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Off road dirt biking can be a mucky business, which is why getting kitted out with the right equipment and safety gear is a priority. It’s a fact no one likes wearing a safety helmet – it sort of spoils the effect of taking part in a sport which by its very nature is no holds barred and potentially a danger to man and bike.
Dirt bike gear should offer the same protection as motorcycle clothing – and helmets must offer a high standard of protection.
The basic protective clothing for dirt bike riders includes:
- Helmet – look for a lightweight helmet, but one with a lining to absorb any head impact in a crash and offering protection to the entire head and face.
- Goggles – goggles not only protect from flying debris and mud or stones when while driving, but can also save eyesight in a serious crash or impact with the handlebars.
- Chest Protector – wearing a chest protector can help lessen the impact with handlebars in a serious dirt biking accident – many riders suffer impacts if the front of the bike tips up and they fly forward, crushing chest wall against the handlebars, which can cause injuries such as broken ribs, puncture lungs or a crushed or fractured breastbone.
- Gloves – putting hands out to break a fall can risk getting them tangled up with wheels or landing on sharp or hazardous objects like metal or wire – make sure gloves are supple but thick leather with support for your wrists.
- Boots – feet again are often used as makeshift breaks and putting a foot down on the ground at speed can cause injury, especially if the bike turns and your foot gets trapped or twists. Wear heavy duty leather biking boots which protect the toes and ankles and support the ankle to help prevent fractures or twisting.
Dirt biking helmets
Protective head gear is perhaps the most crucial equipment for bikers – and the best helmets for dirt biking are rated by the Snell Foundation and some of the features to look for in a dirt biking helmet include:
- Full face or open face – full face is better because it offers more protection against weather, grit and dust, plus facial injury
- Lightweight – carbon construction now makes helmets much lighter and often 1kg, while offering good protection from head/brain injury in a crash
- Good airflow – helmets are usually vented and lightweight materials like mesh can improve airflow and make the helmet more comfortable to wear. so that your head does not become hot or swollen during the ride. Poor blood flow to the head and a tight protective helmet could cause headaches or feelings of faintness, as well as potentially making any head injury much worse if a helmet is difficult to remove and the brain become swollen
- Sweatband or gutter – dirt biking is a sticky business and sweat needs to be directed elsewhere than dripping down your forehead or face
- Cheek pads – these can prevent injury to the face and can also make the helmet easier to remove once cheekpads have slipped out. Getting the helmet off safely is crucial after an accident – some medics use a helmet removal system called EJECT, so look for helmets compatible with this
- Comfortable chin strap – avoid tight, loose or just plain uncomfortable fabric
- Visor – choose anti scratch and anti fog for full face helmets
- Chin/mouth guard – this may well save you from a broken jaw and also allows you to breathe through your mouth, so make sure the design of the helmet suits the shape of your face and fits correctly over your mouth
- Liners – liners in your helmet will get dirty easily so choose removable liners which can easily be washed.
Dirt biking helmets can cost anything from £25 – £300-plus, but it is important to buy the best one you can afford. It is also essential to avoid buying secondhand helmets, as the protective inner shell might have been damaged if the helmet has been in an accident. In the UK, the BS (British Standard) symbol appears on authorised safety helmets.
Kids and dirt biking
Children taking part in dirt biking should also be kitted out in the proper gear and not in improvised protective equipment, as this may cause injury or even an accident. Motocross protective clothing is especially designed to take into account the various injuries which can be sustained during accidents and even very young children now want to have a go – if you take your child to a dirt bike track on holiday or in the UK, it is important to make sure that they are given the correct safety equipment and that it fits properly.
Instructors should be able to select the right equipment and there is any doubt, then it is better to risk disappointing your child than take any risks with their safety.
It is estimated that most of those involved in accidents while dirt biking did not bother to get any training before taking to their wheels – and tracks should be able to offer some training to novice riders.
Learning the basics of motorcycling and how to handle a bike are essential, given the riding conditions dirt biking involves – which would challenge most experienced bikers on the open road, let alone a motocross track.
Author Bio: Leo Wyatt is a freelance writer & journalist who graduated from Birmingham University. Leo has worked for several newspapers in the midlands but now spends most of his time writing articles for companies, websites and businesses on a freelance basis. Leo also has particular interests in cars, bikes, auto, health, safety, politics and law. This article was for the brain injury experts who specialise in brain injuries, safety, support and brain injury rehabilitation.