Mountain Bike Armor Design Ideas, Tips and Tricks


Before riding a mountain bike, bikers must put on a helmet and other safety gear to protect themselves from injuries in the event of a collision. In general, the most vulnerable body parts in a bike accident are the trunk, back, spine, elbows, knees, and collar bones. Mountain bike body armor design ideas come in a range of shapes, sizes, and designs, each providing varying amounts of protection. In this article we’ll discuss different mountain bike armor design ideas and when they should be used. 

Mountain bike armor design ideas include chest and torso vests, short sleeve padded T-shirts, long sleeve padded T-shirts, and full upper body protective suits for chest protection. For head protection, choose between a half-shell, full-face, or convertible helmet. For elbow protection, choose between soft shell sleeves, hard shell, and forearm elbow guards. For knee protection, choose between soft shell knee sleeves and hard shell guards. For eye protection choose between sunglasses and goggles.

It is important to know what armor is available as explained in our detailed guide to mountain bike armor pieces so that you can choose exactly what you need. But with all this talk about armor and having to protect yourself, is mountain biking beneficial for you? It most definitely is as the experts from WebMD explain in this article.

MTB Body Protector Designs

1. Chest And Torso Armor Vests

In this article from the Journal of Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, and Arthroscopy, the authors discuss how most MTB injuries are minor (75%) including skin wounds and simple contusions, however, 10% were major injuries that required hospitalization. Chest armor provides maximum impact protection for areas that are included in these major injuries. Chest and torso armor vests like this are often spine protectors with extra padding for the chest and torso. They're worn to protect your chest and ribs if you're hit hard in the chest. 

The outside shell is usually made of durable polyethylene that is shock- and wear-resistant as well as strong enough to withstand collisions. The vest contains a soft EVA foam padding on the inside that provides cushioning and protects the skin against bumps while remaining comfortable against the body. Because the back, chest, and torso are more vulnerable to injury risks when mountain biking, this style of vest is a must-have accessory. It has the ability to make your journey safer and more comfortable. 

Chest protectors are mountain bike armor designs that can help to make your ride safer and more comfortable.
This protective armor vest has a softer material for a more adaptable fit and provides great upper body protection against collisions. Image Source: Amazon.

2. Protective Short-sleeve T-Shirt

Short-sleeve shirts with protective inserts, like this, can be worn under riding jerseys to provide extra protection in key places including the shoulders, ribs, back, and collarbones. The highly breathable fabric allows for ample airflow while remaining light enough to be worn underneath a riding jersey. During an accident, a high-quality protective tee shirt will keep the contoured armor in place, whereas a low-quality tee shirt will cause the armor to move away from your body.

Wearing this protective t-shirt design can actually provide extra protection and help to keep your outer mountain bike body armor in place.
This protective short-sleeve t-shirt can be worn under a sports uniform as a foundation layer and is made to keep your body safe from harm during collisions. Image Source: Amazon.

3. Protective Long-sleeve T-Shirt

This type of long-sleeved protective T-shirt is often an elastic, nylon T-shirt with padding in the shoulders, chest, lower back, and ribs to provide good protection for these areas of the cyclist's body. The T-shirt is made to absorb shocks in the event of an accident and to keep any armored item worn over it firmly on the body, hence increasing protection. The T-shirt has also been shown to be particularly effective for moisture-wicking. In the winter, it keeps the body warm, while in the summer, it keeps the body cool. Invest in a high-quality one to ensure the best results. Check out our article that provides more tips and tricks for mountain bike armor heating and cooling.

Long-sleeved protective t-shirts like this are designed to provide extra protection under other mountain bike armor and can help to regulate temperature.
This long-sleeve T-shirt offers great padded support and protection for shoulders, elbows, lower back, chest, and ribs, especially when used as a base layer under other protective wear. Image Source: Amazon.

Full Upper Body Armored Jacket

A full upper body armored jacket like this is a terrific solution not only for chest protection, but also for shoulders, elbows, forearms, chest, back, and torso. The jacket is made of tough exterior plates with a shock-absorbing foam lining on the inside. The strong exterior plates are composed of high-impact PE plastic with EVA protecting cushions to protect the regions they cover. These protective cushions get tougher in sensitive areas to provide further protection. It's important to remember that high-quality, lightweight jackets are the ones that will give you the greatest protection. If you are interested in replacing your armor then our article provides all the necessary steps for choosing the best mountain bike body armor upgrades.

This full upper body armored jacket is designed to protect all the vulnerable areas of your upper body while riding your mountain bike.
This full upper body armor suit is composed of a skin-friendly, breathable material that will keep you cool even in hot weather. Image Source: Amazon.

Mountain Bike Elbow Guard Designs

1. Soft Shell Elbow Sleeve 

A soft shell elbow sleeve like this is a thin, soft sleeve with a little pad on the elbow area that isn't particularly hard but still provides some shock protection. This design is breathable and lighter compared to the hard shell elbow sleeve, which allows the cyclist to ride in complete comfort. Although the level of protection provided by this design isn't the highest, it is indeed still adequate for everyday short rides because it reduces impact to a large extent.

Although this elbow sleeve doesn’t have much padding it still provides adequate protection for everyday rides.
This Soft Shell Elbow Sleeve is so light and airy that you won't even notice you're wearing it. Image source: Amazon

2. Hard Shell Elbow Guard

Another popular kind of elbow guard that has shown to be quite successful in terms of protection is a hard shell elbow guard (like this). Elbow guards with this design provide impact protection and protection against scrapes for the elbow and a little region around it. They're made with a tough, durable cap that goes over the elbow. These guards are flexible and comfy, with an inside grip to keep them in place while riding. Because the hard cap is shock resistant and provides better coverage of the elbow joint, a hard-shell elbow guard provides more protection than a soft elbow sleeve in terms of protection. Mountain bike armor durability is discussed in greater detail in our study of injuries and warranty.

Hardshell elbow guards like these provide better protection for the elbow area than a soft-shell design.
This design is made of super hard caps that cover the elbow for joint protection while allowing for excellent flexibility and comfort. Image source: Baysideblades.

3. Forearm + Elbow Guard

With a cushioned design, padded arm sleeves with elbow guards like these provide excellent protection for your elbow and forearm, protecting you from serious injuries in a collision. The padded elbow sleeve is soft, breathable, elastic, and robust. It absorbs perspiration and keeps your arm cool and dry, which offers you a comfortable ride. The forearm and elbow guard is a great design because it promotes optimum protection to the elbow joint and forearm. These guards are not designed for impact as much as they are designed for scrapes and scuffs. 

An elbow and forearm sleeve like this can reduce the risk of serious injury while you are out riding your mountain bike.
This forearm and elbow protection allows you to enjoy your ride without fear of injury. Image source: Amazon.

Mountain Bike Helmet Designs

1. Half-Shell Helmet 

Half-shell helmets like these are designed for comfortable and light rides. They are ideal for individuals who are looking for an elegant helmet that is also lightweight and completely functional. They're made of durable materials that can withstand impact and heat, and they’re not easily damaged. The outer shell is generally made of thermoplastic, fiberglass, or carbon fiber, whereas the inner shell is made of expanded polystyrene. The helmet also features cushioning on the inside for extra comfort. 

The most important mountain bike body armor item would be a helmet like this which is designed to be protective but also comfortable to wear.
This half-shell helmet is utilized by cyclists who wish to use a lightweight helmet on their everyday rides. Image Source: Amazon.

2. Full Face Helmet 

A full-face helmet like this is a mountain bike armor design that covers and protects the entire face. When compared to half lid helmets, this design provides the greatest protection by absorbing impact in the event of a collision. The helmet's liner and padding are fully removable and washable, ensuring that it stays clean and fresh. Furthermore, many air vents in the full-face helmet reduce wind resistance and keep riders cool while riding off-road. Despite the excellent protection it provides, some cyclists who are used to wearing lightweight helmets may find this design to be somewhat weighty.

This helmet is designed with full protection in mind, and will certainly protect your whole head and face if you are in a collision.
This full-face helmet has a comfortable fit and absorbs impact force to provide optimal safety. Image Source: Amazon.

3. Convertible Helmet 

Convertible helmets like these are cycling helmets that can be worn as half-shell or full-face helmets. This helmet's design includes a chin guard that can be removed, allowing the cyclists to convert the helmet to their liking. Nonetheless, the helmet performs as well as a full-face helmet.

If you would like to know more about how the quality of helmets is tested then read our article that explains the methods for mountain bike armor qualification.

Check out this video tutorial by The Global Mountain Bike Network that explains the different MTB helmets that are available.

Helmets are an important mountain bike body armor item and this helmet is designed to give you the choice of full-face or half-shell protection.
This convertible helmet offers the best in comfort, security, quality, and protection every time you ride. Image Source: Amazon.

Mountain Bike Knee Guard Designs

1. Soft Shell Knee Sleeve 

Although the pad of a soft-shell knee sleeve like this is not particularly hard, it can provide some shock protection for the knee. This mountain bike armor design is made to absorb shocks and provide essential knee joint protection. A knee-protecting sleeve is far lighter and more breathable than a hard shell knee guard, allowing the biker to ride with maximum comfort while reducing sweating and heat. Although the level of protection provided by this design isn't the highest, it is adequate for everyday rides as it can reduce impact. 

This mountain bike body armor is designed to provide a certain amount of protection without compromising the rider’s comfort.
A soft shell elbow sleeve is a great choice for normal daily rides. Image source: Amazon.

2. Hard Shell Knee Guard 

Hard shell knee guards like these consist of an abrasion-resistant, shock-absorbent, and robust Polypropylene shell and are padded with EVA foam for extra comfort and shock absorption. This safety gear will not shift, effectively reducing the risk of injury from accidents and falls. These guards are flexible and comfortable enough to allow the joints to move freely. Note that for downhill mountain biking it is more common to have iliotibial band friction syndrome and lower back pain according to Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht at the Institute for Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine in San Francisco. 

These guards have a strong Polypropylene outer shell with an EVA foam inner lining for extra shock absorption and protection.
Hard-shell knee guards offer the most protection to the knee joint. Image Source: Amazon.

3. Knee + Shin Coverage 

A knee guard with shin coverage mountain bike armor design like this offers great protection for the knee and shin areas. The outer shell is thick and shock absorbing. On the inside, the design is padded with a plush lining for extra comfort and breathability. When compared to other forms of knee protection, a knee and shin guard is the best design for providing protection for the knee and shin.

This mountain bike body armor is designed to protect the knees and shins.
This knee with shin coverage helps protect your joint and muscles from injury. Image Source: Amazon.

Mountain Bike Eye Protection Designs

1. Sunglasses  

As an eye protection tool, cycling sunglasses like these provide eye comfort while riding. The polarized lenses​ of these cycling sunglasses provide UV400 protection, blocking harmful UVA & UVB rays. They improve visual contrast and clarity and are suitable for fog and rainy days and for riding in the evening or in low light conditions. The sunglasses are also lightweight, comfortable, and sporty, but are prone to falling in the event of an accident.  

It is important to protect your eyes from harmful UVA & UVB rays while participating in any outdoor sports.
Cycling sunglasses are perfect for biking. They relax your eyes, provide protection, and enhance vision. Image Source: Amazon.

2. Goggles 

Goggles provide the best eye coverage and protection. They are more tightly fastened around the helmet than sunglasses and fit snuggly against the face, so they won't move or loosen. However, one disadvantage of goggles is that they are not too comfortable to wear on lengthy rides.

For optimum eye protection wear goggles like these that won’t loosen or fall off easily.
These goggles fit properly on the face and are made of thick foam that provides great moisture control. Image Source: Amazon.

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