Riding Gear Tips and Advice
Helmet. Helmet. Helmet. If you only have one piece of safety equipment, make it a helmet. The speed is never too slow or the ground too smooth to wear one.
Helmets don’t have to be uncomfortable. Try out different models from different manufacturers. The better it fits, the more you’ll wear it – and because the padding will eventually conform to your head, the more you wear it, the better it’ll fit.
Get a full face helmet. You may not think you need one – right until a stump or hole helps introduce your chin to the handlebar.
Visors on helmets aren’t there to make them look cool. The first time you ride off into the sunset (or any time the sun is low in the sky); it’ll help keep a lot of glare off your goggles.
I prefer a helmet visor with plastic screws holding it in. If a bad fall rips off the visor, there’s less damage to the helmet.
There's a quick and easy explanation for sizing helmets at the AFX Helmets website!
If you ride clear trails all by yourself, you might be able to get away without goggles, but if someone ahead of you is throwing up debris, or you’re cruising through the bush, protect those eyes – buy goggles.
If you have to choose between cheap goggles or no goggles, get the cheap ones – you only have two eyes so do what you can to protect them. Otherwise, it pays to get the best you can.
Comfort counts. Like any piece of safety equipment, the better it feels, the more you’ll use it.
Make sure they’re vented – otherwise they’ll fog up in no time.
Nothing can turn you off dirt bike riding faster than having a bunch of gravel ground into your knuckles. If you don’t have the cash for real riding gloves, get a pair of snug-fitting work gloves.
When my kids started out on dirt bikes, we picked up BMX gloves. Plenty of protection for the kind of riding they were doing. Don’t get the kind with only have the finger covered, go for full protection.
Good gloves will be tough but flexible.
Check to see if the gloves will breathe (usually some kind of mesh).
Yipes! Dirt bike boots are expensive! If you’re racing, they’re a must have. If you’re trail riding or ditch-banging, you can get away with a good pair of work boots or hiking boots. Get something comfortable and flexible, but with good ankle support. The boot should go above the ankle… those hiking/work SHOES seem like a good compromise until you smack your ankle bone against a stump or the kick start.
Any boot you wear should have a heel. It makes kick starting and staying on the pegs a lot easier.
Honestly? I know very few trail riders that wear chest protectors… but just about every motocross racer I know wears one. I can sure understand that extra peace of mind and protection they offer in a crash. A chest protector can only take care of you if it stays in place. When you’re trying them on for comfort, make sure you get one that won’t move during a crash.
If you’re investing money in a chest protector make sure it has full torso, back, shoulder, elbow, and kidney protection.
Neck rolls are labeled essential by some riders, and unnecessary by others – they’re designed to protect against common neck and collarbone injuries.
The extra weight of a helmet may be too much for a child’s head in a crash since their neck muscles are still forming – neck rolls can add some extra support.
KNEE PROTECTION – KNEE BRACES
Every now and then a stump is going to leap out of the bush and head straight for your knee – whether it hits your knee cap or some knee protection is up to you. And with the intensity of riding you’ll find in motocross, knee protection is a must have.
Knee pads are second best. Better than nothing, but not as good as a knee brace.
There’s a big variety of knee braces out there, and the features and materials keep changing. Check reviews in your favorite dirt bike magazine, or online, and check with your riding friends. Then get the best you can afford.
SHIRT, PANTS, LEATHERS
At the very least, wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants. The only person who thinks you look cool riding in shorts and a tank top is you.
Obviously full motocross gear is ideal – but something most of us have to save up for.
Just a note: leathers don’t make you ride better. More than once, I’ve watched a guy in jeans and long-sleeve dirt bike jersey blow away a pack of fully-rigged riders.