Test Locations: Jackson, Wyoming; Black Rock, Oregon; Winterpark, Keystone, Fruita, and Grand Junction, Colorado; Bootleg Canyon, Nevada; Moab, Utah; Whistler, BC
What Fox says:
“The Fox Launch Pro Knee Guard is the next evolution in comfortable, ergonomic knee coverage. With its soft shell fit, you receive lightweight stay-put coverage throughout the entire range of the pedaling motion so you can stay focused on the ride ahead. Perforated neoprene offers comfort & breathability. Ergonomic plastic knee cup with Kevlar® fabric coverage. A pre-curved ergonomic fit ensures pure performance while in the ride position. Wrap-around hook & loop closures for a secure fit & easy on & off.”
Material: injection-molded plastic, mesh
Protection Area: knee
Closure System: hook-and-loop
Recommended use: downhill, freeride
Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
Test Duration: 2 years
I will start by saying that I am extremely particular about the size, fit, style, and comfort of my mountain bike gear. I have worn many different types and brands of knee protection over the years (e.g., 661 4x4s and Kyle Straits, Alpinestars SLC, other Fox Launch pads), and the Fox Launch Pro Knee Pads are the best I have experienced.
I am 5’10”, 155 lbs. with a slim build, and the last thing I want is to have my knee pads move when I suffer a fall. I first tried the L/XL, and while they did fit, they were slightly loose. I downsized to a S/M, which were a little tight, but after a few runs they broke in and have fit perfectly ever since. All I had to do was tighten the Velcro straps a little after about a year of riding.
What stands out the most about these pads for me is their comfort level, and their ability to remain in place, exactly where I want them. The ergonomic bend they have is spot on. They do bunch up a little when I’m standing straight up, but as soon as I get into a bent-knee riding position, there is no bunching whatsoever.
The elastic straps on the top and bottom always keep the pads in place, and the elasticity has not worn out during the two years I’ve used them. Also, after a few minutes of riding and sweating, the pads stay in place even better, and I can hardly notice I am even wearing them. I also found them to be more comfortable than any other pads I have tried, including similarly priced pads, like the 661 Kyle Straits and Alpinestars SLC pads.
I can only comment a little bit about the Launch Pro’s actual crash performance, because in the last two years I have fallen only a handful of times. (And most of those falls ended in a catlike maneuver with me somehow on my feet.) I have, however, taken three falls where these pads helped me walk away without a scratch. One fall in particular included a direct hit on my right knee, and I did not suffer any bruising or abrasions at all. The soft padding on the inside of the knee cups is very plush, and I have never experienced any movement of the pads in a crash situation, which is crucial to providing good protection.
The Kevlar fabric on the exterior of the knee cups is still in great condition. My left knee pad, however, did develop a small hole (1-2mm) in the Kevlar from a thorn I brushed up against on the side of the trail. This happened a year ago, and the size of the hole has not increased.
I have not tried to use these pads for XC riding, but some of the shuttled downhill runs in Jackson, Wyoming, involve a 30–40-minute climb to the top. I have worn these pads riding all the way up and found them to be comfortable for the most part. The perforated neoprene is not excessively hot, but it is a little hot, for sure, so I usually throw them on my pack instead. When riding downhill, even in extremely hot locations like Bootleg Canyon and Moab, I did not find these pads to be uncomfortably hot, either. As long as I am moving, the perforated neoprene allows air in and keeps the temps down inside the pads.