You are hereForums / By Discipline / Mountain (off road) / MTB Gear / Pad recommendations

Pad recommendations

By Matt - Posted on 24 January 2007

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

OK so after gushing a bit on Sunday I'm considering taking the plunge into uncomfortable silly looking arm pads. My (ideal...) criteria are:

- Must cover from (full) elbow to at least half way to the wrist with something fairly solid
- Upper arm coverage would be preferable but not a deal breaker
- Must stay in place! Especially under duress
- Not too hot or motion restrictive
- No annoying itchy velcro bits on the straps when they're put onto bare arms

So does anybody currently use something that fits the bill? Any good/bad experience with brands? Any bike stores worth noting as having a good stock of reasonably priced quality stuff?

7-Lives and counting.


Was thinking about posting a similar question with knee and shin pads as well.


I've some Fox Knee/Shin pads that do the job, bought from Bike Addiction ages ago, can't remember how much for. They attach snugly, give good protection and have no annoying itchy bits. The one negative is that they're quite enclosing so would get a bit sweaty, if I ever wore them.

Hijacking this thread, is there an MTB-specific wrist guard that stiffens the wrist (so that if you land on your palm, you won't break your wrist)? Or do they tend to just shift the damage elsewhere (like the fingers)?

I too am interested in armor, but am more concerned about weight and airflow than being able to jump off a cliff and survive.

On the wrist guard thing... I have two pairs of these for skating with.

One pair consists of tough plastic that goes from around the middle of you palm to around where you'd wear a watch (and the same top of the hand). The palm part of these are full of deep gouges from when I was learning, so they do the job well! I can imagine these also help to stop you bending the wrist in a nasty way - have seen similar being worn by snow boarders on the slopes (it's common for them to fall over backwards and break a wrist or two).

The other pair isn't quiet so stiff and just have thick padding around the palm. Not as good if you ask me.

For MTB, I doubt either would be very good to be honest as the palm padding will stop you getting a decent grip on the bars. How about some trail bike gloves if you want more heavy duty than the long finger MTB kind?

Hi Ian,

Sorry to pique your interest about wrist guards unnecessarily.

Thinking about body mechanics and posture.

If you are sitting on a bike, in the saddle, your wrist pads probably sit on your arms okay. Same if you are going down hill and have leaned back / shifted your weight behind the seat. Your arms are then stretched out, keeping your hands, wrist, and arms in a straight line.

But say you are going over a particularly rocky section, standing in the pedals, and leaning forward so your weight was positioned between the handle-bars and seat? If you think about it, your arms and wrists would each be shaped in an L, meaning your wrist pads are bunched up in an uncomfortable position. Know what I mean? Just thinking out loud here (kind of!!), but it may not be the most practical or comfortable way to protect your wrists.

Anyway, others may have a different insight here. Smiling

Yeah, I first saw the wrist guards on skaters. I don't know if being unable to bend your wrist would make it difficult to ride.

About a year ago I slid my road bike and landed on my left palm, breaking the wrist. MTB impacts aren't as harsh (trails are a lot softer than road!) but I still think about it every time I land on my hands.

But yeah, shoulder/arm protection would likely be my next step. I had a nice stack 6 months ago where I was riding alone and (according to my GPS) was unconscious for about 20 minutes. Took a nice chunk off my shoulder. If the impact point had been an inch higher, I would've broken my collarbone, and would've been taking a helicopter out!

I see Matt is now looking at some armour. I think the earth just shifted slightly!! Did anyone else feel that? Smiling

In my investigations a year ago, I found Fox to be great for their mix of products, design quality, materials, comfort, availability in Australia, and cost. I use both arm and leg guards by Fox, and can highly recommend them. Other brands I looked at and considered were Dainese and SixSixOne. But for me, they didn't stack up quite the same on the above mentioned criteria as Fox.

My arm guards were chosen specifically to be smaller and lightweight in design. They do not have large impact pads all over them. In fact, they really only cover about a 10cm patch over my elbow with the main pad sitting over the elbow point. As I cut myself up good a year ago, I only wanted my pads to protect me against laceration - nothing else. Certainly not impact damage - which larger armour will get you. My smaller arm guards were about $35.

I found wearing armour a bit restrictive at first. But not overly so. Definitely not to the point that you are hindered from moving the way you want to / need to on the bike. And I can report that having worn these for over a year now, I would not really notice wearing them at all. However in my limited experience, you definitely will feel warmer as airflow ceases to these covered areas. Especially the legs. I wear full length knee to lower shin armour and it is definitely noticable there.

I purchased all my bike and gear from Ku-ring-ai Cycles in Hornsby, on the Pacific Highway. They have been excellent for advice and have great gear. For purchasing armour, they had multiple models of gear for the brands listed above. Sorry, but this is about all I know for armour products. I could not recommend anywhere else to go.

If you are umming and ahhhing about whether to wear this stuff, just ask yourself when you stack it whether you can see yourself being lucky in that situation that you didn't hurt yourself even more badly? Would the gear have made any measurable positive difference to the outcome?

Anyway, I simply ask myself - if I have the gear already, there is not much sense in not wearing it. If I stack it, hurt myself, and the armour would have helped protect me better, well I would look even more a prat than I do now.

Good luck with it mate. Laughing out loud

Ian, just out of interest, I guess.

I only have a couple of years MTB'ing experience. So I don't rank on the highest rung as far as experience goes. But I have never heard of someone breaking their wrist in the kind of XC, basic DH riding we do. Some others here may know more than me.

But you are correct, the ground we ride on it mostly dirt, grass, etc with some fun rocks thrown in! To me, broken bones would likely be the result of faster riding when higher speed gives rise to greater impact trauma. If you are riding slowly down a technical bit, sure it can sometimes be embarrassing to stack it, but normally the fall is not very far and the speed is slow. At least, AFAIR, it is for me.

Anyway, don't dwell on the bad stuff champ Sticking out tongue

I totally agree, Little-Ditty (Matt?). At "a couple of years", you've got more experience than me. When we start talking about protective gear, I naturally think of the occasions where it might have helped. Except that my wrist was on road, and no roadie would ever be seen wearing body armor...

With armor, I'm partly trying to gain a psychological advantage in that I won't fear crashes so much. Without armor, most crashes will give you a few grazes. Consciously, I know that it's usually not a big deal to come off (unless it's rocky), but I still ride fairly defensively. I don't attack technical or difficult terrain as aggressively as I could/should. Thus, slower development.

I'll already attack most technical ascents due to the lower speeds involved. Descents and drops in general make me nervous because of the greater risk of injury if I crash.

So, by wearing armor, I hope to become more confident on technical terrain, teaching me to handle it properly. There Smiling

I wear both Fox 911 elbow/forearm and knee/shin gaurds every ride except Terry Hills and the Oaks. I highly recommend both sets of these pads. They are comfortable, light and most importantly do what they are designed to do, protect! I've had them for probably around 2 years now and won't ride without them even through the middle of summer, except as mentioned above.

The only issue I have ever had with them is that occassionally one corner of the three velcro "belts" on one of my leg pads curls up but I think this is largely because of the size of my thighs (not all muscle unfortunately) and the top belt only just reaches. The problem is normally quickly resolved with a little adjustment. As for how hot they get, well yeah I do sweat a little more with them on, atleast I think I do, they are wet when I take them off, but they are by no means the first thing I take off after a ride so I guess they can't be too uncomfortable.

From memory I paid about $90 for the arm set and about $110 for the legs and they have well and truely earnt their money since. Anyway I think they can be found slightly cheaper now.

They have another advantage as well. Your confidence goes through the roof, particularly after you get up after your first fall with them on and there's not a mark on you.

If you go down this route there is a trick to putiing the leg pads on. A lot of the earlier reviews for them had guys complaining that they move around, well not if you follow this order. Do up the strap just above your calf first and make sure this is firm. Then do up the strap around your ankle and finish with the strap around the back of your knee. This combination seems to work best at fixing them between two points that then restrict their ability to slide around up and down your leg. Anyway I think the strapping system is now slightly different so that you only really have to adjust them up once and then you use the buckles.

As for IAN, gotta agree with the others about the wrist straps. I think wrist straps as such will only impede your comfort on the bike and your ability to move around the cockpit. I have seen several downhill specific gloves that have extended wrist protection. Its like a wider cuff that comes over the bony bits between your forearm and the wrist, with double velcor straps. I remember its one thing the reviewer raved about. From memory they also had carbon knuckle gaurds on them, hense the slant towards the downhill scene. These may be a good compromise, depending on how hot they are. Unfortunately I don't remember the brand, Jedi maybe you could help out with this one.

I'll end this monologue with a little saying a wise old man used to tell me "If your not wearing protection, don't throw your leg over your ride"

The picture here is of a dude named Brian. I don't know him so well, have dropped a buddy a line to see if I can find out the brand of this armour. He rides long distances in it (think that day was 40Km+ and it was very hot) and it looks to be nicely ventilated.

Hit the 'original' link bottom of the picture to get a closer look.

I believe they are Dainese, similar to what a mate of mine has.

Witty and intelligent comments. Thanks for those pearlers : )

(Ian: Little Ditty = Liam)

In case you are interested, I checked out the Fox Racing website, and I think the leg guards I use are called "Launch". IMHO, they are very good. But I wear the 2004 model. Possibly they are updated slightly year by year. Next time you are in a bike shop, you should try some on. Time to strap on some plastic!

I have the 07 Launch ones (shin and elbow). Both quite comfortable!

More pricey than your usual stuff (cheaper than RRP on that site though)...but thats just Fox Sticking out tongue


I have Kona elbow pads that cover the elbow and underarm. They have served me well so far, don't feel a thing when I fall Smiling. Only problem is that I can't strap the top tight enough (need more muscels Smiling, so on a long ride they tend to slide a bit.

Great all the info about shin guards! They are on top of my "to buy" list.


They're dainese pads, I have a pair of knee/shin. I found them to be fairly comfortable, and reasonably cool (from what i remember haven't worn them for about 18 months or so).

Big thanks to everyone for their info. Great info.



If you are looking for armour try this site

The bloke who imports them is a local Terrey Hills rider (Scott) and the gear is good. Note the Elbow pads are only $30 - they seem really cheap.

Disclaimer - I have riden with Scott for years and he is a mate and 10 times better rider than me, but next time I buy some pads they will be UFO. Mention my name you may get a discount.

You also mention about buying SPD platforms, check out Torpedo7 see attached link, they have the plastic platforms for #35. The special only lasts until tomorrow.

Call me on 0409-359961 if you need more info


Thanks Paul, nice link.

Even though I am spoken for as far as gaurds go, that stuff looks the bees knees. Very nice.

Plus, from my own research a ways back, the prices look to be generally very good. Any time you can get quality arm guards for under $50 and quality leg guards for under a $100, you are doing well.

I've been using SixSixOne Race Lite guards for quite a while now and find them great for riding trails or urban. Their light, comfortable (i more or less forget about them as soon as i get on the bike, which i think says a lot), have good air flow even on the hottest of days and most importantly have saved my shins a number of times (i ride on flats with scary pins so its kind asking for trouble without shinnes fact the pedals on my street bike are actually called NS "Legeaters"...says it all). The 661 Race Lite also has elastic velcro straps so its not a slip-on like many others meaning you can put them on and off without taking your shoes off. With a bit of searching online you might be able to find them at quite a reasonable price too.

Anyway at least shinnies with knee protection are a great investment and i guess elbow/arm if your into the faster/bigger stuff. Another great thing is armour gives you more confidence to try that line that you've been avoiding.


I had done a simular thing years ago try to do a silly little trick and landed on gravel and lost most of the skin off my elbow, then hospital to take out all the stones. I went out and bought all the elbow padding and knee/shin padding, and I always though the best stone were the Dianiese were the best for padding and ventalation. Saying that though I did know someone who had the full body outfit and full face helmet, came off on a tiny jump and landed on top of his head and lost an inch in height after realising he broke his neck and spent a year in recovery. Lesson was that you cannot pad yourself up for every fall and I have stopped wearing the pads. Plus girls dig scars:)

Thanks for the heads up on the UFO gear

Also a big thanks to everyone for their input.


Rich - I used to have the same attitude when it came to pads, chicks do dig scars, you're never short of a conversation and pads get in the way. However it only takes a couple of more than minor stacks to change your mind about that. While you can't protect yourself from everthing it's a royal pain in the arse to have a stack and be out for a week or two when a modicum of protection and you could have been riding the next day, plus there's the hospital visits, tetanus shots (not that I ever bother - but please don't follow my example on that one, lockjaw aint nice) etc.

Of course it could be that I've just become an Aussie (ex Pom) and have now become soft and lacking in fashion sense...

(Who is considering tatts in the absence of scar generating possibilities! Death by girlfriend either way, doh.)

The "for" appear to be winning this debate. Laughing out loud

I wrote my reply about Wrist Guards under a new thread:

I remember the discussion about wristguards from snowboarding.
Would you by wearing wristguards increase the risk of breaking your your forearm instead, which takes much longer to heal than a wrist?


ok, ive had a few drinks and am feeling a little confident. all you guys keep going on about pads and armour and the likes.ive been riding bikes and doing jumps for the last 25 to 30 years and some of the worst crashes and injuries ive had have been when im all padded up. nothing can stop injuries like good judgement, confidence and experience. ok, go out and spend hundreds of dollars on fancy padding but it isnt gonna make you more skillfull, youre still gonna fall off your bike and its more likely that youll hurt yourself more as you have padding on and youre going faster because you think youre not gonna hurt yourself!
take my advice or lump it if you like but the best thing you can do is ride your bike lots and know your limits.dont go out and spend half a weeks wages on trying to look like an insect! practice on small jumps and drop offs and get bigger slowly.
p.s. watch me on the next ride with you guys,ill try something well above my league and come a right cropper!!! my fault for being a clever bugger!

i dont know man, i have never worn pads for mtbing, but im seriously considering getting some, because most painful minor bumps ive had have been knee/shin elbow related. im learning on platforms too, after years of clipless, so i get a bit of slippage from time to time, and those springs bite! -see ur point on extending your limits cause u feel safer, but then having full suspension does that too, and alcohol! and people still arnt gonna throw themselves off a 5m ledge if they feel too sketchy.. i dont know, when i skateboarded, pads were a must especially for ramps, cause u can target your falls to the padded areas as well, thus minimizing risk..and i think mtbing would be no different.. at the end of the day, when u really bite it, your really gonna bite it pads aside, but thats another im still keen for pads, and i cant afford time off work for a bung knee!

I think the last article has the right idea. Wearing a wrist guard can move crash forces to elsewhere in your body - that's how the guard works. The point is that the other likely areas to absorb the force - your elbow and your shoulder - are larger and stronger. If you take a fall wearing a wrist and elbow guards and manage to break your shoulder, you would've completely trashed your wrist.

The other major advantage of armour is abrasion protection, which is probably the most common case. Even roadies wear gloves!

This reminds me of the 'five-point-landing' used by parachutists. (I'm describing this very roughly from memory, so apologies to anyone who actually knows what they're talking about). The point is, if you're going to land hard, rather than just going feet-first and trying to absorb the forces with your legs (which will destroy your legs and hips and possibly spine), land side-on and spread the crash forces along the (less critical) side of your body. Feet, knees, hips, elbow, shoulder. You'll suffer damage to all of those areas, no question, but it should be far less debilitating.

Ian, good points about minimising damage. This could also be called "crashing with care" Laughing out loud When you know you are going to stack it, don't just accept it, but fall with your body moving into a smarter position (if you can) where the armour will take the most impact. Much like the way a cat is smart and always lands on it's feet. Good reflexes and spacial awareness are nice skills to have.

The other thing to remember about armour is that they are all different by design. Some models are designed to protect you against some things, while other models are designed to protect you against most things. But not your stupidity, funnily enough. Some guards are large and bulky, which provide both a high impact protection and prevent laceration. Some guards a "slimmer" (like my elbow guards in fact), and mainly protect against laceration. There are no large bulbous protrusions of padding on the elbow. So any large hits, in terms of impact, will certainly be felt on the elbow.

Obviously you would wear guards that are designed to protect you against what you actually need. So things like bulk vs comfort, cost, your riding style, your pain tolerance, risk averseness, and many other intangibles would all be weighed up in your mind when selecting the armour that is right for you.


ok, so i went to ourimbah today, bought a pair of fox north shore elbow and knee/shin guards on the way..they were a bit hot but comfy, and it was damn hot out there today, caught a shuttle with a couple of guys and did the downhill several times, of which i stacked twice, once minorly, the other a bit heavier (over the bars onto rock) and guess where i took the brunt of the falls? my elbows haha got straight back up and kept going no, each to his own, but i feel a whole hell of alot safer with em..

ok, i suppose youve got a point there. ive done the downhill course at ourimbah and if i was on a bigger bike than my cross country machine i would be taking it a lot quicker and would feel a lot safer with pads on. i suppose because i do a lot of quick cross country type training rides just the thought of pads makes me sweat and start to overheat! im actually looking at getting a more freeride type of bike so i might end up joining you all in looking like human insects on the trails Smiling


After you have been wearing armour for a while, you no longer notice the heat and sweating they cause. Your body gets conditioned to wearing them.

And possibly, imho, you improve as a rider because of it. Your body is being put under a bit more stress by wearing it, making it harder for your body to breathe. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.


Hi Paul,

am finally getting onto the shin pad buying project and had a look at the UFO page you posted. They look really good but unfortunately they don't have a return policy. So you can only exchange items to different sizes but you can't return them if you don't like them.
Do you know anybody riding around with us regularly using Ufo shin pads??



The only people I know who use the UFO gear are my non-NOBMOB riding cohorts of which Scott Morelli is one (he imports the UFO gear).

As he is a Terrey Hills boy, next time you are riding the area let me know (0409-359961) and I'll see if I can get him along with a few samples.


that's great!

i just bought a pair of fox north shore shin/knee and a pair of elbow pads for a little over 100 at cranks, and they are great..light, not too hot, tough and not full of plastic..fwiw

Checked those guards out at Fox Racing. They look cool. "Save your skin, they will". Mine have saved my skin plenty of times. If I didn't wear guards, my elbows and shins would be one constantly healing scab.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Best Mountain Bike