Does my child need knee or elbow pads for biking?
Whether your child is a timid, reluctant rider or an aggressive daredevil on two wheels, knee pads and elbow pads for kids can be a lifesaver for confidence or body parts! Knee and elbow pads can give your timid child the confidence to keep trying, and can keep your aggressive child out of the ER! And what about all those average, neighborhood riders – do they need knee pads? We’ve seen time and again that knee and elbow pads give kids a sense of protection that allows them to explore and be adventurous beyond their normal inclinations.
So who are knee and elbow pads best for? Truth is, they can help just about any kid! Check out our short list of the best knee and elbow pads for kids – the next best biking accessory (after a helmet of course).
What about kids on balance bikes? Pads are great, but consider getting gloves as well, as kids often fall hands first. Zippyrooz are our favorite for toddlers and preschoolers.
6 Best Knee & Elbow Pads: 2020
Best Knee & Elbow Pads
Why We Love Them
|7 Protection Transition Pads||Widest Variety of Sizes (Ages 2 - adult)||$30 - $60|
|Best for Growing from Balance Bike to Pedal Bike|
|Fun Designs and Easy to Fit|
|Best Bang for Your Buck|
|Best for Aggressive Riders on a Budget|
MSRP: Knee Pads: $50 Elbow Pads: $35
SIZES AVAILABLE: Youth S/M, Youth L/XL
FULL REVIEW: G-Form Protective Pads
Along with being the most comfortable pads on our list, the G-Form pads also feature the coolest technology. Soft, flexible, lightweight, and breathable are not adjectives normally used to describe protective gear. But the G-Form pads contour to your child’s body and allow kids to move nimbly and easily. And then… they harden upon impact to protect when you actually need protection! Cool, right??
- Super safe – extended protection compared to traditional pads, without added bulk or weight
- Very comfortable – soft and bendy to conform to the contours of the wearer and they harden on impact!
- Very durable, but also come with a lifetime warranty
- Flexible fabric allow pads to fit kids for several years
- Sizing can be challenging
- On the expensive side
Widest Variety of Sizing (2 to adult)
MSRP: $30 (kids), $60 (youth)
SIZES AVAILABLE: Kids S, M, L, Youth S/M, L/XL, Adult
With extended coverage and sizes to accommodate just about everyone, the 7 Protection Transition Pads are easily some of the best pads we’ve ever tested, and the best fitting pads for your smallest balance bike riders.
As a brand focused on protective gear for mountain biking, 7 Protection guards are extremely durable and well made. The Transition pads extend higher and lower than standard kids’ knee pads for extra protection needed while mountain biking, and feature a breathable sleeve for less sweat and added comfort.
While the Youth pads’ length may be a bit much for neighborhood riders, the Kids pads are smaller overall and perfect for any type of young rider.
The protective core uses body heat to mold to your little rider’s knees, making them surprisingly comfortable and allowing kids to maintain the same level of agility and maneuverability as riding without pads. We were super impressed as we watched our little balance biker sprinting with ease in the hot Texas summer sun.
Because these pads feature a sleeve rather than a velcro system, they are harder than other pads to get on and off, but stay in place really well. They are also offered as elbow pads.
- Body-heat conforming pads are comfortable and promote agility
- Lightweight and breathable
- More coverage than most kids’ pads
- Best-fitting pads for young balance bike riders (18mo – 2 years)
- Exceptional quality
- Sleeve makes them harder to get on and off than velcro systems
Best for Growing from Balance Bike to Pedal Bike
MSRP: $20 (also available as a set with gloves for $40)
SIZES AVAILABLE: 1 size grows with kids 18 months to 5-years-old
FULL REVIEW: Strider Knee and Elbow Pad Set
After the success of the Strider Balance Bike, Strider set out to create a quality protective pad set that actually fits toddlers and pre-schoolers. A small and a large set of pads can be used as elbow and knee pads for pre-schoolers. For toddlers and smaller kids, the smaller set of pads can actually be used as knee pads first, and then as elbow pads as children grow bigger.
You also have the option of buying a set with gloves, which we definitely recommend – balance bikers usually fall hands first, so gloves are actually more important than knee or elbow pads!
- Comfortably fit the smallest riders (a rare feature!)
- Simple, effective, and affordable
- Much better quality that most safety pads
- Smaller toddler knee pads converts to an elbow pad as the child grows
- Scratch fairly easily
Fun Designs and Easy to Fit
SIZES AVAILABLE: Three sizes S (2-4), M (4-8), L (8-11)
With long straps that attach anywhere to the velcro on the pad, the Simply Kids knee and elbow pads are easy to tighten or loosen for the perfect fit for your child. The fabric and pads are breathable and soft, making them fit more naturally than cheaper pads we’ve seen. As a result, kids are less likely to want to take them off.
Be aware that these pads are available in two different versions. 1st Gen has standard knee pads, while 2nd Gen has shin guards attached to the knee pads. The shin guards make the pads pretty bulky, so unless you feel shin guards are absolutely necessary, stick to 1st Gen.
- Soft pads and straps are comfortable for kids
- Come in lots of fun colors and designs
- Available in a wide range of sizes – likely to fit your child no matter their age
- Also comes with gloves, so you may be paying for more than you need
Best Bang for Your Buck
MSRP: Little Tricky -$35, Junior Saver Series – $30
SIZES AVAILABLE: Little Tricky – 4 to 8-year-olds, Junior Saver – 8-year-olds+
FULL REVIEW: Triple 8 Pad Set
Well-designed for the price, Triple 8 pads come in two different sizes for young and older child riders. Wide straps help to better secure the pads to knees and elbows, and full coverage pads provide solid protection while flexing with movement. The pads also come with a wrist guard that is a fantastic bonus to have if your child will be rollerblading or skateboarding in addition to biking.
- Thick EVA foam
- Full-coverage plastic protective cups
- Easily moves and flexes with the body
- Available in 2 sizes – Little Tricky (age 4 to 8) and Savers Series (age 8+)
- Sets come with wrist guards that are great for skateboarding, but not useable for biking
Best for Aggressive Riders on a Budget
MSRP: Knee/Shin Guards – $15, Elbow Pads – $15
SIZES AVAILABLE: One Size – Kids 5 to 9-years-old
The knee and elbow pads are sold separately, so you only have to buy what you need! The knee pads are also shin guards, providing more extended coverage than any other pad on our list. They do tend to be a little stiff and will restrict movement more than other knee pads, but if your child is a little daredevil, that extended protection could come in pretty handy.
- Elbow and knee pads are sold separately so you only pay for what you want
- Extended coverage for aggressive riders
- Low cost
- Extended coverage can be stiff – best for aggressive riders
How to Teach a Child to Ride a Balance Bike: For help teaching your child to ride their new balance bike
How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bike without Training Wheels: Teach your child to ride faster and with less drama!