August 6, 2019 at 7:28 am #267465
We would love to share our readers’ stories about how knee/elbow padding, and otherwise body protection has proven effective for you. Please share your story here and I will contact you with follow up questions if need be.
August 6, 2019 at 9:34 am #267478
Under the best of circumstances, we would never need any protective gear. I certainly have been on countless rides where my armor really had no use whatsoever other than to make me feel more confident. However, all it takes is one nasty yard sale to change most meat bags minds that maybe some protection despite the heat or how cumbersome it is may be better to keep one’s flesh and bone intact.
I’ve always thought helmets were an absolute when riding off road, but other pieces of armor have become standard for me as well over the years. I’ve worn some kind of knee armor since the early 00’s and rarely ride without it. It has saved my knees countless times from getting banged up and having grown up skateboarding it was not a big deal for me to get used to.
There is however one piece of armor I’ve ran since the late 90’s that I am surprised more riders do not employ. My hands are my job and after a couple of unpleasant wrecks in the late 90’s I began wearing wrist guards. This started as a medical issue brace after a nasty sprain. I rode with it and the light went on my head that I could use a heavy duty set and avoid most serious hand/wrist damage. After some trial and error my go to’s became Triple 8 wrist guards over full finger gloves. I ride with these always off road. I tend to go through several pairs a year, but at less than $20 a set it beats injury/out of work costs by a long shot. They have saved me countless times, but five years ago they became priceless.
I was doing my local ride which began with a two mile commute from my house down some sidewalks and then to the greenway that the trail is off of. I was goofing around jumping some planters along the sidewalk and wiped out hard enough to hit my helmet and see some stars. When I shook it off after a few seconds I felt my hand hurting pretty bad. One of the nylon braces in the guard was cracked and I felt kinda sick. I got up and rode back home where I found my hand and wrist were sore, but could still move everything. I set up an appointment to see a hand specialist I knew on Friday and in the interim (it was a Tuesday when this occurred) I medicated, wrapped my hand, made a special brace for it isolating the pinky where the most swelling had occurred and performed diode laser anti-inflammation therapy as much as I had time for over the next several days. Upon seeing the surgeon, initially he stated that I would need pin placement in my 5th digit due to a fracture, but upon questioning me further and seeing that my hand seemed to be doing fine he decide to reevaluate six weeks later.
As luck would have it all of this happened just two weeks before I was to go spend five days in CO at the IMBA fest in Steamboat Springs. I nearly blew it off, but went ahead after my friends hassled me nonstop. Consequently I not only rode all the crazy lift access black diamond park stuff with my buddies that weekend, but continued to ride and work without any issues. At the reevaluation the surgeon said that my bone and the surrounding tissue had actually healed up so well that surgery would be counterproductive.
Since that time, I have seen a number of friends and others sidelined by wrist/hand injuries. Some have begun wearing wrist protection devices, but most have not. It is beyond worth it to me and I always kinda imagine that it makes me look like some kind of evil robot. I see still being able to ride, work, and looking like a robot as wins.
August 6, 2019 at 11:33 am #267508
This spring I had an off in a local bike park. I washed the front wheel on the approach to a small but fairly high-speed double-double. I swapped on the takeoff and cased the first double sideways causing me to high-side myself over the second double landing hard on very gravely soil. I expected my knees and elbows to be shredded, but my G-Form pads did their jobs and I really didn’t have any ill effects to the protected parts (I also retired a helmet and bruised some ribs).
August 6, 2019 at 1:19 pm #267521
yes, knee pads have saved me a few times.
August 6, 2019 at 7:44 pm #267536
Quite a few time over the last five years riding.
August 7, 2019 at 9:58 am #267548
I see this forum was started focused more on knee and elbow padding. But I have found my helmet has proven valuable in a way I didn’t expect it to be. I have been saved more branches smacking me on the head and never needed from falling off the bike. There may come a day but I thankful for the overhead protection it provides. Most of the time the hits would be small and hurt some but probably not cause serious injury. A couple of weeks ago i was riding the opposite direction on a trail I have done multiple times and did not realize how low a substantial size branch was and smacked it pretty good with my helmet. Hurt even with helmet. I imagine it would have knocked me off the bike without the helmet and ended my riding that day. Another viewpoint on why helmets are good.
I find the story about wrist guards interesting. I would probably look at you funny Dr Sweets if I saw you on the trails but I get your point. Thanks for sharing. Probably won’t go that direction but interesting point.
Gloves and eye protection are two additional ones that are high on my list and I wear each time. Most of the time glasses save me from bugs and spider webs but every now and then there is that thin branch that is not noticed at speed and all the other things to pay attention to. Occasionally mud flying up. Saving my hands from cuts and slaps is much appreciated even with thin riding gloves.
I am paying attention to this thread because I have wondered about knee pads myself. I have seen YouTube vids promoting them but I just don’t see them much when I am riding and have heard few guys promote them. I have one guy in the group I ride with weekly that wears them.
Maybe I will have to bust a knee up before I learn. Or maybe my skills need to improve more where I am pushing limits and realize if I do wipe out I need the additional protection.
August 7, 2019 at 11:28 am #267572
Never. And I have the scars to prove it. Ha !!!!!! I guess I should buy some protection. I always seem to have a scab or two some place on my legs and arms. My helmet has saved the old noggin twice.
August 7, 2019 at 1:04 pm #267582
I don’t think I ever know.
I’ve had many crashes with no serious outcomes. I don’t count dirt rash or a few bruises as a bad outcome. Last year I had a crash that didn’t seem like a big deal, until I noticed I could see my patellar tendon. I think knee pads would have turned this one into a bruise.
Now I wear knee pads. They have definitely protected me from a few scrapes and bruises, but I have no idea if they have prevented anything more severe. I have a couple in mind where the pads _might_ have made a difference. However, given how many crashes I had before having a serious injury, the math says the most likely answer is 0. In 4-5yrs, I’d guess the number will be closer to 1 than 0 (with low confidence).
For me, pads are a protection against a very rare event.
Maybe as I get even older, I’ll start thinking of scrape/bruise protection as a benefit, and my opinion will change. 🙂
August 7, 2019 at 11:00 pm #267653
As others have pointed out, you don’t necessarily know when the protection you’re wearing has saved you. But based on my prior experiences I can tell you the following has absolutely made a difference:
Helmet – on more than one occasion I would have sustained a major blow to the head
Eyewear – after getting an eye scrape early on when I started riding tight singletrack I bought safety glasses. I since upgraded to prescription Oakley’s. Given the numerous times I have had branches, overgrowth and thorns scratch my face, there is No Way I would ever ride without eye protection.
Gloves – my fingers/knuckles have been beaten up over the years wearing half finger or limited protection full finger gloves. Since I purchased a pair of Fox Bomber gloves I’ve had no such issues.
Knee pads – I only wear knee pads certain times and only if I’m riding technical terrain. Definitely fewer scrapes when I use them.
Backpack – while I typically wouldn’t think of a backpack as protection it saved me one ride. I was doing a group night ride and as I was coming out of a turn at speed my bar clipped a tree. Front tire went sideways and I was airborne. Would up landing on my back in a thicket where my backpack really saved my ass… or in this case my back. Got right up and resumed the ride.
August 8, 2019 at 12:33 am #267655
Kneepads have saved me or at least reduced injury before sliding out of place in a crash many times. Cracked 2 helmets in the past 23 seasons of riding. Those would have been bad head injuries. Just last weekend finally made use of my detachable full face in a crash and probably prevented a few stitches on the chin or lost teeth.
August 11, 2019 at 8:14 am #267842
I ride in areas with lots of oak trees , pine trees and bamboo. Eye wear has prevented, too many to count, twigs in the eye injuries. My helmet has also saved me from grazing branches at high speeds and hard landings. I wear gloves mostly for gripping but, I tend to extend and land on my hands and forearms when I crash and the gloves have saved me from lots of hand abrasions. Other than that, I typically only use knee and shin pads on tight rocky single tracks.
August 13, 2019 at 1:55 pm #267987
I started wearing knee pads after a bad crash that left my right knee stuck between my bike and a rock with my foot still clipped to the pedal and no easy way to unclip. The skin on the outside of my knee was entirely gone and I came real close to tearing the inside of my knee up. I was off the bike for over a month and the knee didn’t feel right for quite a while. If I’d been wearing the pads I use now, it wouldn’t have been more than a bruise and I’d have been riding again in the next day or two. We kind of need knees to pedal and I don’t want to stop riding, so anywhere I ride that has the slightest bit of technical feature I wear knee pads at now no matter how hot or humid it is and they’ve saved me more than a few times.
August 22, 2019 at 5:55 am #268567
What I only have is some knee and elbow pads, and helmet. One time I was speeding downhill and suddenly I need to stop because of a dog who’s licking his feet on the middle of the road. Ended up just having some small bruise on my legs and some scratches on my hands but a bloody scratch since I stopped my body with my hands first 🙁
August 22, 2019 at 11:28 pm #268633
After enjoying a quick session on some fairly tame local downhill trails, I went for one last run before heading home to get ready for a business appointment. On that last run, I washed out, and my right shin slid across the bare outer chainring of my 3x drivetrain. I got up, saw the skin hanging off my shin, strapped a cloth around it, and started hobbling down the trail calling for help. Two other bikers happened to be there, and they helped me down the trail to the very conveniently-placed urgent care next door. Fifteen stitches later, I made it to my business appointment, in full MTB regalia and with a huge bandage around my leg.
I’ve worn knee pads (with integrated shin guards) ever since.
Recently, I took an easy ride up a large jump that is way out of my league. I thought I would just ride onto the top of the table. Turns out that the table had been dug out into a gap, and my front wheel went down and I was thrown over the bars. I landed hard, tore a hole in the palm of a glove, and skidded down the dirt and gravel of the jump on my knee pads. There’s now a deep cut in the hard plastic, but my knees were totally fine, with only some scrapes—ABOVE the knee pads.
I’m becoming a big believer in protection.
August 26, 2019 at 5:21 pm #268910
I bought both knee and elbow pads back in May. About 5 days before I was going to Bentonville and then Sante Fe, and Taos, NM in late May to ride I went for a ride on one of my local bike trails but didn’t take either knee or elbow pads because I figured it would be a short 45 minute ride and I wouldn’t really need them. Big mistake. Road rash on my left ankle, shin, and knee big time after FOTHB trying to go over a root. Most of the area of my leg would have been protected had I worn my knee pads. Made my riding the following week a little less enjoyable because of the pain. Lesson learned for sure. Better to be safe than sorry. Kind of goes with what my police officer brother-in-law says about his handgun: Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Ride On!
August 26, 2019 at 5:54 pm #268913
I see a few people have mentioned eye protection which was the first thing I thought about. I usually ride during the day, so its my sunglasses most of the time. I also have clear, vented, tight fitting safety glasses for when it’s overcast or the sun is setting. I can’t count how many times those glasses have gotten clipped by a branch or hit by debris coming off the rider in front of me. Going full send with something in your eye is…no good.
August 27, 2019 at 3:34 am #268927
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