put better. The only instance where I’d prefer the Leatts would be in really hot weather where the extra breathability would be appreciated.
The motorcycle community likes to use the phrase “all the gear, all the time.” And that’s a really good mantra when you’ve got an engine helping to maintain a healthy breeze. But it gets a bit more complicated when you have to pedal up hills.
For most rides that involve much pedaling, I’ve been ok with just trying really hard not to crash—I’d rather take a bit of risk than be super uncomfortable because I decided to strap some sweaty blister factories to my knees.
The G-Forms have, to a significant extent, changed that.
They’re entirely comfortable to pedal in, and for any ride that carries a risk of hitting the floor, the upsides of having at least a bit of protection really start to outweigh the downsides. So if you’re partaking in rides where knee pads are probably appropriate but you resist wearing them because they’re miserably uncomfortable, check out the G-Forms Pro-X knee pads. They’re a pretty modest investment that will almost certainly spare you some pain in the future.