The first thing to know is, what do you need? A knee guard might be just fine if you’re not planning on doing any trick riding or jumping off of curbs or stairs, but for those that are more into the sport, they’ll want to invest in a good quality protective gear like a knee brace. There are many different things to consider when purchasing these items including budgeting and how often you plan on using them as well as their intended use – whether it’s all-purpose training, competition level racing or stunt work. The list below outlines some of the key points about each type of equipment.
This article discusses the differences between a knee guard and knee brace for riding an electric unicycle. The goal of this article is to provide information about the differences between knee pads and braces for riding an electric unicycle.
What’s the difference between a knee pad or guard, and a knee brace?
Prior to getting knee pads or braces, please note that no article can cover every possible rider’s unique situation.
Knee guards are flexible sleeves made out of thick layers of foam. They protect your knees during falls by absorbing shock and spreading pressure out over the area of impact. Though they offer great protection, some say that knee pads don’t provide as much as adequate support as braces. A major difference between knee guards vs braces is flexibility – a brace has more resistance to bending and will not collapse when hit or after repeated hits.
Another key difference between knee pads and braces is the mobility. Knee guards sit on top of your leg and can easily slide down during use, while knee braces are strapped firmly to the leg and do not move much once properly fitted.
Also, some knee pads come with a soft or hard cap made out of plastic or carbon fiber, respectively. These caps offer minimal protection and durability, but can be beneficial in reducing knee pain in the short term.
In contrast, knee braces have a firm construction with a plastic outer shell and metal hinges covered by padding inside. This gives them much more support for your knees when off roading or doing tricks.
A knee brace may also act like an exoskeleton providing support for abnormal lateral movements to the knee. When you fall off a motorized personal elective vehicle (PEV), like an e-scooter, a onewheel, or EUC, your knees a common area of impact.
In certain crash situations your legs may twist in such a way that your knees take forces sideways, which pulls, strains, and potentially tears ligaments, e.g., ACL, MCL. A knee brace will reduced the potential of your knees getting injured by limiting this sideways, torsional movement.
What part of the knee is injured in a crash on an electric unicycle?
The first and most notable injury to the knee is a rupture or ligament tear. Typically, these injuries will occur when the knee joint is forced to bend in an awkward, less than 180 degree angle. This sudden stress on the joint can overload one of the four major ligaments that support the joint: the ACL, MCL, PCL and LCL. These four ligaments work as shock absorbers for your knees but can be strained by constant stress or excess pressure (source).
Another common injury to the knee is a meniscus tear. This injury typically occurs when there is excessive pressure and force applied between two surfaces of cartilage in your knee joint. As you get older, your cartilage surface becomes thinner and more prone to tearing.
Overloading the leg muscles through excessive wear and tear is also a common injury for knee joints that are put under stress on a regular basis. I’ll note that there isn’t a lot of information about how electric unicycling affects the knees in such a manner.
From information gathered about skateboarding or downhill skiing, you can speculate that overloading the knee is likely a culprit for many EUC riders. This type of injury comes from your legs being strung up with tension while you ride. This excess pressure can cause muscle fatigue and tightness in all of your thigh muscles, particularly in the quadriceps and hamstrings.
Finally, your knee joints and surrounding muscles can suffer from a direct hit to the area while crashing or falling. High velocity impacts such as these can cause what is called “contact trauma,” which results in torn ligaments, ruptured tendons, and bone fractures.
How can I prevent knee injuries when riding my electric unicycle?
You can avoid knee injuries by wearing knee pads. There are many options on the market that offer high-end protection at low prices. The lightest and most affordable option is to choose a pair of basic kneepads made out of fabric, foam, and neoprene rubber. These pads will provide some padding for your knees but can be bulky depending on the design.
The second method for protecting your knees without sacrificing mobility involves wearing a knee brace. Knee braces tend to be bulkier and more rigid than kneepads but offer significantly more protection for your knees while riding.
What are the best knee pads and braces for riding an EUC?
Here are my favorite two pieces of knee protection for riding electric unicycles. You may or may not agree, depending on your experience. But, I find that these are the best knee protective equipment you can get for the money.
Leatt dual axis knee pads and shin guards
Leatt dual axis knee pad has built in shin guards and provides some of the best impact protection for those riding electric unicycles. While a helmet, wrist guards and elbow pads are key pieces of gear to avoiding crash trauma, the Leatt Dual Axis Knee guards are the best protection for EUC rider’s knees.
In my opinion, these are the best knee guards you can get. They provide impact protection for your knee area with knee shin guards to shield against impacts against your lower leg which can happen when you’re on an electric unicycle, especially off road.
Do you trail ride off road with debris and other technical obstacles? The Leatt Dual Axis Knee guards are more money than other knee pad options, but are great protection against all sorts of common impacts to your legs.
You can wear these knee pads over your pants or trousers with straps. Worn over your clothes, the hard plastic shell will allow you to slide during a fall on hard pavement, as well as cushion against impact. The knee pad is hinged at two places, hence “dual axis” which gives you much more freedom of movement when you’re riding.
Though I wouldn’t say these are lightweight, they don’t hinder your mobility. Fully geared up with these, you’ll be comfortable riding your EUC the way you want to.
The overall protection these provide make these some of the best pieces of electric unicycle safety gear you can buy. For the price, I highly recommend the Leatt dual axis guards for anyone riding EUCs, or even other PEVs, like electric scooters (especially at high speeds) or electric skateboards.
Leatt Brace C-Frame Pro Carbon Knee Braces
Electric unicycles are some of the most fun personal electric vehicles you can ride. But, they can be hard on your knees. The Leatt Brace C-Frame Pro Carbon Knee Braces are amazing for riding electric unicycles because they do more than protect against impact when you crash your wheel.
Although most gear you wear will absorb impact to your body, knee braces also provide protection against broken bones, torn ligaments, during crashes that twist or exert force on your knee joints in abnormal ways. You can wear these lightweight braces under or over your clothing depending on what you need. I use these under my denim jeans using a brace sock so they don’t slip.
The double axis hinge on the outside of your leg does all the work for operating the brace. At the same time, your inner knee and shin is bare on the c-frames, which gives you excellent contact with your EUC while riding. One of the problems with other knee braces is that they are bulky and take up a lot of space around your leg and knee area. This can interfere with riding electric unicycles, which feel best when you can move your leg comfortably around the sides of the EUC.
These knee pads have a rigid plastic shell to absorb impact and a carbon fiber reinforcement through the center of the knee brace for flexibility. When you’re riding, the lightweight outer shell and cinch straps combined with good padding help your knee feel like it’s free to move naturally. The impact protection on these braces is awesome (don’t ask me how I know!).
From my experience using power pads, torque pads, or whatever they are called where you live, the Leatt Knee braces work well, too. You can grip your power pads, do jumps, and dig into carves as though your legs aren’t wearing knee braces at all. These braces are comfortable to wear under jeans or walking around town, or while riding your electric unicycle. You can’t go wrong with Leatt Brace C-Frame Pro Carbon Knee Braces for the best knee protection.
Of course, the price of knee braces like the Leatt Brace C-Frame Pro Carbon Knee Braces is pretty expensive (around $500-600 USD). This means you’ll need to consider whether the extra protection for your knees is worth it depending on the type of EUC riding you plan to be doing.
So, which should I get? Knee and shin guard or brace?
In my opinion, if you’re not off roading, doing stunts, or riding fast (>20mph) while seated or standing your electric unicycle, you may be fine with knee guards like the Leatt Dual Axis knee guards. But, for those who are riding performance EUCs that can reach speeds well over 30mph, you may want to consider braces for the ultimate protection.
I’ve sprained my knee twice going at different speeds; once off road, and another time while on pavement while trying to ride seated on my EUC. The slow moving fall, my foot touched the ground and pulled my knee out of alignment with the joint and I pulled a ligament. It was incredibly painful, and could have been avoided if I was wearing a knee brace. The knee guard I had did nothing to protect the joint from moving in such a way.
At the end of the day, you’ll need to weigh the risk with the cost of buying more protective equipment for your EUC riding style. I think knee braces are worth their cost because they reduce the risk of serious injury to my knees. Let’s just say I like riding fast and taking my EUC off the beat path, e.g., woods, forest trails, once in a while. This means I’m looking for ways to keep playing around for a long time to come, and of course my knee braces make a showing on almost all my rides.
What should I do if I injured my knee?
The best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with your primary physician, or better yet, see your local urgent care center. You will want to disclose you were riding your e-unicycle when the injury occurred. The doctor will run a series of tests and examinations to determine what type of knee injury you have, including an MRI if deemed necessary.
Three Knee Pads/Braces for Riding Electric Unicycles (EUC)
Tip: Make you choose the right size. Refer to the sizing guide for each of these knee pads/braces for the best fit for your legs and knees.
Can you tell I’m a fan of Leatt safety equipment, e.g., PEVs, EUCs, and other motorized sports?
Knee injuries can happen when riding an EUC and it’s important to be prepared. Knee pads and braces are a good way to protect your knees in any sport where your kneed may endure impact or collision in a crash. In other words, always wear protective gear. You can see other recommended safety equipment for your electric rideable devices, including EUC in this article.
Whether you’re riding an electric unicycle, an electric scooter, you should always consider safety gear as your top priority.
Thank you for reading this article on electric unicycle related knee injuries and ways to protect your knees! What kind of knee protection do you wear while you ride your EUC? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below.