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MTB Elbow Pads Interviews and Testimonials

mtb elbow pads saving from injury

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Mountain biking can be an exciting but dangerous sport. One way to protect yourself is by wearing elbow pads. Elbow pads protect one of the most vulnerable parts of your body during a crash. We interviewed mountain bikers about their experiences using elbow pads.

Why Wear Elbow Pads for Mountain Biking

There are some good reasons to use elbow pads when mountain biking. Elbow pads protect your joints and prevent scrapes if you crash. Mountain biking trails often have rocks, roots, or logs you could hit.

Kelly has been mountain biking for five years. She likes wearing her elbow pads for the technical downhill trails near her home. “The pads let me ride with confidence so I can focus on the trail instead of worrying about falling,” she explained.

Finding the Right Fit

It’s important to find elbow pads that fit properly. Ill-fitting pads can slide out of place and leave parts of your arm exposed.

When asked about finding the right size, mountain biker Jay said: “Go into your local bike shop and try on a few options. Bend your arm fully to see if the pads pinch or limit mobility.” He went on to add, “Don’t size up too much or the pads will be loose and slide around.”

The right elbow pads should be snug but allow full flexion of your arm. Make sure to assess fit and comfort before picking a final pair.

Key Features Mountain Bikers Want

There are a few key features mountain bikers look for in elbow pads:

Breathability Elbow pads can get hot, especially on long rides. Breathable pads that wick moisture keep you cooler. “I ride year-round and can work up a real sweat. Having a mesh back panel lets air flow so my arms don’t overheat,” said Danielle.

Flexibility You need flexibility to maneuver your bike on rugged terrain. Stretch panels at joints allow natural arm bending. According to Serena: “My pads move fine when I lean my weight into turns or absorb impacts hopping over logs.” Flexible pads ensure full mobility.

Durability Pads take a beating from brush, rocks and spills. They need to withstand multiple impacts without falling apart. Chris likes that his elbow pads “have held up well after several nasty crashes on rocky trails. They saved my joints from some bad scrapes.” Durability equals long-term protection.

Low Profile Bulky pads can impede movement and feel uncomfortable. As trail rider Lauren explained: “I prefer low profile pads that sit close to my skin instead of big chunky ones. Slim pads just work better for the type of riding I do.” Less bulk offers greater comfort.

Types of Mountain Bike Elbow Pads

There are a few main types of MTB elbow pads to consider:

Hard Shell Hard shell pads have a plastic exterior plate backed with foam padding. The outer shell distributes and deflects impact. “I use hard shell pads because I ride really aggressive lines with big jumps, drops and speeds,” said downhill racer Pablo. “They handle crashes better for my style of riding.” Hard shells suit extreme, gravity-fed terrain.

Soft Shell Soft shell pads use foam protection without a hardshell exterior. The foam cushions your elbows effectively during falls. “I ride cross country on pretty tame trails,” Lucy commented. “The soft shell pads let me climb and move naturally but still protect me if I fall.” Soft shell suits more mellow or pedally riding.

Sleeve Sleeve style pads look like a long compression sleeve for your arm. They slide on easily and offer a slim, non-intrusive fit. “I forget I’m even wearing my sleeve pads sometimes,” mentioned Nora. “But they’ve saved me from bloody gashes a couple times.” Sleeves work well for all-around trail use.

No single pad works for everyone. Choose the option matching your riding style and local terrain for ideal protection. Our best MTB elbow pads guide can help select the right type.

Elbow Pad Experiences and Testimonials

We gathered testimonials from mountain bikers about their real-world experiences using elbow pads:

James – Prevented Serious Injury

Riding Style: All-mountain

“I was bombing down some chunky rock rolls way too fast and my front wheel washed out. I supermanned over the bars and slammed my elbow into a sharp boulder to break my fall. The pad took the brunt and probably saved me from a compound fracture. I tweaked my rotator cuff but thanks to the pads my arm is still in one piece! They did their job preventing a serious injury from my stupid mistake.”

Alicia – Built Her Confidence

Riding Style: Cross Country

“I was hesitant to try some of the black diamond trails in my area because I was scared of falling on the steep, exposed sections. Wearing elbow pads gave me the confidence boost I needed to push my limits and try trails outside my comfort zone. Now I seek out tech challenges instead of avoiding them!”

Sam – Protects His Livelihood

Riding Style: Downhill

“I make a living competing on the downhill racing circuit so arm protection is critical. Breaking an elbow could derail an entire season and lose me sponsors. My hard shell pads let me charge full-speed knowing I can walk away uninjured from big crashes. Ensuring I can keep racing without injury is why I always wear pads.”

As you can see from these testimonials, elbow pads serve mountain bikers well across various disciplines. Anyone from weekend warriors to hardcore racers benefits from smart impact protection.

Maintaining Your Elbow Pads

Like any gear, elbow pads require some care and maintenance:

  • Inspect pads periodically for tears or damage
  • Hand wash with gentle soap and water
  • Let pads air dry completely after washing
  • Check straps and closures function properly
  • Consider replacing pads showing excessive wear

Well maintained pads maintain their protective qualities ride after ride. Take care of your investment and the pads will take care of you!

Some riders worry about the environmental impact of gear like elbow pads. Brands are getting better at using eco-friendly materials but more progress helps. When your pads do wear out, look for sustainable options or recycle properly.

Answering Common Elbow Pad Questions

Those new to elbow pads often have similar questions. We will try answering some frequently asked ones:

Are elbow pads necessary for mountain biking?

Wearing pads is ultimately a personal choice depending on your risk tolerance. Many riders opt for pads when pushing their progression doing jumps or technical trails. Pads provide cheap “insurance” against scrapes or sprains from otherwise minor crashes.

How necessary pads are depends somewhat on where and how aggressively you ride. Our FAQ guide covers this topic more.

Don’t pads get hot?

Some pad models indeed get quite hot, especially cheaper options lacking ventilation. Quality pads use breathable mesh fabrics that flow air over your skin. Sweat-wicking materials and strategic paneling prevent overheating too.

With well designed pads, heat buildup is manageable for most riders. Take your climate and sweat rate into account when selecting pads.

What size elbow pads do I need?

Sizing varies a bit by brand but most offer small, medium and large options. Measure your arm circumference midway between your elbow and shoulder. Compare to the pad sizing chart and choose the closest size.

Be mindful of straps and adjustable closures too. These let you tweak the fit as needed. Our earlier section on finding the right fit has more detailed tips.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from the riders interviewed, elbow pads serve an important protective role in mountain biking. Pads build confidence to progress skills and prevent minor spills from becoming injuries. We recommend every mountain biker keep their elbows covered against the scrapes and bruises of the inevitable crashes we all experience.

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed