Whether you prefer BMX riding or mountain biking, chances are you have a healthy passion for getting off-road and onto trails that twist and turn. Naturally, when you’re zipping between trees, getting air off jumps and hitting banks at speed, things can go wrong very fast and if you don’t have the right protective gear, you could end up in a lot of trouble. As the old saying goes in mountain biking “you move, trees don’t”! However, as all off-road bikers know, you don’t always move in time and crashes are part and parcel of the sport, so you need to protect yourself.
There are countless brands and companies out there that specialise in creating safety equipment specifically for mountain bikers and BMX riders. For instance, Fox helmets are a particular favourite with both amateur and pro riders and are available in a wide selection of styles and price points.
Not all offerings are created equally though, so it’s important that you take some time to do some research, look at reviews or watch review videos online to make sure you get quality gear. Whilst you don’t need the most expensive gear available, you’ll absolutely want something that carries the right certification level to keep you safe should you be in a crash on the trails.
Let’s take a look at some essential pieces of kit every off-road bike rider needs to have with them when they’re hitting the trails.
Always Wear A Helmet
You should always wear a helmet when you ride and there are no exceptions! A helmet is more important than ever, however, when you are navigating rocky trails surrounded by trees and other obstacles. There are three main types of helmets: a half-lid helmet, which is your standard helmet style; a full-face helmet that features a chin guard for more facial protection; and finally, a breakaway helmet which has a removable chin bar, allowing it to be calibrated as either a half-lid or full-face helmet.
Make sure to try on a few different options when you are in the process of buying a helmet, even if you know roughly what you’re after well before you enter your local outdoor store. Trying on a handful of alternate options may ensure that you find the right style and fit to keep your head protected on the trails.
Protect Your Eyes With Glasses Or Goggles
When you’re riding off-road, dirt, dust, debris and bugs can whip into your eyes without a second’s notice. As you’re flying by trees, branches may also hit you in the face, distracting you from the trails ahead. To keep your eyes protected and focused on the trails in front of you, it’s a good idea to wear glasses or goggles when you ride.
Both glasses and goggles can be fitted with either clear or UV-protective lenses, depending on your preference. The majority of protective goggles will also allow you to swap lenses out so that you’ll always have the right fit for the conditions of any particular day.
Don Well-Fitting Elbow And Knee Pads
If you have a crash, your knees and elbows are very likely to get scratched, torn and potentially even cut open at a minimum, with bone fractures and breakages also being highly probable if you’re riding with minimal joint protection. This is predominantly due to the fact that when you’re travelling at speed and you skid out, your knees and elbows are more often than not the first part of your body to take impact. That’s why wearing good quality knee and elbow pads is essential in staying safe when you ride.
Be sure to choose pads that are comfortable and that fit well. And keep in mind when trying on any fresh sets of pads in-store, that you will be riding when you are wearing them, moving up and down out of the saddle and bending your knees to pedal. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you choose pads that move with you and that won’t get in the way when you’re navigating your favourite trails.
If your new pads are feeling a little stiff, however, it could be a good idea to wear them in a little bit before heading out on the trails again, just to make sure that you don’t feel excessively stiff when riding with your new protective gear for the first time.
Wear Durable, Protective Gloves
A solid pair of gloves is more important than you may think when you’re riding off-road. In fact, many riders notice an instant improvement in their performance, as gloves give you better traction when holding onto the handlebars, especially over rough terrain. What’s more, if you fall or get too close to the trees, they will protect your hands from cuts and scratches. Many mountain biking and BMX gloves also feature extra protection around the fingers, knuckles, and wrists to give you more support and protection from stones or gravel that might bounce up as you’re riding. There is a huge range of gloves available nowadays so be sure to look at some different options before you commit to a particular pair.
Stay Safe When You’re Biking Out On The Trails
When you’re out on the trails, it’s important that you bring the right safety equipment with you to ensure you get the most out of your biking adventures. Go for tried and tested wherever possible.
In addition to wearing the right protective equipment, it’s also wise to carry a first aid kit, a fully charged phone, some snacks, plenty of water, a multi-tool, and a puncture repair kit. Having these essentials in your kit will help to keep you protected should you run into trouble on the trail and have to wait for help to arrive. Being prepared for any eventuality will give you the peace of mind you need to focus on the trails ahead and enjoy the ride.