Is Mountain Biking Dangerous? How To Stay Safe While Riding

Yes, mountain biking is dangerous, but not so as it sounds. Mountain biking means riding an MTB bike over challenging trails that are difficult to handle like descents on the mountain. For this reason, many of us think mountain biking is a dangerous activity that should be avoided. 

Well, it’s not true because mountain biking is much safer than other types of sports like football, baseball, basketball, skiing, and even road bike riding. Curious to know how mountain biking is less dangerous than others? What is the risk of mountain biking and what severe injuries do MTB riders have to face?

I have covered a lot more than you have in your mind. After reading the full article you will get to know about mountain biking risks and much more. So let’s scroll down and jump to know more. 

Which Is More Dangerous Road Or Mountain Biking

Is mountain biking dangerous

You may have already thought mountain biking is more dangerous than road biking, as mountain biking is mostly ridden over difficult trails. But based on its risk per thousand exposure or per hour, I can say MTB riding is much safer than road riding (even some other sports). Road riding is more dangerous than mountain biking. And that too nearly double. The injury rate is 3.01 injuries per thousand exposure among road bikers, while it is only 1.54 injuries per thousand exposure among mountain bikers.  Didn’t the result surprise you?

How Dangerous Is Downhill Mountain Biking

Downhill mountain biking is another type of mountain biking. And it is dangerous if you can’t do it properly. It is downhill riding that causes the majority of MTB riding injuries. The injury rate for mountain downhill riding is 16.8, which is quite high.

It is also surprising to find that experts with a great skill level face 17.9 injuries per thousand exposures, while professionals face 13.4 injuries per thousand exposures. 

But if you take safety precautions like training, building skills before you’re riding extreme trails, wearing mountain biking gloves and protective gear, and following a few more precautions, you can reduce the risk of injury and enjoy the best mountain biking experience with a DH bike. 

And mostly mountain biking accident is caused when mtb cyclists do the competition. During a race per thousand exposure is 20 injuries, while it’s 13 injuries during a regular ride or practicing. 

Is Enduro Mountain Bike Racing Dangerous

Yes, enduro mountain biking compared to other mountain bike racing is dangerous. 

While there is certainly a degree of danger involved with Enduro MTB racing, it is also one of the most exhilarating and thrilling forms of mountain biking. The majority of mountain bike riders (75% of MTB bike injuries) crash while racing with an enduro MTB bike.

While this may sound risky, it really isn’t all that different from traditional mountain biking. Enduro racing involves athletes who cycle up and down steep trails at high speeds for multiple laps. The only difference is the biking takes place are loaded with new challenges that you have to complete that too with a much faster speed. This makes for a more challenging but also exciting experience.

While some people may find this trail riding experience thrilling, others may feel it is inherently dangerous, as mountain biking takes place on a new racing road with unique conditions for riding that are mostly unknown to everyone.

In addition to following basic safety guidelines such as wearing a helmet and protective clothing ( biking pads and armor), try to pace yourself by staying relaxed throughout the race so that you don’t become tense or anxious. And if anything goes wrong, like you or any other mountain biker crash, use your common sense and know how to handle stressful situations appropriately.

What is the most dangerous MTB trail?

What is the most dangerous MTB trail

Yungas Road Bolivia is the most dangerous MTB trail. It’s known as the death road and for good reasons. The road is totally free of safety barriers and has a few twisty turns, which is the reason for most accidents. The road has a record of killing 13 people. Just a little slip can lead to a 1600-foot drop, and biking during the rainy season is forbidden on that road. 

How Many MTB Cyclists Die A Year

According to a study, MTB athletes have a 0.6% injury risk per year and one injury for every 1000 hours of cross-country mountain biking or other forms of MTB riding. 75% of the injured athletes face minor injuries like simple skin wounds, and 10% of them face severe injuries during bike accidents. 

Now, if we talk about how many MTB cyclists die a year, one thousand cyclists face death a year. But how many of them are MTB cyclists? There is no source for that. Recently I got to know the number is very low, only two MTB riders have a chance to face death a year, but I can’t assure you it’s true. 

Common Mountain Biking Injuries A Mountain Bike Rider Faces?

Just a minute ago, I told you the injuries per thousand exposures of MTB riding is 1.54. Now you may think most of the injury caused by mountain biking is serious, but you are wrong. Only 5% of the total injured mountain bikers have faced severe injuries like life-threatening neck breaks or spine breaks. Some common mountain bike injuries are- 

  • 27.6% shoulder break,
  • 24.7% wrist fractures,
  • 22.9% brain or head injury,
  • 11.1% hand or finger fractures, and 
  • 5.2% severe neck break or spinal injury.

And rarely, 1.8% of injured people are taken on a stretcher for medical care. Do you still think mountain biking is a dangerous type of sport?

Is It Dangerous To Mountain Bike Alone

No mountain bike riding alone is not dangerous; in fact, it’s safer and more enjoyable. If you noticed my sayings till now, you would remember I have mentioned a few times that most MTB cyclists crash while competing in a race or riding with friends. 

When you are riding alone, the road is all yours; no pressure to go fast, free of noise, and you can practice as you want and try different styles and riding techniques. Best of all, the mountain biking journey can be relaxing; you can have some “me time” enjoying the beautiful sightseeing. 

Wait a minute, don’t get lost in dreams. When alone you have to focus on riding sensibly because if you crash, there will be no one to help you. So know the risks involved and check the solution before you go out for riding on rough terrain.

Is Mountain Biking Safe Than Other Sports?

Mountain biking is mostly safer than other sports leaving only a few. If we talk about the most popular baseball, basketball, or football, they are more dangerous than MTB riding.  In baseball, per thousand exposure is 14.5 injuries, basketball 11.1 injuries, and in football 8.1 injuries. While rugby is not in a low position, it wins the second most dangerous sport with 13 injuries per exposure. After football, soccer wins the fourth position with 7.7 injuries per thousand exposure, and road cycling with 3.01. Even ATV ( 2.62 per thousand exposure) and surfing (1.8 per thousand exposure)  is also ahead on the list of risk. So yes, mountain biking is safer than other sports with 1.54 injuries per thousand exposure. If you want you can definitely give this sport a try. 

Can Helmet Reduce The Mountain Biking Injuries?

Yes, the right MTB helmets can significantly reduce mountain biking injuries. It can reduce serious head injuries by up to 60%, traumatic brain injuries by up to 53%, and normal head injuries by up to 48%.  It also reduces face injuries by up to 23% and fatalities injures up to 34%. Other MTB accessories, like gloves, knee pads, etc., can also reduce the number of injuries. So before you go out for an MTB ride, get ready with proper MTB accessories and be safe.

Mistakes That Cause Mountain Bikers Crash

Mistakes That Cause Mountain Bikers Crash

MTB biking can be an extreme sport if you make some mistakes like being overconfident and going for a road you can’t handle, or keep riding continuously at high speed after reaching a point you don’t know further. A few more mistakes like these are there that can set off risks to lead you to a crash. Let’s know them below. 

  • Don’t try to go beyond your riding skills level. Yes, it’s good to push yourself and try new trails, but after giving it a thought. Don’t make any decision in a hurry, some of us don’t want to stop while other cyclists are going forward. Because we don’t want to feel small in front of them. This is the mistake we make and eventually, we can’t handle the terrain difficulties and end up in a crash.
  • Many of us especially beginner-level cyclists don’t have a clear idea about using different MTB bikes for different trails. So, most mountain bikers ride the same cross-country bike for going downhill or climbing uphill. But a cross-country bike can never go uphill or downhill due to less gripping power and the result is a crash.
  • After being a skilled rider still, you can face any type of injury on an unknown mountain bike trail. In new trails, you don’t know road conditions, like where there will be rocks, roots, or obstacles. And while riding over that trail you won’t get enough time to think and then change the riding style. So keep in mind this before you go out on a new path.
  • Being mentally prepared is also important for MTB biking. Whether your friends have faced a crash or it’s you, you have to be mentally strong and handle the situation. If you are afraid and become anxious obviously the fear will hug you, and you will see a minor injury as a big one. 
  • Never forget to take your first aid box and other essential accessories you need while MTB biking. You don’t know when you will need what, so don’t just grab on “I don’t face a crash, I am skilled enough.” You may not need it but what if it can help someone else? 

Safety Tips For Beginner MTB Cyclists

Not every crash is controllable still some things are there that we can control. I have some MTB biking safety tips that may show you some ways to reduce the risk of injury (mountain bike-specific).

  • Mountain biking safety starts with buying the right bike size. If you buy the wrong size bike that can’t accommodate your body, you will face problems in handling and controlling the bike, and safety issues will be created.
  • Before you go out for a ride you must check the tire pressure. If the tires seem full still you should pump them and keep them ready. It’s best to pump the bike tires at night if you are heading for a trail ride in the morning. 
  • Helmet is not the only thing. Some riders are there who thinks helmet can save them. Yes, it’s true but a helmet can keep your head safe, what about other body parts? You need a few more body armor like knee pads, elbow pads, padded shorts, hand gloves, gripping shoes, and so on. 
  • To enjoy the best MTB riding performance you need to stay healthy. After riding continuously you will become tired and may lose control of the bike. So carry some hydration drinks and energy food with you. If you don’t have anything in an emergency condition, give yourself enough water.
  • Before you want to compete in a race or want to try a new trail, always take training from experts and be skilled first, and then make mountain biking your passion.

Final verdict

Mountain biking is a fun and healthy activity known as an extreme sport as well. So you have to understand the risks involved and get mountain bike lessons, wear safety gear, and follow the guidelines to avoid mountain bike crashes. And overall injury rate of mountain biking is only 1.54, which means 1 injury per thousand. And most of the common mountain biking injury is spinal cord or broken bone. Only a few people around 5% of the total injured can face severe injury like brain injury or broken bone. So overall mountain biking is a good activity with less injury rate that all of us should try.

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