Have you been feeling stronger on the bike, doing your homework, and stepping up your skills? With great skills progression comes great responsibility…to keep yourself intact! So let’s take a moment to do a quick inventory on your protective gear to make sure your equipment and body are progressing with your skills.
1. The Lid
First off, check your helmet. Give it a good inspection for any cracks, dents, gouges, or signs of wear. How old is it? If it is more than three years, it may be time to replace it according to most manufacturers. If you’ve taken a hard hit to the helmet, even if it doesn’t display any visible cracks, it’s time for a new one. If you’re starting to gravitate towards riding jumps and technical gnar or if you just want a little more facial protection, you may want to take a closer look at some of the amazing full face helmets available now. You’d be amazed at how comfortable a full face can be these days!
If the eyes are the window to our soul, lets keep them safe too. Stray branches, flying rocks, or even a bit of sand on a windy day can really take the fun out a ride. Invest in quality eye wear, and make it a habit to wear them every ride! If you are looking for good coverage, checkout the Defender sunglasses from Rudy Project. These days, you can get glasses with prescription lenses or with photochromic lenses that adjust with the light so you don’t have to stress about changing out lenses before every ride. Going full enduro? Get yourself some goggles!
Pro-tip: If you attended a Ninja clinic, you received a Rudy Project discount code in your event follow up email!
Next up, let’s talk armor (padded protection). I’m a big believer in knee pads, and I know several people that swear by elbow pads as well. Think about your riding and in case it’s been a few years since you’ve considered padding, know that most of the pads available now are far from bulky or clumsy. They offer a ton of protection without much consequence! Do some shopping and try different brands on, keeping in mind that you want comfy ones that you’ll actually wear every ride. I prefer owning two sets: one for comfortable trail riding (something thinner and lighter that will help to prevent abrasions or scratches), and a hard shell with some quality ticker padding for when it’s time to get rowdy. The hard shell pads are especially nice in rocky terrain where they are more likely to slide over rocks instead of snagging and being pulled down to your ankles. Keep an eye out for hard shells with the D30 technology, which is a type of padding that is comfortable and flexible to the touch, but gets rock hard on impact. Wicked cool stuff and a personal favorite.
When selecting armor, you want to weigh the level of protection vs comfort factor, considering both range of motion and heat. Make sure you wear gear that allows you to move properly on the bike! You don’t want to be out there all bundled up or boiling and unable to ride right, and you’ll be far more likely to wear the protective gear if it is comfortable. After all, the armor won’t do you any good sitting on a shelf in the garage!
4. Mind the Spine
The Enduro World Series and many other race organizations have started making spinal protection mandatory for competition. Watch videos of downhill racers, and you’ll see everything from neck braces to moto inspired chest protectors. I am glad to see that idea grow throughout the sport – spinal protection is not just for pro downhill riders anymore. Even better news? More brands to take notice and putting new products on the market for all level of riders. I love seeing developments in rider safety. Fox makes some great chest and back protectors, POC makes armor vests, and Evoc is now offering various hydration packs with built in spinal armor.
5. Boost Strength & Flexibility
A body that cannot bend, is more likely to break. Want to prevent bike injuries? Build strength and flexibility! After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? You can get a ton of bang for your buck with a little bit of bike-focused resistance and strength training. Take a look at any MTB focused training plan and you will see a focus on both mobility and stretching. Get your body limber and feel the difference both on and off the bike. Here are 10 yoga moves for mountain bikers and 10 MTB-specific exercises you can do at home to get you started!
He’s a wild man with a wild plan, living the nomad life as a skills instructor and trail builder. With a background in moto and 15 years of mtb experience, he has tips for riders of all levels! You can find him leading Ninja clinics all over the country and on Instagram @vitabrevis
I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo!
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop falling down during each mtb ride. The class was small and super fun...and the instructors (Richard and Kris) were informative and dynamic. The clinic was small enough for each member to practice each learned skill and receive immediate feedback. I learned many new skills on that day and felt much more confident with my bike-body connection. I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo...the 55 mile route! Woohooo!! The next day, as I was road biking (training for the Solvang Double Century), I dodged a bullet on the Snake/Mulholland by applying my learned mtb skills--a long towing truck went over almost half of our lane on a blind turn as we were descending. Instead of fixating on the truck, I remembered the importance of looking for a clear path and keeping my eyes on where I want to go....Now I understand what people meant when they said that mtb will help improve my road riding skills too! I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn, and I look forward to the next clinic! ~ Uyen N.
I was so happy I could transfer what I learned in Sedona to my own trails.
I just rode on my local trails today after taking the Ninja clinic in Sedona. I was so happy I...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I just rode on my local trails today after taking the Ninja clinic in Sedona. I was so happy I could transfer what I learned in Sedona to my own trails. There is one drop and one off camber downhill section I never have had the courage or skill to ride until today. It was so fun to ride them and not get off and walk. Richard La China and Courtney Cowan were fantastic instructors. Not only did I up my technical skills in Sedona it was also a ton of fun! ~Patty Elliott
Took the mini clinic on jumping skills because I can't resist the urge to get in the air even though...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
Took the mini clinic on jumping skills because I can't resist the urge to get in the air even though I always knew I didn't really understand the mechanics of it, so it was a kind of "huck and hope" affair. The result was that I didn't land about 1 in 5 attempts. The clinic with Aaron was great! He explained the mechanics of how the bike is handled coming into, through and out of the jump and starts with individual small skills progressing step by step in a very manageable way (even for me, and I started this stuff at 45 and I'm not very coordinated). What I feel sets Aaron apart is his ability to communicate his explanations and demonstrate movements in a way that makes them easy to learn even for someone with little experience. He is also very patient and encouraging, which helps when one is starting out and struggling a little with some movements. I definitely intend to do more clinics with Ninja MBS. I feel like it will save me a lot of time and frustration as well as possibly a lot of money in medical bills! ~Jill M.
I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys.
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years I learned a lot from this clinic. The techniques covered ranged from reviewing basic skills such as basic body position to practicing more advanced techniques like switchbacks, bunny hops, and cornering. I was able to recognize, get instruction, and practice some skills where I was weak and instantly improve them. Even skills I thought I was pretty good at I was able to pick up useful tips. I also realized that deliberate skills practice is not something I incorporate into my riding, but now that I understand what I should be doing I will make sure to add this in! After taking the course my comfort on the bike has improved and I am more aware of my body position and movement of the bike. I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys. The instructors are knowledgeable and easy to work with. There is a lot of one on one help and they will make sure you understand the skills being taught and are able to perform them successfully. Plus the clinic was lots of fun! I highly recommend and hope to work with these guys again soon. ~ Michelle A.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.