1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Protective gear for beginner-> Girl!

    Hi everyone, I am a beginner to mountain biking, and I guess you could say that what I plan on doing is just XC stuff. My boyfriend and I split the cost of a Trek 3700 so I could begin riding with him. So far we have only ridden two trails together (both in southern New Mexico when he was visiting his home on leave) and one was extremely rocky and I was so terrified I walked half the trail. The second ride while we were out there was much better but there were still lots of bushes and cactus I was scared of falling in. We normally live in southern California (I'm near the north county area of San Diego and he is now stationed in 29 Palms, we we are back and forth between desert and chaparral landscapes) so we will be going through lots of sharp and prickly dry bushes haha.

    I already fell once while in NM and I'm still scared of falling while I'm learning. I'm so used to being fully padded when I play ice hockey so I feel really exposed without anything but gloves and my helmet on the bike. Does anyone have any suggestions for some protective shin/elbow/chest/shoulder protection for a beginner like myself? I'm also pretty tall for a girl 5'9". Any advice would be helpful!!

    Also, would certain types of riding pants be beneficial? I saw TLD and Fox had some pants and shorts for mountain biking but I don't know if that would look funny for a XC rider who is just starting out. I hardly know what's acceptable and appropriate at this stage of learning haha

  2. #2
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    I use something like This for snowboarding and I used it for a couple of MTB rides in cooler days...there should be a female version of it and maybe one made specifically for mtb. It has detachable elbow, rib, and spine hard pads. Pair it with a knee pad and maybe a full-face helmet and you should be set.

  3. #3
    Inspector Gadget
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    Knees, elbows and your grill are most likely to get rearranged when you run out of talent. Check out g-form pads and a light weight full face helmet. That will cover you for most stuff and prob give you some confidence to try things.
    I hope you have a big trunk... cause I'm gonna put my bike in it!

  4. #4
    CSC
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    I would suggest a good, normal helmet, full-finger gloves, a pair of padded cycling shorts that you find comfortable, and maybe elbow pads.

    A problem you may run into is being constricted by "protective" gear that ends up making you tip over, crash, etc. I have determined, after almost 20 years of crashing my bike, that it is best to work your way into needing things. Start with a helmet and gloves.

    Start banging up your elbows? Add pads. Riding faster, DH/trail riding? Get a full-face helmet, knowing they will be much warmer than normal mtb helmets.
    Mobility is your friend; weight and restriction of natural movement is your enemy while riding, especially while you are learning.

    If you are new to trail riding, you need to start off with simple trails, ones that allow you to build both your confidence and your riding technique.
    Remember when you learned how to skate? You waddled around on the ice for a while. Same thing here. Be patient and stick with it...it's fun!

    Good luck!
    Last edited by CSC; 07-17-2012 at 08:15 AM.

  5. #5
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    I had some forearm/elbow pads for a while. They work well for the low-impact abrasive falls that I did repeatedly when I was learning. I highly recommend shin guards if you use flat pedals. While I don't find I bang my knee very often at all, it's extremely painful if I do. So knee pads aren't a bad idea. Do an integrated knee/shin thing if you're going to do both.

    For XC, I think a chest protector is overkill. Padded shorts aren't a terrible idea - your hip is another part of your body that'll take the brunt of a lot of falls.

    I'll defer to others on the full-face helmet.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the responses. I do have a full faced helmet that I've never really worn (even way back when I bought it I never really wore it) but I think it's a bit of over kill unless I get into the DH stuff. The knee/shin and elbow pads you suggest is probably what I'm leaning towards, something light that mostly will protect me from abrasions. I'm used to being beat up and knocked down by ogre hockey players so I'm not too worried about impact falls. I've already had my ribs split once during hockey so if I feel like I need to protect them I have this shockdoctor tanktop thing with rib and spine pads I could wear under my shirt. I have the full fingered gloves (my boyfriend made me get them) and a decent helmet I got when I bought my bike.

    About the knee/shin pads, I have long skinny legs and it's hard for me to find hockey pads that fit (they don't make much gear especially for women) so either I have to buy in the large junior section so they fit my skinny legs but then they are a tad too short. And if I buy in the small adult section they are long enough but slip a little on the skinny legs lol. Will I have this problem with the mtb pads? Could I just tape them like I do my hockey pads (around the leg below the knee and sometimes at the bottom of the shin)?

    My bike is in the shop fixing a front wheel issue so hopefully I will get it back today and I'll see if the store has anything that might help me out

  7. #7
    CSC
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    I would try to avoid tape...the elastic/Velcro straps allow the pad to move around some, which helps keep them comfortable.
    Usually someone, out "there", makes pads for us skinny people (I'm a skinny, 6' guy)...just takes some looking. LBS will help in the hunt. I would bet that a small pair of guy shin/knee guards will fit you, as mtb gear tends to be a bit more fitted than other sports gear. And they'll have the length you need, too.

    Also, in ski racing, there are a lot of pad systems that use d3o foam (stiffens when impacted, soft and flexible at all other times) for padding instead of plastic. Look into that, too.

    kinda like this: 661 Evo d3o Shin Guards - Brands Cycle and Fitness
    though there will probably be others, too

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSC View Post
    Also, in ski racing, there are a lot of pad systems that use d3o foam (stiffens when impacted, soft and flexible at all other times) for padding instead of plastic. Look into that, too.
    I have some d3o elbow pads and they are really nice but unbelievably expensive. Very comfortable while moving and good enough to provide that much needed elbow protection (I ALWAYS land on my elbows).

    My skinny legs also prove an issue when choosing pads so the best advice I can give is to find a shop where you can try them on or find an online store with a good return policy. My 6' skinny body landed on 661 Race knee/shins because the more expensive pad offered a better fit but it took quite a few pads trying on to land on that one. The 661 Rampage knee/shin looks pretty nice, hard knee with a soft shin but I haven't worn it and the Rhythm pad is a full soft shell, probably good for abrasion resistance.

    Hucknroll (backcountry.com) has one of the best return policies I've ever seen and they're having a 15% off sale right now so it might be worth checking out Helmets & Body Armor | Hucknroll.com
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  9. #9
    CSC
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    I have some d3o elbow pads and they are really nice but unbelievably expensive. Very comfortable while moving and good enough to provide that much needed elbow protection (I ALWAYS land on my elbows).
    So, there you go. "Are you up for the investment?" should be your next question. How much do you like your shins and elbows?

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