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The 7 Best Mountain Bike Elbow Pads of 2021

When it comes to mountain bike pads, knee pads get all the love. Go to any bike park and you’re guaranteed to see a bunch of people wearing kneepads as their only form of protection beyond a helmet. Elbow pads? Much less common, and that’s really unfortunate. In a crash, you’re just as likely to impact your elbows as you are your knees, and elbow injuries keep you off the bike just as long as knee ones do.

For riders looking for that extra level of protection, mountain bike elbow pads have come a long way from the hard-shell and bulky options of the past. Elbow pads are now lower-profile and more comfortable than ever. With the best mountain bike elbow pads, you might not even remember you’re wearing them out on the trail, but don’t fear, they’ll be there when you need them. If you haven’t worn elbow pads in the past, it can be hard to figure out what separates a good elbow pad from the crowd, and what features you should be looking for. To help simplify that process, we’ve put together this list of the best bike elbow pads on the market, and broken down their features, how well they work, and what kind of riders will benefit from each model. So stop leaving your elbows unprotected, find a good pair of elbow pads, and ride with a little more confidence.


POC VPD Air Sleeves

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2020
 
 

POC’s VPD Air series is designed to offer comfortable, breathable protection for all-day rides. The Air sleeves are lighter, and more comfortable than most other elbow pads on the market, making them a great option for anyone who’s looking to earn their turns while wearing elbow pads. They use a simple elastic compression sleeve, with silicone grippers, without any straps to adjust. This makes them lighter and more comfortable, but also makes it more important to make sure you get the right size.

The VPD Air Sleeves don’t offer as much protection as some of the other pads on this list, they’re more of a padded arm warmer. So if you’re taking a bunch of hard falls, you may want to look at a beefier option. But if you’re looking for lightweight, comfortable protection, that you’ll barely even notice, the VPD Air Sleeves are some of the best mountain bike elbow pads.

Pad MaterialIntended Use Original Price
Perforated foamTrail/Enduro$60

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7iDP Transition Elbow Pads

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2021
 

7iDP's Transition mountain bike elbow guards roll out a compelling and sleek package. The long sleeve length, paired with silicone grippers ensure that you won't be constantly fiddling to keep them in place. With the longer compression sleeve, they wanted to give you a breather, with a lighter mesh material on the inward side. So this means, you'll have less overheating issues out there on the trail.

Pad MaterialIntended Use Original Price
FoamTrail/Enduro$59.99

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IXS Carve Evo‚Äč+ Elbow Guards

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2021
 
 

More protection than some soft pads, and more range of motion than an old-school hard pad, the IXS Carve Evo+ elbow pads offer a great balance. The Xmatter foam pads are made out of a viscoelastic polymer that is built to absorb heavy impacts - it's no ordinary foam. This makes for a comfortable pad that will keep you safe. Meanwhile on the comfort side of the equation, mesh inner material on the inside is less bulky and more breathable. Over the top, two velcro straps keep things tight and right.

Pad MaterialIntended Use Original Price
FoamTrail & Enduro riding$99

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POC Joint VPD Air Elbow Guards

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2021
 
 

When you're not trying to look like a terminator, decked out head to toe, and just want to protect your elbows, POC has designed one of the best mountain bike elbow pads in the Joint VPD Air. Compared to some of the other longer sleeve style elbow pads on our list, these take a more low and shorter-profile approach. The fit is dialed with one strap and neoprene to grip. They don't bunch up either, meaning they're so comfortable that you might forget they're on. The pad itself uses POC's space-age VPD material that is soft and hardens on impact. Take it together and these are one compelling option.

Pad MaterialIntended Use Original Price
VPDTrail/Enduro$69.95

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Fox Enduro Sleeve

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2021
 
 

Fox’s Enduro Sleeve is designed for riders who want a little extra arm and elbow protection but don’t need a bulky, hard padded DH arm guard. The Enduro Sleeve slides on easily and stays put thanks to an elastic design that also eliminates seams that often cause chafing. The Enduro Sleeve’s foam pads move with you easily, they don’t really restrict movement at all, and they do a good job of absorbing most impacts. If you’re looking for an elbow pad that’s comfortable lap after lap, the Enduro Sleeve has your arms covered.

Pad MaterialClosure Original Price
FoamElastic$54.95

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Leatt Airflex Elbow Guards

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2021
 
 

Leatt’s Airflex line of protective gear is designed to strike a nice balance of breathability and comfort and protection. The Airflex Elbow Guards do this by combining a perforated, pre-curved silicon pad with a stretch sleeve that has silicon grippers to keep it in place. The Airflex doesn’t offer quite as much coverage as some of the other pads on this list, instead it’s designed to disappear during the ride, you should only notice it when it’s saving your elbows.

The Airflex Elbow Gaurd is light and comfortable enough that it makes sense on technical trail rides, but it offers enough protection that it’s not out of place in the bike park either. If you’ve struggled with bulky, uncomfortable elbow guards in the past, you owe it to yourself to give the Airflex a shot.

Pad MaterialClosure Original Price
SiliconElastic$74.95

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Ion E-Sleeve AMP Elbow Sleeves

Best mountain bike elbow pads of 2021
 
 

Ion’s E-sleeve AMP is a super low profile compression sleeve that’s barely bulkier than a long sleeve jersey. It’s designed to provide barely-there protection so that there’s no excuse to not wear your pads. The E-Sleeve uses a mesh material strategically on the inside of the arms to let the pad move with you, and keep you cool. The pad itself has an abrasion-resistant cover and is removable for rides where you just want the added warmth of the sleeve with no bulky pad. If you’re looking for minimalist mountain bike elbow pads that still offer good protection, the E-Sleeve AMP is hard to beat.

Pad MaterialClosure Original Price
FoamElastic$75

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