Downhill mountain biking is about as thrilling a sport as you can get. Hurling yourself down a mountain on a bicycle can be terrifying but with a bit of practice it can be one of the most rewarding and exhilarating of experiences.
However, speeds are high and the rocks are, well, rocks, so you will need a few pieces of essential kit to keep that percious body of yours in tact.
1. Full-face helmet
Downhill racers wear the equivalent of scaled down motocross helmets. They may look pretty hardcore but when you are travelling at high speed down a mountain, you will need all of the protection you can get.
The cream of the crop are super lightweight and are woven from carbon fibre, however they are pretty pricey. Cheaper composite options are available that offer the same level of safety.
We’d recommend trying a range of helmets to ensure you get the the right fit before buying. D-ring chin straps are recommended too for security and it may be wise to look for a washable liner... Trust us, it gets hot in there!
Single lens goggles are a must as they provide superb eye protection. Cycling glasses can be worn but remember the speeds in DH are very high and as a result loose earth, rocks and mud might hit you in the face from time to time.
Look for a well vented lens and carry your google bag with you to give them a wipe between runs. If you’re riding in hotter countries remember that most goggles offer little to no UV protection.
Kiwi racer, Sam Blenkinsop, inspired a trend for gloveless riding a few years ago but unless you’ve got his kind of skills we highly recommend gloves. When you fall off your bike, what’s the first thing you do? Stick your hands out of course so it is best to keep them covered at all times. Gloves will also help you to keep better control of the bike by improving you grip.
Mountain bike specific shorts offer a superb range of movement and re-enforcement around the areas that you’ll want a little extra staying power.
DH-specific shorts are also available which offer harder wearing fabrics and stretch panels which are great for warding off abrasions should push come to crash.
Wearing body armour is definitely a personal choice. If you’re new to the sport we’d highly recommend knee and elbow pads as a minimum. Sock-style, up and over pads are the best as they tend to offer fastening at both ends to avoid slipping. Look out for pads with removable protection as these can be thrown in the washing machine which is really handy.