By law, most states require the use of a helmet any time an off-road motorcycle is in operation. Aside from saving you from a ticket, wearing a helmet could save your life. High speeds and uneven terrain can be a dangerous combination. In the last decade, over 60% of all domestic motorcycle deaths were caused by severe head trauma.
Protective eyewear plays a crucial role in maximizing visibility for the rider. Sand, dirt, and loose gravel will inevitably get kicked up by your bike, other riders, and wind. Wearing goggles allows riders to keep their eyes open at all times. Tinted goggles are available to protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays.
The chest protector serves multiple purposes. Aside from protecting the chest, as its name implies, the chest protector also covers the collarbones, shoulders, upper arms, ribs, and kidneys. The chest protector is typically constructed of a hard plastic that acts as armor for the aforementioned body parts. It is worn like a t-shirt and adjusted with straps to fit tightly around the upper body.
Dirt trails and rocky roads can lead to a bumpy ride. Kidney belts are designed to hold the kidneys in place during riding sessions. A kidney belt looks a lot like a back-brace, except it's usually thinner. Your kidneys will probably not pop out of place if you don't wear a belt, but wearing one definitely takes away some of the soreness you will wake up with the morning after.
Hands play the most active roll in off-road motorcycle riding. There is good incentive to protect them. Expect to get brushed by tree branches and shrubbery if you're riding trails. Covering your hands will minimize the amount of cuts and scrapes received. Gloves will also protect your hands in the event of a fall.
If you value your ability to walk upright, you should invest in a good pair of riding boots. Broken ankles are commonplace for riders who do not protect themselves accordingly. Riding on dirt and sand requires the rider to plant a foot to execute a sharp turn. Planting your foot on an uneven surface without proper ankle support can result in a very painful injury. A good riding boot will have steel reinforcement to guard the ankle, and straps or laces that reach to just below the kneecap.
If you're an amateur rider, try not to leave any part of your body exposed. Most riders wear nylon pants and long-sleeve t-shirts. If you ride in the desert pants may be the difference between a great day of riding, and assuming the tedious task of picking cactus needles out of your thighs all afternoon.
So now you're set! Even if you've never ridden a dirt bike before, nobody will be able to tell by looking at you - until you fire up the bike, that is.
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