A thought on armor- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    A thought on armor

    I always wear a helmet. I only wear knee and elbow pads when the ride is one where there is an increased risk of a fall, i.e. more than just cruising on graded fire roads or flat, non-technical single track. But, if there isn't such a risk of a fall to warrant pads, why am I wearing the helmet? It's not that the pads are uncomfortable; my G-forms are hardly noticeable. True, a head injury could be catastrophic, but a knee or elbow I jury could be debilitating and is far more likely. Help me understand.

  2. #2
    Always in the wrong gear
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    Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

  3. #3
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    I usually strap my helmet on my pack for climbing logging roads. Once I hit the singletrack the helmet and pads go on. Almost always POC VPD2 knee pads and some light Fox elbow pads if it's more DHish.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

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

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    I always wear a helmet. I only wear knee and elbow pads when the ride is one where there is an increased risk of a fall, i.e. more than just cruising on graded fire roads or flat, non-technical single track. But, if there isn't such a risk of a fall to warrant pads, why am I wearing the helmet? It's not that the pads are uncomfortable; my G-forms are hardly noticeable. True, a head injury could be catastrophic, but a knee or elbow I jury could be debilitating and is far more likely. Help me understand.
    My elbows and knees can't suffer a concussion.
    Don't care about the scars I have everywhere else, don't want anymore on my face- wasn't good looking to begin with and the scars don't help.
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    OG Ripley v2 handed down to son

  5. #5
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    A thought on armor

    You can live a productive life without a knee or elbow. I can't say the same regarding a properly functioning brain.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    A concussion sent a friend to the hospital where it had affected the memory of the event the day of the accident. Doctor said it may have truely saved him from a serious injury (brain damage or worse).

    Mind you, this happened at a walking pace.

  7. #7
    Always in the wrong gear
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    Quote Originally Posted by N518LF View Post
    You can live a productive life without a knee or elbow. I can't say the same regarding a properly functioning brain.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    That hypothesis is not supported by the empirical evidence based on the average American.

  8. #8
    Evolutionsverlierer
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    I started to wear a helmet long time ago after crashing and now I am using knee and elbow pads because I crashed two times in a week this spring and while I just had some bruises and scratches it made me think twice especially since stuff does not heal that fast once you hit forty.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARandomBiker View Post
    That hypothesis is not supported by the empirical evidence based on the average American.
    Ya, I was kind of thinking this as I typed it but I figured the op would get what I meant. My father in law used to always say "If stupidity hurt, there would be a whole lot of people screaming..."

  10. #10
    Always in the wrong gear
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    Quote Originally Posted by N518LF View Post
    ...My father in law used to always say "If stupidity hurt, there would be a whole lot of people screaming..."

  11. #11
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    Re: A thought on armor

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    But, if there isn't such a risk of a fall to warrant pads, why am I wearing the helmet?
    Head hits can happen at any pace. If you haven't had a crash bad enough to scare you and make you realize this (even if you didn't in fact hit your head in the crash), .... Give it time, it'll happen.

    One of the only mountain biking deaths in the last ten years in the sf bay area involved a guy who was resting and stepped backwards off the trail and rolled down a steep embankment.

    Flat fire roads can be more dangerous than they let on, because you can get into big-big ring on a slight downgrade and have a false sense of security but still be traveling very fast.

  12. #12
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    After 1.5 years of riding (and wearing a helmet) I was headed down a double track, ATV style, and hit a jump very fast, and pulled to the side. When I landed I was too sideways and immediately slammed shoulder and head into the ground. My shoulder was a little sore, with some scratches on my arm and back. I was left with a small headache and big dent in my helmet. Without a helmet I would have been bleeding, could have been internal or external. Honestly this is probably the safest trail I have ever ridden. It would be a beginner trail at any given park. We are most vulnerable when we least expect it and let our guard down, on a trail we know is a challenge, we anticipate and react accordingly. We get carried away and pay less attention on boring or dull parts of trail.

  13. #13
    Ride in heat
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    Usually I worn helmet, elbow and knee pads for anything - from XC rides to trail riding. But after being very limited and with enormous pains for almost 7 months now, due to herniated disc, which happened when I fell on a flat terrain, not even technical or steep, where I passed hundreds times before - I'm going to gear up fully, including protective shorts and jacket. After I have this whole thing contained and treated, of course...

  14. #14
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    Last week three of us were riding single track. Guy in front has a flat and stops. I stop. Guy three coasts to a stop behind us. His front tire drops off the downhill side of the trail, into a hole and before you can even think he was launching over the handlebars. He banged his head against a log hidden in the brush, hard enough to dent his helmet and produce a headache.
    Freaky close call.

    There is no such thing as "not much risk of a fall". It simply doesn't exist. You ride a bike to any extent and you are going to fall.

    I know of a local man, riding one of those cruising beach bikes on a sidewalk. Bumped into a car at walking speed and simply fell over. He banged us un-helmeted head on the sidewalk, got a brain hemorrhage and died shortly after.

    Riding an inherently unstable vehicle carries risk at ALL times. If you don't want to wear knee and elbow pads, fine, but above all else, put on the helmet. It just isn't worth the risk.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibbsinator View Post
    We are most vulnerable when we least expect it and let our guard down, on a trail we know is a challenge, we anticipate and react accordingly. We get carried away and pay less attention on boring or dull parts of trail.
    ^^This^^. Wise words. Outside of really pushing the limits, probably most injuries are on easy trail, we get complacent, let out guard down. Don't know that as a fact but suspect it is true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abagrizzli View Post
    I'm going to gear up fully, including protective shorts and jacket.
    +1 After my first couple of rides, (and falls) I've bought knee pads, elbow pads and some padded shorts that cover hip bones and tailbone. Gravel rash blows. Anyone can call me a wimp if they want but it's just smart IMO to alleviate as much as possible, any potential injuries in a sport that is inherently risky. I have no need to look "cool" on the trail. I understand and accept the risks, and know that there will be injuries, bumps, scrapes, bruises etc but I'm there to have fun. Getting hurt isn't fun

  16. #16
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    I now wear a padded shirt, Troy Lee short sleeve. It's very light and not heavy at all. I have yet to get elbow or knee pads, but the shirt is really protecting my shoulders/collarbone. It hasn't seen a "real" crash yet but that's OK.

  17. #17
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    Lightweight knee pads and elbow pads on all rides (Gform or RF Ambush), liner shorts with light padding on hips (gform/zoic) and of course the helmet. Small "ish" lower speed falls account for 95% of my fails. These items have kept me relatively unscathed. If I'm going to get 14 stitches on my knees or elbows, I'm going to have to earn it.

  18. #18
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    I wear a helmet at all times, same with gloves. Knee and elbow only on downhill shuttle days.

  19. #19
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    OP: understand what? Are you trying to justify not wearing a helmet, or wearing pads all the time.

    First: I contest your statement that knee or elbow injuries are just as likely as head. At least in my experience: 2 concussions while wearing helmets that I'm convinced would have been worse had I not vs 0 knee or elbow injuries. Ok, so I'm averaging less than one head knock per decade but one is all it takes, and I'm planning on riding for many more decades. I know a couple people that have had serious head injuries and one guy that died. I don't know anyone that had life-changing knee or elbow injuries from biking.

    second: My only serious crash this year, I was wearing full DH kit: POC upper body, 661 knee/shins. The crash happened in the least technical place possible. I didn't hit anything, I think I just stopped paying attention (also I was going really fast because I saw no reason not to). Lack of apparent danger can make things more dangerous.

    third: reason I mentioned that I was fully padded: I was kind of shocked at how little the pads actually did. I had large, painful bruises and lumps in places that were covered by pads (which did stay in place); the only scrapes I got were from the velcro on the elbow. Obviously I have no idea what my injuries would have been were I not wearing pads. Point is, your pads probably aren't protecting you as much as you think they are. The same is probably true of a helmet, and both helmets and pads appear to be getting better, so who knows what to conclude.

    For me, during the prime months of riding season, it's too hot and muggy to wear pads of any kind if I'm doing much pedaling, but helmet venting is enough that I can bear it. If it's cool enough that I'd wear long sleeves, I usually wear the POC body. Obviously life is compromise, and you have to do what you're comfortable with. I won't ride with someone not wearing a helmet though.

  20. #20
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    I always wear helmet and gloves. About 70% of the time I wear knee pads. That's all I own.

  21. #21
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    I always wear a helmet when i'm on the bike. Just a few weeks ago, I was coming up a long uphill panting and busting my lungs when I rode straight into a protruding tree branch. The branch hit straight onto the top of my helmet and I was dazzled for a moment from the impact. I wasn't really going fast at all, definitely slower than walking pace but it was still quite a hard impact. Needless to say, I'm really glad I have that helmet on.

    My most recent crash had me buying a pair of elbow pads. I now ride with shin+knee pads and elbow pads. Again, this was a relatively slow speed crash. I went OTB while coming down a steep rocky drop off. Scrapped my right arm real bad and suffered a 3 inch gash right down the arm. When I was at the shop trying out the elbow pads, I realized that the pads covered up the areas where I was hurt most badly. Made me wish I was wiser enough to have bought it earlier.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    I was kind of shocked at how little the pads actually did. I had large, painful bruises and lumps in places that were covered by pads (which did stay in place); the only scrapes I got were from the velcro on the elbow..
    How fast was the crash/impact? I'm no expert, but you are going to still suffer some force even with great pads, they're not airbags. They are designed to reduce force, not eliminate it. Just like you you play football with pads on, you can still feel it, but it's a lot better getting hit while wearing pads than not. A bruise is better than a break.

    Maybe someone that has more experience crashing (lol) can add their perspective.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    OP: understand what? Are you trying to justify not wearing a helmet, or wearing pads all the time.
    I'm trying to justify pads all the time, even on pavement.

  24. #24
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    I went a whole riding season not wearing a helmet. I wore gloves and that's it. Had one major crash and I scraped up my arm and elbow pretty bad. I would hit some pretty decent jumps without a helmet and now that I look back, and reading peoples stories, yes it is stupid and foolish not to wear a helmet, and I would even say that it's stupid not wearing body armour either. My arm was pretty smashed up after that crash and I couldn't ride for a couple weeks. Obviously your head is what matters most and is of prime importance when considering protection, but why would you compromise your knees or elbows? I certainly would not want to have a debilitating injury or injuries to my extremities that would keep me from enjoying what I love doing, not to mention how it affects you in other aspects of your life.

  25. #25
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    In the 5 years that I've been downhilling, I only landed on my head once. Luckily, I was wearing a ff and I promptly replaced my helmet. The body armour has been helpful too during less major crashes

    As for trail riding I always wear a helmet and depending on the technical difficulty of the trail, I wear knee pads. If I dont wear the knee pads, I'm less inclined to try an advanced section of trail
    F*ck Cancer

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  26. #26
    Lone Wolf
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    I wear a helmet n gloves...

    That's it, I fall well and am good at a tuck-n-roll.
    I crash now and then and my knee's and hands never ever hit first.

    Only hard stuff I ever hit are tree's, not many rock gardens down here.

    Tuck that shoulder peoples,,

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