What is Mountain Biking Protective Gear?
Hitting the Trail with the Right Mountain Biking Protective Gear
Mountain biking can be exhilarating, dangerous or relaxing, depending on what you want to achieve, your style of riding and your skill level. However, no matter what you're doing on your bike, you will need to ensure that you have the right mountain biking protective gear. Of course, the types of gear that you need will vary based on an immense range of factors, including trail condition, speed, your riding style, skill, weather and your fitness level, just to name a small fraction.
Before you hit the trail or start blazing down hillsides, you'll need to make sure that you are properly equipped for the task at hand. Knowing the types of protective equipment available will help you make a wise decision for your biking needs and keep you safe no matter where your wheels might take you.
Types of Equipment Available
There are many, many different types of equipment out there for mountain bikers, and not all of it will pertain to you. However, having at least a basic understanding of minimum protection requirements can give you a firm knowledgebase from which to find the right options to fit your particular style of riding.
Helmets are, of course, the one piece of mountain biking protective gear that holds the same for all types of riding. Whether you are going cross-country or downhill biking, you have to have a helmet. However, there are different types of helmets – cross-country biking helmets are great for many types of biking, but if you will be putting yourself in serious danger (downhill or air-style biking) then you need to ramp up your protection a bit more. There are three types of helmets worn in mountain biking. These are basic bike helmets, skateboard style helmets (half-shells) and full-face helmets (BMX or MX style helmets). If you are part of an organization, chances are good that they will mandate the type of helmet that you have to use, and they are also required at all competitive events, as well.
Gloves are another important consideration for all riders. You need long-fingered gloves in most instances, to keep your fingers warm and to prevent damage should you take a fall. In most types of biking, a helmet and a pair of gloves will be all that you need.
However, if you will be racing or biking at high speeds, then you need to consider limb protection. There are many types of body armor available, and these range from simple neoprene sleeves or leggings to complicated body armor systems that incorporate neoprene with hard plastic shells over the elbows, knees and in other areas.
Kneepads are important protection for mountain bikers, particularly those who will be riding rough trails where the terrain might be unstable. Likewise, elbow pads should also be worn when in rough terrain, and many riders choose to wear them at all times.
Of course, many riders choose to go the full armor route here. Chest protectors like those worn in motocross and BMX racing are sometimes worn, particularly by those who put themselves at risk.