What riders want for pads and protection

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    • #270699

      Hi everyone,

      I have a cool project going on right now for school and need the MTB community to help out…

      I’m basically trying to design a new form of protection for mtb riding, whether its enduro, xc, trail riding, whatever you want to call it.

      What would your ideal protection from crashing be?

      What do you love about current pads?

      What do you hate about current pads?

      What could be improved/changed?

      Basically, if you could create your ideal pads for riding, what would they be?

      Thanks in advance, and feel free to add any questions, comments, suggestions, and concerns and have a discussion between yourselves!

    • #270706

      Greetings! Let me toss a couple things out there which I hope will help you.

      Your pads need to be engineered to be the following:

      • Protective. That’s the whole point.
      • Non-restrictive. The best way to protect the body from a crash is to avoid one.
      • Comfortable/Breathable. This comes next.
      • Look cool. That’s nothing but vanity.

      With that as a general guide, begin by looking at what you want to protect. What are the areas of the arm/leg/torso/etc. that need the most armor? How much protection does that need? How can I protect it? For example, for a knee we tend to focus on the kneecap. You may decide a hard shell w/ foam behind it is the way you want to protect the knee.

      Once you figure out what you’re trying to protect, next think  about how you can secure your armor/pad to protect that area. Following that, look at how your attachment solution impacts how a person can move her knee. That’s a hinge joint, so keep that in mind.

      Now that you have the type of protection, a way to attach it and you’ve taken mobility into account, you can look at how to ventilate the area. The last part would be to make it look cool . . . but that’s subjective.


      Hopefully this post will help you with your project.

    • #270760


      Thanks! I appreciate all you said, and you definitely raise some good points to think about! However, I am a design student and have a pretty good grasp on the design process, how to identify a problem and go about developing a solution. At this point i am looking for direct rider feedback (user research), not the process of how to design a pad. But again, thank you for your suggestions.

      So, with that being said, do you ride with pads at all? If so, can you give me some of your thoughts on them? Do you wear them on extended rides? Only on the descents? Do you have to take your shoes off to put them on/off?

      If you don’t ride with any sort of pads, why don’t you? What new features or new type of pad would make you want to buy them?

      This is the type of information I’m looking for, i want to develop exactly what us Mountain Bikers want and need so I’m looking to the forums for as much feedback as possible!

      Thanks everyone


    • #271011

      I wear pads; my background comes from Motorcycles where I wore All The Gear All The Time. For Mountain Biking, here’s my list:

      • Elbow pads. The pair I have are soft, comfortable and allow for plenty of movement. I’m not riding very rocky terrain, otherwise I would look at getting a set of hard elbow pads.
      • Knee pads. The kind I wear are by Herobiker (I believe I did a review on Singletracks) and they are rather substantial. You may want to read my review on that to get a good breakdown. Unless I’m just riding in the parking lot w/ the family, I wear these every time.
      • Shin guards. Yup, I wear my soccer shin guards for my trail rides as well. The old Addidas hard shell guards aren’t the most comfy, but they protect against brambles (I ride in the woods and the single track gets narrow here on the east coast) and pedal shin strikes. I’m first degree in TKD and used to compete, as well as playing LaCrosse and Soccer. My shins have been through enough.
      • Helmet. I wear an Exclusky helmet. I’ve done a review of that as well.

      It appears you’re mostly interested in the knee pads. I hope my review and response is helpful.

      • #271020

        Thanks again for your response Revengel! Much more helpful and useful info this time around so I really appreciate it!

        I’m definitely focusing on knee/shin guards just because the amount of time I have to work on this project, but also want to develop an elbow guard to go with the knee/shin guard. It also seems like more riders have complaints with the knee/shin protection that is available and less issues with the elbows.

        It seems like you wear some pretty serious protection on your legs. I’m curious as to how long of rides you go on? Do you find yourself adjusting all your pads throughout the ride and tightening the straps as they become loose?

        I really want to develop something that you can wear on long rides without them scratching the legs and becoming uncomfortable after a short amount of pedaling.

    • #271044

      Now that I have a better feel of what you wanted (the initial post made me think this was a high school project) i should be able to help a bit more.

      • I ride on average about 90 minutes per session. I’m limited more by my schedule and how much water I can carry (I’ve gone 2+ hours a couple of times) and I don’t crash that often. The trail I ride is the Seneca Greenway (in Germantown, MD) which you can find on this site.
      • Adjustments: I’ve never really needed to take off/move/significantly adjust my pads during a ride. The Velcro does a great job of keeping the pads in place. After a scrape I will certainly check both pads to see if they need adjusting, but so far they’ve been great. The only thing that can happen – and anyone who’s worn Velcro near the skin can attest to this – it may snag the occasional leg hair.
      • Impact protection: the few times I have been down, they’ve done a wonderful job of protecting me. They haven’t budged on impact, the straps have stayed in place and because of how large they are . . . nothing got between them and my shin guards.

      Would they be more comfortable if they had more airflow? Perhaps for some, but I’m fine wearing them in the heat. I ride on the east coast in woods in temperatures in the mid-upper 90s during the summer. I wear padded shorts and (as yet) have not tried to wear these over/under any clothing. That will likely change come late fall/winter.

      You may want to ask a moderator to merge the two threads. One stop shopping.

    • #271045

      Nope, I’m actually going into my senior year of college studying Industrial Design. I’m on an internship now but was able to get one through my school where I work for myself pursuing my own idea/business plan.

      Anyways… back to the topic at hand.

      Now that it’s getting colder (I’m in New Hampshire) it’s nice to have a warmer/thicker pad on cause it helps keep the legs warm too, but during the warmer seasons its miserable to ride with anything that doesn’t breathe.

      Do you ride clipless pedals or flat pedals? If you ride flats, do you ever hit your shins or calves on the pedals?

      Would you be able to describe your ideal form of protection? Include things like shin/ankle protection to if you want, like a fully integrated system of padding?

      Thanks again for being so responsive!

    • #271047

      Also have no clue how to ask a moderator to merge them

    • #271048

      My tremendous bad! Ok BOT


      I do ride flats – Bontrager Line Pro (I did a review of them) and they are the primary reason I wear soccer shin guards.

      I have a set of shin guards I wore as a goal keeper when I played for the company team. They are a fabric sock w/ hard plastic inserts at each ankle bone and a hard plastic plate over the shin. There is a dense foam for impact absorption next to the skin.

      They have come in handy in a couple ways. I’ve had a pedal swing and strike my shin with no long term effect on me (sure, it didn’t feel great but my shin was fine) and the other is general protection for my shin . . . even when I’ve had to push. Allow me to explain.

      With the pedals I have, those wonderful spikes that make the pedals so grippy certainly stick out. When I’ve been dog tired and have not paid close attention . . . those guards helped me when I would a) kick the pedal with my tired leg and/or run my leg through some brambles.

      Many/most MTBers I’ve run into don’t wear shin guards; I can’t vouch for their experience. Me? i don’t leave home for a trail ride without them.

      Sadly, I don’t have a model number I could provide.

      I personally prefer having two separate pads – Knee vs. Shin – in part due to my personal needs. I don’t ride park (#IFHT) and I don’t encounter major rock gardens. As a result while I have a full body armor jacket on my wish list . . . I don’t feel the need for *my* riding. What I have for my legs covers what I feel is necessary. Knees are covered front, top, bottom and side and my shins are covered vs. pedal strikes and brambles. I have not had a pedal slap my calf as yet.

      Hopefully that helps. I’ll respond as I can.

    • #271050

      Not a pad wearer. I haven’t been in a crash lately that I thought the standard pads would help. I don’t hit my knees or elbows. I usually get me hands out in front of me or I take it on the shoulders. Flats with pins have torn up my lower legs as well. I also have a bit of tennis elbow from riding.

      My worst crash flipped me into a tree back first. That one took a while to heal up. Two well known riders in the area have suffered life altering neck injuries.

      My priority would be: back and neck protection that is as easy to wear as a helmet. All other injuries worry me less.

      Secondarily: elbow support

      I also worry about my eyes. Prickers and leaves seem to be attracted to them. Plus my eyes water so easily, it can be hard to see the trail when I am really moving. I have tried some glasses and goggles but they fog up too easily. I think I need to keep trying and probably be “that guy” who wears goggles with a half shell on the XC trails.

      • #271204

        My priority would be: back and neck protection that is as easy to wear as a helmet. All other injuries worry me less.


        I went backwards on my bike this past weekend and did a full backwards somersault. Until this, it never occurred to me how protective a hydration pack can be. I would have been all done, but thanks to the pack, I got right back up on my bike and completed my whole ride. Unfortunately, the phone that was in the pack didn’t survive the crash, but better the phone than my spine!

    • #271203

      One thing I’d like to see is an unobtrusive pad designed for the ball of the ankle that isn’t awkward feeling or to put/keep on. The most common pain I feel on a ride is when something hits my foot and knocks my ankle into my crank. OUCH! I’ve seen some (expensive) MTB shoes with built in ankle pads, but haven’t seen just the pad.

      It used to be pedal shin strikes that were the worst for me, especially on rough downhills, but going clipless took care of that.

      • #271230

        I’d give soccer shin guards a try. An inexpensive fix (all things considered) and mine protect both ankle and shin. Just a thought.

    • #271366

      I think I saw a product for slalom skiers that protected both front and back of the leg and likely the ankle as well. I could see something like that being useful for MTB’ers but again only if as easy to wear as a helmet.

    • #271396

      I already wear kneepads and I’m not looking for something that would cover the rest of my lower leg. Just something to protect the inside ball (medial malleolus) of my ankles.

    • #271487

      I would love to have a shin guard that is part of a pair of riding pants. All i’m looking for from shin guards is to prevent pedal bite(had a few of those 1/4in spikes go into my shin riding bmx and never want to do that again…). Knee pads need to be flexible and stay in place preferably without any pressure points caused by straps. if it could be a slip over pad similar to a soft knee brace, except instead of slipping over it had velcro along the entire side. Ideally doing so while dispersing the energy of a fall around the knee as they are supposed to.

    • #271498

      I would love to find a pair of knee pads that fit fat legs.  I ride singletrack, or just easy stuff – because that’s mostly what’s around here – so I don’t need anything super aggressive.

      I wear knee pads for volleyball.  I have bought the largest size that I can find, and I still have to cut the elastic from the top to the middle.  The elastic is then just around my lower leg, from the crease of the back of my knee, down.

      I have muscular calves, and muscular/fat upper legs.  It’s my body type and there’s little I can do about it.

    • #277846

      I’m 58 years old, and I don’t do really much crazy stuff anymore because it takes longer to bounce back from injuries, and I’ve got enough old ones that I’m nursing along.  These days I’m more about technical ascents than I am about descending. Aside from a helmet and gloves the only protection I wear is a hydration pack with spine protection.

      I’d be more into aggressive riding if there were a more comprehensive solution than knee and elbow pads — at a minimum spine and clavicle protection — that was lightweight and comfortable to wear.  Some chest and hip padding would be nice, as would penetration protection from things like branches.   I’ve looked into mountain bike armor but I’ve never heard from anyone who uses it for trail riding.

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