Have you been feeling stronger on the bike, doing your homework, and stepping up your skills? With great skills progression comes great responsibility…to keep yourself intact! So let’s take a moment to do a quick inventory on your protective gear to make sure your equipment and body are progressing with your skills.
1. The Lid
First off, check your helmet. Give it a good inspection for any cracks, dents, gouges, or signs of wear. How old is it? If it is more than three years, it may be time to replace it according to most manufacturers. If you’ve taken a hard hit to the helmet, even if it doesn’t display any visible cracks, it’s time for a new one. If you’re starting to gravitate towards riding jumps and technical gnar or if you just want a little more facial protection, you may want to take a closer look at some of the amazing full face helmets available now. You’d be amazed at how comfortable a full face can be these days!
If the eyes are the window to our soul, lets keep them safe too. Stray branches, flying rocks, or even a bit of sand on a windy day can really take the fun out a ride. Invest in quality eye wear, and make it a habit to wear them every ride! If you are looking for good coverage, checkout the Defender sunglasses from Rudy Project. These days, you can get glasses with prescription lenses or with photochromic lenses that adjust with the light so you don’t have to stress about changing out lenses before every ride. Going full enduro? Get yourself some goggles!
Pro-tip: If you attended a Ninja clinic, you received a Rudy Project discount code in your event follow up email!
Next up, let’s talk armor (padded protection). I’m a big believer in knee pads, and I know several people that swear by elbow pads as well. Think about your riding and in case it’s been a few years since you’ve considered padding, know that most of the pads available now are far from bulky or clumsy. They offer a ton of protection without much consequence! Do some shopping and try different brands on, keeping in mind that you want comfy ones that you’ll actually wear every ride. I prefer owning two sets: one for comfortable trail riding (something thinner and lighter that will help to prevent abrasions or scratches), and a hard shell with some quality ticker padding for when it’s time to get rowdy. The hard shell pads are especially nice in rocky terrain where they are more likely to slide over rocks instead of snagging and being pulled down to your ankles. Keep an eye out for hard shells with the D30 technology, which is a type of padding that is comfortable and flexible to the touch, but gets rock hard on impact. Wicked cool stuff and a personal favorite.
When selecting armor, you want to weigh the level of protection vs comfort factor, considering both range of motion and heat. Make sure you wear gear that allows you to move properly on the bike! You don’t want to be out there all bundled up or boiling and unable to ride right, and you’ll be far more likely to wear the protective gear if it is comfortable. After all, the armor won’t do you any good sitting on a shelf in the garage!
4. Mind the Spine
The Enduro World Series and many other race organizations have started making spinal protection mandatory for competition. Watch videos of downhill racers, and you’ll see everything from neck braces to moto inspired chest protectors. I am glad to see that idea grow throughout the sport – spinal protection is not just for pro downhill riders anymore. Even better news? More brands to take notice and putting new products on the market for all level of riders. I love seeing developments in rider safety. Fox makes some great chest and back protectors, POC makes armor vests, and Evoc is now offering various hydration packs with built in spinal armor.
5. Boost Strength & Flexibility
A body that cannot bend, is more likely to break. Want to prevent bike injuries? Build strength and flexibility! After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? You can get a ton of bang for your buck with a little bit of bike-focused resistance and strength training. Take a look at any MTB focused training plan and you will see a focus on both mobility and stretching. Get your body limber and feel the difference both on and off the bike. Here are 10 yoga moves for mountain bikers and 10 MTB-specific exercises you can do at home to get you started!
He’s a wild man with a wild plan, living the nomad life as a skills instructor and trail builder. With a background in moto and 15 years of mtb experience, he has tips for riders of all levels! You can find him leading Ninja clinics all over the country and on Instagram @vitabrevis
Enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I’ve ever done to improve my speed and ability on the bike.
Hands down, enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I've ever done to improve my speed and ability...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
Hands down, enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I've ever done to improve my speed and ability on the bike. I am so much faster on singletrack and through technical sections/jumps that even if people are more fit than me, I still keep up with them (and kind of love watching them do a lot more work than they need to). Richard and Kris are fantastic and break things down in a way that makes sense and is manageable. By the end of my first clinic, I was jumping off ledges and power climbing up sections that I couldn't drive a car up. You could buy a $5,000 carbon bike and do 10,000 ft rides every day, but you will get the best return on any investment you make in your riding by attending a Ninja Skills Clinic. ~ Regina J.
My 14 year old son and I (I'm 43) went to the Intermediate/advanced skills clinic at Malibu Creek State Park....
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
My 14 year old son and I (I'm 43) went to the Intermediate/advanced skills clinic at Malibu Creek State Park. We both race and ride at a very fast pace. Getting faster for us is about making sure our fundamentals are solid and we can continue to use those fundamentals to smooth out our flow to increase our skills and confidence. Richard has a way of breaking down all the information to make it very understandable and usable. My son and I have been to other skills classes before and knew what to expect, mostly. Richard was able to coach us to better form riding high speed flat corners! We brushed up on and cleaned up some less helpful habits. We really worked to understand the how and why behind some skills that we already had but didn't know we that we did. All in all we had a blast! Richard was fun and informative. Taylor was helping Richard out for the day. It was fun to watch her demo some skills at speed. Her input throughout the day was informative and light hearted. It was a fun day on the bike with some great people and coaching. This will not be our last Ninja training clinic! Thanks for everything Richard and Taylor! ~Eric Zubick
I have, like many cyclists, been riding bikes since childhood. Feeling like I hit a plateau in my technical riding...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I have, like many cyclists, been riding bikes since childhood. Feeling like I hit a plateau in my technical riding skills (because I had), I began searching for a mountain bike skills camp. I wanted to attend a camp that would push me to be a better rider, but I needed it to be in a great location on actual trails. After a fair amount of searching, I decided that spending a weekend at a Ninja Mountain Bike Skills camp would be perfect. It didn't hurt that the camp was in Big Bear. The condensed review: It took only a few hours of trail riding with Richard and Daniel to drastically change my riding for the better. The long review: The camp was broken into morning and afternoon sessions, separated by an amazing lunch on each day. The morning sessions were, in general, based on technique and riding isolated technical features. The afternoon sessions functioned more like a capstone; we rode incredible trails, like Fall Line and Skyline, and put our newly-learned skills into action. Richard and Daniel were attentive to both the class as a whole as well as each individual. The pacing of each individual lesson (I'm a teacher, so I viewed each piece as a lesson) was wonderful. There were constant checks for understanding as well as incremental assessments of our skills on the bike. We were never once, all weekend, bogged down in repetition, nor were we rushed through a skill or concept. I was blown away by the sheer volume of skills that were taught in such an easy-to-grasp manner. Of course, we were not standing by our bikes the whole time listening to a lecture: we were actively riding while Daniel and Richard looked on with critical eyes. Richard was clear in his introduction...
G2 Bike looks forward to many more of these clinics in this area.
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is a warm and friendly environment to learn new skills and hone ones you already know....
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills is a warm and friendly environment to learn new skills and hone ones you already know. It's a non intimidating environment where mistakes are welcomed so corrections can be made. I own G2 Bike is Aliso Viejo and this clinic has been ran out of the Aliso Woods area and when I interviewed the clients they had all but great things to say. None arrogant instructors and easy to follow steps. The biggest bang for many was meeting new area riders at their skill level, gaining confidence, and getting the bike set up and fit properly. G2 Bike looks forward to many more of these clinics in this area. Thanks Richard for all you do for the MTB community! ~ AJ S.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.