Best Mountain Bike Shoulder Protection

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Your shoulders might not be the first thing that springs to mind as needing extra protection when you’re taking to the trails. But speak to any experienced mountain biker and they will be rife with stories of full scale wipeouts, sliding down hillsides shoulder first, or slamming into a tree at high speed where their shoulders took the brunt of the damage.

Shoulders require protection while mountain biking, no matter what kind of riding you do. The same as you’d strap on your helmet, knee, and elbow guards, equip your shoulders with appropriate impact protection to keep riding safer for longer. Choosing mountain bike gear with D3O® shoulder protection ensures you’re getting a top quality product with safety, wearability and comfort at its core. 

Why wear mountain bike shoulder protection?

In downhill, enduro or trail riding, you’re moving at very high speeds on challenging terrain. Your center of gravity is higher than when you are walking or running, as the bike and riding position lifts you up. If you lose your balance, you’ll likely wobble and try to use your upper body to right yourself before you fall. If this doesn’t work out, you end up coming off. 

All it takes is one misjudged turn and you’re going shoulder-first into a tree or boulder, or head over handlebars toward the ground. If you’re moving at high speeds, striking a tree, rock or wall can see you out with a shoulder injury. The higher the force, the higher the likelihood of a dislocated shoulder or collarbone fracture. While experienced riders might be able to tuck their arms in and roll to lessen impact, it’s tough to remember that when in the moment.

Fortunately, wearing mountain bike shoulder protection can help lessen the impact of these kinds of accidents, preventing more serious injury from occurring. D3O® impact protection is designed for the risks of mountain biking without restricting the rider. Always consider wearing shoulder protection for mountain biking, even if you’re riding a familiar trail or a more leisurely route.

How to choose the right shoulder protection for you

Depending on what style of mountain biking you do, there are different options available to help you find the best type of impact protection. Some things to bear in mind include:

  • Impact protection. Are you constantly pushing to stomp new tricks or reach new downhill personal bests? Or are you happier exploring trails and testing your endurance? For tried and tested impact protection, choosing a solution that includes the CE certified D3O® shoulder pads will help reduce the likelihood of injury. 
  • Flexibility. D3O® material is soft and pliable, meaning it shapes to your body without being restrictive. Riders want to know they have full range of motion of their limbs in order to enjoy the trails and work effectively without fatiguing or compensating. If freedom of movement is your main criteria, choose gear using D3O® Ghost™ Armor, the most flexible solution available while still offering CE Level 1 certified impact protection. 
  • Breathability. Riders working up a sweat from hard riding or warm weather don’t want heavy, thick impact protection to be weighing them down. Ventilated armor, such as D3O® LP1, is designed to maximize airflow without loss of impact protection, making it a great solution for warm weather rides. 
  • Size and fit. Your impact protection can only work effectively if it sits in the right place to keep you safe. Padding that is too big will slip off your shoulders, too small and it won’t cover enough of your shoulder to offer full protection. Visit your local bike shop to try on different brands and sizes to check what fits you best. If you run small, D3O® offers the LP1 Compact range, designed for smaller riders without compromising on protection.  

Mountain Bike Shoulder Protection 

Unlike elbow and knee guards, which tend to come as separate items of protection you secure onto the joint, shoulder protection is usually integrated into a garment or baselayer. This is worn under your other clothes or can be worn alone depending on the temperature and weather you’re riding in. In a protective base layer, there is often the option to add back and chest protection too, allowing you extra coverage.

D3O® partner brands offer some of the best mountain bike gear and impact protection on the market. Explore some of the options below:

Fox Racing Baseframe Pro

Fox Racing is one of the top choices for mountain bike gear, and with the Baseframe Pro it’s easy to see why. Available in men’s and women’s styles and sizes, the Baseframe Pro combines D3O® shoulder, chest and back impact protection for full body, low-profile safety. The Viper back protector and Level 1 chest and shoulder guards are designed to protect riders in the event of wipeouts and crashes. Lightweight and ventilated, the D3O® impact protection molds to the body without being hot, making it a great choice for all-day wear no matter the weather.

Race Face Flank Core

Ultra-breathable mesh with back and shoulder protection from D3O® define the Race Face Flank Core. This super low-profile baselayer features a Viper Central spine protector and Level 1 D3O® shoulder protection to help prevent more serious injury in the event of an accident. The impact protection is designed to cover key areas without impeding rider movement, thanks to the flexibility of D3O® materials. Combining Lycra and mesh materials, the Flank Core is close-fitting but still cool, with secure flat seams to reduce rubbing and fraying over time. 

SixSixOne Evo Compression Jacket 

For full upper body coverage and protection, the Evo Compression Jacket from SixSixOne is an ideal choice for riders. Long sleeves include D3O® Level 1 impact protection at the shoulders and elbows, while the back includes a D3O® Viper Stealth Protector for added safety. Compression fabrics and adjustable straps help to secure the impact protection in the correct place, while vented panels increase airflow to keep you cool while you ride. 

Racer Motion Top 2 

Racer have delivered the next level in complete body protection with the Motion Top 2 featuring D3O® impact protection for the shoulders, elbows, and back. D3O® LP1 elbow and shoulder pads keep these crucial joints safe, while a breathable BP4 L1 Back Protector covers the spine. Zip off sleeves make it adjustable to winter and summer riding, and stretch and mesh fabrics provide a close fit while wicking away sweat for a comfortable ride. CE Level 1 approved, the Motion Top 2 is an ideal choice for riders wanting full body coverage with maximum technical features.

Bluegrass Seamless B&S

Breathability and comfort are the defining factors of the Bluegrass Seamless B&S. Combining a super lightweight mesh fabric with D3O® impact protection, Bluegrass have created a baselayer that protects the back and shoulders without being hot, heavy or awkward to move in. Shoulders are protected with D3O® T5 Evo X, while the BP4 L1 Back Protector offers ultra-breathable coverage - both can be removed for washing. A unisex fit and moisture-wicking materials make the Bluegrass Seamless B&S a great choice for hot weather riding or layering for protection. 

Explore the full range of D3O® shoulder protection today with our partner brands.