Best Mountain Bike Elbow Pads

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Bumps, bruises and breakages don’t have to be the price riders pay for enjoying some off-road fun. Mountain bike elbow pads are one way to protect riders from these types of injuries. 

Helmets and knee protection are an essential part of any mountain biker’s kit list. Protecting riders from the inevitable knocks that come from riding over rough terrain, they maximise the chances of mountain bikers getting back up and carrying on after a fall. 

Similarly, elbow pads (or elbow guards) give riders an extra layer of protection against the risks that come with mountain biking. This article explains why you should wear them and how to make sure you find a comfortable, high-quality pair that provides the right impact protection. 

Why should you wear elbow pads?

When you’re climbing, twisting, and turning around a track or over rough terrain, sticking your elbows out helps you navigate, grip the handlebars and keep you balanced. If you’re riding through trees or next to rocks and lose your balance, fall, or make contact with the landscape, then your elbows will be one of the first body parts to take the hit. 

Downhill mountain biking also sees the elbows set in a slightly bent position to help riders stay balanced and in control as they fly down the slopes. Crashing at these speeds could create serious damage to your elbows, as these vulnerable points of the body are even more exposed. 

Mountain bike elbow pads cover the elbow joints and often protect part of the forearm too. This gives extra protection from debris, and provides impact protection in the event of a crash of fall. Though some mountain bikers choose not to wear elbow pads because they believe they will restrict their movement, new designs and materials are lightweight and comfortable, meaning you can enjoy hour after hour on the trail with the benefit of extra protection. 

How to choose the best elbow pads

There is a huge range of elbow pads available to purchase. To find your ideal type, there are a few features you need to consider:

  • Impact protection. Mountain biking, whether that’s downhill, enduro or cross country, carries a risk of falls and crashes. Wearing gear with appropriate impact protection helps keep you safe while riding, but should also be flexible to allow you proper control of the bike. Elbow impact protection needs to have this level of flexibility and comfort so as not to inhibit the movement of the joint. CE-certified D3O® impact protection is both soft and flexible, making it a great choice for riders who want safety without restriction of movement. 

  • Abrasion resistance. While your impact protection will help keep you safe from more serious falls and injuries, scrapes and cuts can be just as irritating and distracting while you’re out riding. Elbow guards that incorporate tough woven materials will help reduce abrasions in the event of a sliding fall, and help deflect small debris like rocks, twigs and gravel while riding. 

  • Breathable materials. Twisting and turning up tracks and trails can work up a sweat - even more so if you’re out in hot or humid conditions. Choosing elbow pads with soft, moisture-wicking materials and breathable D3O® impact protection will ensure that your skin isn’t left irritated.

  • Close fit. To give the best protection without hampering your performance, elbow pads need to be as close-fitting as possible, yet not too tight. This will make sure they don’t slide around and keep you safe on the trails. Try on a few different sizes and styles where possible to get the best fit for you.

  • Easy, secure fastening. Hook and loop fasteners are commonly used for elbow pads, thanks to their adjustable nature and secure hold. Slip-on elbow pads also exist, check for materials such as silicone that will be sure to keep the elasticated material in place as you move. 

  • Length. Different lengths of elbow pads can be chosen depending on the amount of protection you require. Some act as second sleeves and give coverage from the wrist to the top of the arm, others cover just over the elbow. There are plenty of options based on rider preference and the weather or terrain you’re riding in.

Best mountain bike elbow pads

Elbow pads need to offer riders a secure fit, abrasion-resistant coverage, and lightweight but robust impact protection. D3O works with a range of brands to provide for a number of needs, including those below. 

Fox Racing

For coverage that will keep riders moving, D3O-protected Fox Racing elbow pads are an ideal option. Options include enduro guards and hybrid elbow pad designs combining D3O® impact protection with hard shell outers to create the ultimate safety gear. Fox Racing elbow pads are available in multiple sizes, meaning mountain bikers will be sure to find a fit that works for them. 

Race Face

As well as providing all-around protection and comfort, Race Face’s D3O-protected elbow pads offer features such as pull on, or hook and loop closure. Mesh, abrasive-resistant panels help riders stay cool and in control as they work their way up and down trails, plus the close-fit design means the lightweight but sturdy D3O® impact protection will always stay in place. 

Troy Lee Designs

For full-length protection, Troy Lee Designs elbow pads are a great choice. Breathable mesh panels on the forearm, abrasion-resistant elbows and lightweight D3O® impact protection mean riders will have peace of mind all day long. 

Pearl Izumi

Pearl Izumi’s D3O-protected elbow pads are protective, lightweight and comfortable. An ideal option for mountain bikers, the stretch, abrasion-resistant fabric, breathable panels and D3O® impact protection mean they’ll stay secure even during rapid movements.


Tried and tested by pro BMX and EWS riders such as Sandie Thibaut, RACER’s minimalist and light pads feel like a second protective skin. Easy to fit under any apparel and with technologies such as non-slip silicone strips and D3O® impact protection, they’ll keep you comfortable and safe on any ride. 

SCOTT Sports

Designed with maximum comfort and complete protection in mind, SCOTT’s mid to long-length elbow guards are built with lightweight and breathable materials. The D3O® impact protection, ergonomic straps, and abrasion resistance mean you can trust in these guards to keep you safe. 


Pull-on and strap options, and a range of lengths means riders are sure to find the level of protection and security they need with SixSixOne elbow guards. Integrating soft and flexible D3O® impact protection, they provide comprehensive safety that’s comfortable to ride in.


Featuring D3O® impact protection and an adjustable, stable fit, BLUEGRASS elbow pads are designed to keep your arms protected and comfortable. Straps and an ergonomic design mean riders can trust that their elbow guards will remain stable throughout your ride. 

Protect yourself with D3O

D3O’s lightweight impact protection means riders can benefit from extra protection without sacrificing mobility. By working with the world’s top brands to provide the best guards, pads and protectors, we help bikers stay safe and comfortable so they can enjoy racking up mile after mile on the trails.