The only way for people to stay protected when they are riding a mountain bike is to have the proper padding in all the right areas. A helmet is pretty much mandatory, but not as many people necessarily wear knee pads and elbow pads.
Excuses for not wearing elbow pads include not being able to find lightweight, comfortable options, and feeling like they are not as effective as they should be.
Tired of not being able to find protection that actually works? These are the best knee pads and elbow pads for mountain bikers right now. No matter what type of money you’re working with, they can find a solution that makes sense for them.
The first instinct for most people when they crash is to land with their hands, but the elbows are not far behind. Having proper protection with the elbows can cut down on serious injuries if you’re involved in a crash.
Right now, these are the best elbow pads out there for mountain bike riders wanting to have an extra bit of protection. Priced from the most affordable to the premium solution, it shows that buying elbow pads is not always a huge investment.
Bodyprox Elbow Protection Pads
Although they are not designed specifically for mountain biking, many people have started to use these Bodyprox Elbow Protection pads (Amazon) as a very affordable way to stay safe out on the trails.
They are very comfortable to slip on, and as long as the person orders the right size, they will stay in place better than just about any other option out there.
Designed to help out athletes playing in multiple sports, the fabric is very strategic in keeping these as comfortable as possible.
The goal is to make sure that these are lightweight and easy to put on, as no one wants to be fiddling around with elbow protection pads that feel way too bulky.
These may not offer the premium protection as others further down this list, but for those who just want a little bit of lightweight protection, this is a perfect solution.
No one has to feel like they are too restricted as they use elbow pads for the first time. These can be a great spare option for those who are going on shorter rides, or they can even be used as the main solution.
The good news is, those who thought that elbow pads would be too restricted will not feel that way any longer.
- They Felt very minimalistic.
- I found the Snug fit makes sure that they stay in place.
- I found them very affordable.
- Not as durable as mountain bike-specific options.
- Some riders will want more padding.
Fox Enduro Sleeve
Fox Racing (Amazon) also makes this list for elbow pads, as the Enduro sleeve is definitely one for riders to take a look at. It is designed for people who want not only elbow protection, but a little bit of coverage up and down the arm.
It is not going to be nearly as bulky as some of the other arm guards out there, but that is perfectly fine for people who might not need that level of protection overall.
Putting this elbow pad on is very simple and easy for all types of riders. They never feel like they are pulling too hard or possibly ripping the pad in general. It stays in place and does not cause any irritation while it is on.
Ventilation could be a little bit better with the elbow pad, but most people are pretty fine with how it feels overall. They are going to last even with three long rides, but there are better options out there if a person really needs something that is ventilated properly.
Since Fox is such a trusted name in the industry, many jump to these pads at the very beginning. Their name comes with a little bit of a price premium, but nothing too crazy that a person feels like they are spending way too much money.
- A very trusted brand in the industry.
- Easy to slip on and keep in place.
- Great protection up and down the arm.
- Slight price premium due to the name.
- Ventilation could be a little better.
At first glance, some people might see this as being too bulky for elbow pads. I found they are certainly not for everyone, but there is a lot of technology that goes into these Leatt Airflex elbow pads (Amazon) that make them more comfortable than most might think.
They use a 3-D molded impact gel that makes these pads pretty soft and comfortable when riding in any type of weather condition.
Another thing that helps with the comfort level is that these pads stay in place. There is a mesh fabric that is soft to the touch, and it will allow people to not feel like they are being worn down by any means.
It can sometimes feel very annoying with the way an elbow pad rises up against the skin, but that is not the case at all with this.
What people are getting is a very durable option that will provide some of the best protection ones can ask for. If people are taking a lot of risks when they are riding and want the most amount of protection, this is the type of elbow pad to go for.
Many people will trade a little bit of extra bulk to not fracture their arms.
- Very comfortable fit.
- Lighter than it appears.
- Stays in place.
- Gets dirty pretty easily.
What To Look For When shopping Elbow Pads
Narrowing down the choice of elbow pads can sometimes seem pretty daunting. Every single person is different, whether that be the caliber of rider, or what level of protection they really want. These additional tips will allow most to find exactly what they need.
It is challenging for first-time shoppers to find a fit that makes the most sense for them. They are usually at least a few different sizes for elbow pads, and then they can be adjusted for a truly customized experience.
The fit needs to be just right in order for them to provide proper protection. If they are too tight, it is going to potentially cut off circulation and be a big hassle overall.
If they are too loose, it is going to require a lot of adjusting during the ride. Try to read reviews and also see if they offer a money-back guarantee or free exchange if the sizing is off.
Some materials are going to be lighter than others. Make sure to pay attention to the type of materials used, as well as how they might be closed off.
There are a lot of people who do not realize just what makes a difference when it comes to quality materials. Since cyclists are trying to go fast, they want somebody that is comfortable and lightweight.
With padding and protection, there are soft versions and hard versions. A hard outer cover for padding is going to provide more protection, but it is also going to be bulkier.
It is not going to change the feel too much, other than it is heavier in general. Most who are wanting the best and most comfortable material will go for a soft version.
Mountain biking in general is a pretty dangerous sport, but that does not mean that everyone needs the same level of protection.
For example, some of it comes down to the discipline of mountain biking, as well as how many risks a person takes in general.
Out of trail, cross country, and downhill biking, those who are constantly searching declines will need the most amount of protection.
This has the highest chance of something going wrong, and that usually means falling face first. The elbows need protection as they become pretty vulnerable to bruises, cuts, or even breaks.
Those who are only riding to go at a fairly leisurely pace might still opt for some padding, but they want something very lightweight.
This makes a lot of sense because they are likely not going to get in a huge wreck where they need that extra level of protection.
Ultimately, it just comes down to how much padding is needed to give people proper peace of mind. Those who feel like they are properly protected will feel much freer on the bike.
One of the more annoying things when buying any type of accessory when mountain biking is losing breathability. It can be very tough for people out there to find a quality option that does not feel like it is too restricting.
Fabric makes a pretty big difference, and some will even come with vents in them to let air pass through. Getting the right fit makes a big difference, so a lot of it goes back to that particular buying tip as well.
Should a Mountain Biker Always Wear Elbow Pads?
With technology getting better and better, elbow pads being less restrictive than ever before, there really is no reason to not wear elbow pads while riding a mountain bike.
There are way too many chances of injury, especially if a person is going on a challenging trail where they are pushing the pace as much as possible.
Riders should always be trying to protect themselves from as much injury as possible. The last thing someone wants to do is feel like they are being overly cautious, so it is usually better to wear protection in vulnerable areas instead of slowing down the pace and trying not to get into any bad situations.
It usually takes just one scary injury for mountain bike riders to see the benefit of elbow pads. These are two spots where people are most likely to land when they are falling.
Along with these pads, it usually makes sense to wear gloves for protection as well. Between the hands, knees, and elbows, those are the three spots where people are going to brace for a fall.
All in all added protection is never a bad thing. If it prevents just one significant injury, these small investments will be more than worth it.