Race Face Ambush Knee Pads 3 Yr Review

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Race Face Ambush pads in action…

Time flies when you are in love. I wanted to check that it was at least a year since I bought these pads so I could review them and realized it’s been 3 years! Pads are like shoes…very personal on fit…so I can’t say these will rock your world as much as they rock mine, but if you like them half as much as I like them you’ll be glad to have tried them.

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A little worn after 3yrs of regular use, but not bad…

What’s so great about these pads?

  • they open fully so they can go on without taking off your shoes [I love that!]
  • comfortable for 5hrs+ rides with no chaffing
  • well padded for excellent protection in a crash
  • durable – mine show lots of wear and tear, but they are not near done after 3yrs
  • not too bulky
  • not ugly as sin
  • didn’t stretch out

It might sound like a minor feature, but the fact that these pads open up so you can put them on and take them off anytime without removing your shoes is very sweet. I use it literally all the time. It makes transitioning from fireroad climbs to techy trails a snap. Want to dry them out at a rest stop on a hot sunny day?…no problem.

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Close up look…

Aside from that part of the design the main claim to fame for these pads is the 3DO padding that is flexible for ease of pedalling yet provides a lot of protection in a crash. It drives up the cost of the pads, but is well worth it in my experience. I’m not an expert on armour pad material, but these are my 3rd or 4th set of 3DO pads and I’ve had no complaints despite a few solid crashes.

The other thing I will comment on is that these pads are well made. What I mean by that is there are no obvious weak spots that lead to failure while most of the product is lightly worn. I hate that. The Ambush pads feel like they are wearing slowly and consistently. In particular the elastic straps are not stretching out unlike all my previous pads. That usually leads to a poor fit and I’ll start looking for new pads. These pads fit and feel the same now as when I bought them.

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Artsy pad porn… 😉

What’s not so great about them?

  • not cheap [~$100 USD – that’s like $399 CDN]
  • while not too bulky they aren’t super svelte either
  • they can get warm and sweaty on hot days

The Ambush pads are about average on the hot and sweaty front. No worse and no better than similar pads I have used. I don’t know if it’s reasonable to expect better ventilation from a full coverage pad like this without compromising protection and durability? Given our weather tends towards mild it’s not an issue for me.

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Ambush pads from the front…

Their size is just at my limit for not feeling like I’m wearing too much armour. If they were any bulkier it would bug me. They are fine as is and if they could be made lower profile without compromising the protection I wouldn’t mind that at all. Although I do have some Race Face Indy knee pads that are smaller in terms of pad bulk they are part of a leg sleeve thing that gets quite hot so it’s not really an improvement overall.

Over the years I’ve had a few problems with Race Face products [not these pads] and I have found RF very responsive to my problems. They listened to what I had to say and shipped replacement product out ASAP. I have used many many RF products so that’s not to say they fail a lot. They stack up well compared to other brands I’ve used for warranty issues.

They do get stinky after extended use and need washing. In summer that’s about once a month because they dry faster in the heat. In the winter I wash them every 2nd week. You are probably supposed to follow special care instructions. I’ve never read that label! I wash them in cold water on the regular or heavy duty cycle with normal detergent. In the winter I dry them on the low setting in my dryer. In the summer they get air dried in the sunshine. So far no problems with this cleaning process.

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Side view…

So ya…bottom line great pads. Not perfect, but pretty darn close. I’m very tempted to buy a spare set at the end of my 2016 No Buying Resolution so that when the current pair wears out I’ll have a fresh set to use instead of having to hunt around for good pads once they inevitably get discontinued or “improved”.

If you need pads these are worth checking out. 🙂

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