Beginner--knee/elbow pads? ride essentials?-
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Jan 2017

    Beginner--knee/elbow pads? ride essentials?

    Hi everyone,

    First time poster--picked up a bike a couple of weeks ago and looking to get out on the trails after practicing some skills and things in the street. Basically, I'm finding out that depending on what article you read online, there are a lot of "essentials" needed for out on the trail. The trails around me are mostly single track, between 5 and 12 miles long. I'm just looking to get opinions on what actually are ride essentials? Obviously a helmet, saddle bag with tire levers, patch kit, multi tool, hydration, etc, but are knee/elbow pads essential? What about MTB specific jersey and shorts? Does all this stuff actually make the quality of ride better?

    I certainly plan on falling as I'm a beginner, but I don't really mind getting scraped up--just wasn't sure if catastrophic crashes happen often that can really mess up my joints that the pads would protect, or if that kind of thing is rare. This might be a really dumb question, but I just want to get the opinions of people who are really out their riding. Also, any recommendation on good options for essentials for a guy on a budget would be great.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    You can get by without knee and elbow pads. It kind of depends on how hard you are pushing your limits and how technical your trails are. Catastrophic injuries typically wont happen unless you are hitting technical features, jumps and corners at high speeds. That being said I wear knee pads on pretty much all my rides as my trails are pretty technical and they have saved my knees many times. There are lots of options for light weight trail oriented pads right now that are very comfortable and can be worn all day. Alpinestars Paragon and Dakine Slayer are the sets I've worn and both fit the bill very nicely.

    As far as riding gear, I wore board shorts for the first several months while I was learning and getting into shape. You can wear a chamois underneath and be good to go. MTB specific shorts are very nice but can be expensive. Any athletic type shirts can work as a jersey. Avoid cotton tees unless you don't mind getting soaked in sweat. I use Champion C9 tech tees from Target. They are a fraction of the price of MTB jerseys and work pretty well for wicking sweat.

    Hope this helps. Have fun out there!

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: targnik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Bike, helmet & you...

    The rest you may need (luck dependent).

    A well maintained bike 'should' need less trail side repairs.

    Water is another important ingredient.

    Either a decent water bottle or a back pack/bladder set up.

    I like my back pack as it offers some spine protection.

    Plus it carries my multi-tool (I rarely use it, maybe 1 in 25 rides).

    Riding buds carry them also, so I don't really need it ;-)

    Top riders tend to wear knee pads. I have a some, most of the time I don't wear them ;-P

    Sent from my kltedv using Tapatalk
    "Mountain biking: the under-rated and drug-free antidepressant"

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Somewhere around here there is a discussion on stuff to carry for a ride.

    Since you are a beginner, you will want yo learn some basic repair stuff like fixing a flat, and carry stuff for that (tube, levers, pump)"as it could save you walking out.

    Pads can save you from losing some skin - get a helmet for sure. Almost anything else is optional - but be prepared to walk

  5. #5
    Ride More - Suffer Less
    Reputation: TraxFactory's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    I find myself always riding with knee pads these days. They are just so comfortable and no downsides other than on really hot days. I use a soft shell type, I like 661 but there are many great brands out there. Knee and elbow pads could be a really good thing as well if your learning to clip in / out.

    I've also been saved more than once by my backpack. I always ride with one.

    Nothing worse than taking a bad fall and getting back to your car with knee pads on the floor.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    I just started mountain biking last summer. I am a pretty careful rider, although not as careful as the other people I ride with. I like to go semi fast on the downhills but I definitely was not pushing the limits at all. I only took one spill last summer and it was very minor (a scratch on my tricep and knee). This summer I am getting a full suspension bike and want to ride my limits a lot more and improve my bike skills so I am picking up knee and elbow pads. Basically if you are casually riding easy-ish trails I wouldn't bother but if you are looking to improve your skills a lot you will definitely want them. I plan on taking a lot of spills this summer practicing manualling, bunny hopping, jumping, etc.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Legbacon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Looking at the scar tissue on my knees I would have been well served by knee pads 20-30 years ago. I use them all the time now.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

    Team Robot. "modulation is code for “I suck at brake control.” Here’s a free tip: get better."

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Tinymountain's Avatar
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    Oct 2016
    I ride with knee pads the majority of the time since I knee-planted a root and hobbled around for 3 days last year. Depends on your terrain what kind of protective gear you need. Gravel fire roads you probably don't need any; roots and rock gardens, high speed, jumps- armor up. I use 661 pads and they're pretty comfortable unless it's really hot(85F+).
    2016 GT Avalanche Comp
    2016 Raleigh Willard 1

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: TrailGoat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Helmet - because, duh

    Eye Wear - if you are in wooded/shrubby areas and you fly off your bike, you don't want a stick or branch going into your eye

    Gloves - if you fall, you will likely try to catch your fall with your hands. you don't want to peel the skin off your palms and not be able to hold the handle bar

    Protective shoes - my cousin bailed off his bike, landed on a sharpish rock with his foot and bruised his foot bones through the sole. he couldn't ride for a few weeks.

    bumps, bruises, scratches, and cuts else where typically wont stop you from being able to ride

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Thanks everyone. I commute to/from work by bike, so I know about most of the general essentials I think (helmet, tire levers, tubes), so I appreciate the help on the extra stuff I might need getting out on the trail. I'm sure once I get out there and ride I'll realize "oh shit, I need this" and have quite a few of those moments. Just trying to avoid that as much as possible!

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