We wrote this Guide to Mountain Bike Body Armour as a general introduction to this piece of kit but didn’t really give an opportunity to consider the do I, don’t I, argument. So this article is a follow-up to that first offering.
Body Armour needs to be a serious consideration for those who want good protection. If you are going to tackle a serious downhill trail, mountain based with fast rocky tracks, then maybe just wearing a helmet isn’t enough. But you’re not that daft, you’re probably used to wearing a spine protector and knee & elbow pads but why choose body armour – isn’t it bulky and difficult to wear?
If you aren’t used to wearing body armour, you may think it’s uncomfortable to wear but when you have a good look at it, you’ll see that it is a lot more adjustable, and therefore closer fitting, than other types of body armour. Top quality kit has a good quality inner-lining that zips out, adjustable straps on the shoulder and elbow pads help to give a good fit. Now, this isn’t just for comfort. A good fit is essential if you are unfortunate enough to have a crash, as you need close fitting armour to hug your body and give you full protection.
If you love big DH runs, think about this – which parts of your body are protected with your current safety kit? So, if you do crash, are your shoulders, elbows, wrists, ribs, spine, hips, knees and ankles all protected? No, probably not. So isn’t it time for you to at least try some body armour on?
One essential element of top quality body armour is the material used. Memory foam does two things. First, as your body heats it up it moulds to your contours, thus providing a better fit as mentioned previously. Second, although it feels soft to the touch, when you wack it with say a big bit of rock, it goes super-hard, thus saving your bones – which is nice.
A common problem with body armour is that it can smell after a while. So being able to wash it thoroughly is important. Look for armour that you can zip the linings out of. You can simply throw it into the washing machine, job done!
From a cost perspective, what price safety? Think of the cost of the taxis when you can’t drive due to broken bones, and have you seen how much dentists charge for smashed teeth? I don’t think you can put a price on staying in one piece. If you regularly ride mountainous terrain or ride DH, then you should seriously consider wearing body armour.