Picture this: You are wearing a helmet and have your elbows and knees covered with guards. You’re wearing full armor like the Darth Vader of cycling. You’re sweating down the road like a true cycling superhero but is it all worth it? I am so glad you asked!
Cycling Protective Gear- What Are They?
There is nothing worse than crashing on your bike, is there? I have had so many bad crashes that I had to stop riding for a while to fully recover. Does it hurt? Yes. But it is also what keeps the spark alive in mountain biking. So I am going to take you through the stuff that I have tested myself and come to know if it helps or not.
Let’s start with the most basic safety gear, The Helmet. A helmet is for your head protection, which is pretty obvious. But you don’t get any protection for it other than that for your head. So should you wear it?
Benefits Of Wearing A Helmet
- Helmets absorb impact by distributing the external force to a larger area. This feature provides protection to your head. There will be less risk of concussions, head injuries, and skull fractures.
- Protective helmets have a cushioned layer. It gives cushioned protection to your brain in case of a fall. You will have a 74% less chance of a traumatic brain injury with your helmet on.
- Modern helmets are so much better. I remember the first helmet that I owned as a teenager was a nightmare. It was very heavy and had zero ventilation. You do not have to face the same issue with these modern helmets. They are comfortable and make your riding experience more enjoyable.
- Modern helmets come in a lot of styles and different colors. You can even choose between different shapes so you have a lot of aesthetic options. These helmets even have reflective colors which make you visible at night. This makes it safe to ride in even low-light conditions.
However, Australian helmet laws are doing more harm than good!
2. A Knee Pad
Knee pads protect your knees against bad falls. Let’s explore if they should be an integral part of your protective gear or not.
Benefits Of Wearing A Knee Pad
- Knee pads are made using a special padding material that can absorb the impact of a bad fall. This protects your knee from fractures and other bad injuries.
- The knee pad also protects against scratches and cuts that you can get even if you don’t fall.
- Knee pads are designed keeping in mind your pedaling movement. Their design does not restrict your movement, allowing for more pedaling efficiency.
- Knee pads come with adjustable straps. You can tighten or loosen them according to your size. This prevents slippage of the pads while you are having a rough drive.
3. Elbow Pads
Elbow pads cover your elbows just like knee pads. Although I am not a very big fan of elbow pads, still there are some things we need to consider before concluding them.
Benefits Of Elbow Pads
- Elbow impacts are the worst. Elbow pads protect the elbows from any hard impact which can result in a fracture.
- Elbow pads provide safety against sliding. In case of any accident, elbow pads minimize road friction. This saves you from any painful abrasions on your skin.
- Just like knee pads, elbow pads also have straps that you adjust according to your feasibility. You can loosen or tighten the strap to make sure that the pads do not hinder your cycling motion.
4. Wrist Guards
Other than helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads, we also have wrist guards that you can strap on your wrists to avoid any injury.
Benefits Of Wrist Guards
- Wrist guards strap onto your wrist and just like other protective gear, they also minimize the wrist injury probability.
- You can protect yourself from any wrist sprains that are a very common occurrence when we fall forward.
- Other than protection, wrist guards also provide extra support to your wrists which you need during long rides. This reduces fatigue that you might experience otherwise.
- You can customize wrist guards to fit your size. This makes sure that you have a comfortable fit.
You can prevent injuries while cycling! Read this guide to find out how!
5. Body Armor
Then there comes the body armor. I mostly recommend it to people who are more aggressive riders. It protects your back, chest, torso, and shoulders.
Benefits Of A Body Armor
- Body armor covers you fully. This improves the protection level.
- It is made with really stiff shells and padding. This will protect you in case you have a hard fall. You can avoid serious injuries. Body Armour has special spinal protectors and chest plates. This protects delicate areas like your spine.
- There is enough room for you to ride aggressively if you want to. It does not restrict your body motion.
- They also support ventilation. They are made using breathable fabric.
Is It Necessary To Wear Protective Gear While Cycling?
I believe that a helmet is a must-have. I never compromise on it because a helmet is the most protective gear that you can own. You have to wear it on everyday rides without any exceptions.
Knee, elbow pads, and body armor are important but it’s not for every cyclist. You can still wear knee and elbow pads because they provide the needed protection against falls. You will feel more confident. You are more focused on enjoying your ride rather than watching out for every bump or turn because you know you’ll be protected even if you fall.
On the other hand, I think body armor is more suited for extreme sports for example mountain biking or BMX racking. Here cyclists push their limits and a fall can result in some serious injury. But you should opt for whatever you feel more comfortable in.
Why Should You Wear A Protective Gear While Cycling
While wearing protective gear is your own choice, there are still some reasons that are enough to convince you to put on some protection before you head out on the road.
1. It Provides Protection
Protective Gear protects your body in case of an accident. There is a lesser risk of serious injuries. Imagine riding on a serious terrain. You stumble and have a very bad fall. If you are wearing a helmet, the impact of the fall would be much less than otherwise.
2. It May Be A Legal Requirement
In many states, is it required by law to wear protective cycling gear. You can be fined heavily as well as face legal consequences for not abiding by the law. For example, if you reside in California you have to wear a helmet if you are under 18 years old. This is also mandatory when riding an electric bike.
Do you know about the safety impact of bicycle laws? Read on to find out!
3. It Is A Requirement For Insurance Coverage
Insurance has certain requirements. You must meet these requirements to make a claim in case of an accident. If you get stuck in a bicycle accident without wearing your helmet, you can be refused the coverage of medical expenses. This is because some insurances have legal clauses that limit coverage in case of an injury sustained without wearing protective gear.
Does this make you rethink if you need bicycle insurance?
4. You Are Leading By Example
When you ride with your protective gear on, you are setting an example for the young riders. You teach them that prioritizing your safety should never be compromised.
5. You Will Have A Better Performance
Riding while you wear some gear gives you a confidence boost. You feel safe and protected, so do not hesitate to push your boundaries. You try new tricks and learn fun things. This improves your cycling performance and you get to enjoy your time more on the bike rather than worrying about a fall.
Statistical Proof- Protective Gear Saves Lives!
Science doesn’t lie and research has proven that wearing protective gear can help minimize the risk of injury associated with crashes. For example, research shows that if you wear a helmet while you are cycling, you are up to 85 % less likely to suffer from any severe head trauma. Knee pads not only protect you from scratches but they also reduce the risk of a joint injury in a crash up to 60%. This prevents any fractures or at least minimizes the injury that can take months to heal properly.
While I do advocate why cities should go car-free that’s not going to happen anytime soon! Meanwhile, we can do what we can for our own safety.
So Why Don’t Cyclists Wear Their Protective Gear?
When everyone knows how important it is to wear some protective gear while going out cycling, why do only 18% of all bicyclists wear helmets and other gear? Well, to be honest, I would like to term it ignorance but there is a better explanation to this.
Some people find it bulky, hot, and even sweaty so they simply choose not to wear one. They don’t find it practical and believe that the gear only slows them down. But is it true?
Well, I have recorded my time riding with full bicycling protective gear on. You can say that it’s true about a motorbiking kit but the cycling kit is faster. It’s lighter, aerodynamic, and does not slow you down. In fact, I was able to complete my lapse at the same time I was able to do it without my gear on. There was a difference of just 10 seconds.
With more and more inventions in the bicycling world, we cannot argue about the impracticality of protective gear anymore. Companies are using lighter materials that provide better protection than their ancestors. So why don’t cyclists wear their protective gear? I guess it’s a personal choice.
You can say these are dangerous driving habits and you should definitely steer clear of them.
Safe Cycling- What To Do!
Here is a video that shows you all the important protective equipment that you must have before you ride out on your bicycle. It also contains information about the important bicycle parts that you have to check before riding.
The Impact Of Protective Gear- How I Learned To Always Wear One!
As an adventure-loving cyclist, I love to ride off-track and explore new routes as I enjoy the scenery on my bicycle. One sunny summer afternoon on a weekend, I decided to head out on my mountain bike and explore the famous Porcupine Rim Trail. I was stationed in Moab, Utah for a while and decided to make use of the spare time on my hands.
Well, As I was about to head out on my bike, I saw my helmet just hanging there in my garage. I don’t know if it was my lucky day or what, but on impulse, I decided to ride with my helmet on. I strapped on my knee and elbow pads and started the day. It was a very challenging trail but the adrenaline rush that I felt gushing through my veins while navigating through the red rocks made my day.
Suddenly, my front tire got caught in something, I think a hidden rock, and I was sent flying over my bike as I lost balance and hit my head on the ground. It was pretty rocky and I did feel the impact but my helmet protected my head or else I would have ended up with a skull fracture or something more serious.
Despite suffering a really bad crash, I only suffered minor injuries like scratches and some bruises. I was good to go home after I received some mandatory medical care and was able to ride out again on my bike after the rest of only a few days.
Since that day, I never ride out without my helmet. My protective gear practically saved my life and this experience is a testament to the impact of a protective gear on your safety while you ride!
Should Cyclists Always Wear Protective Gear?
Yes, it is important to at least wear your helmet when you head out for cycling. Helmets protect from head injury and reduce the impact of crashes. It is also important to wear other protective gear like knee pads and elbow guards to prevent any possible injury.
Does Cycling Gear Matter?
Yes, cycling gear matters when it comes to your safety. It makes your ride more efficient and functions as a protective layer whenever there is an impact. Good cycling gear is specially designed to fit your individual needs. It has proper ventilation so you can be sure of enjoying cool and comfortable rides even when the weather is hot.
Why Do Cyclists Wear Yellow?
Cyclists wear yellow for safety purposes. Yellow is a high-contrast color that makes cyclists more visible on the road.
In my opinion, it is important to wear your protective cycling gear to protect yourself from injury. No matter if you are going for a casual ride or an adventurous mountain ride on the uphills. But here’s the good part: Wearing cycling gear does not mean that you live in fear. It simply means that you are taking precautions against any event that might occur. It means that you are proactive and feel responsible for your actions.
So, make a smart choice and wear your gear so you can enjoy your rides confidently. Do you wear your protective gear when you head out for a ride? Let me know in the comments below. Have A Safe Ride!
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