You shouldn't go mountain biking before obtaining some or all of the following safety accessories:
Bike helmets. Head injuries sustained from mountain biking can result in permanent brain damage, making helmets an essential safety accessory. Ideally, your bike helmet will be a certified, snug-fitting helmet. Some helmets are pre-fit, while others have adjustable settings and straps.
Helmets are very lightweight and surprisingly sturdy. Most helmets run from $75-$125, though high-end helmets are more expensive. There are two types of mountain bike helmet: open face and closed face.
Open-face helmets cover only the top of the head, with the lower edge generally resting just above the ear. They have numerous openings or vents in the helmet surface to allow the air to dry your sweaty head. The inner liner is made of Expanded Polystyrene, a lightweight material that can absorb shock well. The liner is often reinforced with nylon, steel mesh or other materials, and then covered in a plastic shell.
Closed-face helmets protect the rider's full face from the top of the head to below the chin. These helmets have pull-down visors or eye shields, but can limit peripheral vision and range of motion.
Your hands are tough and useful, but not so much when it comes to planting them at high speed in the rocky, craggy ground. Mountain bike gloves generally range in price from $20-$50 and are loaded with protective padding. Each finger generally has its own padding, with extra for the thumbs.
Your head's got a helmet, your hands have gloves, but after those surfaces strike the ground, you're going to roll and when you do, you'll be glad you're wearing arm pads and leg pads. A variety of different pads are available to protect your knees, elbows, shins and forearms.
You might also want to invest in upper and lower body protection. An assortment of padded pants and "armored" shirts will help protect you during nasty spills on the trail. These garments come with many options for padding placement, type of padding (soft foam or hard shell) and options for shirts with or without padded sleeves.
In case you're still riding when the sun goes down (by accident or by design), a variety of bike lights are available. These allow you not only to see where you're going, but also to be seen by other hikers, bikers, ATVs and cars. These LED bike lights are powered by small battery packs that attach to the frame of the bike.
Mountain bike accessories add plenty of fun, comfort and safety to your riding experience. For lots more information about mountain bike accessories and mountain biking in general, please see the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Bartlett, Jim. "Mountain Bike Protective Gear Guide." (Dec. 22, 2009)http://wrcc-in.org/resources/Wabash_Mountain_Bike_article%5B1%5D.htm
- Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. "How Bicycle Helmets are made." (Dec. 22, 2009)http://www.bhsi.org/howmade.htm
- Bike Magazine. "Accessories." (Dec. 22, 2009)http://www.bikemag.com/gear/accessories/
- Donaldson, Doug. Bicycling Magazine's Guide to Bike Touring: Everything You Need to Know to Travel Anywhere on a Bike. Rodale, 2005. ISBN 1579548628, 9781579548629.http://books.google.com/books?id=xyQhru7JJTUC&dq=mountain+bike+accessories&source=gbs_navlinks_s
- Liberty Bicycles. "Essential Accessories for Road and Off-Road Biking." (Dec. 22, 2009)http://libertybikes.com/articles/accessories-increase-your-riding-fun-pg50.htm
- Van der Plas, Rob. Mountain Bike Maintenance: Repairing and maintaining the off-road bicycle. MBI Publishing Company, 1994. ISBN 0933201656, 9780933201651.http://books.google.com/books?id=A7l-GdYX5RgC&dq=mountain+bike+accessories&source=gbs_navlinks_s
- Weiss, Chris. "Mountain Bike Safety Gear." Trails.com. (Dec. 22, 2009)http://www.trails.com/list_1509_mountain-bike-safety-gear.html
- XSportsProtective.com. "How to Choose a Mountain Bike Helmet." (Dec. 22, 2009)http://www.xsportsprotective.com/mountain-bike-helmets.html