Mountain Biking Accidents and Statistics

Mountain Biking Accidents and Statistics

Many accidents escalate due to a small incident being compounded by another small incident. A minor repair can be simple to deal with, however in combination with poor weather, a tired group near the end of a long day, in fading light; these factors together can quickly turn onto an emergency situation.

The key factors associated with off road cycling incidents are trail surface irregularities, excessive speed, mechanical failures and loss of control.

The most common mechanism of injury involves a forward fall over the handlebars, usually while riding downhill, which can result in direct injury to the head, torso and arms/shoulders. More serious injuries occur while falling over the handlebars rather than falling to the side. As a consequence female riders, who are lighter, tend to be more seriously injured than males. However most injuries sustained occur to young males aged 20-39 years. Of all injuries 14% are due to collision with some part of the bike, especially handlebars and pedals. 75% of injuries are minor wounds but 10% required hospitalisation.

Common injuries

  • Head injuries. 13% of all sport related head injuries in emergency departments are from cycling incidents. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 39% and facial bone fracture by 28%.
  • Upper limb injury. These occur as bikers attempt to stop a fall with an outstretched arm. Commonly bikers damage the collar bone, shoulder or wrist.
  • Abdominal injury. A blow to the abdomen can result in spleen damage (49% of cases), the liver (15% of cases) or the small intestine (13% of cases).
  • Lower limbs. Lower leg injuries often result from failure to release a quick release pedal fast enough to prevent falling off. Resulting injury can vary from skin being caught in the chain wheel and lacerations to sprained, strained fractured or dislocated ankles.
  • Cuts. These are normally scratches that are light but may cause bleeding. Dirt in the wound may cause infection. For cuts and abrasions in the outdoors a tetanus is required.


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