Is Mountain Biking Dangerous? How Does it Differ from Regular Biking?

To answer it concisely, “Yes! mountain biking is more dangerous than regular biking. However, when compared with other sports like rock climbing or skiing, it is less risky.”

Learn more about it below.

Is Mountain Biking Dangerous Compared to Other Sports?

Comparing the injury rate per 1000 exposures of different sports with that of mountain biking injuries, we get to explore some extraordinary analyses.

For instance, the injury rate of a sport like Baseball is around 14.5 per 1000 exposures.

Followed by Baseball is Rugby with a rate of 13 injuries per 1000 exposures. Basketball, on the other hand, has a rate of 11 injuries per 1000 exposures.

The trend comes down a bit with Football and Soccer rating 8.1 and 7.1 injuries per 1000 exposures each.

Keeping all these statistics in mind, mountain bike injuries has a rate of only 1.8 per 1000 exposures.

Mind you! We are not measuring the extent of injuries here. But any sane person would see that the injury rate of mountain biking is much lower than the likes of basketball, soccer, football, and ice hockey, etc.

From that data alone, one could derive the results that mountain bikers are exposed to fewer injuries compared to other sports.

However, that does not mean that riders should just ignore all precautions while hitting rough trails.

We are talking about the bikers who keep themselves safe and protected from any uncanny situation that might happen due to any reason.

In a nutshell, it is evident that mountain biking is surely dangerous compared to regular biking, but it’s not too dangerous when compared with other sports.

Now is the time that we move forward with the potential risks during mountain biking:

Also Read: 10 Most-Recommended Mountain Bikes for 2021

The Potential Risks of Mountain Biking

You see, when we take road biking, mountain biking, and cross-country mountain biking into perspective, the impact of risks with mountain biking is a little less.


For starters, road bikers suffer from injuries because roads are busy with cars, motorbikes, and other transporting vehicles. The chances of accidents, in this case, are high.

Similarly, the trail that XC bikers follow is mostly downhill or smooth roads, and that again points towards more exposure to injuries.

With mountain biking, however, most of the accidents happen due to human error. Keep in mind that, there’s little to no traffic when we talk about rough uphill and downhill terrain.

The potential risk of injury a mountain bike rider could face includes;

  • A concussion or blow on the head.
  • Bruised knees and knuckles.
  • Bruised and fractured forearms.
  • Fractured legs.
  • Bruises to the face.
  • Shoulder dislocation.

All these injuries are somewhat common in different types of biking. Bruises are a must when you are riding on a downhill trail and it’s quite a common risk in biking.

Arm fractures mostly occur when bikers get tipped over the handlebar and they try to protect themselves using their hands and arms. This risk factor is the most common one in mountain cyclists.

Similarly, the biggest risk factor is that of a head injury, which is quite evident when you bike without wearing any helmet.

Hence, you will see every professional biker highlighting the importance of wearing a helmet correctly during trail riding.

They do so because a properly tested helmet can save a person from head injuries as well as face trauma to a large extent.

Never miss out on wearing a helmet or else you will expose yourself to the risk of injury including concussions, etc. 

The Chances of Serious Injuries During Mountain Cycling

The impact of the injuries while riding harsh and rough terrain could not be ignored.

According to the data shared by WMS, “Almost 27.6% of the fractures happened to the shoulder and clavicle area. 24.7% fractures occurred to the riders’ wrists, 11.1% fractures occurred to the hands and fingers and only 5.2% were serious neck breaks or spine injuries.

Further continuing, “22.8% of these fractures were related to brain injury and only 1.1% riders needed a stretcher after sustaining an injury.”

With this analysis, focus on the serious injury extent, which is not more than 5%. Broken bone injuries are serious but they do heal with time.

The thing to consider here is that even if you are a beginner rider, you will not sustain any major injury until and unless you choose an extremely hard terrain to ride.

Other than that, bikers can easily avoid many injuries and we’ll discuss them in detail as follows:

How to Avoid Serious Injury Risks During Mountain Biking?

Riders can easily avoid up to 72% of the injuries that we discussed above with proper protocol and precaution.

That includes;

Maintain Your Physique and Stamina

Bikers who ride rough and harsh trails have to suffer extra stress and shock and it all falls upon the body.

Work on strengthening your body’s core and improving your physique to avoid serious injuries.

We suggest hitting the gym once or twice in a while and working out especially on your legs, biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles.

In the meanwhile, work on improving your stamina and prepare your body in a way that it can bear harsh terrains without any hassle.

Stretch Properly Before Riding

Take mountain biking just like any other sport and stretch properly before you start biking.

You can jog a little bit, stretch out your arms and legs, and flex your back area a bit to prepare your body for upcoming obstacles.

It will help you endure the extra stress of the trails easily.

Properly Plan Your Route

An unplanned route always becomes a mess and we know it more than anybody else.

Before hitting the trail, plan out your route and search for it on the Internet. If possible, see the videos about that specific route on YouTube to check whether you can overcome it or not.

If you do not plan your route, chances are that you will easily sustain an injury on the way.

Maintain Your Bike and Equipment

Always double-check the maintenance of your bike before you start regretting your decision.

See whether the brakes are good enough and whether the tires can sustain harsh bumps and gravels.

Similarly, check the maintenance of the handlebar and see whether it’s offering balance or not.

Apart from that, check all the bolts thoroughly and look for any cracks in the frame. Do that and you will start trusting your bike easily.

As for the equipment, you should always keep a repairing kit in your backpack to repair your bike if it gets a puncture or gets stumbled around.

Finally, a first aid kit is a must as it will help you out in covering the wounds if, God Forbids, you develop a hefty injury while biking.

Wear Safety and Protection Equipment

A research study shows that wearing a helmet reduces the chances of head trauma by up to 39%.

So, wearing a helmet and a properly tested one is a mist for every mountain rider.

On the other hand, don’t forget to wear protective yet comfy cycling gloves, knee pads, and proper cycling shoes to protect yourself from unwanted injuries and bruises.

Never wear a half-sleeve shirt while riding your bike on a forest road. Always prefer full-sleeved shirts with comfortable trousers to enjoy mountain riding in its full essence.

Adjust Your Bike According to Your Style

Tune your bike according to the way you ride it. The position of the handlebar, brake lever, and seat is something you should properly adjust beforehand.

It will allow more comfort and relaxation to you. Plus, you’ll become capable enough to control your bike during downhill riding.

Stay Hydrated

Keep a good quantity of water bottles in your backpack if you think the route will take a lot of time to get completed.

Staying hydrated will not only keep you fresh, but you will not make silly mistakes while riding uphill or downhill.

Therefore, never forget to keep an abundant supply of water during mountain biking and you will keep enjoying your ride for a long time.

Learn from Professional Cyclists

Closely analyze the techniques of professional mountain riders and see how they tackle long jumps and drops.

Try to imitate them and you will surely become as good as them gradually.

Don’t be too Overconfident

Never try to overcome all obstacles in a single go if it’s your first ride.

Overconfidence kills and once you get an injury, you will not be able to touch your beloved mountain bike for at least 3 to 4 months. Not to forget the repairable damage to your MTB.

To avoid this problem, don’t be stupid! Find a route that’s easy to cover with fewer bumps if you are a newbie.

Develop your biking skills and once you get comfy enough, find tough routes and complete them accordingly.

Pay Attention to the Trail

Although you should eye the next 100 feet while riding, it’s important to keep the focus on the 10 feet distance first.

Focus your eyes on the trail properly to avoid any slipping issues.

Bail Out When You Deem It Necessary

There’s no problem or dishonor in bailing out as a beginner.

If you cannot overcome an obstacle on the first try, do not become obsessed with it.

Give yourself time and work on your physique. You will improve at mountain biking for sure.

Some Risks are Still Uncontrollable

No matter how many precautionary measures you take, mother nature will still trick you in the form of sun glare, wet paths, and sloppy gravels.

So, you will get injured once or twice but with proper safety equipment, you can at least keep your bones and muscles safe from serious risk.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the dangers of mountain biking?

Mountain biking, when done without wearing any safety gear, could become a serious risk factor. The major mountain biking injuries include concussion, head injuries, shoulder dislocation, as well as bone fractures.

Is mountain biking the most dangerous sport?

The injury rate of mountain biking is far less compared to the likes of Basketball, Ice Hockey, Baseball, Football, and Soccer. In that perspective, you cannot call it the most dangerous sport at all.

Is mountain biking hard on your body?

Mountain biking exerts extra pressure and impact on the rider and absorbing all this pressure could become a little struggle for the body. So, yeah, it is hard for the body to tackle it at the start, but it gets better with time.

Final Takeaways: Is Mountain Biking Dangerous?

We do agree that mountain biking is an extreme sport and it could cause some serious injuries as well.

But, compared to other sports, the impact of injuries in mountain trail riding is far less and that’s what matters the most.

Always wear your safety gear before hitting a harsh trail and avoid riding in rainy or stormy weather just to be on the safe side.

Good Luck!!

Photo of author
Written By Robert Gibbons
From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ trails across the globe. For Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

Leave a Comment