Listen to the man who trained for several months, riding against the clock for 1 or 2 hours at a time, on and off road, keeping a record of ‘personal best distances’, then missed the race because of a hand/wrist injury…
…and now I’ve bought some wrist guards… just a bit too late.
But I’m not at all sure that the wrist guards would have prevented the actual injury I sustained.
They may have prevented or reduced a previous injury, though.
In several years of bicycling, motorcycling, and unicycling, my helmet has never once hit the floor. What a complete waste of money! It’s hot, sometimes itchy, and makes a noise in a strong wind… but I only need to use it once for it to be a good investment. I always wear a helmet except when performing to an audience, and then I ride well within my limits.
I once tore the palms of my gloves right back to the wrist straps, and never drew blood. I always wear gloves when riding, except when performing, and sometimes then.
So helmet and gloves are top of my list.
Wristguards? There is a respectable body of opinion that wristguards change the type of injury you receive, rather than preventing injury. On balance, they have to do more good than harm. If you’re riding hard, or practising dangerous stuff, they’re a good idea, but I’d say not essential for normal easy riding.
Knee pads, elbow pads, shin pads? I own all three (or all six!) but seldom wear them. I choose to balance risk against comfort. The level of risk varies with the size of the wheel, the speed, the type of ground… and the experience of the rider. I can ride my Coker 12.95 miles in an hour without dismounting or falling off… but the other day, I fell off at not much over walking speed, on grass, on an easy stretch of path, and injured myself.
You can’t eliminate risk, but you can assess it, reduce it, manage it, avoid it, or accept it. You have a choice.
I’ve spent my working life dealing with the consequences of people who incorrectly assessed, reduced, managed, avoided or accepted risks: I investigate motor accidents. I have not noticed that cars with advanced safety features are LESS likely to be involved in an accident. I have not noticed that motorbikers in one piece race leathers are LESS likely to fall off and die.
A helmet won’t stop you braking your neck; wristguards won’t prevent permanent injury to your coccyx; gloves won’t stop you catching your eye on a twig; knee pads won’t stop you running over a child in a crowded park.
Safety equipment is not the same thing as safety.
If you want to be completely safe, though, do nothing… but it’s better to die than never to live.