March 12, 2021 5 min read
When starting in motocross or even just riding for fun, there are so many tips and tricks for maintaining your bike, riding it, and transporting it. It's equally important to talk about what sort of protective equipment to wear, though, and how to wear it as well!
The absolute essential protective gear that a dirt bike rider must wear includes a helmet, goggles, knee and elbow braces, MX jersey and pants, chest protector, boots, and a neck brace. All of this equipment must be designed specifically for dirt bike riders to provide adequate protection.
Knowing what gear you need isn't enough on its own. We're going to go through and break down all the different elements required to keep you safe on your bike, and by the end of this article, you'll be ready to tackle anything!
Right off the top, the helmet is one of the most apparent and essential pieces of your dirt bike gear. It protects your brain, after all! Even a relatively slow crash can be potentially fatal when your head is involved. Ensuring that you wear a helmet, preferably a full-face one, will keep your most crucial organ intact.
The full-face design of dirt bike helmets is there for a reason. If you crash off-road, you can likely go over the handlebars or even fall from a significant height. The chin bar protects your teeth and jaw, and the full-face design reduces the chances of these injuries as well as that of a concussion, which is the most common trackside head injury.
When selecting a helmet, consider all of the safety features that they offer. At the very least, your dirt bike helmet should be DOT certified, along with ACU, SNELL, FIM, and ECE if possible. Take into account the ventilation and the field of view offered by the helmet as well. Overall, try out as many helmets as you can until you find the right one that will keep you safe.
Going hand in hand with the helmet are the goggles. Along with your brain, your eyes are one of the critical things in your head to keep safe! When riding, dirt, water, stones, and all sorts of other debris are likely to be flying about. Without something protecting your eyes, it is very possible to lose your sight and crash, which can cause further injury.
When considering your choice of goggles, the main factors to consider are the size, ventilation, lens, and fit. Generally speaking, the larger the goggles, the more you can see. If your goggles allow for replacement lenses, you can even have an alternate tinted set for bright sunny days. Our J.A.C. Goggles have an ultra-wide lens and can be switched out between clear or mirror tint. They also come with tear-off post hardware built into the lens if you are looking for an excellent tear-off lens solution.
In the same way that your helmet and goggles work together, your jersey and pants will require similar considerations when making your purchase. Both the jersey and pants will likely be made of polyester (as that material offers fantastic durability), along with ventilation, and can withstand many washes. In particular, dirt bike pants have fewer seams to help stop chafing that occurs with jeans or other kinds of pants.
With your dirt bike pants, you may notice that they will feel roomy around the knees, and the fit is shorter than other pants you might typically wear. These differences allow for knee braces and prevent the pants from bunching up inside of your boots. If your dirt bike pants are too tight around the knees, your ability to move will be restricted, not something you want when you're riding.
Finding a dirt bike jersey to wear is relatively easy as they will often come in a set with your pants. Many of the same characteristics apply here, as you will want to have proper ventilation, durability, and fit. It's worth noting that you will need to decide if your chest protector will sit above your jersey or underneath. If you intend to wear one underneath your jersey, you will likely need to wear a size larger than usual.
Proper dirt bike or motocross boots will protect your entire foot, ankle, and lower leg. When you're out riding, your lower legs have to endure mud, branches, stones, and a wide variety of other objects flying at them. One recommendation is that if you are working with a limited budget for purchasing your dirt bike gear, try to allocate a significant amount for quality boots.
In addition to better grip, budget boots will also provide some armor around your shins, ankles, and toes. A higher-quality boot will include compression zones to absorb impacts, as well as protecting your legs while still allowing flexibility. More than the rest of your gear (with the possible exception of your helmet), you should take adequate time to get boots that fit perfectly. Allow room for waterproof socks and cold weather socks, and check the manufacturer's sizing if you are buying online.
Other details to consider are that your boots should be a bit larger at the top of the leg to allow space for your knee braces to fit and that new boots take a while to sit correctly. So keep in mind that brand new boots will fit better after a few rides than they did right out of the box.
Now that we've covered some essential pieces of gear to wear while riding, you may be wondering, "what do I wear underneath it all?" In the previous section, we touched on waterproof socks, which will be necessary for your boots. Many riders recommend motocross-specific socks, which are expensive but won't slip inside of your MX boots and will wick moisture away while riding.
Another factor to consider is what to wear underneath your riding pants.
Many riders highly recommend wearing compression shorts or running pants underneath their riding gear. Besides keeping everything situated correctly, they will cut down on chafing while providing relief from sweat and wedgies prone to happen with more traditional undergarments.
Another item to consider is if you need glasses to see underneath your goggles. The easiest option for most riders is contact lenses. They eliminate the need for specially sized goggles, but if you cannot wear contacts for one reason or another, make sure you fit your goggles with and without your glasses.
This list is not exhaustive, and it is vital to remember that you may need other specific gear to suit your particular needs. Suppose you are working toward dirt bike racing. In that case, you will likely need to include other items like arm guards, neck braces, and other protective elements. While some of these precautions may seem like overkill, maintaining your safety needs to come first.
Since riding involves being fully exposed on top of a high-powered vehicle on less than ideal terrain, there is no way to be too protected. When purchasing all of this gear, remember that it will often be the only thing protecting you from the elements and the trails themselves. Budget accordingly, and ensure that you are only buying equipment that fits, functions, and has quality brands behind it.
Once you have all the gear you need and are suited up for the first time, you will indeed be ready to tackle the track and ride anywhere you could want!
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