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  1. #1
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    Knee/Shin Guards: Fox Launch VS Race Face FR

    I've decided to ditch the 661 Veggie wraps as I'm finding them irritating behind the knee, and thought I could use some knee / shins now that I've switched to platform pedals.

    I've been doing alot of reading on the topic and wanted to ask opinions or recommendations particularly between the two abovementioned types of pads.

    I don't really have the luxury of shopping around and trying different ones on.
    I have recently ordered a set of TLD Elbow guards, so see how they go. Anyone had experience with the TLD Combat knee shing guards as well?
    $80AUD


    The Fox Launch looks stealthy and I've read that the crossover straps provide a non slip system - although inside stiching can apparently be uncomfortable.
    $95AUD on sale


    And lastly I don't recall hearing anything bad about Race Face (also known as Roach?).
    I can get a set for $75AUD (plus postage of course)



    I was a medium in the 661 veggies, so I can only assume that would be about the same.

    Out of those 3 which do you reckon would be the better to go for? I'm after whatever is easiest to pedal in (so comfortable) and stays where it's supposed to. Heat shouldn't bother me much - but it's a bonus if I don't have to take my shoes off to put them on.
    Just plain old trail rider here - probably be all mountain if there was actually some decent mountains in the area. I will be looking to wear the protection on most rides regardless. And as we move pretty often (every few years or so) I never know what riding goodness will be around the corner.

    Any imput will be greatly appreciated!

    Thinking about getting a matching set of elbow pads as well.
    Last edited by energetix; 11-15-2006 at 02:35 PM.
    energetix



  2. #2
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    I recently bought a set of the Roach FR knee/shin and elbow guards. So far they have been great. If you decide on the Roach/RF make sure that you spend the extra cash and get the '06 version as they have the bugs of the earlier versions ironed out (from what ive been told). If you look at the reviews you will see that people have had issues with the stitching and velcro. I called RF and had a chat with them about the new versions and they said that they took all the feedback seriously and made improvements that should rectify these issues.

    As far as comfort, I tend to forget that I am even wearing them. Like you, I am mostly a trail rider and needed the pads to be pedal friendly and these are. Also, they are not terribly hot and remain in place durring the ride. The only complaint that I have is that it seems that the knee guard sits a little low, but it does cover the entire knee. JMO.

    No matter what you choose I think you will be happy. People have talked up the Fox Launch as well. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for that input be350ka, I have just read all the reviews on the roach stuff - finally figured out that was why there was no reviews for race face!
    energetix



  4. #4
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    The race face probably has a bit more coverage, but mine tend to slip a bit, but they are so big it does not really affect pedaling ability or coverage.

    Never tried to fox knee shin but form all of the reviews I have read they will be my next DH knee shin.

  5. #5
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    Hmm still thinking about the options.. . .. . .just wondering if it would be going overboard for just plain trail riding.

    I do value my knees and arms though - don't care about scratches as much (ouch they are painful though) but not keen on spending time being sore, not being able to walk properly or in regards to arms pick up my kids without pain!

    I'm sure we all know what that's like, and it's so easy to forget untill it happens again. I suppose if you graphically remember all the pain all the time us women wouldn't be having more than 1 kid that's for sure!
    Last edited by energetix; 11-15-2006 at 11:54 AM.
    energetix



  6. #6
    It's carbon dontcha know.
    Reputation: 6thElement's Avatar
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    I wear a set of the Roach FR knee/shin and elbow guards.No complaints from me at all

  7. #7
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    I wear the Launch Knee/shin guards when I'm riding in really nasty stuff. They do NOT go anywhere. The X-up is a great strap system. I've not found the stitching to be uncomfortable at this point either, but I did break them in wearing them over my underarmor, so the break in may have reduced that factor.

  8. #8
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    Oh & yes I have read about all the stitching coming loose on the Roach / Race Face stuff - supposedly fixed for 2006, can anyone confirm that it's been fixed?

    It can get pretty hot here in Australia (40 odd degrees celcius some times in the summer), I don't mind riding in the hear (as long as there's not too many flies). I was wondering if anyone has a direct comparison wether the launches would be cooler than the race face? The look it, but then look aren't everything I would imagine it depends on the porosity of the inside foam as well.
    energetix



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by energetix
    Oh & yes I have read about all the stitching coming loose on the Roach / Race Face stuff - supposedly fixed for 2006, can anyone confirm that it's been fixed?

    It can get pretty hot here in Australia (40 odd degrees celcius some times in the summer), I don't mind riding in the hear (as long as there's not too many flies). I was wondering if anyone has a direct comparison wether the launches would be cooler than the race face? The look it, but then look aren't everything I would imagine it depends on the porosity of the inside foam as well.
    I've only had my Roach FR (2006 version) for a few weeks and have not had any problems with the stitching. Some of those with the 'oh fives lost the stitching right away. Another improvement on the 06 is the strap length which was lengthened to better fit the system.

    As for your other post about these pads being too much for trail riding I say this. It is better to be safe than sorry. I saw a picture on here of a guy that BROKE his knee cap while "trail riding" and will be out of commission for several months or more. This is the type of injury that never really heals the way you want it to. So, for good measure I decided it was worth the slight discomfort to have the needed protection. Then again Im riding where you have a rock garden every 5 feet.

  10. #10
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    Finally found the picture of the Roach insides.



    I wish I could just go try some on - would solve the problem straight away!

    The Fox's look like they may be cooler, but the Roaches look simpler and less bulky.
    energetix



  11. #11
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    I owned a pair of the Fox Launch briefly before selling them on here (the straps were way too tight around my big calves...I use a large). I also own a pair of the Race Face FR.

    IMNSHO the RF's are more burlier and offer more protection than the Fox.

    I like the knee coverage of the RF better than the Fox. My legs do sweat like crazy in the RF. I never rode with the Fox so I don't know.

    If you have a very thick calf like me...that middle strap on the RF is gonna be TIGHT. Guess that would be better than loose and moving all over the place. But on a chairlift ride up the mountain, I will undo it.

  12. #12
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    I'd be a medium (or small) I reckon - to give you an idea my calf would measure something like 13 inches (33cm) around at the most. My thighs are bigger of course!

    Seems like they are both similar. I don't need burly so perhaps the Fox may be the way to go - I imagine crossover straps would provide a better fit for skinny legs anyway.
    And my LBS (well online LBS) recommended the Fox Extreme elbow guards - or the Fox Launch elbows if I wanted more protection. Although to me looks like fox launch may be more breathable compared to the extreme and otherwise pretty similar.

    Anyone have pics of the leg armour being worn? Any sort of leg armour?
    energetix



  13. #13
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    I ended up going for the Foxe's.
    They were nice and cool (weather here is around 40 degrees C at the moment and that is not exaggerating!). They look great and also the strap system is really good - easy to take on and off etc. Better than expected freedom of movement for pedalling and they were also light weight.
    I did see what people mean by the stitching rubbing (or something) - couldn't ride for more than an hour and a half, would have got red raw skin above the knees otherwise. Next time I wore 3/4 length shorts under & didn't seem to make much difference. I reckon this is more to do with placement - I think they need to sit higher than I had them and the problem should have been just about gone. Didn't get to try that out though. I sent them back for a warranty repair / replacement as the stitching on the edge of one of the straps became undone and the strap wouldn't have lasted very long at all (that's just after 2 rides in them!).
    After that I've kind of lost confidence in the product and tend to think it may be better to try the Roaches or even the Mace Tectonic. Anyone used the mace (pic below)?

    energetix



  14. #14
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    A thing I do with all gloves, guards, etc.. it's I get a lighter and burn/seal all loose strings. Usually they have a synthetic fiber in them and they melt, forming a bond, just like you'd do to a rope when you cut it. Never had any issues with my launch pads, and it's the fastest and easiest strap system around, at least for me.

  15. #15
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    the Fox pads are totally worthless, the inside stitching being"uncomfortable" in an understatement, they will absolutely SHRED skin, the fit is pretty mediocre too, there's not enough padding behind the shell to really absorb any impacts. I have a brand new set sitting in my spare parts bin...worn twice. and the shin protection is suprising short

    the Roach/Raceface FRs are amazingly comfortable right out of the box, impacts feel like nothing in them. the DH ones have better protection for the back of your legs, but are a little hotter

    I rode with FRs on a few 30c days, they got a little sweaty, but not unbearable and the perforated padding pushed a decent amount of air while I was pedaling

  16. #16
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    I use 661 Kyle Strait for trail. They are just a knee pad, but are comfy and don't move. They were the only pads I tried on I'd ride trail with. I tried on ALL the knee/shin combos, I'll save those for lift-assisted riding. If you take a medium, look into T.H.E. (Toby Henderson Enterprises) knee pads, they were a little small for me, but were pretty nice. They only come in one size, it seemed like a medium. I'll probably buy the Roach pads for next summer, they had a good fit and are really burly.
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  17. #17
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    I've ordered a set of Race Face FR pads over the Mace Tectonic. Seem to be better tried, tested and rated overall.

    And I figured being white they may be a bit cooler than the Maces in the 40 odd degree C temps we're haivng already.
    energetix



  18. #18
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    i just got a pair of the roach/raceface fr's, might have gone too big though? i had a pair of sixsixone's that were an adult small, but they seemed a bit short (never kept the knee covered) while the fr's are a medium. but they feel too big? how does everybody else where them? they cover my entire lower leg, right from the ankle and total coverage of the knee, feels safer but also feels a little too big, or it could be that i am jsut not used to the size as they do seem to fit right.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by energetix
    Oh & yes I have read about all the stitching coming loose on the Roach / Race Face stuff - supposedly fixed for 2006, can anyone confirm that it's been fixed?
    .

    I ride the DH pads ...and ride about 4 times a week......I take them on and off each run....we do minimum 2 runs....anyway the stiching lasted me 2 years so that isn't that shouldn't be an issue as far as I am concerned

    I love the pads and would recommend the DH version that has the mesh on the back to protect your calf from pedal bites.......anyway the knee guards in my opinion stay on better then any other pad when falling/crashing ( I have ridden Fox, 661, Azonic and Kona launch).

    If you want really good protection then these are the pads.....If you want some pads just to be there in case you fall but you mostly do XC, then get something a little lighter then these pads

    Just my .02 cents
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  20. #20
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    I just got the Race Face Rally Pads yesterday.
    Yeah my first impression was "gee these look bulky" and the fact that they were gray in colour compared to how whitish they look on web shots.

    Rsfocus - I got the mediums as well and they go from my anke and cover my knee. The fox launches were a bit short in that dept and dindn't look as bulky either.
    They seem like they will be real comfy (comfier than the fox launch pads) and they are definitely comfier to walk in than the foxes (the knee doesn't lift off the leg when your leg is straight). Have only worn them around the house so far as I can't get out for a ride untill tomorrow or the weekend.
    I think they are designed to pretty much sit at your ankle - if you try to put them up higher the bottom strap is too short. The straps on the medium could be a little short if you have big calves but I reckon they will probably stretch somewhat over time so it's probably a purposely designed thing.

    I'd say if you don't want burly looking pads then these aren't really for you, but protection should be great and for me comfort is the most important thing - which I'll reserve the verdict on untill I can get out on a couple of rides.
    I'll be doing alot of pedalling, only concern is wether the top straps above the knee will chafe behind the knee
    energetix



  21. #21
    over 50 years of cycling
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    Cool-blue Rhythm Roach FR

    This is what the Roach FR look like after a few years of thrashing.
    No sign of stitching issues on MINE.

    They do cover ankle to above knee, but at least they don't slip down....nowhere to slip TO!

    I have to admit they are suprisingly comfortable and stable, and I seem to survive wearing them in hot weather, although in cold weather they add some warmth I enjoy. And they certainly do the job of protecting with my "aggressive XC" riding style. (i.e. no Big Air).

    The arm protection works, but it does seem bulky and just too overkill for my style of riding, although I use the arm pads for controlled "course correction" as I ricochet through tight trails in the woods, and they are pretty scratched up also. The arm protection covers but does not support the wrists, which is a bit much. They would be great for crashing on rock gardens and stay in place nicely. I am looking for something a bit lighter duty myself.

    Note the big scratches in the knee pads in my photo. Besides all the other dings, that one hit alone would have taken out my knee cap, probably permanently at my age.

    Sure is nice to be able to come laughing up from a bit of a crash.
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  22. #22
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    I reckon stitching coming undone can be expected after a while and is a pretty easy fix with a needle & thread (as much as I hate weilding those tools!). But when it happens within the first few weeks or rides then it's an issue for me.

    Yep those pads look exactly same as the ones I just brought - except for the dirt, scratches & race face logo instead of roach.

    Thanks for posting up the pics!
    energetix



  23. #23
    over 50 years of cycling
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    Quote Originally Posted by energetix
    I reckon stitching coming undone can be expected after a while and is a pretty easy fix with a needle & thread (as much as I hate weilding those tools!). But when it happens within the first few weeks or rides then it's an issue for me.

    Yep those pads look exactly same as the ones I just brought - except for the dirt, scratches & race face logo instead of roach.

    Thanks for posting up the pics!
    Oh yah, and the calf straps are too short on the Roach branded version too. They must be designed for chicken-leg Super Models or sumpthin'. Definitely don't fit overblown calves or REAL mtn bikers. I am constantly popping the straps loose during rides since only about the last quarter inch actually is grabbing. Straps around the knees are plenty long, and I actually run those pretty loose for ventilation, without sacrificing protection, and believe me, I have tested them often.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twisted Trail
    Straps around the knees are plenty long, and I actually run those pretty loose for ventilation, without sacrificing protection, and believe me, I have tested them often.
    Sounds like a good tip!
    energetix



  25. #25
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    And the verdict is

    I rode for about an hour or so (18ks), it had rained late yesterday so there was some mud on parts of the trail (otherwise it was mostly dry). Temperature today is supposed to be 36deg C, I went out about 9am before it got too hot.

    I did the tops straps fairly loose to start with, one pad started croaking so after going up and down the hill I tightened them up. No chafing behind the knee at all which was my main concern when I wore them around the house.
    The pads are hotter than the fox launch ones, they are bulkier, but they are really comfortable to pedal in.
    Only problem is mud flicking up and for some reason it likes to get into the pads above the knee - that can lead to irritation, I found a couple of red marks just above my right knee which feel tender now that I'm back home, only thing I can put it down to is the mud that got in as the inside pads are soft as. I reckon most pads would probably have the mud problem though - fox ones certainly would as the top opens up just like the RF pads.

    Coasting down hill I could feel the cool breeze coming in, but nothing like it did with the foxes - I imagine the Race Face DH version may have better front venting as it has more of a baffle system similar to the fox launch pads allowing more air flow.

    In the end I reckon if you live in a hot climate you're probably used to riding in it enough not to worry about having sweaty legs - it didn't seem to make me feel any hotter overall.
    And if you pedal heaps then these are worth a look, if you have big legs / calves you should probably try them on first as the straps can be on the short side.

    Big ugly leg - showing the mud that got in....



    Gee they don't actually look that bad in a photo! Look bulkier from my point of view.

    energetix



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