Mountain Bike Safety Gear

Trail Safety

Headgear – AKA – Lid, Helmet . . .

Purpose – To protect the rider from serious head injuries, Slaps to the head from low-hanging branches . . .

I’ve been saved from potentially serious head injuries more than once thanks to my helmet and even then, I ended up with concussion twice that I remember and not once did these crashes involve other traffic of any description. And still, I come across people out on the trails or see them on videos showing off their skills without a helmet.

These risk-takers are not only taking unnecessary risks with their own health and insurance policies, or lack of, they are also setting bad examples for new and upcoming riders. They give ammunition too to those who would see mountain bike sport confined to areas where the public don’t go.

Ride Hard, Ride Fair, Nobody Hurt (and that includes you).

Rant Almost Over

Last week, somebody published a VIMEO video showing a young woman crash into a large cactus in Arizona. Simply put, she lost control and ended up spiked. Face, neck, arms, legs, torso and the removal process looked as painful as the crash.

She wore skimpy shorts a vest top and a band to keep her hair in place. Oh, she did wear elbow and knee pads too, but they were ill-fitting and loose. No helmet; had she been wearing one, that would have reduced the number of spikes to her head and neck. She wasn’t wearing eye protection and was fortunate not to be poked in the eyes.

There are a few of these vicious plants where I live and a wide-berth is always advisable. Not only do those spikes hurt but they itch like crazy for days after. What we do have many of are the following attractive bushes and they have a habit of placing themselves exactly within the ride-line. They love to trash uncovered skin and riding clothing. Tires too if you ride over them. They are incredibly tough.

The question is, do you know the hazards of your local environment?



Rant Over . . .

What Type of Helmet?

This depends on the type of riding you do. You may even need or want several different helmets for trail, or downhill riding. Half-shell mountain bike helmets are the best option for most mountain bikers. Watch out for a post on full face helmets coming soon.

This Troy Lee helmet retails at around £76 (€ 89 US$ 99). Troy Lee Helmet

It covers a large surface area, providing extra protection in temple and lower cranium. It also has an adjustable rear stabilizer, Multi-purpose cam-lock +/- 20 mm vertical and +/- 60 mm horizontal movement with 3-position front and rear locations for a custom fit. There is also a three year warranty.

Dropping down the price range, “BestReviews” at Amazon picked this Team Obsidian Airflow as the best of the best.

It retails at £49.89 (€ 57.11 $62.99).Team Obsidian Airflow Helmet



Lightweight and well-ventilated. Customizable fit by adjusting straps. Molded foam and plastic shell mesh perfectly. A padded chin strap is a nice additional feature.


Fit and comfort level are variable. Not comfortable for some with larger heads. Strap adjustment system is a challenge. Visor can cause injuries during an accident. Look at the images and notice how the Obsidian doesn’t cover as much of the back of the head as the Troy Lee.

Cheaper Still . . . JBM

Retails at £14.24 (€16.31 $17.99)JBM Helmet


Wide variety of 18 color schemes available. Exceptional ventilation. Padded straps. Uses durable plastic and foam components for maximum head protection. Numerous safety features.


Adjustment straps can slip out of position. Some issues with visor security. Riders with larger heads may not get a good fit.

So Much Choice

Until I retired it after a crash that left a dent and crack to the shell, my favourite was a Bell Nomad MIPS. MIPS is a multi-directional impact protection system. A technology designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.

Bell Nomad

Even with this technology, I still suffered a mild-concussion after my head connected with the packed dirt of a forest trail. That said, this was one of the most comfortable and easy to adjust helmets I have worn, and it lasted over two years. Priced at less than £50, I had value for money and saved my brain when I crashed.

Protection Standards

All bike helmets sold in the UK, Europe and The US need to pass certification tests. The same is true in many other territories too. This means helmets must meet certain criteria like impact velocities, roll-off tests, and strap system strengths. Many manufacturers go beyond the minimum criteria by incorporating composite materials into sub frames or “roll cages” for increased protection.

Crash Replacement

If your helmet is damaged in an accident, many manufacturers offer a reduced-price crash replacement scheme. With proof of original purchase, these programmes can save you up to 50% on an expensive replacement. Be sure to ask before you buy.


It is obvious that your helmet must feel perfect and sits in the right place on your head. Women may discover the odd challenge with this if they have long or lots of hair. Always make sure you measure your head correctly and apply the dimensions to the guide below.

It Makes Sense; Right?

Using a helmet that feels right for you will protect you from potentially traumatic injury or worse. Enough said.

Comments and Questions

If you need help, please ask in the comments below. You will always receive a prompt response.

Affiliate Links

If you choose to buy a new helmet from any of the links displayed in this post, I may receive a small commission. Please understand that you will never be asked to pay more than the price advertised, that is fixed.

To learn more about this, please click on “Affiliate Links” on the right of the main menu at the top of this post.

Coming Soon

  • Body Protection for Mountain Bikers
  • Full Face Helmets

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Just Ride Hard, Ride Fair, Nobody Hurt

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2 thoughts on “Mountain Bike Safety Gear

  1. Hi Steve,
    Great post! I have to confess, I was one of those helmetless riders when I was a kid. In fact, all the kids I saw growing up were… I was the only kid I knew who had a bike helmet, and that was only because I raced bmx for a couple years growing up and it was required. I only wore it for racing, though, never for practice runs or just riding around with my friends. Hard to believe now, but glad things have changed.

    I’m not surprised to read that your favorite helmet was the Bell Nomad, I’ve had a couple Bell helmets over the years and always liked that they were comfortable, but still stayed snug and didn’t shift out of position. Now that I’m a parent, I realize that with kids (or really anyone who hasn’t been in the habit of wearing a helmet), finding one that is comfortable is the key thing, because if it’s not comfortable they’re not going to wear it, or push it back on their head where it doesn’t do them much good.

    Anyway, good read – thanks!

    1. Hi Jordan, Thanks for your comments. Yes, helmets indeed are crucial. With today’s technological advances they are lighter, more comfortable and they really do save lives. A few months back somebody posted a video on a mtb forum of a rider on a bike park not wearing a helmet. That video created a storm of comments about the risks that rider was taking. Very true that a helmet pushed back on the head into the wrong position is as bad as not wearing one. Stay safe = keep riding is the only way to go. Best regards, Steve

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