Beyond the Helmet: 3 Pieces of Mountain Bike Safety Gear

October 14, 2016

by Drew Zieff
Beyond the Helmet: 3 Pieces of Mountain Bike Safety Gear

There are a ton of ways to stay safe on your bike — the most obvious one being your helmet. But there are other pieces of gear that we don’t always ride with that help us stay out of harm’s way and/or minimize the magnitude of inevitable injuries. Here are a few of our testers’ favorites, put to the test on a recent trip to score singletrack through Spain’s Basque Country.

Revo Cusp-S Sunglasses

Drew Zieff

Revo Cusp-S Sunglasses Starting at: $160.65 Revo’s new Cusp-S sunglasses are primed for mountain biking. The frame is lightweight, the hinges have a bit of extra give in case you crash or drop them (we did both), and rubber grips bolster contact points on the ears and bridge of the nose. 

Smacking unavoidable low-hanging branches and inevitable drops failed to significantly scratch the polarized orange serilium lenses. For such bright, reflective lenses, these did fairly well in shade or when clouds swung in from the Cantabrian Sea. Our testers did note that, despite the four small holes drilled in the rimless corners, the lenses fogged when going full gas on steep climbs. Less so than some of Revo’s similarly advertised competitors, but the new design does not fully combat lens fogging. 

While the Cusp-S was defeating glare and dust, our testers were able to focus on the line at hand, and navigate difficult trails safely. If style is more of a concern, however, check out the Revo Lukee.

Tester Comment: “Sleek and fast and comfortable. Reliable in sunny conditions, ok in shade, and pretty good — but not perfect — anti-fog properties. Mountain bikers and runners should consider this a solid choice from Revo.”

Best For: Mountain biking, adventure sports, running, triathlons 

G-Form Pro Elbow Pads

Drew Zieff

G-Form Pro Elbow Pads The one ride our tester forgot his G-Forms and left his elbow pads in his backpack, he came away with a bloody souvenir on his forearm. The moral of the story? Don’t be a dunce, and wear elbow pads.

If you’re unaccustomed to riding with elbow pads, G-Form is the perfect way to start. The sleeve-style pads slide on easily and feel like you’re wearing a comfortable compression shirt. While many other pad companies rely on failure-prone, potentially uncomfortable Velcro straps, G-Form has simplified the formula with this next-level compression technology (so long as you size them correctly — important!).

Though noticeably slimmer than other pads on the market, G-Form’s RPT material stiffens upon impact, providing serious cushioning at the moment you need it most. Check out this awesome video that involves legendary soccer player Pele smashing wine bottles with bowling balls to get a full demonstration.

If you are used to wearing elbow pads, consider slimming down with G-Form’s Pro Pads. You can also complete your armor arsenal with their knee pads and compression shirts

Tester Comment: “They aren’t that noticeable, even on the climb. They’re light, unobtrusive, but after taking a couple tumbles on some tough terrain in the Basque Country and coming out unharmed, I began to trust them, and trust my riding, and that’s when I began to improve my skills. 

Best For: All-mountain biking, might not be sufficient area of coverage for full-on DH riders. 

CamelBak Skyline

Drew Zieff

CamelBak Skyline CamelBak’s steadily narrowing in on the ultimate mountain biking backpack. Though our testers had issues with one aspect of the design, overall, the 10-liter Skyline is ahead of the backpack pack. 

First, let’s talk the glaring negative: the main issue testers had is the hip pockets are a bit too small and too far back. It’s not a deal breaker, but on-bike hip pocket access isn’t as easy as it should be, and one-handed snack acquisition is tougher than we’d like.

Apart from that concern, our testers had nothing but positive things to say about the Skyline. Most of that positivity flowed forth due to the new Lowrider tech, which is CamelBak’s mountain biking initiative to allocate water storage lower on the back and closer to the bike. The 3-liter Antidote reservoir looks like a stingray — its wide wings help to distribute the weight of the water around your hips and lower back, improving everything from bike handling to back pain. Combine that with generous ventilated back padding and sling-like shoulder straps, and CamelBak may have made their most ergonomic mountain bike pack to date. 

In addition to the ergonomic benefits, a few key features further won over our testers: the stretch pocket, helmet hook and bottom buckle straps allow riders to carry pads and helmets on the way to the trail or on the uphill, essentially doubling the 10-liter size. A top sunglasses pocket and handy tool roll (a small, multi-pocketed roll that organizes your gear: we stuffed it with a bike tool, patch kit, zip ties and a few other essentials) top off the Skyline — a new favorite for downhill and cross-country days alike. 

Tester Comment: “A really comfortable pack — I love how the water weight is low. It doesn’t feel bulky or cumbersome on technical descents. And the back padding inspires confidence. It’s not padding for the sake of comfort, though it is comfortable; the padding is designed to keep you safe in case you fall.”

Best For: Stepping up to bigger or longer rides with confidence — and ample water supply. 

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