Motocross is one of the most physically demanding outdoor sports. It is a form of motorcycle racing that takes place on off-road circuits. It derives its name from the words motorcycle and cross country, as it takes after the dirt bike racing discipline but on a wider course that is found outside the confines of a stadium.
The most essential protective gear a motocross rider must wear are a helmet, boots, goggles, MX kit (pants, jersey, gloves), knee and elbow pads/braces, chest protector/body armor, and a neck brace.
Keep in mind that all this gear must be specifically designed for motocross or dirt bike riders.
During motocross racing, a rider’s entire body is vulnerable to any kind of injury that can occur from sudden accidents. It is essential to make sure your entire body is protected to avoid fatalities or irreparable damage. Let’s look at all the protective gear a rider must wear in detail below.
Full Face Helmet
A full-face helmet is definitely the most important part of a rider’s protective gear. It is essential that you invest in one, as open face and three quarter type helmets won’t protect your face and chin when you fall or crash.
It is important to choose the right helmet, as street and dirt helmets are purpose made. A full-face helmet also comes with a jaw protector, which you will not find in open face helmets. Let us look at the key features you need to look out for when choosing the best full-face helmet for motocross.
It is crucial that you don’t take any risks while choosing the right helmet, even if you find the price way over your budget. To avoid buying cheap helmets that don’t really offer much protection, make sure you buy helmets from brands that have been tested for their quality.
If you live in the Uk, you’ll want to look out for a helmet with an ACU gold stamp. This stamp is awarded to helmets that comply with the Auto Union Cycle’s standard for motorcycle helmets designed to withstand extreme blows while racing.
Another aspect you will want to pay attention to is the ventilation. Good quality helmets have multiple vents which will ensure you get a good circulation of air. But, you need to be wary of hyper-ventilated helmets, which are quite common these days. This can end up reducing the protection offered by the helmet.
It is advisable to go for normal vents that will provide an adequate amount of circulation while riding without hindering the protective design of the helmet.
It is also critical that you buy one that fits your head perfectly. Measuring your head and double-checking the fit is a must. This is because not wearing the right size can increase your chance of a severe head injury, as it can get dislodged if you crash. If you are not sure about the right size for your head, you can check this reference table to help you out. However, you will still need to make the final decision after trying out the helmet yourself.
Racing boots are poles apart from regular boots and can be just as essential as helmets for protection. They offer protection to your feet, ankles, shins, and calves. When it comes to motocross, your legs are in the line of fire for injuries. Racing boots will protect you from the impacts of crashing and prevent your foot from getting sprained or twisted.
Fit and Ergonomics
Just like helmets, boots are no good unless you get a pair that fits you like a glove. Ill-fitting boots can interfere with your riding and end up causing a lot of discomfort. Also, remember that racing boots can take some time for you to break into them, so you probably will find them more comfortable after using them a couple of times than you do in the beginning.
When it comes to boots, you need to pay attention to its ergonomics, which will affect your entire racing experience. Make sure the boots allow you to move your ankles freely to a certain extent while ensuring that they prevent hyperextension and hyperflexion.
Also, be sure that your boots don’t weigh a ton, as racing boots are generally supposed to be quite weightless to increase the rider’s comfort. Heavy boots can weigh you down and affect your posture.
If you are not sure about what boots to buy, I recommend checking out one of Amazon’s best selling boots that have been specially designed for motocross riders - O'Neal Men's New Logo Rider Boot. It contains molded plastic plates that protect against impacts and has metal toe guards to protect the sole from delamination.
All racing jerseys act as a protective layer to prevent your skin from getting scratched to a certain extent. They are typically full-sleeved and also protect your skin from sunburn. It is advisable to use a jersey designed for motocross or dirt bike racing, as these will prove to be more abrasion resistant than regular jerseys.
When it comes to sizing, it is important that you do not go for a loose or baggy fit (if that’s usually your style) as these can easily get caught or pulled while riding. Find something that fits you perfectly and is suitable for the activity.
If you would like to check out some high-quality motocross jerseys, I recommend checking out VENTilate Motocross Jersey. It is a lightweight, breathable jersey that also absorbs moisture and sweat. It also has a zippered venting system, which ensures you don’t get too hot or sweaty.
Dirt bike pants are essential as their material prevents them from tearing easily. It also ensures that you have freedom of movement and aren’t restricting like jeans and other materials.
An important feature of dirt bike pants is that they usually have a leather coating around the knee area. This part of the body often tends to rub against the dirt bike and is near the exhaust pipe of the motorcycle, which causes it to need additional protection. Apart from protecting the knee, it also gives extra grip to the rider.
Motocross pants are slightly different from your regular pants when it comes to the fit. Most dirt bike pants come with waistband adjusters via velcro or buckles. This way, you can either tighten or loosen it till it is absolutely perfect.
When it comes to the length, it is typically a little shorter than your usual pants. This is to prevent them from being uncomfortable when you wear your boots over them. They are also a little extra loose around the knees to aid you in flexible movement. If the pants are too tight, it can feel restricting while riding.
In short, when looking for a pair of high-quality dirt bike pants, make sure they fit you well, offer comfort and flexibility, are on the shorter side, and have CE-rated armor or leather in the hips and knees.
VENTilate Machine Motocross Pant is a motocross pant with all the features a good quality dirt bike pant requires. It comes with side vents that prevent you from feeling too hot or sweaty and has the option of closing the vents if you feel too cold. It also comes with a waist adjusting mechanism and inner knee reinforcement.
Dirt bike gloves help prevent cuts, bruises, burns, and abrasions. It also gives you a better grip. Its padding helps lessen the vibration you feel in your hands, thereby increasing your efficiency and endurance.
They are usually made of breathable and stretchy fabrics and can be thin or thick, depending on your preference. If you would like the added protection, you can go ahead with thick gloves with extra padding. Just ensure that they are made of a strong, abrasion-resistant material!
The VENTilate Motocross Glovesare a great option if you are looking for gloves with all the features mentioned above. Additionally, they have a silicone coating over the palm area and the fingertips to provide the best gripping potential.
Motocross goggles protect your eyes from the wind, dust, rain, and debris, thereby increasing your visibility. Just make sure that they fit comfortably inside your helmet. When it comes to choosing a good pair of goggles, the first thing to consider is size. Most companies offer goggles with large lenses to increase peripheral vision.
One of the most common problems with dirt bike goggles is that the lens may fog up if it doesn't have good ventilation. For this reason, it is essential to buy good quality goggles that ensure anti-fogging ventilation.
You can even get tinted goggles if you usually ride in the hot sun. There are a variety of tints to choose from, ranging from a full mirrored lens to a hybrid lens that can be useful during sunny and cloudy conditions.
When buying goggles for motocross racing, make sure you look for good comfort, clear vision, and sweat absorption. J.A.C. MX Tear-Off Goggles offers you extreme comfort with great features too. It has an anti-fog and scratch-resistant lens, and also comes with a moisture absorption foam to help prevent sweat from trickling down your face. Additionally, it has a removable nose guard that comes along with it!
Although neck braces weren’t very popular among riders in the past, they have become quite a common sight in recent years. This is because they help prevent multiple spinal cord injuries during crashes. Many companies have started designing low profile and comfortable braces to fit the rider’s neck smoothly without hindering it.
Choosing the right size is crucial when it comes to neck braces, as having a size that is too small or big can end up restricting the head movement of a rider. This can end up causing more harm than good for a rider, especially during a crash. A high quality, well-fitting neck brace will give you enough room to move your head without any restriction.
Always choose a neck brace that can be adjusted to suit your size as this will help you find the perfect fit and position which is most comfortable for you. Also, purchase a neck brace, which is light in weight as that will prevent you from feeling any added strain on your shoulders and neck.
Body armor protects all the vital organs in your body, along with your spine. You may not need a heavy-duty chest protector, but even a light, simple one can give you more protection than wearing only a jersey. When it comes to body armor, there are quite a few decisions you will need to make before buying one. Let us look at your best options below!
People often confuse roost protectors with chest protectors. A roost protector is a very lightweight deflector that is meant to protect you from rocks and other debris that may be found on the track. Most riders prefer roost protectors as they are easier to wear and do not make the rider feel too hot.
However, if you know that your track and race are quite dangerous and want to minimize the damage caused by severe falls and crashes, you may want to think twice before choosing a roost protector over a chest protector.
Chest protectors are made of sturdy materials and can be a little uncomfortable in the beginning (especially if you’ve never worn a chest guard before). But if you invest in a high-quality brand, you’ll be able to find one that gives you extra protection with adequate comfort and ventilation too.
Riders who wear chest protectors will always have the peace of mind against crash damage. Chest protectors also act as roost deflectors and shield your body from flying debris. Just make sure you choose armor that will provide proper ventilation and absorb your sweat.
Knee injuries are one of the most common injuries in any sport. Wearing knee braces can help prevent life long injuries, which can even end in immobility.
When choosing the right knee brace, it is good to go for brands that make custom knee braces to fit your knee perfectly. This is because most riders find it quite hard to find a knee brace that fits them comfortably. A custom-made brace will give you enough room to flex your knees.
Good brands design knee braces that are strong and sturdy but also light in weight. Heavy knee braces can end up being a great hindrance to the rider and must be avoided at all costs.
Additionally, you can invest in brace sleeves, which you can wear underneath your knee braces. This will prevent the knee brace from rubbing against your knee and causing discomfort. Brace sleeves also absorb excess sweat and add to your comfort.
Guarding yourself with your arms when you fall is one of the most natural reactions. Having elbow guards can minimize the damage your arms face during any fall or crash. They additionally protect you from scratches and sprains.
It is wise to buy an elbow guard fixed using straps, as this will prevent the guard from moving when you’re riding. It will also ensure that the guards stay in place during a fall. Some dirt bike elbow guards come with a bicep cuff, which is an extra precaution to prevent the guard from moving.
Elbow guards usually come in two types: hard shells and soft shells. Let’s look at the benefits of each below.
These are designed to be lightweight and also give you a lot of room to move freely. If you happen to ride for very long distances, soft shell guards will be ideal as they do not cause any restriction and are so flexible that you may not even notice they’re there.
A hard shell guard usually comes with a solid structure to it. These are great as they can absorb the impact of crashes and falls and prevent other injuries from affecting your arm. On the downside, these guards don’t offer the same amount of flexibility as soft shell guards. They may also be a little heavier than soft shells due to their thick inner foam lining and hard plastic.
If you place safety above comfort, you will definitely want to go for hard shell elbow guards. Just make sure that you buy high-quality guards that will provide comfort, freedom of movement, and protection. Also, ensure that they can be adjusted to fit your arm and elbow perfectly to avoid wasting your money on equipment that does not precisely fit your body.
Additional Safety Equipment
You can never be too safe when dealing with a sport like motocross, so it is worth taking the time to know all the various protective measures you can invest in before hitting the track. Let us look at some extra protective equipment you can don, apart from the essentials in the previous section.
Handguards prevent your fingers from being crushed during a crash. They protect your wrists and fingers from getting fractured during a fall. Most riders don’t really worry about such accidents as they aren’t very common, but some riders do go the extra mile to protect every inch of their body!
There are two types of handguards, which are off-road and motocross handguards. While off-road guards come with a full metal brace to prevent your hand from bending backward from severe falls, motocross handguards are usually meant to deflect roost and minor injuries.
If you feel you’ll be better off with off-road handguards that give you double the protection, you can most certainly use them in motocross. Just be sure to get the right size and check if the guards cause no discomfort to your hands when you ride.
When you spend many hours on the track, your palms are bound to get blisters and scratches that can affect your performance while racing.
Certain riders use palm protectors under their gloves to reduce the vibration and give extra protection against blisters and cuts. Palm Protectors - Lightweight Blister Protection Gloves are a great option if you wish to wear them underneath gloves. They come in 3 sizes and are ultra-thin, which makes them hardly noticeable when worn under gloves.
Impact shorts can come in handy when you meet with accidents in motocross. They are called impact shorts as they give impact protection when you fall or hit yourself. They are quite heavily padded, but riders have never complained of experiencing any discomfort while wearing them.
They primarily give protection to the thighs, hips, and tailbone regions. They are usually quite stretchy and are made of breathable materials to prevent excessive sweating. Though they are padded, they are not too bulky as they are meant to be worn under riding pants.
It goes without saying that you need to wear socks inside your riding boots. However, you may think that using your everyday socks would suffice. While this may be true, you may want to also consider the durability of normal socks and how long they’ll last when used for a sport like motocross.
Though it may seem excessive, you’ll actually be saving money by investing in a good pair of sports socks. Many companies manufacture budget motocross socks, which are meant to be used for extreme sports and not wear out easily. These socks will not be slippery and will stay in place while also wicking moisture and ensuring your feet don’t get drenched in sweat.
They also come in varying lengths. Some reach your knee and make it easier to wear knee braces as you won’t have to invest in separate knee sleeves.
5 Most Common Injuries
You now know the most essential safety gear you require for motocross racing to stay safe. However, knowing the most common injuries that riders suffer from in motocross can help you plan your gear accordingly by showing you the areas you absolutely can’t take risks with.
Here’s a list of the most common injuries riders have suffered from in the past:
Ankle sprains: This can be prevented with the right boots that prevent ankles from being twisted. Most riders fail to realize that the quality of the boots also plays an important role in protecting their legs and feet.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears: Also known as ACL, is the main ligament that controls the movement of your shin bone in relation to your thigh bone. If this tears, your knees will become unstable and might buckle. This is another reason why riding boots and knee braces are a must!
Broken collarbone: This is one of the most commonly broken bones in motocross. They generally break when you fall on your shoulder or impact the ground with your torso. Body armor and neck braces play an important role in reducing the impact on your shoulders and collarbone.
Head injuries: It goes without saying that any crash has an impact on your head, and not wearing a strong helmet can definitely lead to complications.
After reading this article, you now know the most injury-prone areas in your body and the preventive measures you can take to ensure you don’t have to suffer severe physical damage even when you crash!
Motocross is a sport that must be taken seriously as it can cause life-threatening injuries if you are not well-equipped. The most essential safety gear that you absolutely must use is your helmet, boots, body armor, knee and elbow pads, neck brace, and goggles. Without these, even minor falls and impacts can greatly affect your vital organs.
As long as you are wearing your safety gear, you can withstand almost all crashes and accidents without having to bear the brunt of it forever.
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