Dirt biking is an incredibly fun hobby and activity, and it’s a pastime that attracts thousands of new riders every year. Every parent is looking to select the best dirt bike protective safety gear for their child. With the promise of adventure and thrill, bike riding delivers on the feeling of living on the edge. After years of experience on the bike myself and living these sensations of thrill and adrenaline, I have come to find that investing in proper protective equipment is a worthwhile expense. From helmets and pads to proper pants and boots, each gear piece will help riders, especially beginners, protect themselves so they can ride without fear.
If your child is one of these individuals that’s itching to get on two wheels, it can be intimidating to think about everything you’ll need to get in order to physically protect them from injury. This guide will help you start the process and provide insight into the best ways to find the products that suit you and your new rider. With my product recommendations, you’ll also benefit from saving money as you invest in your gear.
Do the Research
If you’ve already got the bike, chances are you’re committed to making dirt biking part of your child’s life. When it comes to picking out the best gear and equipment to protect their bodies, it’s best to do an abundance of research. With endless options available both in-store and online, it can feel overwhelming when it comes to picking out the best product. It’s important to consider multiple factors while conducting your research. Think about where exactly your child will be riding: is it hilly or mainly flat? Rocky or smooth? Muddy and wet or dry and mostly solid? Also think about their age and size: a child with broader shoulders will require different equipment than one with muscular legs. It’s also helpful to think about the time of the year your child will be riding. Will the weather be blustery and cold or hot and dry? Once you have this outline set, you can begin blueprinting what you’ll need to purchase so you can protect your child the best way you can!
Dive in Head First
The best place to start is looking into a reliable helmet to protect the head, your child’s most valuable asset. It goes without saying that your child should never attempt a ride without one, and the more you instill this message to your child the better. First, take a detailed measurement of your child’s head to determine the brands and designs that will work for your child’s size. From there, it’s helpful to figure out the weight of the helmets that strike your eye; you’ll want one to be heavy enough that it will leave you confident that it’ll protect your child’s head but light enough that they’ll still be mobile enough to enjoy their ride. Be sure to check out the ventilation capabilities, as your child will want to breathe easily while they’re wearing the helmet. Another thing to consider while helmet shopping is how well it allows your child’s goggles to be held still while riding. While most helmets’ designs take this into account, it’s still crucial to note before pulling the trigger on the helmet.
One of my favorite helmet manufacturers is Fox. Not only are they known for the multiple designs, but they tend to be the best when it comes to sizing, comfort, and proper ventilation. Plus, as a household name, you can find models that speak to any kind of budget or investment level.
Protect the Chest
The next most important piece of protective gear to invest in is the chest protector. Because of all the jumps, turns, stops, and inevitable spills, your child is going to be taking a lot of pokes and prods in the chest, so it’s best to avoid any kind of serious damage to this area. While shopping for chest protectors, it’s always best to look for the CE Certified stamp to ensure that it qualifies by USA standards (this is the same kind of assurance you can get when you find out your used car has been officially inspected and has passed). When it comes to fit, it’s best to look for a design that provides firm yet flexible range of motion.
You’ll obviously want it to fit firmly for the utmost protection, and you’ll also want to avoid it being too tight, as it will limit mobility, which can just as easily cause an accident or injury. It’s also important to consider how the chest protector moves when sitting, perching, and standing; select protectors that allow for movement when twisting or lifting the arms yet still provide firm protection.
Since the chest protector blocks damage to the ribs, internal organs, and even the shoulders, you’ll want to make sure you get a reliable design. I’m a really big fan of Leatt for this piece, as they’re a trusted maker of quality and longevity, especially when it comes to durable protective gear. They offer tons of makes and models for these units, so it’s helpful to keep track of what your desires are for this piece.
Depending on the track that you plan on using for your child’s dirt biking, you might be required to use a neck guard. These pieces are always a good choice for extra protection, especially if your rider is just starting out. A neck guard (or brace) sits comfortably on top of the shoulders like a collar and eliminate too far or too quick movements in the neck to deter serious neck injury. For younger riders, this should be a serious consideration to purchase, as neck injury is much higher for the inexperienced.
I find that Leatt is the leader in research for this piece of protective equipment. Many riders opt out of using them, as they feel the extra gear weighs them down, but most of those riders are advanced. Leatt has research-backed and based products, designed to keep the younger riders safe and protected.
These Boots are Made for Riding
The next thing on your list should be the boots. Dirt biking is much like snowboarding—it relies a lot on ankle strength and stability, so you’ll need to look for sturdy foot protection and control. It’s also helpful to look at boots that are high for increased leg protection and to additionally avoid any skin injury. The size of the boots should be the same size of regular shoes, but if your child is still growing, it might be strategic to order a size up to allow for growing room. Be sure to also look into the buckling system for these boots; as your kid will inevitably fall, you’ll want the strapping-in to stay put to eliminate hassle and avoid stalled momentum.
There are tons of options out there for dirt biking boots, so you’ll definitely have your pick! For a kid’s boot, I would recommend either Fox or O’Neal. Both of these brands are high-quality and trusted, but more importantly, they’re the most cost effective since you’ll probably have to rotate a new pair every year or two to account for growth.
The knees and the elbows often take the biggest abuse. Even as adults, we’re hard on these rotational body parts, so think about just how rough your kids are on these areas. Look at knee pads that extend beyond the knee to not only protect the calf areas too, but longer pads won’t fall down as easily. The same goes for your elbow pads: look for flexibility and a slightly extended design to protect the forearms and aid in staying put.
Look for EVS products for knee and elbow pads. Not only do they have a line specifically for kids, but they’re also very reasonably priced. Your kids’ joints (and your wallet) will thank you.
Don’t Get Handsy
While gloves may not be one of the most essential products to consider when stocking up on protective equipment, they can surely make the ride easier for your beginner rider. Since your child’s hands are undoubtedly small and are still gaining strength, maintaining grip on the handlebars may prove difficult for your new rider. With a firmer grip, they can ride with more confidence and also avoid future falls. And when they do inevitably fall, the gloves will also protect their hands from injury as they hit the ground. Look for padding on your gloves, as it will help break their falls and protect them from sensation shock.
I really like the range of options that Thor has for youth gloves. Of course, they offer tons of styles and designs, but they also provide your rider with plenty of protection on the finger tips and gripping points. Plus, they have awesome breathability for the hands, and their prices are way reasonable.
Wearing goggles is a must when dirt biking, and any parent will understand the importance of this uniform element. Of course, these goggles will protect the eyes from dirt, debris, and even bugs, but they’ll also act as a shield from the sun as well as soak up forehead sweat with the foam layer on the inside. You may also want to look into ones that has an anti-fog lens to even more fully ensure that your child’s visibility is as ideal as possible.
Check out either Youth or 100% for these pieces. Both brands put exceptional care into creating youth goggles, so I would definitely try these first. Plus, both lines also have adult goggles, so using these will help your child adjust to the curvature and fit by the time they’re ready for adult sizes.
Nothing really lifts the spirit of your rider like a jersey that will not only provide your rider with confidence, but it’ll also protect your child’s body from the elements. From rain and dirt to sun and mud, your passionate rider is going to be encountering all sorts of conditions from the great outdoors. Jerseys that are made specifically for dirt bikers help protect the skin from these harsh conditions and are made to repel them instead of soak them up. Plus, they’re made highly breathable so that sweat won’t weigh your child down. For those responsible for the laundry, this may sound like a dream come true since you won’t be worrying about constant washer and dryer damage. Plus, these jerseys are made durable so you won’t need to replace these pieces time and time again. If you’re also looking for dirt bike pants, keep in mind that these are designed to protect the legs from the engine, so you’ll want a sturdy pair for your rider.
This is another time I’m a huge fan of Fox. Since they’re one of the lead manufacturers of protective riding gear, they not only have the most product to choose from, but their brand is so trusted that it’ll bring you peace of mind when you send your child off on the bike. And it goes without saying that wearing such a recognizable brand will instill unspoken confidence upon your rider. Fox also makes great pants for riding, but I also really like Fly Racing. They’re designs are durable and reliable, and they also speak to a great price point. Keep in mind that should your rider continue with this passion for a few years, you’ll probably need to invest in a few rounds of wardrobe to keep up with their growing bodies, so keep this in mind while shopping.
Your child is going to have a blast as they craft their newfound passion. You don’t have to worry about their protection as long as you pay attention to the basic safety equipment suggested here. Luckily, there are tons of brands and companies out there that cater to this sport, so you won’t have any issue finding what you need. As an expert and seasoned dirt biker myself, I am excited for you and your child to be taking this thrilling journey together!