Mountain Biking Safety Tips
There are undeniable risks in mountain biking, and we’re sure most riders would agree that taking risks is part of what makes it such a great sport. That being said, it’s important, particularly for novice riders, to get clued up on basic mountain bike safety. We’ve recapped fundamental mountain bike safety tips below, which riders at any level should consider at all times.
A high-quality, well-fitting, and well-ventilated helmet is an essential investment. Using helmets meant for other sports, such as road cycling, skateboarding, or even motocross, won’t do. They’re built to different technical specifications to protect against different types of impact.
You should also consider the type of riding you’re going to do, as MTB helmets offer different levels of protection. Open helmets, which look similar to road helmets, are lightweight and offer more ventilation. They’re ideal for less-aggressive XC riding.
For downhill riding, you should invest in a bit more protection. Open face enduro helmets are a step up from open helmets, offering extra protection to the back of the head. Full face enduro helmets protect the whole head, including the face, but offer less ventilation, which can be uncomfortable on physically challenging sections. For this reason, it’s also possible to get convertible helmets, which switch between full and half-face protection.
There’s a lot of safety equipment available, which can make your ride more comfortable, as well as providing extra levels of protection. Get yourself a pair of gloves to provide extra grip and comfort, protection from the elements, and scrapes and cuts. Glasses or goggles protect from glare, as well as dirt, insects, and whatever else is sprayed up as you’re riding!
It’s also worth getting a decent pair of MTB shoes. They will give you extra grip on the pedals, can maximise efficiency, and provide protection from the elements. Depending on the pedals you use, you’ll need clipless or flat shoes.
Protect vulnerable bones with elbow pads, knee pads and shin guards – you can go way up to neck braces and body armour for extra protection.
Know Your Limits
If you’re just starting out, it’s wise not to attempt any challenging sections that you don’t have the skills or fitness for yet.
Although mountain biking can be risky, understanding when it’s safe to take these risks is essential. Don’t attempt a dangerous downhill ride if you’ve got little experience, or if you’re drained from hours of riding. Knowing when to get off and walk could save you a lot of trouble. You can always attempt it again when you’ve built up your skills and fitness.
Knowing basic first aid – particularly for broken bones, sunstroke, and concussion could provide the essential help you need, should an accident happen. Taking a first aid kit with you is a great idea, and it’s possible to get kits that attach to your frame.
You should carry enough water to see you through the day. Many riders use hydration packs, which give you a few litres in a backpack, so you can sip whilst riding.
Know Where You’re Going
When riding in an area you don’t know, take your phone, a GPS device, or a map and compass, in case you get lost. If you’re riding alone, let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back before you set off. And if it’s an unknown section, ride it at a moderate speed so you can react to unexpected obstacles safely.
Riding within your abilities, knowing when to take risks, and getting some protection goes a long way out on the trail. For more MTB guides and tips, head over to our blog!