I know you must be sick of bloody knee pads but I'm on a mission to find the holy grail and I won't rest until I do. I had been eyeing up these good looking Specialized Atlas jobbies for a while but I couldn't find them for sale anywhere as they have been very popular so when I finally found them at Burkes Cycles a couple of months back I handed over $90 (wow that's cheap) and here we are a good 20 or so rides later.
So what have we got? A super lightweight sleeve with a lightweight memory foam knee cup that is flattish in shape but molds around the shape of your knee when it warms up. It has that kevlar type non-rip material over it and the sleeve is all a mesh type material that breathes real good and doesn't get wet and sweaty. A hinged type opening at the back of the knee with soft piping that doesn't rub your skin raw. 3 crash pads at both sides of the knee to prevent frame smack and glancing hits from passing trees and such like. A long thigh sleeve to prevent flashes of milky white thighs as your shorts ride up around your bollocks when you sail off 15 metre step-downs. It's all looking pretty good isn't it? The holy grail?...... Almost.
So it wasn't long before everything turned to custard. The leg gripper dots on the top band are minimalist and don't grip very well at all. This really pissed me off as they keep migrating down my thigh until they stop at my knee. I do have quite tapered thighs (I do a few hundred squats everyday at the dishwasher, oven, finding the kids dirty laundry under their beds, climbing ladders to clean out the gutters etc etc, so if you are a family man like me you may have the same problem) and I thought this may have been the issue, but I have since found a few skinny thighed whippets who are suffering the same fate. Also the bloody stitching can't handle being stretched and is popping all over the place and is unraveling elsewhere from not being tied off correctly in the factory.
The sliding gripper problem is 90% solved if you have undershorts that have their own thigh gripper band and are long enough to sit over the top of the knee pad sleeve but this is unacceptable and I will be sewing another thigh gripper band (from an old pair of undershorts) onto these pads as soon as I can get the jammed bobbin out of the sewing machine and can replace the pink thread from the fairy costume I made my daughter last week.
I'm prepared to do this because apart from LEG GRIPPER FIASCO I just love how these pads work, feel and look and they are worth the perseverance.
Come on Specialized design team.....If you're putting a leg gripper feature on a product...check that it works first.
The good: Lightweight, good impact protection, comfy, low profile, good looking, great price, don't get very wet and sweaty.
The bad: Poorly executed stitching.
The ugly: STUPID little leg gripper dots that Neil Armstrong couldn't land a fricken lunar shuttle on if he was an ant. GODDAMMIT I'm so angry.......!!!!!!!!!!
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It's now a few months later and lo and behold Specialized have brought out (very quietly) a revised version of this Atals knee pad and they very wisely sent me a pair to try out. What has changed? The two things I have been bitching about, namely the stitching (appears much stronger and hasn't failed yet) and a decent leg gripper. Not only that but the knee cup is larger and has more of a cup shape which sits around the knee cap with even more comfort. My first ride was in the Whakarewarewa Forest during Crankworx and for 5 hours I rode and shuttled the bus and rode some more and I didn't have to touch them once. Yes, they are now absolutely perfect for an all day pedalling pad with half decent protection. Nice work Specialized Bicycle Company.