The bed surface of bike park trails can be unforgiving, bulletproof concrete.
Crashes can happen on your first lap - we've all been there. But what you choose to armour up with can better your chances of walking away unscathed. Mandatory elbow, glove and back protection is on the rise while racing in gravity events, including enduro racing, yet there are still plenty of average mountain bikers out there that don nothing but a skid lid and bare knees.
If you were sleeping under a rock and missed coverage from the 2021 World Cup downhill from Leogang, racers were chomping at the bit to go fast and prove themselves on the racetrack again. The practice sessions were filled with carnage with barely anyone finishing the day without hitting the deck. A lot of the top athletes had moments they would rather forget about; Danny Hart narrowly avoided a tree in the lower woods at a rapid pace, Myriam Nicole washed the front wheel just 10 seconds into her race run, and Vali Holl laid it down on one of the last corners while on a winning time. Other than Charlie Harrison
, most kitted up riders were able to walk away.
But it's not just the gravity racers that crash. Two very decorated female World Cup cross-country athletes, Kate Courtney and Jolanda Neff are currently out with injuries, with the Olympics just weeks away. More protective equipment may not have helped them in those accidents and it would be surprising to see any cross-country racer appear on the start line with knee or elbow pads. Their performance is primarily driven by pedalling power and any idea restricting that would be laughed at, but they do take some precautions, like eyewear.
Try riding this with both eyes closed. Eye protection isn't just there to stop a stick in the eye.
Enduro racers are caught in the middle. The nature of the discipline requires athletes to pedal to the top, but race to the bottom, so there will be a compromise between mobility and insurance. They have often argued that their format of racing can be the most dangerous, since they are riding longer stages, with less practice, on trails that could easily warrant a downhill bike.
Loic Bruni isn't burdened by back and elbow protection.
Arts and crafts won't cut it anymore.
If you've ever watched Pinkbike's Friday Fails
, you've surely questioned the minimal levels of padding that some riders display. But what is the right amount of protection, is a tough question to answer. How much protection you choose to wear can vary too, depending on average trail speed, the difficulty of trails you intend to ride that day, or even the skill level of other riders who you are riding with.
When you're using motocross bikes to test jump trajectories, you may as well use the same type of helmet, as Nico Vink does.
Hows that shimano lawsuit going?
Plus I'm getting old.
I wear a full face all the time now.
Check out Leatt impact shorts for some decent thigh, hip & top o' the pelvis protection.
They made the lower leg openings way to small for the waist for cyclists, but I cut the heavier elastic. They're still a bit tight on the thighs but I don't really notice once I'm riding.
With the current crop of lightweight full face helmets, and 3DO/equivalent pad materials, you can really be quite comfortable, and protected at the same time.
I'm lucky in some ways, I grew up riding dirt bikes (trail riding, not moto) and a full face feels totally normal to me while I'm out riding. And with that, some lightweight breathable elbow pads (Leatt Airflex), and a decent pair of knee pads (7IDP Sam Hill) I feel pretty prepared heading out and riding.
I know which one I want you to pick....
The torso protection is really tha hot shit.
I can run the same gear while everything is frozen around me. I am still comfortable. But with the heat, na I can't get up hill in time or at all... Riding Enduro..
I am a new rider. I wear All the protection. When people see my kit they say "Lol... Look at this Kook/ Jerry/ Loser".
However I feel safer more confident and have more fun with the pads on. So it's worth the name calling I guess.
I can usually be seen wearing:
D3, Leatt Brace, Airbrakes, mouth guard, POC Chest, Back, Elbow and Knee pads
Padded gloves (fox defend)
Hard Toe flats (510 freeride pro)
Various DH pants
That being said if you're wearing all of that on a XC loop some gentle teasing might be appropriate. But you do you man!
In all seriousness I wear all the protection except elbow pads and I only occasionally wear my neck brace (something people my age usually don't) and I've never once been made fun of.
Someone should talk to all the bmxers who don't even wear helmets though.
“Basic bitch” lmao
The "uncomfortable" argument is total bs. Pads are lightweight, grippy, flexible and breathable these days. I always ride with them and forget they're on 5 seconds later.
Crashing is all knees and elbows and the smallest damage can fk you up permanently, or at least long term. And it's mountain biking, the probability of connecting with rocks and roots is pretty high.
Stuff like the Leatt Airflex Pros have saved my elbows plenty of times. Even the lightest protection can make the biggest difference.
Same exact thing here.
I broke an elbow on the side of a rails to trails sort of commuter trail goofing off years before I actually started mountain biking. And now I wear pads on every ride.
The Leatt airflex elbow pads have been great. Like you, I've found I think about them when I put them on, but otherwise I don't think about them again until the end of the ride (or I crash).
I've ridden with them up into the low 100f range (103f IIRC), and I still really don't notice them (knee pads I notice more when it gets hot). That said, it IS easier to pad up if you live somewhere you can ride in the cooler weather (easy peasy in the PNW when most riding is between 35-65f), so I get that.
How is the fitting from the leatt elbow pads? Im always struggle with the sizes from other companies
My knees (without pads) have a knack for finding the pointiest rock on the whole trail to catch on, whereas my forearms usually just slide.
The sizing on the elbow pads was pretty decent, but I'd say order a size down if you are kind of between sizes. I was between sizes and initially got a size XL. While those felt fine in the shop/around the house, they didn't work on the trail (they'd vibrate down my arms), so I went down to the larges, and have been really happy with them since.
I intentially went with lightweight elbow pads, specifically because I figured if I got heavier duty ones, I'd not wear them 100% of the time. And the only thing worse than getting a busted up elbow/road rash because you didn't own any pads... is getting busted up elbows/road rash because your pads were at home/in the truck. And so far I've stuck to this plan, and wear them every ride.
I do have the older generation though (they redesigned them in 2020 IIRC), so its possible they have changed.
I've only "tested" them a few times, but so far, no problems. But if I was doing propper DH/lift access stuff, I may want something a bit beefier. But for the normal trails we have around here (PNW, so mostly "all mountain/enduro" types of riding), they seem perfect.
Better some lightweight than nothing
Although 40 years of rolled shoulders gave me plenty of arthritis which, according to a neurosurgeon, saved my back when I went out the front door and cracked a couple of vertebrate.
Yes, a cameblack Hal full with water and a lightweight down sweater provided better protection than most certified spine protectors in a test by a German bike magazine a few years ago.
In German, and it costs €2 for the pdf, or the entire magazine issue [9/18] is about $5 in the Apple app.
The last 5 years or so, all my tumbles have been at the moments least expected. Not while racing enduro, riding parks, racing XC, or going flat out on the local trails - heck, not even at 70km/h gravel downhill with curly bars, or alpine downhill on my fatbike. It's been while commuting with my brain idling, or on the way back from the trails chatting with my mates.
The faster I go, the safer I am, no matter what type of riding it is. Simply because concentration, and knowing where my limits are.
Commuting with a full DH kit is an option.
I disagree. Man can speak and he can build/innovate within an economy. Other animals cannot do that. By this very nature we do hold a privileged position. I agree that Man himself is inherently flawed but that does not mean that the concept of intelligent design is flawed.
I certainly do not think non whites are subhuman but rather that all men (including women) are equal before God.
park riding - use to ride without chest protection, last year bar punch my rib cage - now I have leatt (Moto I believe d3 west )
however heaviest injuries like broken leg and shoulder that happened to me, no protection could prevent or even reduce impact;
googles are super Important with FF helmet especially in park/dh, friend of mine had face surgery after crash if ff and glasses;
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that backprotectors (in shirts, vests or backpacks) provide much protection against them.
After all, most spinal cord injuries, you are talking about bending or rotating of the spine. Think pile driving into the ground, or ‘scorpioning’. Back protectors only protect agains impacts to the spine, like landing on a pointy rock.
So I definitely wear them, but I am aware they won’t prevent many of the serious injuries.
That’s where neck braces can add some protection.
First major crash in about 8 years of hard DH, and it was right when I was questioning why I was wearing 10x the gear everyone else had.
High top shoes to protect a rebuilt ankle, thigh to ankle hard leg protection, always full face, armored gloves, and now a Leatt compression vest as it has hard flank plates along with their armored short with hip & tailbone padding.
Nothing quite like blinding pain and a long ride down/drive home to make you step up your gear. I still have nerve damage & swelling 2 years later.
In my younger days I literally got stitched up & back on the mountain so I wouldn't waste the full day lift ticket..
Leatt 3.5 $250.
Still a lot of money, but compared to bikes, lift tickets, let alone medical services, it’s not the biggest ticket item.