Essential Dirt Bike Gear: What every rider MUST HAVE

Anybody who has spent time around dirt bikes will understand that there is a fair amount of gear available for riders to pick from. Depending on the rider, there will be different choices made about what gear they want to use and why. This article is going to help break down what we consider to be essential dirt bike gear, as well as gear that is just good to have.

 

What Dirt Bike Gear do I need to have?

No one should ever attempt to ride a dirt bike without the proper gear. Wearing the correct dirt bike gear will keep you comfortable on the bike, and well protected in the instance of a crash. Here is what we consider to be the must have equipment for riding a dirt bike:

 

Full Face Helmet

best dirt bike helmets 2016 shoeiA full face helmet should not even be considered an option when it comes to any form of dirt biking (with the exception of trials where they don’t have a jaw protector).

Why are full face helmets important?

A full face helmet is paramount because it protects one of the most important organs in your body, the brain. Without a helmet, a crash could easily cause serious brain damage or even cost you your life.

There is a reason that the helmets are full-face as well and not just half shells. In a crash, it is quite easy to face plant, and without the jaw protector, a rider can easily knock out their teeth or break their jaw. Furthermore, the jaw protector will also help to reduce concussions.

Important Details to Consider

Here is where things get complicated, especially with dirt bike helmets. To help I have broken down the most important details below:

Safety Features: When choosing a full face motorcycle helmet you need to consider the safety aspects as number one. There are many nice looking, cheap dirt bike helmets out there, but these will not offer you the same protection as a good quality helmet.

Do some research about the unique designs that different manufactures use to protect a rider’s head. A good example would be 6D’s Omni Directional Suspension system. This system uses elastomeric dampers to help sheer rotational forces that are placed on the brain during a crash. The result from using this technology is 6D having possibly the safest helmet in the world! Another good example is the MIPS system that is used by quite a few top brands including Fox, Bell motocross helmets, Troy Lee Designs and more.

Also be on the lookout for certifications. A dirt bike helmet should be at the very least DOT certified as for example Arai helmets are. The more certifications the better.

Ventilation: Ventilation is another key ingredient to a quality motocross helmet. Without proper ventilation, riders will sweat more, and overheat quicker than usual. Each different helmet will have a unique design. As long as there are multiple vents, and the helmet is from a good manufacturer, you should be okay.

Material: The materials that make up the helmet directly affect its performance and weight. Carbon fiber for example is often much lighter than other composites that can be used to make a helmet shell.

Field of Vision: The more a rider can see, the better. A wide vision area of a helmet paired with a good set of goggles will offer the rider great normal and peripheral vision when out dirt biking.

Looks: Here is where the fun comes in. Helmets are offered in a huge selection of colors and designs. So after you have the other details figured out, choose a design that you love. This will make you happier when wearing your new purchase.

 

Dirt Bike Boots

fox racing instinct pro dirt bike bootsDirt bike boots have evolved a lot thorough out the years. Nowadays there is a great selection of good quality boots that will offer protection and comfort!

Why are dirt bike boots important?

Dirt bike boots are on the essential list because they offer protection for your entire foot, ankle and for you lower leg. With any dirt bike sport, your foot is in the line of fire for a lot of injuries. A situation as simple as catching your foot on a rut while cornering can have you end up in hospital if you don’t have a good set of boots for protection.

A dirt bike boot will protect against impacts as well as provide support to help prevent unwanted twisting of you ankle and lower leg.

Important Details to Consider

When it comes to dirt bike boots, there is a fair amount that goes into making a really good pair. Here is some things that you definitely want to consider when browsing for some new ones:

Fit: A poor fitting dirt bike boot is almost pointless. This is because a boot needs to fit properly for it to be able to provide the support that it is engineered for. Therefore, when you buy boots, ensure that you are getting a pair that fit you correctly.

Just like shoes, the same size boot can have a fit variance from brand to brand. I recommend trying on a few different ones before you purchase in order to get a pair that you really like. If you want to buy online, use the manufacturer’s sizing scale to make sure you order the correct size.

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 even more comfortably than when you first bought them. Also, dirt bike boots should feature enough room at the front of the boot that they fit well with the knee braces that you wear.

Protection: A high quality dirt bike boot will offer awesome protection from rock strikes and anything else that your foot may come in contact with when riding. Lots of brands have a very sturdy material around the ankle to help eliminate unwanted twisting and protect the fragile area from impacts.

The boots should also have a sturdy sole on them which is for support and comfort when standing on foot pegs.

Ergonomics: What good is a dirt bike boot that isn’t comfortable to ride in? The ergonomics of a dirt bike boot is one of those details that will affect the overall experience of every single dirt bike ride you go on.

As a rider you will want a boot that offers the right amount of flex around the ankle so that it is still comfortable to ride in. However, the boot must also be able to prevent hyper extension and hyper flexion. Some companies such as Forma have a locking brace system so that your ankle can only move how it is supposed to.

Weight: Nobody wants to ride around with two cement blocks on their feet. Weight seems to be a huge decision factor when choosing a good pair of dirt bike boots.

Pick a pair that not only fits you right and provides the comfort that you need, but is also a manageable weight for you to ride in. No boot will weigh as little as a shoe so don’t expect that. However there are some brands that are more light weight than others.

 

Dirt Bike Pants

Fox pants 2017 flexair secaWhether you are riding motocross or trails, a set of jeans just won’t cut it!

Why are dirt bike pants important?

Owning a set of dirt bike pants will likely end up saving you money in the long run. How so you wonder? Well the cost of all of the jeans or other pants that you would rip if used them dirt biking would much outweigh one pair of dirt bike pants.

Dirt bike pants are a necessary article of clothing for any rider because they are designed to stand up to rips and tears, while also providing the freedom of movement that is essential when riding a dirt bike.

Important Details to Consider

There are more to dirt bike pants that meets the eye. Be sure that the pair you choose will stand up to the elements and remain comfortable on any length of ride.

Material: The material make up of dirt bike pants is a good indication as to whether or not that pair is worth your time and money.

For the most part a polyester blend will be used. Polyester has been proven time and time again to be durable, breathable, and hold up well to washes. All of these qualities are of course extremely important in a pair of dirt bike pants!

Another important material that should be used is leather. You will usually find leather around the inside of the knees. This is because the inside of the knees is where you make a lot of contact with the dirt bike. The leather stands up well to the rubbing against the plastics as well as helps to provide grip for the rider.

Fit: The fit of a dirt bike pant is something that quite a few new riders seem to get wrong. That is usually because they think the fit should be similar to regular clothes but this is not true.

First off is the waist fit. Your dirt bike pant will likely have the same waist sizing as your everyday pants. However, good quality motocross pants will offer some range of waist adjustment via Velcro side straps or the buckle.

The next thing to look at is the length. The length of a dirt bike pant is often quite short. This is because they are designed so that they don’t bunch up in your motocross boots. So do not be concerned if your pant sits a little bit higher than you would have guessed.

The final thing to talk about is the room around your knees. Dirt bike pants should feel roomy around the knees as you will want to wear knee braces under them. If the pants are too tight then movement will be restricted.

Appearance: There are hundreds of designs to choose from when it comes to dirt bike pants. Pick a pair that you like the looks of and you won’t regret your purchase!

Ventilation: Top quality dirt bike pants will offer some sort of ventilation. This will prevent you from getting too hot while riding, and dry away excess sweat.

 

Shirt

fox jersey 2017 flexair secaAlthough there are a select few riders that make not wearing a shirt while dirt biking look cool, we strongly advise against it!

Why is a shirt for dirt biking important?

Riders should wear some sort of shirt while dirt biking because it acts as an extra layer of protection for your skin. 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.

Important Details to Consider

Type of shirt: The type of shirt you use while dirt biking will make a big difference as to how it performs.

I would always recommend a proper dirt bike jersey to any rider out there because it is specifically designed to hold up to the hardships of dirt biking. A dirt bike jersey will feature better abrasion resistance than a regular shirt.

If you opt out of a jersey then you should at least wear a long sleeved shirt. This will offer your arms some sort of protection against abrasion during a crash.

Sizing: Choosing the correct size for a shirt to dirt bike in 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 normal.

Overall, your shirt should not be too baggy either. An overly baggy shirt can get caught on things will riding.

Extra Features: Some high quality dirt bike jerseys will offer extra features to make them more appealing to avid dirt bikers.

One awesome feature is minimalistic foam (or a similar material) pads around the elbows and forearms. The pads are not to be used instead of proper elbow pads but they do offer some protection for people who don’t like to wear elbow pads when riding.

Top quality jerseys will also be well vented to increase comfort for dirt bikers.

 

Dirt Bike Goggles

fox goggles 2017 air spaceDirt bike goggles are one of those common sense items that are a must have for any rider. If you like being able to see, wear goggles!

Why are dirt bike goggles important?

Dirt bike goggles are 100 percent necessary because they protect your eyes from just about all of the debris that you will encounter while riding. This includes roost, dust, bugs, branches, water and more!

Getting something in your eyes while dirt biking can not only severely damage your eyes for life, but also cause a crash from not being able to see.

Important Details to Consider

There is a lot more than what meets the eyes when it comes to dirt bike goggles (no pun intended). Here is what you must look at when searching for a good set of goggles.

Size: The overall size of dirt bike goggles matters for a couple of reasons.

The larger the size, the more that the rider will be able to see. For this reason you will notice that multiple companies are offering goggles with large lenses. Wide goggles are especially in trend as they allow riders to still make use of their peripheral vision.

Of course, there are limitations that will affect the size of goggle that you will be able to use. The biggest limitation being the shape and size of the eye area of your full face helmet. You should look for a goggle that fits comfortably with your helmet, and still allows for the largest field of vision possible.

Ventilation: One of the worst things about wearing goggles while dirt biking is the fact that they can fog up. For this reason, it is important to find goggles that offer great ventilation.

Note that many dirt bike goggles will start to fog up when standing still. This is because they have been designed to let air flow through during the forward motion of dirt biking. Therefore, good dirt bike goggle should start to clear up during forward motion.

Foam comfort and fit: The foam on dirt bike goggles is the part that makes direct contact with the riders face. Everybody’s face is shaped differently so as a rider, you may have to try on a few different pairs to see what you find comfortable.

There are different types and layers of foam used by different companies. When choosing goggles, be on the lookout for foam that allows for great comfort, ventilation, and absorption for sweat.

Lens: Lens choice will be dependent on the type of dirt biking you do and the time of day at which you ride. Just make sure that you can easily purchase new lenses for the goggles that you choose. Lenses will become scratched at some point so being able to purchase a new one is a must! It is a good idea to always have a spare as well.

As far as color goes, I would recommend a clear lens to anybody as it is easiest to ride with and provides no visual distortion. However, if it is extremely sunny, riders will often wear goggles with some sort of tint. This is entirely up to the individual.

 

Dirt Bike Gloves

fox gloves 2017 airlineWearing dirt bike gloves will ensure that you find comfort and grip during those long or intense rides.

Why are dirt bike gloves important?

Wearing a pair of dirt bike gloves will protect against abrasions and burns, and help stop blisters from forming. They also provide padding to lesson vibration, thus increasing hand endurance.

Important Details to Consider

Size: Sizing for dirt bike gloves is pretty simple. Just remember not to have too baggy of gloves. This could result in hand slips or the gloves getting caught on the bike levers. You can easily find sizing charts on the manufacturers’ website. Typically gloves will come in sizes ranging from small to extra-large.

Material: You will find that different companies use different fabrics for their gloves. Ideally a rider should look for something that is stretchy enough to provide freedom of movement, breathable, and abrasion resistant.

Dirt bike gloves will also often feature some sort of grip on the palm or lever fingers to ensure no slippage. This is often made up of silicone or another similar substance.

Form Factor: This is again up to the rider. However, there are gloves available that are very minimalistic, and ones that feature much more padding. I personally like gloves that feel like a second skin. However, if you like more protection, don’t be afraid to look! There are a lot of great gloves out there that are a bit more on the bulky side but offer a lot of padding. Some gloves will even feature hard knuckles to protect those fragile bones.

 

Knee Braces

Best knee braces motocross 2017 - Asterisk
Knees tend to take a lot of abuse over the span of a lifetime. As a dirt biker especially, it is important to do all you can to prevent knee injuries.

Why do I need knee braces?

Knee injuries are one of the most common injuries for any sport. When it comes to dirt biking it is no different. During a crash, it is very easy to hyperextend or twist your knee in a way that it isn’t supposed to twist. To prevent these potentially life long injuries, every rider should wear knee braces.

Knee braces work to stop you knees from moving in ways that they shouldn’t during a crash.

Important Details to Consider

Comfort: The problem with a lot of the knee braces out there is that they might fit one person’s knees really well, but another’s horribly. This is of course because of each person’s individual make up. Thankfully, some of the best dirt bike knee braces offer adjustment so that they fit comfortably and don’t shift around while riding. There are even companies that offer completely custom sized knee braces but these are usually very expensive.

Weight: Going dirt biking with cheap, heavy knee braces can make a rider never want to wear knee braces again. For that reason, some of the top companies are making their braces out of strong, yet lightweight materials (such as carbon fiber) to provide a decent knee brace experience. A rider should not opt for heavy knee braces. They probably wouldn’t end up using them.

Brace sleeves/socks: This works alongside the comfort aspect of knee braces. A rider should always use knee brace sleeves if their 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 further increase comfort.

Form: Knee braces tend to be on the bulky side of things. However, too much bulk can get uncomfortable when wearing dirt bike pants. A rider should make sure that the knee braces they choose are not too bulky for their individual set up. The year of 2018 has been great for the selection of good knee braces!

 

 

What Dirt Bike Gear is good to have?

Now that you have read about the 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 a rider to have if they can.

 

Elbow Guards

Essential dirt bike gear - fox elbow guardsElbow guards are a pretty underrated piece of equipment when it comes to dirt biking. This is especially true for riders that are just starting out.

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.

Dirt bike elbow guards will protect against exactly that. They will prevent the common road rash and elbow injuries that tend to occur, especially when learning to dirt bike.

Important Details to Consider

Straps: The first thing any rider should look at when deciding to wear elbow pads is how the pads are held on. There are plenty of different ideas as to what will work best and that is really up to each individual rider. If the elbow guards slide around when riding, it will be very annoying so a rider should always make sure the pair they choose fits well. Remember that the guards should not be sliding up and down the arms during a crash either!

Most designs use some sort of strap system that is able to be pulled so that it can be tightened up or loosened off depending on the size of the rider’s arms.

Some dirt bike elbow guards feature a sleeve with a grippy bicep cuff. This is a comfortable extra way to stop the pad from sliding around.

Hard or soft: There are usually two styles of elbow guards to choose from, a hard shell style, or a soft shell style.

A hard shell elbow guard will feature some sort of solid structure to it, usually a plastic shell. 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. The only downside is that these styles of elbow guards usually don’t offer the same freedom of movement as soft shell guards.

Soft shell elbow guards are designed to be light weight 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.

Maneuverability: The biggest reason a lot of dirt bikers don’t use elbow guards is because they tend to feel restricting while riding. That is why a rider should choose a very high quality pair that fits them well. A cheap, poor fitting pair of elbow guards is not even worth wearing.

 

Neck Brace

best dirt bike neck brace 2017 - Leatt 5.5Dirt bike neck braces have become quite a common sight in recent years. With the protection that they offer, this comes as no surprise! Multiple companies are now offering their own take on a neck brace, and each one seems to be just a bit different.

Why is a dirt bike neck brace important and do I need one?

A dirt bike neck brace can be an important piece of kit for any rider as it offers excellent protection against spinal cord injuries.

As a dirt bike rider, it is common knowledge that crashes can throw the rider into awkward positions that may result in hyperextension or hyperflexion of the neck. A neck brace will limit the riders head movement to stop this from happening.

A neck brace is not needed to ride a dirt bike. This is especially true if the rider is interested in slow leisurely rides. However, as a rider that likes to take a few risks, I will always wear a neck brace.

Important Details to Consider

Head restriction: The biggest downfall to wearing a dirt bike neck brace is the feeling of restriction that sometimes comes with it. Every single brand is a little different, so some will allow for more head movement than others.

The biggest issue that riders tend to have is too much head restriction for comfortable dirt biking. However, this is usually because the brace is not sized properly for them and is sitting too high. A modern, proper fitting neck brace will allow plenty of room for comfortable dirt biking head movement.

Adjustment: Some of the most high quality neck braces will offer a huge amount of adjustment to get the brace to fit the rider perfectly. If riders chooses to use a neck brace, they should always take the time to make sure it is adjusted exactly how it should be for them.

Unless the neck brace already fits the rider very well, they should stay away from braces without adjustment.

Having lots of adjustment is also handy for growing riders as it prevents the need to buy a new brace every season or so.

Weight: Since a neck brace will sit right above the rider’s shoulders, it gets tiring to have on after a while if the brace is too heavy. If possible, a rider should purchase a lightweight neck brace to ensure comfort and keep them wanting to wear it.

The best neck brace is one that the rider will hardly even notice they are wearing when out on their dirt bike.

 

Body Armor

essential dirt bike gear - fox body armourBody armor for dirt biking is an interesting thing to talk about because it can be found is so many different forms!

Why is dirt bike body armor important and do I need it?

Choosing to wear dirt bike body armor can be important because it offers protection for a lot of your vital organs, as well as your spine (depending on the armor). However, the downside is that body armor can get very hot and take away the freedom of movement that many riders are after.

You might find yourself not needing a heavy duty chest protector, however a lightweight minimalistic one might be perfect. Or maybe you need a heavy duty one because you are after ultimate protection. The type of dirt biking you do, and how you like to feel when you ride will dictate if you need a chest protector, and how heavy duty it should be.

I would always recommend wearing one!

Important Details to Consider

Bulky or minimalistic: The biggest decision that a rider will have to consider when choosing a chest protector is if they want a full coverage one, or more of a lightweight roost guard.

The more bulky style of chest protector will offer superior protection from any type of crash. They often have multiple hard plates on the outside that are lined with foam on the inside to sit against the rider. A bulky style chest protector will almost always offer spine protection as well which is a huge plus, especially for riders with previous back injuries.

The minimalistic style of chest protector is designed for freedom of movement while still protecting the rider from roost, and abrasions during a crash. Most will offer some sort of hard shell still but there are some that are only a soft foam layer to help disperse impact. A minimalistic chest protector is often quite comfortable to ride in and can be worn under a rider’s jersey without being extremely noticeable.

Ventilation: A big thing to look at when choosing dirt bike body armor is how it directs air flow. If the armor has no ventilation, then chances are that it will get extremely hot to ride in.

A rider should choose armor that will wick away moisture, and feature cooling vents to prevent them from overheating.

 

Hand Guards

essential dirt bike gear - hand guardsHand guards are mostly found on dirt bikes that are used for trail rides. However they can also be used on a track as a great advantage!

Why are dirt bike hand guards important and do I need them?

Dirt bike hand guards are a must have for off-road enduro and trail riders. Any time there is a chance to crush your figures, a pair of hand guards can help prevent injury. Any off road riders who have smacked their hands off of trees can tell you that a pair of hand guards are a worthy investment.

However, a lot of people aren’t sure if they should use hand guards on a motocross track. Hand guards are nice to have on a motocross track because they protect your figures from roost and prevent your levers from bending in a crash. Even so, they are not 100 percent necessary for a track like they are for trail riding.

Important Details to Consider

Off-road vs. motocross handguards: There are two type of handguards out there that can be purchased. The first is off-road hand guards which offer a full metal brace across the back to the handguard to stop it from flexing in towards your hand under impact. The other type is a motocross hand guard which will hold up to roost but under heavy impacts will flex around, and possibly squish your fingers.

Never use motocross style handguards off-road as they are not designed to take the beating that fully braced off-road dirt bike handguards can take.

Aerodynamics: An important 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 as well as possible.

Many high quality dirt bike hand guards will also feature vents that will allow the air to freely flow through, decreasing wind resistance.

Cold weather riding: The final thing to note about handguards is that there are cold weather options available. These usually feature a big profile and are designed to keep the wind and mud off of your hands while dirt biking.

 

Final Thoughts

After reading through this article you may feel a little bit overwhelmed with all of the dirt bike gear that we have mentioned. Remember that the type of dirt biking you do will be the deciding factor as to what gear you should be wearing.

Try to use all of the essential dirt bike gear that we listed as they are some of the most important items that a rider can own. Now that you know what gear you need, find out about best dirt bike gear on 2018.

Once you have all of the essential dirt bike gear, take a look at all of the other gear that is good to have and decide what your riding merits.

Once you are ready, get out on that dirt bike and have fun!

Martin