Spring is quickly giving way to summer, meaning bike park season is officially upon us. Getting a lift up the mountain and hooting and hollering your way down trails with friends is one of the best ways to spend time on two wheels, but it does come with increased risk. Higher than average speeds and larger features can make crashes and associated injuries more serious. If you plan to spend time in the bike park this summer, investing in the proper protective gear and components is an important part of maximizing the fun.
Full-face helmets are mandatory at most bike parks and for good reason. They protect your head, face, and jaw from potential impacts, reducing the risk of severe head injuries. The padded foam shell of these helmets absorbs and dissipates the forces, while rotational protection, such as MIPS, minimizes the chance of concussions from glancing blows. Wearing a full-face helmet also can help to instill confidence, allowing you to focus better on tackling features found within the park. Full-face helmets integrate nicely with goggles, offering more secure eye protection and increased visibility in variable weather conditions. Ultimately, a full-face helmet provides peace of mind and safety a half-shell won't, making it an essential investment for riding the bike park.
Top Shelf: Troy Lee Designs D4
The Troy Lee Designs D4 full-face helmet is the paramount example of head protection in downhill racing. It boasts a lightweight carbon fiber shell that maximizes impact resistance while reducing weight, allowing for enhanced agility and reduced neck fatigue. Its comprehensive ventilation system allows for optimal airflow on warmer days. The D4 also features an extremely comfortable interior, with multiple-sized cheek pads to tailor the fit. Relied on by some of the fastest downhill racers in the world, the D4 is an excellent option for a gravity-oriented rider who plans to spend plenty of time in the park this summer.
Quality on a Budget: Fox Rampage
Inspired by the Fox Rampage Pro Carbon, the Fox Rampage is a solid option for a budget-oriented full-face. The ABS shell and MIPS liner provide downhill-rated protection at a competitive price. Twelve directional vents deliver maximum airflow at speed, keeping things cool even on the hottest days. The Fox Rampage offers Rampage-worthy protection at a fraction of the cost of a carbon helmet.
New Tech: Smith Loam MTB Goggles
All-new for the 2023 season, the Smith Loam MTB goggles feature a profile that maximizes a rider's field of view while providing full-coverage eye protection from rocks and debris. A two-layer DriWix foam wicks moisture away, creating a comfortable fit against a rider's face, while a silicone-backed ultra-wide strap keeps them in place lap after lap.
Tried-and-True: Smith Squad MTB Goggles
The Squad MTB goggles are known for their large profile and crystal clear visual; these Smith goggles keep your vision clear even on the muddiest of bike park days. Designed to pair perfectly with the profile of Smith helmets, the Squad MTB ventilation system keeps these goggles fog-free, no matter the conditions.
The one piece of kit that is a "must" for me at the bike park is a chest protector. The added layer of torso protection defends against damage to vital organs, ribs, and vertebrae. Having seen firsthand what it looks like to break ribs in the bike park, my chest protector gets packed for every Whistler trip.
Moto Inspired: Fox Raceframe Roost Chest Guard
The Fox Raceframe Roost Chest Guard provides excellent chest and back coverage without feeling obtrusive. Adjustable straps and articulated design ensure a secure and personalized fit, allowing riders to maintain their full range of motion while staying protected. With its superior design and reliable protection, the Fox Raceframe Roost Chest Guard is essential for riders seeking maximum safety in the bike park.
Added Protection: Troy Lee Designs Rockfight CE Chest Protector
The Troy Lee Designs Rockfight CE Chest Protector offers increased torso protection with the combination of its outer plastic shell and D30 back insert, making it one of the most protective on the market. Its CE-certified construction ensures high impact resistance and durability, while adjustable straps and a lightweight design allow for a secure and personalized fit without sacrificing mobility. The Troy Lee Designs Rockfight CE Chest Protector will remain breathable even in the most packed lift lines, with ultra-ventilated plating and channeled bio-foam.
Along with chest protection, knee pads are a must. Knees are often the first point of impact in a crash, and such a crucial joint deserves all the protection it can get.
Ultimate Protection: Fox Launch Pro D30 Knee Guards
Fox Launch Pro D30 Knee Guards are top-of-the-line protective gear designed for downhill and freeride. These knee guards offer exceptional impact protection and flexibility thanks to the integration of D30 technology. The D30 material is soft and flexible during normal movement but hardens upon impact, providing increased shock absorption and reducing the risk of knee injuries. Ergonomic design and adjustable straps offer a secure and customized fit.
Superb Versatility: iXS Trigger Race Knee Guards
Designed to stand up to the rigors of downhill racing in a lightweight pedal-friendly package, the Trigger Race Knee guard can be relied upon for comfortable protection riding the bike park or pedaling. Plastic plating protects against sharp objects and allows for hits to glance off the knee, while integrated Xmatter padding absorbs high-speed impacts. AeroMesh backing keeps sweat to a minimum, while an ergonomic fit ensures the pad keeps from sliding off during a crash. The Trigger is a phenomenal option for a protective, versatile knee pad.
Riding in a bike park presents a whole new level of intensity for both the rider and their bike, and with increased speeds comes increased braking demands. A quality set of brakes is one the most impactful upgrades that can be made to a bike, ensuring reliable stopping power lap after lap.
Massive Power + Amazing Feel: Hayes Dominion A4
Relied on by our own team riders, these brakes deliver reliable performance that doesn't diminish even on the longest descents. The Dominion A4 master cylinder is factory tuned for the shortest dead stroke possible and a crisp bite point. It features a cold-forged caliper and KingPin structural pad retention bolt that increases stiffness. Known for its extremely light lever action and immense power, the Hayes Dominion A4 is a great choice for aggressive enduro and downhill riding.
Bling-Bling: Hope Tech 4 E4
The all-new Tech 4 E4 builds on Hope's 25+ year of experience designing and manufacturing hydraulic brake systems. The Tech 4 uses new internal sealing for reduced friction, and the pivot spins on roller bearings allowing the spring rate to be reduced. The lower spring rate in turn, gives a lighter lever action reducing rider fatigue and keeping their legendary feel and modulation. The updated E4 caliper utilizes hybrid-style stainless steel pistons with a phenolic insert allowing for smoother movement and less maintenance while still being able to manage high temperatures during extreme use.
DH-Proven: TRP DH-R EVO
Popular amongst enduro and downhill racers alike, the DH-R EVO has made a name for itself with its immense power and strong bite on steep descents. Ergonomically shaped levers proved a comfortable feel in the hand and deliver a consistently sharp bite point. Paired with a 203mm or 223m rotor and these brakes will bring even the heaviest rider to a stop on a dime.
The bike park puts increased stress and strain on various components of a bicycle. The continuous exposure to bigger impacts, repetitive harsh hits, and trail chatter can accelerate wear and tear, leading to faster component deterioration. No area of this increased deterioration is as prevalent as it is in the brakes; just a few days in the bike park can cause the same level of pad wear as many months of trail riding.
MTX Braking Gold Label HD Hayes Dominion Pads
MTX Braking's Gold Label HD is specifically designed for heavier e-bikes and riders. Made with proprietary blends of Kevlar®, MTX CeraEvo® ceramic materials, and other Japan-sourced additives and modifiers, they are bringing the performance benefit of ceramic to the cycling industry. Combining MTXs Gold Label compound with Hayes Dominion A4's makes for one of the best braking systems currently available.
Hope E4 Pads
Hope E4 Disc Brake pads are rigorously tested to ensure maximum performance and longevity. All Hope pads are dyno-tested in-house in Barnoldswick, UK, and are available in Sintered or Organic compounds.
MTX Braking Red Label RACE Shimano/TRP 4-Piston Pads
Choose Red Label RACE when the priority is all-out performance and absolute silence. For those who value the ability to dial in the feel of the brake into fast corners and want the ultimate balance of power and feel.
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