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!

2. Eyeballs

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!

3. Armor

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!

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