When we requested a KTM 690 Enduro R test bike a few years ago (read our 2009 KTM 690 Enduro R road test), I asked KTM’s press relations guy to send me a set of KTM-Thor Force Knee Guards to evaluate. I wore them on test rides of the 690 Enduro R in the Los Padres National Forest, the Carrizo Plain National Monument and elsewhere. Long after the 690 went away, the KTM-Thor Force Knee Guards have continued to be essential gear in my dual-sport arsenal because they fit and work really well.
KTM is in the business of designing and building motorcycles, not protective armor and other apparel. They struck a deal with Thor to offer its Force Knee Guards with KTM’s logo and orange-and-black color scheme. (It has similar deals with Alpinestars, Leatt, Ogio and other companies; see KTM’s 2012 Powerwear catalog.) Thor’s Force Knee Guards, which have an asymmetrical design (there are specific guards for right and left knees, though they’re sold in pairs), have a perforated Airprene chassis that fits comfortably around the shins and lower thighs and over the knees. The upper and lower high-impact plastic sections are connected via dual pivot system that flexes naturally. In the middle is a polyethylene knee cup that is woven with Aramid fibers for maximum durability. The guards attach to each leg with wide neoprene sleeves that wrap around the calf and lower thigh and are secured with hook-and-loop. For added stability, three adjustable elastic straps, one around the lower thigh and two that criss-cross over the calf, go over the neoprene sleeves and hook onto the rigid plastic guards.
For optimal comfort, the knee guards should be worn over a thin, synthetic base layer or KTM Knee Brace Socks ($29.99), which prevent the guards from chafing bare skin. Worn under loose-fitting dual-sport riding gear like the Olympia X Moto Suit with the regular knee armor removed, it’s easy to forget you’ve got the KTM-Thor knee guards on. But when you need them, you’ll be happy they’re there. When it comes to off-road riding, falling down isn’t a matter of if but when. I’ve had a few minor get-offs on trails while wearing these knee guards, and I’ve been spared pain or injury. They guards provide much better protection than the built-in knee armor found in riding apparel; for less than $100, it’s money well spent! Full-on knee braces provide the most protection, but they’re much more expensive and are really intended more for high-flying motocross riding rather than long-distance street/dirt dual-sport jaunts.
KTM-Thor Force Knee Guards retail for $99.99 and come in three sizes: SM-MD, L-XL and XXL-XXXL. They can be ordered from your local KTM dealer or various online retailers such as KTMhutt.com.