Cross Country, Downhill, All Mountain, Enduro…With different mountain biking styles, finding the right mountain bike protective gear for your style of riding can be confusing. Some styles can be riskier than the others. Riding on cross-country roads probably won’t require from you as much padding as downhill courses. But what about enduro mountain biking protective equipment ? Enduro is a specific style of riding where we take on all elements. One thing is for sure. When we go for a whole day long trips, we all want to stay as light as possible.

We rarely opt to invest in the full face helmet, yet we can’t wait till we get to the top to charge down the downhill sections and score these crazy jumps. You love to speed down the twisty single tracks in the forest without giving it a thought that simple Oakley shades might not do good enough job against the branches trying to find the way into your eye socket. Most recreational enduro riders are simply underequipped and risk serious injuries for the sake of comfort and latest trends. Here is, in my opinion, a list of must-have MTB enduro protective gear.


1. Full Face Helmet


Let’s start with the most obvious and important piece. For many people, full face helmets might seem a pretty cumbersome piece of kit. However, while charging your bike over roots and rocks, you should understand that there is quite a high possibility of you having a face plant in this conditions. Don’t wait for a tangible proof to start appreciating the added protection of the full face helmet. Many riders choose to carry two helmets. They carry an open face lid to avoid excessive sweat while climbing and switch to a full face helmet while descending. You can also choose one of the adaptable helmets which convert from a half face to a full face. It simply has a removable chin bar and is probably more comfortable option than carrying two separate shells.


2. Goggles

Photo: Ross Bell

While glasses are ok, they might not be enough in extreme conditions. Goggles will provide superior protection against the mud, dust, dirt, wind, or branches and other objects that are likely to penetrate your eye socket. Some goggles might not work particularly well with an open lid, so it might be worth considering to carry goggles and glasses at the same time.


3. Body Armour


Wearing a full downhill body armour might not be necessary, but I’d invest in a good quality vest at the minimum. Apart from the helmet, Mountain Bike Armour is probably one of the most neglected pieces of mountain bike protective equipment, especially by the beginners. Injuries to your spine can be no fun. We are not only talking here about spine protectors. A lot of spinal injuries come from the impact to the chest or shoulders, so these areas are worth considering as well when choosing the armour. Armoured shorts and other reinforced pieces of clothing protecting your vitals or injury prone areas are worth considering as well. Your coverage options will range from roost deflectors (chest protectors), vests, spine protectors, full jackets/shirts, shin, forearm guards. You also have an option to wear much lighter soft-shell vs hard-shell armour. However, in my opinion, apart from protecting your covered body parts from abrasions, soft shell protection will do a jack shit on the hard impact.


4. Knee/Elbow Pads

mountain bike protective equipment - knee pads
Although knee pads and elbow pads can also be considered as a part of body armour, I listed them separately to make sure you know that smashed knee cups and broken elbows are the big part of this hobby. Typical lightweight kneepads or elbow pads are more comfortable, but they won’t help much on really big impacts. It is worth giving it a second thought if you are going to do a lot of enduro riding. You might not need to go for super heavy duty downhill pieces, but at least make sure they have a moulded hard cup into it.


5. Gloves

mtb protection equipment - gloves
Photo: Christoph Bayer

Gloves are very important when it comes to protecting your hands. This piece of mtb protection equipment will not only help to keep your skin intact when your hands take a nice slide should you take a fall, but they will also add to an increased grip helping at the same time with bike control, particularly in muddy, wet conditions.


6. Shoes

mtb shoes
Photo: Noah Haxel

The last but not least important piece of enduro mountain bike protective equipment on our list are shoes. Whether you want to ride with clipless or flat pedals, make sure they also provide enough protection for your feet. It might not happen very often, but It’s not unheard of nature offering objects made of different shapes and materials severing riders feet. It’s all about personal choice, but it does not take a genius to figure out that flat pedals are a little bit safer especially with mountain trails and beginners.


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