So you've got a new dirt bike. Now what?
If you’re just getting started with motocross, there are a few things you’re going to need before heading out to the MX track. If you’re on a budget, you can get away with skipping a few items on the list, but a few of these are absolute essential items if you hope to not get kicked off the track.
There’s no denying motocross is one of the most physically intensive sports humans have been insane enough to invent. Injuries are unavoidable, but there are steps you can take to make sure you walk away from the track in one piece. Here are the top 12 gear items you’ll need to get started with motocross, ranked from least to most important.
A jersey is honestly one of the less important parts of a motocross kit, but it’s still a good idea to have a good quality jersey for several reasons beside completing the look. Motocross jerseys are specifically designed to withstand the pressures racing will throw at you. The longer sleeves of a dirt bike jersey will protect your arms from stray roost while the fabric and tactically placed perforations will keep you cool in heated races.
Proper motocross socks are also not an essential item for riding, but they will help a lot in keeping you comfortable while you’re on your bike. A good pair of full-length knee brace socks will prevent chafing from protective gear and keep it in the right place while you’re jostled around by whoops and other obstacles on the race track.
Your elbows are just begging to be banged up when you’re riding. They’ll be moving all over the place and getting slammed against anything within range and they are probably going to be the first thing to hit the ground if you take a tumble.
If you’ve ever been shot at close range by a paintball or pellet gun, you’ll have a fair idea of how much roost is going to sting when it hits your chest, except roost comes at you in rapid fire. Throw a stone or two in the mix and you’re in for a bad time. Best to avoid this by wearing a chest protector. Depending on your mx jersey’s fit, your chest protector can be worn over or under your jersey.
As its name suggests, a kidney belt is made to protect your kidneys and other soft internal organs from the forces and stresses of riding a dirt bike and from external trauma caused by a collision. All the bouncing around and twisting you’ll be doing while riding your dirt bike can be really bad for your internal organs and lower spine, and a well-fitted kidney belt will keep everything in its correct place while you’re riding.
Dirt bike pants aren’t built like your average pair of slacks. They’re specifically tailored to be worn in the riding position to maximise comfort while you’re on your dirt bike.
Motocross pants will have an inwardly tapered leg that is meant to be tucked into the boot, while adventure pants will have a wider ankle area to be worn over the boot and a few large pockets for carrying any essentials you might need on an out ride. A really good pair of motocross or enduro pants will be designed with leather/cordura/armortex padding on the inner-knee section to protect your legs from the heat of the engine and abrasion from knee-braces.
Ever smashed a finger while hammering a nail? Or got your hand jammed in a closing door? When you’re riding, stones and other debris will be flying at you from all angles and it will hurt just as much if it makes contact with a finger while you're riding.
More importantly, dirt bike gloves will help you keep a good grip on your bike by wicking sweat from your palms to increase the friction between your hand and the handlebar’s grips. Dirt bike gloves are also manufactured using breathable fabric on the top of the hand to keep you cool under stress.
You’re not going to get kicked off the motocross track for not wearing a pair of knee guards, but you don’t want to take any chances with your knees. They are among the most vulnerable parts of your body when it comes to injuries with lifelong consequences. You can break just about any bone and make a full recovery, but a serious knee injury will be with you for life. Best not to take any chances.
Unless you want to end up like one of Rambo’s victims, we highly suggest wearing a neck brace if you’re planning to go any faster than first gear. A neck brace will affect your range of motion a little bit, but that’s a small price to pay when the alternative is a broken neck.
Do you like being able to walk? Thought so. A good pair of dirt bike boots will keep you upright and moving the way you should be. Motocross boots will allow for natural rotational movement at the ankle while protecting it from overextension in case your foot gets snagged while riding.
There are a few options to choose from in the boot department depending on your riding style. For example, you can get a pair of motocross boots with aerodynamic moulded soles like Alpinestars’ boots that will do well on a track. Or you could get a pair with hand-stitched soles like Gaerne boots that are well-suited to harder enduro riding but can also be used on the motocross track without affecting performance.
If you can't see, you can't ride. That's a chance you definitely don't want to take. There are all sorts of things flying around the track just waiting to permanently damage your eyesight so you had better cover up with a good pair of dirt bike goggles.
For rainy days and races, you can also get tear-offs to add to your goggles. These are thin layers of transparent plastic that can be suck to your goggles' lens and ripped off to clear your field of vision when it gets coated in mud.
This one’s a no brainer because, well, without one you’ll have no brain when you fall. And that's a “when” because everybody falls at some point. There's no other way to learn. When you do come up short though, you had better have a good quality dirt bike helmet between your head and the ground.
Any helmet is only really good for one major impact and will need to be replaced if you do happen to take a serious knock. Luckily, a helmet can be replaced - unlike your head.
Now that you’re all kitted up, check out our article on where to go riding around Cape Town.
Let us know if you agree or tell us about your favourite piece of gear and how it has saved you from serious injury in the comments section below.