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  1. #1
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    Mandatory safety gear?

    I'm hoping to start a civil conversation about whether more protective gear should be required at enduro races.

    In my experience, most races require only a helmet. I've heard of enduros requiring fullface helmets but that's the exception. I've never heard of races requiring hand/knee/elbow/torso/hip/back protection.

    Here are a few thoughts I have, in no particular order:
    • Leaving it up to each rider lets everyone make their own choice
    • More gear doesn't always equal more safety -- fatigue and overheating can increase risk, too -- and obviously it doesn't guarantee safety
    • Requiring more gear may undercut the growth of the sport -- gear costs money, some folks are too cool, and it runs counter to the whole happy just-race-whatever-you-ride vision of enduro
    • Leaving it up to each rider means that riders may be reluctant to gear up because it will put them at a competitive disadvantage. If everyone has to wear it, then no one gains an edge by compromising on protective gear.
    • Enduro races are getting faster, more technical, and more dangerous. Many races now approach DH risk, yet many still race them in XC gear.


    I'm interested in others' views. At the moment, I find the last two arguments the strongest, so I lean towards requiring more safety gear.


    (The recent tragic EWS death got me thinking about this again, but I'm not suggesting that safety-gear rules were responsible there.)

  2. #2
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    I'm starting to think full face helmets should be required on race stages, especially with how easy helmets like the Bell Super 2R are to carry. I know in some of the European SuperEnduro events spine protectors were mandatory, either separate or integrated into your pack like the Evocs. I personally run a Bell Super 2R, knee/shin guards and sometimes a padded G-Form shirt. However, I think the padded shirt does next to nothing and does add a level of discomfort/heat so I rarely wear it.
    The recent death of Will Olsen is tragic and does give me pause when it comes to racing speeds.

  3. #3
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    my first endure race is coming up, should I wear more than knee pads and a helmet? I will also have a camel back with LOTS of stuff in it, so I don't feel the need for spine protection, I also won't be doing anything crazy either, or going crazy fast.

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    What do you wear for "practice," or fast local riding? There you go..why gear up for a race if you don't when you're pushing the limits at home, or why aren't you gearing up when you're subjecting yourself to the same risk outside of a racing environment? Riding on your local trails is far more dangerous than at a race with dedicated first aid workers, btw.

    Lastly, there's only so much worrying about freak accidents that you can do.

  5. #5
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    Well, I had higher hopes for this thread. Oh well.

  6. #6
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    I think we will see a shift toward more gear required, as long as the courses continue to get steeper and tougher with less pedaling. The top pros are getting more closely grouped time wise, and small advantages will add up. To your point #4 above, since purses are going up as well, they will do whatever they need to to be competitive, it is their livelihood and all.

    It seems there has been an increase in the number of injuries among the top pros as everyone is trying to squeeze out that last second advantage.

  7. #7
    RTM
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldManBike View Post
    Well, I had higher hopes for this thread. Oh well.
    you had to know asking for opinions on mandatory protective gear mere days after a competitor tragically lost his life was a recipe for disaster.

    that said, I don't think anything said thus far has been out of line. I agree with richde's points.

    Regarding the original question, you're forgetting the most prominent influence on any of this, insurance companies. And I'm not saying they are right or wrong or "evil". The fact is, if they find it impractical to cover a venue due to the risk, the venue will not hold the event. If they require mandatory protective gear, or anything else, the venue may impose rules to satisfy them, and the event goes on.

    If you think about it, financial liability is really the only reason people are forced to protect themselves in any walk of life. From seat belts, to helmet laws, to waivers, to life vests and child seats. Its all about the money.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by brentos View Post
    The top pros are getting more closely grouped time wise, and small advantages will add up. To your point #4 above, since purses are going up as well, they will do whatever they need to to be competitive, it is their livelihood and all.

    It seems there has been an increase in the number of injuries among the top pros as everyone is trying to squeeze out that last second advantage.
    To me this all goes to the third point I made. I think it's a problem when a racer has to say to her/himself, "I really want to wear a fullface and pads for this course, but I won't because I don't want to give myself a handicap." We should try to avoid making racers choose between safety and race results.


    Quote Originally Posted by RTM View Post
    I don't think anything said thus far has been out of line.
    My point wasn't that any responses were out of line, just hoping more people will weigh in.

    Quote Originally Posted by RTM View Post
    Regarding the original question, you're forgetting the most prominent influence on any of this, insurance companies.
    Yes, you're right. I mentioned that in the 'future of enduro' thread, too.

  9. #9
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    I'll weigh in.

    It was mentioned in the other thread but I'd like to see the option of going helmet less on transfer stages in exchange of wearing a full face on race sections (if appropriate for the transfer sections). Most people on normal weekends all ready ditch the helmet (full or half) on the climbs anyway just to stay cool. I think a lot more people would be wearing full face if this was allowed vs having to either wear a full face or bring two helmets.

    As for other gear, knee pads are nice but really only protects from scratches and bruises so I'm not sure it really needs to be required. Its more of a personal preference if the minor discomfort makes up for the benifit of not dealing with as much cuts and bruises if you go down over the next few weeks. I dont think theres much of a time benifit to be had by not wearing them.

    Beyond that we saw that a chest protector could be useful but I think that for the majority of riders it wouldn't be worth the burden and starts to make the races more inaccessible to regular riders. They also tend to be much more uncomfortable and make you hotter. I'd probably start wearing a neck brace before I'd start wearing a chest protector.

    Overall I'd say leave most of the gear choices up to the riders.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldManBike View Post
    To me this all goes to the third point I made. I think it's a problem when a racer has to say to her/himself, "I really want to wear a fullface and pads for this course, but I won't because I don't want to give myself a handicap." We should try to avoid making racers choose between safety and race results.
    can you cite one person who's ever said that? The notion that safety gear is slowing anyone down during stages is dubious at best - I know I ride a lot faster all geared up; Peltzman effect and all. And frankly, the safety gear I wear isn't mitigating the extra risks I take because I wear the gear.
    In climbs, sure it might slow me down. Is timed climbing becoming a bigger part of enduro?

    IMO it's pointless to mandate anything when there aren't really testing standards for most of it - someone mentioned the Bell Super 2R; to my knowledge there is not independent testing that proves the chin bar does anything. To my mind that means it probably doesn't and is really just a security blanket which... again Peltzman effect, encourages people to take risks that it isn't doing anything to protect from. As for pads or neck braces, well there's the EN moto standards for pads (how appropriate are they for mtb, really?), and none that I'm aware of for braces. So total crapshoot if your armor or brace or shin guards reduce the chance of injury at all.

    In fact any mandatory safety gear will effectively say: "you have to wear something that cosmetically looks like it would offer some protection, but we have no way of knowing if it actually does or to what extent"

    The fact is this: our sport rewards taking risks. No one has ever won a major race by riding sensible. When I go downhilling, I'm wearing close to $1000 worth of protective gear; requiring that doesn't make the sport more accessible.

  11. #11
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    I am going to get my feet wet in enduro type racing next year and I plan on wearing at the very least, a full face helmet, leatt brace, and knee protection of some kind. I have raced motocross since 1999 and now that I'm older (wiser is still debatable) I look more towards keeping myself in one piece. From day one with motocross I wore the "required" gear but nothing extra. When the Leatt brace first came out I was one of the first in my area to have one because I had two close friends either killed or paralyzed due to neck injuries. I know racing motocross, even with the Leatt brace, full knee braces, plus the boots/helmet/goggles/gear I never felt, for lack of a better word, restricted. If anything, I see it as an advantage because with it in the back of my mind knowing that I'm "protected" and can go a little bit harder. I have no problem with mandatory gear, as long as its not too crazy like requiring full body armor or something along those lines.

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