Essential dirt bike gear refers to safety equipment, accessories and clothing that you just cannot do without. Whether you are a competitive motocross rider, enduro rider or simply love to hit the trails at the weekend; there are some items of dirt bike kit which should make your kit bag for every ride.
If you are new to riding, you are probably still finding your way around the brands, which features you need, and what to look for when shopping. If you are more experienced, perhaps you have your favourites? TeamMA spent the day researching and going through our kit bags to build the ultimate dirt bike kit list.
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Essential Dirt Bike Gear – What do I need to have?
Riding without the correct gear can mean an uncomfortable day or in a worst-case scenario, early retirement or potential injury. Wearing the proper dirt bike gear keeps you comfortable on the bike, and well protected in the instance of a crash.
Let’s start at the top!
1. Full Face Helmet – Essential Dirt Bike Gear
The only time you will see riders of off-road machines wearing open-face helmets is in trial riding. Trials riding requires maximum head movement while tackling obstacles at extremely low speeds, and so in this instance, an open-face is safer.
For those of us who are tearing up the dirt, hitting jumps and riding at speed, a full-face helmet is essential. If you are riding motocross, enduro and weekend leisure riding, that means you.
Why are full – face helmets essential dirt bike kit?
A helmet protects one of the most critical organs in your body, the brain. Riding without a helmet is lunacy. Even a relatively slow crash can result in forces which can seriously injure a rider. Impact with rocks, stones, and sharp edges is never comfortable. When your head is involved, it can be fatal. Always wear a helmet, preferably a full-face.
Dirt bike helmets use a full-face design for a reason. If you crash off-road, you may find yourself going over the handlebars, or coming down from a height. Without the protection of the chin bar, you can easily knock out teeth or break your jaw. The full-face design of a dirt bike helmet radically reduces the chances of such injuries, as well as reducing the possibility of a concussion, which is the most common form of head injury seen trackside.
Nowadays, owning a full-face helmet is not enough, though. With so many technological advancements, and exotic materials like Carbon, and impact-absorbing gels, manufacturers have raised their game.
Essential Gear: Must have safety features for modern dirt bike helmets
When choosing a dirt bike helmet, you need to consider its safety features. There are many nice-looking, cheap imports available. Many of these budget helmets have no safety rating. Of course, budget is essential, and you have to be safe, whatever money you have available.
Beware when searching cheap helmets online. There are some which are simply not safe enough for off-road riding.
Every quality motocross helmet will have safety features designed to reduce impact and rotational forces, even at the budget end of the market. Each manufacturer has its take on these vital features.
For example, some helmets have magnetic visors which detach on impact to reduce whiplash. Others have replaceable bolts which sheer off when the visor hits the ground. Premium helmets have advanced features such as 6D’s Omni Directional Suspension system.
6D fit dampers in the lining construction to help sheer rotational forces that affect the brain during a crash. This rotation results in the outer layer of the helmet travelling further than the inner lining. With reduced rotation, you are less likely to suffer a concussion.
Another good example is the MIPS system, used by quite a few top brands including Fox, Bell, Troy Lee Designs and more. MIPS stands for multiple impact protection. A MIPS helmet contains numerous density materials, and layers to deal with different levels of impact in different ways. Which layers react, and how they absorb forces depends entirely on the direction and amount of impact sustained.
Essential MX gear: Safety certification
A dirt bike helmet should be, at the very least DOT certified. ACU, SNELL, FIM and ECE are others you should see. The more certifications, the better. If you are competing, you should check that the helmet meets the minimum standards required by scrutineers in the country in which you are racing.
Other things to consider:
Ventilation is another vital part of TOP quality motocross helmet design. Without proper ventilation, you will find yourself sweating and overheating. Increased sweating causes dehydration and lapses in concentration. Overheating can cause disorientation and general discomfort. None of these things is ideal as you are heading into a triple jump.
Each manufacturer has its ventilation systems. Look out for multiple intake vents which direct air through the lining to cool your face, around the head to lower blood temperature and which exhaust the hot air from the back of the helmet: the more vents, the better.
Your helmet needs lightweight materials. Long days in the saddle can get very uncomfortable with a heavy helmet, as your neck muscles work hard to maintain your head position. Even short circuit racing is improved when you have a lighter weight helmet. Carbon fibre, composite carbon and fibreglass and high-quality polycarbonate are the primary materials to look for.
Field of Vision:
A motocross track can get very crowded at times. When you are approaching corners, jumps, and other obstacles, a wide field of vision is best. Look for a helmet with a wide aperture and pair it with some oversize goggles for the best results.
2. Dirt Bike Boots – Essential Dirt Bike Gear
Dirt bike boots have evolved over the years. There is a vast choice of good quality motocross boots that offer protection and comfort.
Why are dirt bike boots essential gear?
A proper motocross or enduro boot offers protection for your entire foot, ankle and your lower leg. Many manufacturers offer a choice of motocross or enduro design, even within the same range.
When riding your dirt bike, your feet and lower legs are in the line of fire. Mud, water, stones, roost, branches and other objects fly at you; often at speed. If you don’t have a good set of boots for protection, an injury is likely. In stormy conditions, you need to maintain a grip on your pegs, and the side of your bike. Budget boots should provide adequate levels of grip, and include some armour around the shin, ankles and toes.
Better quality boots will incorporate jointed armour and compression zones to absorb impacts, and encase your ankle joints, while still allowing flexibility. Look out for armour which helps prevent hyperextension and hyperflexion.
Essential shopping tips – dirt bike boots.
Good quality dirt bike boots are far more complicated than you might think. Set your budget as high as you can afford. Flexibility, comfort and protection come at a price point. Here are some things to consider when browsing for new boots.
A poor-fitting dirt bike boot is as dangerous as the wrong type of boot. A dirt bike boot needs to fit snugly to provide the right support. Allow for your waterproof socks and cold weather socks. Better to ride with hotter feet in the summer, than cold, numb feet in the winter. If you can afford to, buy a pair for each season, or demote old boots to winter as they will have likely stretched a bit.
Just like shoes, dirt bike boots can vary from brand to brand. If you are buying online, use the manufacturer’s sizing scale to determine your correct size, and then read the reviews from riders who have bought them. You will often see comments such as “These are sized small” which means that you should buy one size down from where you would typically buy.
One thing to note is that boots do take a little while to bed in, so after a few rides, you will likely find the boots fit better than they did out of the box. You can use leather food or dubbin on new leather to help break them in.
If you intend on wearing knee braces at some point (and why wouldnt you?), boots should be a bit bigger at the top of the leg to allow for the props. Decent dirt bike boots will enable a range of adjustment for you to ride with and without braces, with no sacrifice on the fit.
A high-quality dirt bike boot offers protection from rock strikes and anything else that your foot may come in contact with when riding. Quality brands have very sturdy material around the ankle to help eliminate unwanted twisting and protect the fragile area from impacts.
Boots should also have a sturdy sole on them which is for support and comfort when standing on footpegs. Many have a steel plate running through the sole to reduce the chance of bending your foot back with impact.
No boot will weigh as little as a shoe; however, some brands are more lightweight than others. The trade-off is adequate protection V flexibility V weight. Once you have found the right pair of boots for you, you will likely remain faithful to your choice for some time.
3. Dirt Bike Pants – Essential Dirt Bike Gear
Whether you are riding motocross or trails, a set of jeans just won’t cut it. Flexibility, comfort and all-weather performance are vital features of essential dirt bike kit, and pants are no exception.
Why are dirt bike pants necessary?
Dirt bike pants essential for any rider because they are designed to withstand snags and tears, but also allow a wide range of movement. Many dirt bike pants are manufactured with fewer seams to stop uncomfortable chaffing.
Essential dirt bike gear – Shopping tips
Be sure that the pair you choose will stand up to the elements and remain comfortable on any length of ride. It is wise to buy harder wearing enduro pants for adventure riding and trail days. For competitive riding, you will want lightweight, hi-tech materials which keep the wind and moisture out, wick sweat away from the skin and don’t restrict your movement.
We have listed some of the best cheap dirt bike gear combos here.
Polyester has been proven time and time again to be durable, breathable, and hold up well to washes.
You may find leather around the inside of the knees where you grip the dirt bike. Leather stands up well when rubbing against the plastics. Leather and faux leathers also provide high levels of grip and heat resistance.
It is a common mistake to think that dirt bike pants should fit like regular pants. That is not the case. Your dirt bike pant will likely have the same waist sizing as your everyday pants. However, good quality motocross pants offer some range of waist adjustment via Velcro side straps or the buckle.
The length of a dirt bike pant is often relatively short so that they don’t bunch up inside your motocross boots. So do not be concerned if your pant sits a little bit higher than you imagined.
Dirt bike pants should feel roomy around the knees as you will likely wear knee braces under them at some point. If the pants are too tight around the knees, then your ability to move will be restricted.
Top-quality dirt bike pants will offer some sort of ventilation. Vents will prevent you from getting too hot while riding and dry away excess sweat.
4. MX Shirt – Important Dirt Bike Gear
The same principles apply to motocross and enduro shirts as we have just seen for pants.
When riding your dirt bike, match your pants with an appropriate top; heavier duty for enduro, and lighter weight for racing. A shirt will help stop roost, branches, dirt, and other debris from causing abrasions across your torso and arms. A shirt will also help to prevent sunburn when out riding on hot days.
Essential dirt bike tops – Shopping tips
Type of shirt:
A dirt bike jersey will feature better abrasion resistance than a regular shirt. The better the shirt, the better the ventilation too. If you have found the right pants, then it is likely there is a matching top which has the same features. Matching top and pants are called gear sets and are a popular choice among riders.
Choosing the correct size for a dirt bike top is relatively easy although there are a few important things to point out.
First off you need to decide if you will wear a chest protector above or underneath the shirt. If you wear one underneath, then you may have to opt for a larger size than usual.
Overall, your shirt should not be too baggy, either. An overly baggy shirt can get caught on things will riding.
Some high-quality dirt bike jerseys will offer extra features to make them more appealing to regular riders and competitive riders.
Look out for padding around the elbows and forearms. Extra reinforcement gives longevity and durability. Padded areas do not replace body armour, but they will make sure your tops do not wear in places where high impact and friction occur.
Technical materials and wicking will improve comfort by drawing moisture away from your body.
5. Dirt Bike Goggles – Essential dirt bike gear
Dirt bike goggles are one of those common-sense items that all riders should have. Goggles are as important as a helmet.
Why are dirt bike goggles necessary?
Motocross goggles are 100 per cent necessary because they protect your eyes from flying debris which includes; roost, dust, bugs, branches, water and stones. Getting something in your eye when you are riding is likely to cause a crash. You may even lose your sight.
Essential dirt bike gear – Shopping tips, goggles
Here are some things to look out for when searching for a good set of dirt bike goggles.
The larger the goggles, the more you can see. Oversize goggles are extremely popular with Pro riders and amateur riders for this very reason.
You should look for a goggle that fits comfortably with your helmet, and still allows for the largest field of vision possible. Many modern helmets have oversize apertures now, to accommodate the contemporary trend of large goggles.
One of the worst features of cheap goggles is that they fog up. For this reason, it is essential to find goggles that offer excellent ventilation. While most goggles will fog up when you are stationary, and air temperature is cold, you should see them begin to demist as soon as you start moving. Replace goggles which mist up constantly when riding.
Foam comfort and fit:
Most dirt bike goggles have a layer of foam which sits against your face. There are different types and layers of foam used by various companies. When choosing goggles, be on the lookout for deep foam that allows for comfort, ventilation, and absorption.
Lens choice will be dependent on the type of dirt biking you do. Googles that allow replacement lenses are best. If you can interchange lens styles, this is even better.
As far as colour goes, clear lenses offer minimal distortion and maximum clarity. However, if it is exceptionally sunny, riders will often wear goggles with some sort of tint.
6. Dirt Bike Gloves
Wearing dirt bike gloves will ensure that you find comfort and grip during those long or intense rides. Unlike road bike gloves, dirt bike gloves have far less armour. Motocross gloves are more fitted and allow for maximum feel of the bars and feedback from the bike. Enduro gloves are a little more robust.
Why are dirt bike gloves necessary?
Wearing a pair of dirt bike gloves will protect against abrasions and burns, and blisters. They also provide padding to lessen vibration, which is a common cause of numbness when riding.
Essential dirt bike gear – Shopping tips, gloves
Sizing for dirt bike gloves is pretty simple. Just remember to buy tight-fitting gloves. Bagginess can result in reduced grip, snagging and potential crashes. Sizing charts are easy to read with gloves ranging from small to extra-large.
There are as many different fabrics as there are manufacturers. Many have their own branded material mixes. Ideally, look for something that is stretchy enough to provide freedom of movement, is breathable and abrasion-resistant.
Dirt bike gloves will also often feature some sort of grip on the palm or lever fingers to maximise grip. These grips are silicone or a similar substance. Enduro gloves may have double layer panels, with leather making up some or all of the construction of the glove.
Some gloves are very minimalistic, and others feature much more padding. We like gloves that feel like a second skin when racing. However, if you want more protection, there are many varieties to choose from Some gloves will even feature armoured knuckles and fingers to protect small bones and ligaments.
Hands are one of the three main points of contact with your bike. Your gloves should not reduce the feel of the bike, nor cause you to feel disconnected from the bike in any way.
7. Knee Braces – Essential Dirt Bike Gear
Knees tend to take a lot of abuse when you are riding offroad. The constant pounding of ruts, and uneven terrain and compression forces when landing jumps will all affect your knees. If you snag, drag or bend your leg, these forces are even more extreme. Knee braces help reduce that wear and tear, as well as providing stability on the bike.
Why do I need knee braces?
Knee injuries are one of the most common in sport. Dirt biking is no different. Hyperextension or hyperflexion of your knee can prove costly. These types of damage have the potential to cause long life problems. Wearing knee braces is a no brainer.
Essential dirt bike gear – Shopping tips, Knee braces
The problem with cheap knee braces is that they have less adjustment and can be ill-fitting. The best motocross knee braces offer adjustment so you can get them to fit perfectly. Some companies provide custom-sized knee braces, but these are usually very expensive. Cheap materials and poor construction can create sharp edges and increase friction. Always budget for as high a quality pair as you can afford.
Look for carbon composite, titanium and super lightweight tech materials at the premium end of the market. High-quality polycarbonate and aluminium are popular at the budget end of things. Buy from brands which have a know racing pedigree and that have reviews from serious riders.
Always use knee brace sleeves if your dirt bike socks aren’t thigh-high. The sleeves will stop any uncomfortable rubbing of the knee braces against the skin. The sleeves will also help control sweat to increase comfort levels.
What Dirt Bike Gear is essential for racing?
Now that you have read about the essential dirt bike gear that is a must-have for all riders, it is time to look at all of the extra dirt bike gear that is good for more advanced riders and competitive riders.
Elbow guards are a pretty underrated piece of equipment when it comes to dirt biking. Your elbows are vital joints when it comes to controlling the bike and supporting your weight. Protecting them makes perfect sense, especially when competing.
Why are dirt bike elbow guards important and do I need them?
During a dirt bike crash, a rider will often put their arms out in front of them as a natural reaction to try and lessen impacts on the body. Unfortunately this means a lot of arm and elbow scrapes and impacts.
Collisions between riders are also prevalent, and elbows are one area likely to get hit when another bike or rider collides with you.
Essential Dirt Bike Gear – Shopping tips, Elbow guards
The first thing any rider should look at when deciding to wear elbow pads is how the pads are held on. Most designs use an adjustable strap system to locate the guard tightly.
Some dirt bike elbow guards feature a sleeve with a grippy bicep cuff to stop the pad from sliding around. These cuffs add an extra layer of comfort.
Whatever style you choose, always lock the pad securely in place so it will not move up or down your arm with an impact.
Hard or soft:
There are usually two styles of elbow guards to choose from, a hard shell style, or a softshell.
A hard shell elbow guard will feature bio-mechanical designs which hold plastic plates in place. These hard shells are great for both absorbing impacts (with the help of a foam lining) and preventing slide injuries such as road rash and other abrasions. This style of elbow guard may not have the same freedom of movement as soft shell designs.
Softshell elbow guards are designed to be lightweight and flexible. Since there is no solid structure these are usually the most comfortable to ride a dirt bike in. The guards can still offer great protection, however not to the extent that a hard shell elbow guard will.
If your style of riding demands lots of movement, with less chance of big collisions, a soft guard will be sufficient. If you are riding hard and fast, with big jumps and gnarly courses, then it is worth trading some flexibility for increased protection.
Dirt bike neck braces have become quite a common sight in recent years. With the increased protection that they offer, this comes as no surprise. All of the big brands have their take on neck brace design.
Why is a dirt bike neck brace important and do I need one?
A dirt bike neck brace is an essential piece of kit for any advanced rider as it offers excellent protection against spinal cord injuries.
It is common knowledge that crashes can throw the rider into awkward positions. A lousy landing may result in hyperextension or hyperflexion of the neck. A neck brace will limit the riders head movement to stop this from happening.
If you are a rider that likes to take a few risks or is competing at any level, you should consider wearing a neck brace.
Essential dirt bike gear – Shopping tips, neck brace
The most common complaint we hear is restricted movement. However, this is usually because the brace is not sized correctly and is sitting too high. A modern, proper fitting neck brace will allow plenty of room for comfortable dirt biking head movement.
Some of the most high quality neck braces offer multiple adjustments to achieve a perfect fit. The more points of adjustment, the better the chance you have of finding the right setting for you.
Having lots of adjustment is also handy for growing riders as it prevents the need to buy a new brace every season or so.
Since a neck brace will sit right above the rider’s shoulders, a bulky brace can cause fatigue. If possible, go for super lightweight components, and you will find that you adjust to the neck brace without too much disruption to your riding style.
The best neck brace is one that the rider will hardly even notice they are wearing when out on their dirt bike.
Body armour is an extension of the neck brace in many ways. The two components work together to keep your upper body safe from heavy impacts and abrasion.
Why is dirt bike body armor important, and do I need it?
Dirt bike body armor can offer protection for vital organs, ribs, shoulders and your spine (depending on the armor). The downsides reduced movement and increased heat. As with a neck brace, high-quality components, adequate ventilation and maximum adjustment points all offset the negatives.
Essential dirt bike gear – Shopping tips, body armour
Bulky or minimalistic:
The most significant decision to make when choosing the best dirt bike chest protector is whether to go full armor or reduced roost guard only.
Full armor will offer superior protection, offering multiple rigid plates on the outside. This biomechanical armour is often lined with breathable foam to increase comfort and breathability. Full armor will almost always offer spine protection as well which is a huge plus.
A roost guard gives greater freedom of movement while still protecting the rider from flying debris and abrasions. Most will offer some sort of hard exterior shell. Cheaper alternatives have only a soft foam layer to help disperse impact. A roost guard chest protector is often quite comfortable to ride in and can be worn under a rider’s jersey without being extremely noticeable.
A significant factor to consider when choosing dirt bike body armor is how the design manages airflow. If the armor has no ventilation, then the chances are that it will get extremely hot to ride in.
Always choose armor that will wick away moisture, and which has multiple cooling vents to prevent overheating.
Handguards are mostly found on dirt bikes that are used for trail rides, extreme MX and adventure riding.
Why are dirt bike handguards essential?
There is one thing we all agree on at TeamMA HQ; nature can be harsh, and sharp. Dirt bike handguards are a must-have for off-road enduro and trail riders. There is always a chance that objects can crush your figures and so a pair of handguards is a great idea.
Should you use handguards on a motocross track? This decision comes down to personal choice. Newer riders may benefit from the extra roost protection and reduced moisture and mud. Handguards will also prevent bent levers or unplanned braking too.
Essential dirt bike gear – Shopping tips, Handguards
Off-road vs. motocross handguards:
There are two types of handguards out there that can be purchased. The first is off-road handguards which offer a full metal brace to stop it from flexing in towards your hand under impact. The other type is a motocross handguard which will hold up to roost but under heavy impacts will flex.
Never use motocross-style handguards on the trails as they are not designed to take the beating that fully braced off-road dirt bike handguards can take.
An essential factor to think about when choosing handguards is the aerodynamics of them. Cheaply made handguards will act like sails in the wind and alter the handling of your dirt bike. High-quality dirt bike handguards are streamlined so that air will flow around them and through them.
Many high quality dirt bike handguards are available, in finishes to suit most manufacturers.
Cold weather riding:
There are cold-weather options available for extreme adventure riding. These usually feature a big profile and are designed to keep the wind and mud off of your hands while dirt biking.
Remember that the type of dirt biking you do will be the deciding factor as to what gear you should be wearing. Always buy as high up a range as you can afford with these essential items. Prioritise these suggestions over other less critical kit or accessories.
Can you tick off every item on this list in your kit bag? If not, then you have created your priority shopping list for the season.
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Have fun out there!
Martin and the crew at TeamMA