Learn about which Mountain Biking Protective Gear is right for you in our Tech School
More Information about Mountain Biking Protective Equipment
Making the right choice in protective equipment means knowing bit more about what's out there and how it will affect your budget, as well.
Helmets: As mentioned earlier, helmets are vital for all types of mountain bike riding, from the basic cross-country rider to the trail rider. The cheapest helmets out there are standard bike helmets, and you can usually pick up a decent one for about $30. A skateboard-style helmet can also be worn (and is a popular choice), and one of these will set you back by about $20 or $30. A heavier, BMX/MX style helmet will provide better protection and will cost you between $40 and $80, though some options are far more expensive.
Gloves: Your riding choices and the weather in which you ride will determine what type of gloves you wear. Most people choose a full-fingered glove, though some people prefer to have gloves that offer knuckle protection, as well. These are important if you will be downhill biking and offer vital protection for your hands. A decent pair of biking gloves should not cost more than about $20 or so, but be prepared to spend more if you opt for armored gloves. Body Armor: Body armor is available in a bewildering range of types and styles. The simplest armor is little more than a fabric covering for your skin to help protect you from abrasions on the road or trail. Prices vary drastically for different types of armor. For instance, you might pay $80 or $100 for a chest protector, or you might pay $50 for a simple body armor shirt without any plastic armor built into it. The best option here is to simply determine how you will ride, what risk level you anticipate and then shop accordingly. Remember, though, the more armor you wear, the more weight you will bear and the more it will affect your endurance.
Elbow Pads: No matter what type of riding you decide to do, you're best opting to purchase a set of elbow pads right off the bat. A set of soft shell pads can be a good option for cross-country riders who won't be facing rough or unstable terrain. However, if you will be facing greater threats, then the best option is to go with a set of hard shell elbow pads, as these will provide far greater protection. The tradeoff is that they do limit your mobility somewhat. A set of elbow pads should not cost more than about $15 or $20.
Kneepads: Kneepads are another essential piece of protective gear for riders in almost all areas. Soft shell kneepads can be good options for those with low risk levels, but hard shell pads are the best option for those who will put themselves in harm's way to a greater extent. A set of kneepads should not cost more than about $20, unless you opt for a set with shin guards built in, in which case you might pay $30 or $40.
Determine what style of riding you prefer and then choose your equipment accordingly; different riders will have very different needs in mountain biking protective gear.