Do you need elbow pads for mountain biking? (Everything you need to know) – GoMTBiking

Published by Praful N on

When it comes to the protection of yourself while riding technical terrains, it’s very important to have back end protection like protective gears. So let’s get straight to the question.

Do you need to wear elbow pads for mountain biking?

When it comes to wearing elbow pads like any other protective it is a very essential thing when you’re hitting terrain with do many jumps and bumps. In my opinion yes you need to wear elbow pads for mountain biking to protect your elbow because you can be more prone to falling. 

Compared to other protective pads like knee pads, it might seem less important because the knee part is more prone to injuries. But still, elbow pads are worthy products to go for.

In this article, I’ll discuss everything about why you should be wearing elbow pads and when can you consider removing them.

Let’s dive in.

Why do you see so many people with knee pads and not elbow pads?

You might have seen more mountain bikers who are not wearing elbow pads while riding. As I said in the intro it’s an important protective gear you can have to protect your elbows from cuts but upon that it also depends on the person’s choice.

Me writing this article always prefer to have a fully packed protective gear which includes everything like elbow pads, knee pads, and many more.

But for most of the experienced riders, it cannot make much sense to having elbow pads. These riders are skilled and they usually have fewer falls.

Even if you compare elbow protection vs knee protection. It’s more important to have knee pads compared to elbow pads because whenever you fall off the ground the first thing that you force yourself to put first is the knee. Yes, you bend on your knees to protect yourself which can result in some injuries. But these tend to be small falls or small accidents.

Remember whenever you hit a major fall or jump, you’ll surely be landing on your arm. So yes elbow pads are very important to have an overall protective gear.

Why do you need to wear elbow pads for mountain biking?

The short answer to this question would be to protect your elbow while riding any technical terrain. Mainly singletrack mountain biking where your elbow is more prone to grazing trees and you have many chances of falling if you’re not a skilled rider. 

Some of the expert riders do not wear elbow pads especially because of their abilities and skills of tackling obstacles like trees which can gaze your elbow. But still, I recommend anyone who’s hitting some technical terrains which has a lot of jumps.

Mainly when it comes to newbies, they try to look cool by not wearing any pads on their sensitive body parts which are more prone to injuries. Mountain biking is a rough sport, your body should never be unprotected without protective gear like elbow pads or any other pads.

Let’s look at some pros of wearing elbow pads.

Advantages of elbow pads for mountain biking

As I said, many bikers won’t have an elbow pad. That’s totally fine, but whenever you are hit with an accident and have some injuries on your elbow, that’s when riders start wearing an elbow pad.

The advantages are simple,

  • When you start recovering, you’ll be afraid of going mountain biking without having an elbow pad. That’s where the first advantage comes in, you’ll have some psychological or pseudo(whatever you call) confidence in you with elbow pads on your elbow. You being a beginner, even if you’re more into falling stuff you’ll have some confidence going with these protective gears.
  • So when it comes to serious accidents like hitting big rocks or trees, that’s where this protective gear comes into play. Even if you’re a skilled biker you never know when there might be an obstacle coming in. So make sure you have elbow pads that create armor for your elbow against these accidents.
  • Looking at all the accidents, whether it is major or minor. You’ll mostly ride in the singletrack. You’ll be having less room to adjust yourself between trees and bushes if you’re about fall or hit some accident. There’s a high possibility of you having cuts or grazes for your elbow because of trees. So that’s another advantage of having elbow pads to prevent these minor accidents.
  • Good quality elbow pads that do not easily stretch out will give you a good handling or steering experience. Make sure you have good quality elbow pads which are not too rigid and it’s a perfect fit for your elbow.

These were some of the advantages of having elbow pads on your elbows.

Does anyone wear elbow pads for non downhill riding?

Yes, a non downhill rider wears elbow pads. But it all depends on the individual rider’s skillset, if he’s super skilled he might not even want to wear elbow pads for downhill also which is a bad idea but he can go without elbow pads for non downhill riding. 

When I’m talking about non downhill riding this mainly includes cross-country and some parts of the trail are riding which is moderately challenging. In short, something which is challenging should not be without elbow pads or any other protective gear which you choose to wear.

But it fine if you’re a confident rider who’s riding cross country or moderately rough trails.

When can you ride without wearing an elbow pad?

Being fully equipped with all the protective gear is the best way to go but still, there can be some instances where you can go without being equipped with protective gear like elbow pads.

  • If you’re commuting, riding on-street, or any smooth surfaces with small distances mainly, it’s fine if you go without the elbow pads. There’s no such obstacle that will actually hurt you. As you see elbow pads are less important compared to knee pads.
  • The second one would be cross country riding. I have mentioned this in my previous section of the article, you can go without elbow pads.

These elbows are similar to your knees, these are mostly packed with bones, ligaments, and skin and you even have some major injuries which can make you sit for a few more months without having a ride.

If you feel safe about yourself without having elbow pads you can go without them. But for beginners make sure you have them.

When should you compulsory wear elbow pads?

Whenever you go for a ride downhill or any other challenging terrain no matter if you’re an expert you should be wearing an elbow pad and other protective gear for your safety. 

Also, if you’re a beginner you should be riding with elbow pads wherever you ride even if you ride moderately rough trails. Going with elbow pads and other protective gear will make you safer.

So when it comes to downhill riding you’ll be riding jumps, drops and you’ll shuttle with the descending path so that’s where these pads come into play.

And also if you’re trying to hit some stunt-based activities like manual or wheelie, these elbow pads can be beneficial for your elbows if you fall.


How tight should MTB elbow pads be? 

Mountain biking elbow pads should not be loose in the initial days after you buy. It should little tight so it gets loose eventually. Not super tight because they can cause some comfort issues which can affect your handling in longer rides. 

To conclude this, have a properly sized pad. There are so many sizes and quality range in the market. Buy the more comfortable and little flexible one which can help you in the longer run.

Do you need to wear knee pads for mountain biking?

Yes, knee pads are super important and also more important than elbow pads for mountain biking. These are structured almost similar to elbow pads and are one of the most essential protective gear to have while hitting any kind of technical terrain.

Check out my detailed article about knee pads for mountain biking. 

Are elbow pads worth it for their price?

Yes, they are worth it when it comes to price. Even if they are expensive you should consider buying them for your sizing and comfort. 

My takeaway!!

Are elbow pads necessary? Yes, they are necessary to wear while riding trails.

But you should also focus on having other protective gear options that are more important compared to elbow pads. For example, bike helmets, gloves, knee pads, shin guards, etc. This makes up your whole protective system.

If you enjoyed reading this article about elbow pad, share it with your friends and colleagues. 

Keep riding😉

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