If you want to save money, your dirt bike gear is not the best place to start. It really makes the difference between hospital for 3 weeks or couch for a couple of days.
I can say that I have tested my gear extensively. I went down so many times that I stopped counting long ago. Somehow equipped with a reckless nature and the ambition to do it as good as the guys has caused me to learn quickly about the importance of good protection.
Being a female shopping is in my nature and so I have included an online shopping guide. Be my guest by exploring the endless possibilities of buying online.
Here is what you will find on this page for a safe dirt bike ride.
The Helmet is THE most important part of your dirt bike gear! Saving money on a good helmet is false economy. If you are really on a budget rather try save some money on the graphics. Make sure you have a good name brand helmet. They are normally lighter as well. That is not just good for comfort but for safety as well. The extra weight on the head can cause you whiplash symptoms or worse when crashing.
Wear your helmet even if you only go 50m down the road. If somebody hits you with a rock over the head you can also be dead. Hitting the pavement at a slow speed has the same effect. It is just not worth it.
These are braces that go around your neck and together with your helmet stop you neck from being overextended. It is essential that you try them on together with your helmet and your chest protector. Make sure that you have full range of movement with your arms. The brace also shouldn't stop you from turning your head for good vision. It should be light and if possible almost not noticeable.
Boots for me are the third most important dirt bike gear. You can easy break your toes on an outride by squashing them between tree trunks or rocks and your foot pegs.
Alpinestars are the Rolls Royce under the boots. Somehow they found the best balance between stability for protection and flexibility for you to operate the pedals and be agile on the pegs. All boots feel stiff in the beginning but if you can't operate brake and gear leaver easily it is a safety hazard all by itself.
For me as a short person it is also important how much I can extend my foot to reach the floor. Some boots don't allow that action at all. Another problem area that I found was the leather fold just above your ankle when bending your knees. It often becomes uncomfortable after a while so pay close attention to that when buying boots. If you can feel it right from the beginning it is likely to bother you later on.
I love my chest protector. Maybe it is because I am a girl but it definitely saved me a lot of trouble. It blocks roost, it stops the hit on the handle bar when going over the bars, protects your shoulders when coming unstuck, saves your vertebrae when landing on your back...wonderful!
I now use the conventional over the jersey chest protector. If the size is right you can easily move your arms and upper body without hassle. If it is too big you will feel the whole chest protector moving up when you lift your arms. When it is too small it will not cover your whole chest or you will feel stuck trying to move your arms forward.
The other common type of chest protector is the under-the-jersey one. These units are made of softer foam that contours to the body. I know some riders swear by them but I never quite liked the one I had. In my opinion dirt bike gear should protect your from impact injuries as well not mainly from roost. So that wasn't enough for me as a crash kid.
I often see riders wearing trick dirt bike gear but no kidney belt and I really don't understand that. A friend of mine lost his kidney and I can tell you it is no fun. A kidney injury is also something that can take you out there and then if you don’t get help very fast. You just bleed to death internally. So it is really worth looking into some protection for this area.
You get the neoprene ones, but they
really only protect from cold wind. Best is to get one with some extra
plastic protection on the back.
Knee injuries are very common amongst dirt bike riders. It is mainly the ligaments in the knees that take strain when your knee gets twisted. Either it happens when you put your foot down to avoid crashing and your body turns around your leg. Or it happens when your foot gets caught by a branch or rock and is twisted outward.
Actually the normal knee guard won't help much with those twisting injuries. If you have anyway problems with your knees you can look out knee braces or sport knee braces that have a metal guard on each side of the knee to stop it from twisting. They are not cheap but they are definitely a good investment for your dirt bike gear.
Normal knee and elbow guards are purely for impact injuries but they are quite effective for that! When buying knee guards make sure your boots still close properly with the guards. As for elbow guards they have to be tight enough so they don't just slip up when falling but also not too tight otherwise they can cause arm pump.
The main hassle with gloves is that some can give you bad blisters. Especially when your hands are soft from doing the dishes ALL THE TIME (little hint to my husband!). When gloves are too big they can also give you blisters because they will make folds and rub. If they are too small it is hard to pull the leavers and you want to save every bit of energy as you will need it at some stage in the race or ride. So make sure they fit "like a glove".
You should also check that the seams are worked properly and that the leather is fairly soft. Get the ones with extra protectors on the outside of the hand. That is quite practical if you live in a thorny place like we do.
Try different brands and once you found the one that does the trick for you stick to them. All in all you can't do much wrong with gloves and they also don't cost a fortune.
I am always in trouble because my goggles are never clean. For my husband that is the most important part of dirt bike gear maintenance. If there is only one spec of dirt stuck to them he starts polishing. I guess at his speed the sight just plays a much bigger role.
For me the main problem is the dust. My eyes take strain if the goggles don't fit tight on the face and dust can come in. So again make sure to have the right size. It is always good to try them with your helmet. You also want a good view without constraint vision.
Last but not least
invest in a couple of spare visors. If you don't wash your visor with
water and then dry it carefully with a soft cloth you easily scratch it.
And then vision is really bad.
We leave the dirt bike gear world and enter the fashion world now and it is really up to you to find what you like, what matches your bike, what hides your belly etc.
One short word to baggy pants though.
They look really cool and I also like them but be aware that for enduro
riders they are a hassle as they get caught by branches or rocks etc. So
to be on the safe side it is better so stick to the conventional
You also have to choose your dirt bike gear according to your climate. In South Africa we only need a light weight Jacket for cold days. The rest is done with undershirts. It is always practical if you can take the sleeves off. Often you really just want some wind protection on your body for the faster sections but you don't want to get too hot on the more technical stuff.
If you are in colder
climates like my home country Austria you want to invest in a thick
enduro jacket as well. At least if you do some crazy things like snow
races. You don't want your enduro jacket to have too many extra
protectors because they can interfere with your other protectors that
you want to wear underneath. So make sure the jacket is big enough to
fit over everything.
Wearing all your dirt bike gear you should look like the Michelin man but at least you will be able to enjoy life after your latest crash (Read here how to avoid your next crash). A last word to safe riding: Know your limits! One of the best advices a New Zealand rider gave me was: You have to go slower to go faster! What he meant was that I was so eager to go fast that I was riding over my limits. I would end up making mistakes and that of course slowed me down. So by respecting your limits you will not just be faster but also have a safer ride.
The Dirt Bike Garage Manual
HOW TO GUIDE for "do it yourself" riders