Choosing the right dirt bike protective gear is important. Not only will it keep you safe on the bike, and if you crash, but knowing you're protected will also give you more confidence as a rider. In this post you'll find out all of the dirt bike essentials you need to keep you safe, and I'll give you some awesome recommendations to get you started.
Dirt bike gear essentials
The first thing you need to get is a helmet, but not just any old helmet from eBay! This is the most important piece of dirt bike protective gear you'll buy, so it's worth spending some money on a good helmet that will protect your brain when you fall off.
Don't buy a cheap helmet, and never buy a used one, your brain is worth a lot more than the few bucks you'll save!
Equally as important as a good quality helmet, is a decent set of goggles. Goggles will protect your eyes from roost, low branches, and from levers or sticks poking in them when you fall off.
It's important to choose goggles with vents, as they are notorious for steaming up and blocking your vision. A good field of vision, build quality, and the availability of replacement lenses are also qualities you should look for.
Cheap googles should be avoided as they simply won't last very long. Comfort foam around the frame will peal away, cheap lenses scratch easily, straps break, and frames crack. Buying a quality set will mean you save money in the long run.
The best goggles I've used are the Oakley O frames, which are also very affordable. Or if you want something even better, the Oakley Airbrake (link to Amazon) pictured above should be your top choice. They have everything a dirt bike goggle should have, and the lenses can be changed super easily for different conditions in less than 30 seconds.
Gloves need to be tough to be able to withstand the constant rubbing against grips and levers. It's common for palms and fingers to wear right through, and for stitching to tear, so a good pair are essential.
As with goggles, spending a bit more will save you money in the long run, as cheap gloves never last long. Look for gloves with a leather palm, as these are the longest lasting gloves you'll get.
Some reinforcement on the knuckle is also a good idea, especially if you ride trails. This will protect your hands from stones that are thrown up, and branches on narrow paths.
I think Fox are still leading the way with gloves, and the Bomber has been my go to choice for the past 2 years. They last longer than any glove I've ever tried, and they are reasonably priced. Check the current price of these awesome gloves on Amazon here > Fox Bomber Gloves
Boots are another thing to put at the top of your list of protective gear for dirt biking. They will prevent broken feet and ankles, cut shins, and they also prevent pain from the foot pegs digging into your feet. If you wear everyday boots on your dirt bike, you not only risk injury, but the boots will get torn to pieces by the foot pegs and kick starter in no time.
Cheap boots are known to tear along the stitching, wear and split along the sole where the foot peg contacts, and they don't breath very well. Broken buckles are also a common problem.
There are quite a few good boots on the market. You don't have to buy top priced boots, but the higher priced boots will last longer. I wore the mid priced Alpinestars Tech 3 regularly for trail riding, for over 2 years before the stitching gave way.
Alpinestars do higher priced boots, but if you want a quality boot that will last through the toughest of riding, the Tech 3 is definitely very capable. Check out the Tech 3 on Amazon here > Alpinestars Tech 3 boots.
5. Hand guards
Fitting hand guards to your dirt bike is really easy, and they will help to protect your hands from the many hazards that you'll come across. If you ride enduro bikes, or if you enjoy taking your dirt bike onto trails, hand guards will be essential. They're also really handy (pun intended) for motocross racing purposes.
Trail riders will want a good set of hand guards to protect their hands from tree branches on narrow paths. Even a small branch can break your fingers if you catch it at speed.
Hand guards will also protect you from stones that are being thrown up. This happens when you're following another rider, and some really big rocks can be thrown from their tyre, directly into your path.
Hand guards will also provide protection for your levers during a crash, or when you scrape them against a tree. I've had hand guards that have snapped levers off at their bracket before, so find some independent guards that have their own bracket to avoid this.
Hand guards can also be useful for motocross riders, especially on wet days. All racers will know about roostertail which is the dirt thrown up behind another bike that you're following. This can contain rocks, but it will also get all over your grips and levers, which turns braking, shifting, and holding onto the bike into a struggle.
As with trail bikes, hand guards can also protect the levers during a crash, but remember to find independent hand guards with their own bracket.
Many riders use hand guards for motocross, some say there's no point, so this will come down to your own personal preference.
6. Neck brace
A neck brace is essential for all competitive riders, and for those who like to go big. Don't get me wrong though, you can still break your neck riding slowly, and a neck brace will help to prevent this happening.
A neck brace simply rests on your shoulders, and will restrict how far your head can move around during a crash. So during a big crash when you have no control over your head, the neck brace will act as a barrier to stop your head moving to the point that a serious injury would happen.
The rider's helmet will be stopped by the frame of the neck brace, and this channels the impact energy away from the neck. So when using a neck brace, always be sure to fasten your helmet correctly as well.
It's now very common to see riders wearing neck braces during motocross races, enduro events, and even in many other motor sports, like karting for example. Look for good manufacturers like EVS, Leatt, and Alpinestars, and find the lightest brace possible.
Leatt make the fantastic GPX neck brace (link to Amazon) which is very highly rated, and even recommended by manufacturers like KTM! Plus it only weighs 600 grams, so you'll barely notice you're wearing it.
7. Riding Pants
Think you only need a pair of jeans to ride in? Think again, as a single crash will easily tear a pair of the toughest jeans apart, and you skin will be the next thing to tear! Dirt bike riding pants are designed to take a battering, and they may also contain internal padding to absorb impacts.
They're made from the toughest materials like Leather, Cordura, Kevlar, and thick 600D Polyester, to prevent tearing and wear. They will be vented to expel heat during a tough race, and they will allow the full range of movements needed for riding.
Dirt bike riding pants generally improve in quality as the price increases. But you can usually find a good pair of racing pans for around the $100 mark.
Trail riders may require a different type of riding pants, as you may need them to be waterproof, and even tougher in case of a crash on the road. Look for materials like 840D Cordura, these will be very tough, but you will pay a little more; but it's worth it for the safety aspect.
8. Roost Guard / chest protector
Super important dirt bike protective gear for trail riders, protecting the chest from the dreaded roostertail containing stones and rocks. I've experienced a few direct hits, and I remember a rock leaving me in agony for weeks, which prompted me to buy myself a chest protector.
Also recommended for motocross riders, as many tracks have some large stones just waiting to break your ribs and ruin your day. The level of protection can vary from a simple chest guard, up to full body armour with elbow and shoulder pads.
Full body armour isn't as popular, as it can be quite restricting to the rider. But armour jackets like the Alpinestars BNS Jacket (link to Amazon) are just fantastic. I've been using one for trail riding for a long time now, and it's protected me from some massive roost hits.
9. kidney belt
It took me a long time to realise I needed a kidney belt, and this is definitely one of the most overlooked pieces of dirt bike protective gear available. I always felt a lot of pain in my lower back while hitting whoops and very rough motocross tracks, but I never knew a simple belt could be so effective at stopping it.
Well, a whopping 10 years after I started riding, I was finally recommended a kidney belt to stop the jarring pain, and it worked a treat!
Kidney belts are cheep as chips to buy, and you'll find loads on Amazon. They loop around your waist, and are held together by velcro. You can also make smaller adjustments to the kidney belt that I use, this is done after the main strap is tightened up.
I use an EVS kidney belt, but you can find them from all of the top manufacturers including Leatt, Alpinestars, Fox, etc.
If you ride a dirt bike, you're going to crash at some point. And when you hit the ground, you want your bones to be as protected as possible. Chipped knee caps hurt like crazy, and even a good whack to the elbow can leave you in pain for weeks.
Riding on harder terrain like gravel is more likely to cause problems, but even hitting sand hard can leave a mark. Remember, you never know what's underneath the surface; if it looks soft, it probably isn't!
A good way to protect yourself is by wearing knee and elbow guards, or pads. Buy pads that are specifically designed for riding, as these will allow greater freedom of movement, and they will be lighter. Again there's plenty available on Amazon, and you can find them from the good manufacturers like EVS and Alpinestars.
Go get your motocross protective gear
To round up this list of dirt bike essentials, I'll finish by saying that you really can't put a price on your safety. A broken bone can take years to recover, and sometimes it will continue to cause problems for the rest of your life. That's why you should get as much dirt bike protective gear as possible.
Many people think they'll only need protection if they're racing, or pushing themselves to the limit, but this isn't the case. A crash can happen at any speed, anywhere, so it's always best to be prepared for it. Buy quality gear, and you'll walk away from crashes that would otherwise land you in the ER.
Now you have all of the protective gear you'll need, check out some awesome accessories HERE.
Or find the best lift stands available > HERE