Protection for kid racing Super D


My son wants to start racing super d at diablo in there first time beginner class. my question is does he need a collar like i see the downhillers wearing? also what about a chest protector? He is 13 and bullet proof.

I realize that they are expensive but much cheaper than being paralyzed.

What are your thoughts?

thanks Jim

Hey Jim,

I’ll never tell you to put less armor on your kid. You need to dress him in whatever makes you both feel safe and confident.

From a protection standpoint, a full-face helmet, full body armor and a neck brace are the ultimate. If you’re racing DH, that’s definitely the way to go.

Super D isn’t so clear. Courses range from XC-style pedalfests to full-on DH gnar. If a Super D is mostly pedaling, dress for pedaling. If a Super D is mostly gnarl, dress for the gnarl.

I have two basic Super D outfits.

– XC style: Full Lycra, open face helmet, light knee guards or no knee guards

– DH style: Full Lycra (yeah baby!), full face helmet, goggles, heavy knee guards

I’ve been riding for more than 20 years. On the descents I’m very confident, pretty quick and reasonably safe. On the climbs I’m so-so, and that’s why I dress to make the climbs as easy as possible.

Keep in mind that protective gear is your last line of defense. It saves you after your fitness, skills, judgment and luck fail you. In general, expert riders get away with less protective equipment; beginners — and 13-year-old dudes — need more protective equipment.

If you’re wondering about protection, and you decide against it, and he needs it, you’ll be sorry. You’ve already opened this Pandora’s box. So:

I say put him in all the protective equipment you can afford. (If you can’t afford the equipment, this might not be your sport). When your son demonstrates good fitness, skills and judgment, then you can decide whether to dress him lighter.

Tell your son to pin the start, get out in front then protect his line. If he’s dressed in full DH gear, very few XC kids are gonna challenge him.

— Lee

9 replies
  1. leelikesbikes says:

    Hmm. That’s a smooth course, and he won’t be fighting elbow-to-elbow with the entire class. It’s *probably* safer than DH or Super D, but — again — I won’t advise you to skimp on protective gear.

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Another thought:

    Consider the situation related to your kid’s skills. Can he corner safely? Does he know how to handle high-speed jumps? Is he fit? Will he ride within himself? Can he handle race pressure? The more “nos” and “maybes” you answer, the higher the risk.

  3. David Rodrigues says:

    Protective gear is awesome especially when young otherwise when he hits 40 it really hurts and you remember every cause. As Lee said dress for the race and skill, when racing your basically a warrior going into battle for victory so be prepared an protected.

  4. leelikesbikes says:


    One study showed that the biggest risk factor for injuries that require hospitalization is … being a racer. Not just the racing itself. Merely being a racer.

  5. Walt says:

    If by some chance, you meant dual slalom, then he should wear the same protection as he would for bmx racing with maybe a better dh helmet. If he’s never raced bmx, he shouldn’t be racing dual slalom.

  6. leelikesbikes says:

    > If he’s never raced bmx, he shouldn’t be racing dual slalom.

    Good advice, Walt. I suppose that makes sense for any kid doing gravity events. BMX first (which is pretty controlled and safe) then MTB gravity.

    Diablo has a giant slalom — a flowy single lane with lots of berms and jumps. It looks super fun.

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