Trauma surgeons at Calgary's Foothills Medical Centre say cyclists should consider wearing chest protection to reduce the risk of serious injury in an accident.

The surgeons have been researching hundreds of injuries picked up by regular street cyclists and mountain bikers. They say in a serious crash, both groups could benefit from more protection.

Trauma to the head is the most common injury to cyclists. That underscores the importance of wearing a good-quality, properly-fitted helmet, according to Dr. Chad Ball, lead author of the research paper.

"At the same time, almost half the injuries we noted were either to the chest or abdomen," says Dr. Ball, "suggesting that greater physical protection in those areas could also help reduce or prevent serious injury."

Lead author of the study, Dr. Derek Roberts, says there's not much research around chest pads, but it is something for cyclists to think about.

"Although we don't know exactly how effective they are, I think that they are something we can give to bicyclists that they can consider to use."

Researchers looked at the most severely injured cyclists between 1995 and 2005. During that period, 209 road cyclists suffered serious injuries, compared to 49 mountain bikers.

The average age of injured mountain cyclists was 28, while the average age of road cyclists involved in serious accidents was 43.

The study was published in Canadian Journal of Surgery.