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Be safe use protection

No one likes taking a fall, well almost no one? It can lead to time of the bike and expensive medical bills. The rough trails of Hong Kong makes padding up a relative no brainer.

 

Exposed flesh rips easily and bones snap like twigs. That is why if you are going to be riding technical trails, which most of the trails in Hong Kong are. You may consider getting some protection. It saves you from potential fractures, heomotoma (bruising) and those irritating cuts, scratches and road rash. It will also save you from having to peel off the bed sheets every morning! The basic principal of protection is it provides a buffer between you and the surface you’re about to crash into. It is recommended that you buy a set of knee pads and elbow pads with your first bike.

 

Gloves

Gloves serve three purposes, firstly they offer additional grip to the bars as without them your hands will sweat and easily slip off, causing a devastating crash. They are also a second skin for your palms as they are always going to be the first bit to hit the grounds and picking grave out of your palms is no fun, and lastly the cushioning effect of the padding adds comfort on long rides.

 

Knee pads - shin guards

Usually when you smash into the ground your hands or your knees are the first point of contact. Your wearing gloves so your hands are protected but without knee pads your legs could end up a bloody mess. Many of Hong Kong’s shops sell recognizable brands such as Fox, 66one, Dainese and raceface. Some of them are really heavy duty and look like riot police pads, avoid these because they are made for extreme down hillers, they're too heavy and too hot to ride in for more than an hour! Instead get some that are light weight and breathable, the thin hard shell is not as overbuilt as some of the heavy duty ones but will protect you just the same. The straps should fit snuggly above the ankle and the calf, if they are too loose they will certainly cause chafing, it will also stop them from slipping during the ride

NOTE: Avoid the neoprene pads. They are ultra hot during summer and hold your sweat making them heavy. They also stink after a couple of weeks.

 

Elbow pads

Often another point of first point of contact with the ground, are the elbows and forearms. Elbow pads with integrated fore arm pads are now common. Designed to flex with your arm movement two separate hard shells protect the elbow joint and lower arms from impacts. Make sure they're your size you, you don't want to see them slip down around your arm.

 

Spine pads

A few brands now make spine/back protection specific for mountain biking. It's quite a heavy-duty piece of protection that only extreme riders generally use. But if it makes you feel more secure on the bike or calms an over active imagination then it may be worth the purchase. The over linking armour plates look like a snake's belly scales. They are flexible to follow the movement of your back when on your of bike and designed to prevent spine injury. They are very hot when the temperature rises. Some bike specific hydration packs now come with built in spine protection.

 

Kidney belts

Designed as a lumber belt these pads fasten around the hips and lower back. They are built to protect your lower back and internal organs such as kidneys from being damaged during a fall. You need never pee blood again!

 

Thigh pads

The thigh pad although rare are a padded band that straps onto the upper leg and fastened with velcro straps, designed to prevent potential hip injury, bruising and scrapes the padding is specifically placed on the sides of the pads where you need it most. Nowadays you can also buy lycra shorts that have built in padding, these are a lot more comfortable but do not offer the same amount of protection.

 

Body Armour or pressure suit

It’s the grand daddy of them all. A single piece of gear that combines soft rib padding, breast plate, elbows and forearms shells, shoulders shells and spine protections for the upper body. Add to this a combination of ankle pads, shin guards, knee shells, thigh and hips padding you will be looking like Darth Vadar in no time at all, but ready to ride anything! It's made for Downhill competitions and extreme riding and It's a bit of an overkill for trail rides.

Some shops suggest that you get motocross chest and shoulder armour. They are made for motocross and not for mountain biking. They are designed to protect the motocross rider from stones and to prevent impacts on the handlebar during a bad landing. They' are not designed to take the full impact of a nasty fall, are not flexible and are uncomfortable for trail riding.

 

WARNING: Protection is always a good idea but be sensible as to how much you really need during the summer it's slightly dangerous because you can over heat easily.