(What Gear?) Transtion from XC to entry level Freeride/DH- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    MTB Mamba
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    (What Gear?) Transtion from XC to entry level Freeride/DH

    So I've riding XC trails for the last few years and found that the trails I like most are the fast flowy ones with drops etc...I've found a few more downhill oriented/freeride areas lately and want to transition into some DH/Freeride but need to gear up for the inevitable crashes that are to come for someone inexperienced with jumps and only mildly experienced with drops.

    I have a full face helmet and am looking to at least purchase some shin guards with knee/elbow pads potentially to follow.

    Most people I have talked to said the essentials are the shin guards and full face helmet. Would you agree? Can I go without the knee/elbow pads until I find myself wanting to do bigger drops/gaps etc?

    My LBS has these shinguards for $50
    Classic Shin Guard - Protective Gear - Mountain - Products | Lizard Skins

    I like that they are soft all over and actually cover my whole shin from my knee to ankle (I'm 6'5"). Anyone have experience with these? Reasons to approve or avoid them? Seems like the velcro could wear out over time if anything.

    So basic summary...Are full face helmet and shin guards enough to start on smaller stuff? Are those lizard skins any good or should I buy something else?

    Any other thoughts/tips?

    Also...I'm riding a 2011 Trek Fuel EX 8 so that will limit me to a certain extent though it has reasonable travel. I'm not buying a DH bike until/unless I find myself really loving the DH/Freeride trails and find myself pushing my bike to it's limits and I think that's a future problem, not a current issue.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    personally i feel a lot more comfortable with a chest protector also but many people ride without. also i ride with knee/shin combo but if i only had one it would be knee over shin. elbow pads have also saved me a couple of times and the lack there of have decidedly hurt like a MO FO a few times. i'm also real close to picking up a neck brace, i like walking...

    good luck. oh, and prepare yourself to buy a dh/fr rig. you'll want one sooner than later.

    pv

  3. #3
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    if you arent pushing a your xc bike to its limits then the gear you buy is more for piece of mind than anything. since i sold my dh bike and replaced with a beefy all mountain bike i havent worn nearly as much armor as i used to. A full face helmet and comfortable knee pads (Kali Protectives) and gloves are all I wear for the trails around my area. Keeping in mind I do find myself reaching for full upper body protection when heading to a lift serviced dh park.

    ride with what makes you feel safe

  4. #4
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    Maybe it's just how I fall but I've never needed more than the basics: full face helmet, strong gloves, goggles (if dusty/rocky), a good pair of strong shoes and knee pads (w/ shin guard if it's superbly rocky).

    Beyond that you're adding money and weight unless you've had an experience all too often that dictates otherwise.
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" - HST

  5. #5
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    I recommend knee/shin combos instead of just the shin. I rode in those exact shin pads for a long time but I hit my knees a good amount. Eventually I got wise and actually protected myself.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  6. #6
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    So the consensus so far is Knee over shin, or knee/shin combo. Not a shin only setup. Interesting as locals I have talked to (LBS) included preferred shin protection to prevent pedal bite etc. Could it be because I'm in Southern Utah and the trails are not very rocky at all, so pedals are more of a risk than bashing knees on rocks?

  7. #7
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    I usually ride with just a full face and some shin guards (I get pedal bite more than anything else during a bail out).

    With that being said I believe that I am going to switch to using the fox launch pro knee/shin combo. Just had knee surgery and I don't ever want to repeat this damned event. I've also gotten a pressure suit with the idea of using it for races and/or gnarlier rides. Most of the stuff around here isn't too bad, but if we fix the big line, I wouldn't think about going off of it w/o full pads.

    Lastly, I'd say that after face protection, a neck brace would be the most valuable piece of gear to get. I wouldn't get it, or really most of the other gear, unless you are truly going to stick with the FR/DH style of riding.
    Just another redneck with a bike

  8. #8
    Happy shredding :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuenteK25 View Post
    So the consensus so far is Knee over shin, or knee/shin combo. Not a shin only setup. Interesting as locals I have talked to (LBS) included preferred shin protection to prevent pedal bite etc. Could it be because I'm in Southern Utah and the trails are not very rocky at all, so pedals are more of a risk than bashing knees on rocks?
    Strangely, every time the pedal has chewed up my leg it's been on the back of my calf as opposed to my shin, very strange I know
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" - HST

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuenteK25 View Post
    So the consensus so far is Knee over shin, or knee/shin combo. Not a shin only setup. Interesting as locals I have talked to (LBS) included preferred shin protection to prevent pedal bite etc. Could it be because I'm in Southern Utah and the trails are not very rocky at all, so pedals are more of a risk than bashing knees on rocks?
    When you fall, it's going to be on your knees. Shin protection is great for pedal bite but you'll get less pedal slip as you get more comfortable with flat pedals or get better pedals. Northern Utah isn't too usually too rocky either but I'd rather protect both than just one.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  10. #10
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    What do you hit?

    When you fall what do you hit? I always scratch up my knees and my arms, so I ride with knee/shin and elbow/forearm. It works well for me. I usually strap it to my pack on the uphills.

    A lot of people don't ride with elbow/forearm guards and that's really up to you, but whenever I fall I am always hitting my forearms.

  11. #11
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    I am also 6'5" and making this transition from XC to FR/DH. My thoughts for a big guy:
    You should look to get a pedalable 6-7" freeride bike because I doubt you will feel confident on an XC bike. An issue with an XC bike is how easy it is to push the weak light weight components too far (break them and maybe you). Also the steep geometry and short travel will result in more crashes when using it for FR/DH type stuff... But once you have this type bike you will still likely crash a lot because you will be going faster and doing crazier stuff!!

    As far as padding goes, I wouldnt worry about pedal bite as much as a knee injury that keeps you from riding for weeks or potentially for the rest of your life...

    I find this the to be the order of degree of injury for a typical OTB at speed type crash: helmets #1 (obv though I have yet to hit my head hard fortunately), then knee, then forearm/elbow, then hips and shoulders/upper back are about tied.

    I have had many nasty crashes this year on rocky, rooty trails in the northeast and will be adding a pressure suit or full armor soon.
    6'5" 230lbs
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  12. #12
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    These days I like to rock the full face and Leatt neck brace over the shin pads. I'm not trying to wrench my neck. A pedal bite will suck but more than likely you'll just walk away with a bloody shin.

  13. #13
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    The job that pays my bills and allows me to buy bikes requires that my knees bend, my elbows bend, and all other body parts perform correctly at all times. Therefor, I wear Knee/Shin guards, elbow guards, a pressure suit, full face helmet, and soon a neck brace. The more you ride downhill tracks, the faster you will go, and eventually the big crash will occur. The pro's don't wear armor because time is money, the young guys (not all of them) don't wear it because it's not cool. I DO wear it because I want to go to work, save money and buy carbon wheels for my v-10! JMO

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