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Essential Motocross Gear | 2020

The essential gear for the new decade

Motocross Gear; It consists of all the required pieces of equipment a rider needs to be properly set up to ride. Every year, brands roll out a new line of gear, seeking to one-up themselves in the years prior. With 2020’s arrival, a new decade of motocross innovation begins. With so many brands having so many features on their products, it’s pretty easy to get lost in the “gear” sauce. Luckily, we’ve taken a look at the latest equipment trends and compiled what we would consider some essential motocross gear for today’s rider.

HELMETS

The 6D ATR-1 in solid black.

Helmets these days are getting smaller and lighter than ever before. While standard polycarbonate plastic was the norm a decade ago, the variety of materials used and how they’re used has greatly increased today. A lot of helmets that you’ll see today are injection-molded. This essentially means that the helmet is all one, continuous piece. Kevlar, Carbon Fiber, ABS, and Composite Fiberglass are just some of the lighter, stronger materials used compared to “back in the day”. 6D’s ATR-1 Helmet, for example, is built using a special blend of Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, and Kevlar!

The Fox V2 Vlar Helmet in gray/black.

The smaller the helmet, the smaller the rotation, and the smaller the chance of serious injury. That’s why helmets such as the Fox V2 features 4 shell sizes for a precise fit. The Leatt GPX 4.5 v20.1 has its latest iteration’s shell reduced by 10%, reducing rotational forces to the head 20%. Pretty cool, right?      

Leatt's GPX 4.5 v20.1 Helmet in white.

The vast majority of helmets feature removable, washable, anti-odor inner liners. Because unless you’re into some really funky junk, nobody wants to put on a dirty, sweaty helmet. Most helmets have some kind of moisture-wicking tech in these liners as well. In addition, some higher-end helmets even have real silver threads to prevent any bacteria from forming, like the Bell Moto-9.

Bell's clean-looking matte black Moto-9 Helmet.

Crash Safety

Helmets have made great strides in improving overall crash safety. What used to be a single, solid layer of EPS, or Expanded Polystyrene (A relative of Styrofoam) has evolved into multi-density liners. The reason for the different densities is for better impact absorption across all speeds of crashes. Another technology that has become commonplace is the break-away visor. A lot of motocross helmet visors are designed to snap off or otherwise detach from the rest of the helmet. This allows the helmet to roll and disperse energy from an impact.

If a crash DOES happen, (and let’s face it, it will) it’s always important for medical professionals to be able to safely remove the helmet. To facilitate this, emergency cheek pad removal systems have been implemented for fast and safe helmet removal.

GOOD TRAITS TO LOOK FOR:

  • Lighter, smaller shells with more sizes.
  • Emergency removable cheek pads.
  • Removable/washable/anti-odor inner liner
  • Injection-molded shell with Polycarbonate, ABS, Composite Fiberglass, etc.
  • Multi-density EPS
  • Detachable/breakaway Visor

GOGGLES

The 100% Racecraft+ comes in many bright colors.

The purpose of goggles has always been to give the wearer clear vision while keeping the eyes protected from debris. Having a seal around the eyes is just asking for heat and sweat to build up. Not anymore! Current goggles have not just a single layer of foam, but multiple layers, often with a fleece backing. The foam functions extremely well at absorbing sweat and moisture, while also serving as comfortable padding between the goggle and your head. Something like the 100% Racecraft+ actually has 4 layers of foam. It’s great at keeping sweat, dirt, and grime out, but what about the sweat that forms inside the goggle? That’s where air intakes/drain ports come in. Air intakes incorporated into the frame help pull air into the top of the goggle, while drain ports allow sweat to drain out the bottom/sides.

Goggles are now more balanced and better fitting than ever. The popularization of outriggers has created a new standard of fit. For those that don’t know, the purpose of outriggers on a goggle is to help even pressure distribution throughout the entire thing (the strap and the goggle frame). This ensures the goggles stay perfectly in place, even in an intense moto. Speaking of straps, they seem to just be getting wider and wider. It makes sense, because a larger contact area=better grip. This is only doubled-down with grippy silicone being on most straps nowadays. Something like the Thor Sniper Pro has a 45mm, silicone-backed strap.

The Thor Sniper Pro is a great goggle for the value.

Clear Vision

But above all, it’s the VISION that is the ultimate goggle gear factor. Now, we’ve mentioned heat build-up a paragraph or two ago. What does heat create with windows, windshields, glasses, and goggles? FOG. That isn’t lost on the manufacturers and developers. Anti-fog lens treatments have become an essential MUST. There’s nothing worse than being on your dirt bike and having to air out your goggles to clear them up every 15 minutes. Not only do a majority of them have an anti-fog treatment, but an anti-scratch, or at least scratch-resistant treatment as well.

Lens strength and security have greatly increased in recent years as well. A Lexan lens was the norm several years ago, but not anymore. A pre-curved, polycarbonate version not only eliminates the need for tons of pins, but allows lenses to be made much thicker and stronger. Some lenses are even bulletproof, which we mention among other cool features in our Holeshot Review of the Leatt Velocity 5.5 Iriz Goggle.

The Leatt Velocity 5.5 Iriz Goggle looks great and is packed with features.

GOOD THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

  • Outriggers for balance/support
  • Multi-layer foam with fleece for moisture management
  • Injected molded polycarbonate lens
  • Anti-fog, scratch-resistant lens treatment
  • Aeration (Air Intakes, drain ports)
  • Removable roost nose guard
  • Wide, silicone-backed strap

JERSEYS

Athletic fit and aeration seem to be the main focus for jerseys in 2020. They’ve become tighter, lighter, thinner and stretchier than ever before. The idea behind the shift to slimmer-fitting jerseys is to eliminate any excess bulk and increase aerodynamics. Many of them, like the Thor Pulse Air (check out this gear in our “What the Top Supercross Guys Are Wearin’” video), features 4-way stretch panels at the cuffs and the collar, so an athletic yet comfortable fit is all but guaranteed. A lot of jerseys also feature an extended tail, keeping the jersey nice and tucked in and helps to avoid the ol’ plumber’s crack situation, which is NEVER a good look.

Tight stuff isn’t always comfortable. It tends to keep body heat trapped. This is why anyone in the market for a new jersey will see ventilation features rampant throughout practically every single brand. Mesh inserts, laser-cut ventilation holes, and overall perforation can be found basically wherever you look. The other thing that wearing tight clothes does is cause sweating. Luckily, constructing jerseys out of moisture-wicking materials helps to alleviate that issue. The new Shift Whit3 Label Bloodline features both ventilation and moisture-wicking.

Shift's Bloodline LE Gear presents a simple and clean look.

There’s nothing worse than getting a new piece of gear (or any piece of clothing, for that matter) in a really cool color scheme, only to have it get all faded after just a wash or two. Thankfully sublimated graphics have become commonplace. Sublimated graphics, FYI, are when a graphic is heat-pressed onto a garment. It’s converted directly from a solid to a gas, which permeates the fibers and traps it inside. Tags have gone this heat-pressed route as well. This differs from something like screen-printing which applies graphics on top of the garment. “And if you don’t know…now ya know…”

GOOD THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

  • Athletic, race-inspired cut fit
  • Moisture-wicking material (Polyester, spandex, blends)
  • Perforated/mesh sections for optimal airflow
  • Stretchability for fit/comfort/range of motion
  • Sublimated print/graphics to prevent fading
  • Drop-tail to help keep jersey tucked in
  • Raglan-style sleeves are optimal for holding the bars

PANTS

Similar to jerseys, motocross pants have gone the way of a race-inspired fit. They’ve also built them to work best specifically while in the riding position. Most of the pants on BTO’s site have articulated or pre-curved knees, along with some type of flex zone to offer unrestricted movement and positive knee contact with your bike (see the Shift Whit3 Label Bloodline Pants). Wrap-around yokes are widely used to aid in the freedom of motion as well. 

The Shift Bloodline Pants are durable and breathable.

Riding pants can get pretty expensive, so obviously you want them to be comfortable but last, right? Today’s pants usually consist of 600D Polyester, a durable but lightweight material. Double and triple stitching help to reinforce the pants’ multiple panels. This adds to the garment’s overall durability. Knees are obviously the section that takes the most abuse, so many brands have integrated a full-grain leather panel. This is then usually backed by an additional abrasion-resistant layer. Mesh liners on the inside of the pant add a layer of breathability and comfort.

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important for gear like moto pants to be adjustable to many sizes as well. Ratchet-style closures make adjusting your waistband a breeze; you can even do it one-handed! Some pants, such as the Thor Pulse Air Pants, also offer other fit adjustment functions like adjustable side cinches to really, REALLY customize what kind of fit you’re looking for. Most riding pants include a silicone-backed waistband that works in tandem with the drop-tail jersey to almost guarantee the pants and jersey stay connected.

Thor's new Pulse Air Fire Pants are, well, FIRE!

GOOD THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

  • 600D Polyester construction
  • 4-way/multi-directional stretch panels
  • Articulated/pre-curved knee for optimal riding position functionality
  • Ratchet-style closure
  • Mesh liner for breathability and comfort
  • Sublimated graphics
  • Double/Triple stitching for durability
  • Rear wrap-around yoke
  • Contoured/Athletic/”race-inspired” fit
  • Silicone printed inner elastic waist

GLOVES

Having a good set of gloves is an occasionally overlooked, but all-important piece of gear. They’re crucial to controlling/gripping your bike and shielding your hands from roost. Speaking of grip, gloves tend to have a silicone print on the fingers, especially on the index and middle fingers for shifting and braking. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, silicone=grip.

Moose Racing's MX1 Glove offer a D30 knuckle pad for extra protection.

Gloves are getting better and better about mimicking the actual shape and motion of hands while gripping bars. Moose Racing’s MX1 Gloves feature a pre-curved finger design. The backhands of gloves are almost always made with multi-directional spandex which offers unrestricted range-of-motion. They’re also usually fastened by a hook and loop closure.

Providing a protective barrier against the riding elements is a dirt bike gloves’ primary purpose. Many current gloves use either synthetic perforated leather or suede palm. Clarino® palms are frequently utilized, like in the MX1 just mentioned and the Thor Rebound.  Adding rubber sections to the backhand fortifies the gloves defenses, whether TPR (Thermoplastic Rubber) or direct injection (TPU: Thermoplastic polyurethane). It’s usually focused around the knuckles.

These durable gloves come in the camo shown here, as well as a variety of bright colors.

GOOD THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

  • Silicone on index/middle fingers for grip
  • Multi-directional stretch fabrics on the backhand, fourchettes
  • Synthetic leather/suede(Clarino®) palm
  • Thumb reinforcement
  • Perforation/breathability
  • Rubber reinforcement on backhand/knuckles

BOOTS

The Leatt FlexLock boot is a great introduction for Leatt in the boot world.

These boots are made for ridin’, and that’s just what they’ll do! Everybody knows the importance of having good motocross boots right? They’re super important for controlling your bike and keeping your ankles intact. And they’re getting better and better at doing that while still allowing for mobility. A lot of boots in 2020 have put a focus on that mobility. Leatt has entered the boot fray this year, going as far as mentioning mobility in its name; the GPX 5.5 FlexLock. Check out our Holeshot Review on those here. Boots now pretty commonly feature some form of linear (front to back) movement support.

Gaerne's SG-10s are always handcrafted in Italy.

Another good feature to look for is an alignment system. Motocross is inherently a rough, “extreme” sport. The key factor for riding your best is keeping your foot planted and centered in the boot. The Gaerne SG-10s feature a floating “razorback” which both supports and aligns the ankle. Breathable mesh liners with some type of anti-slip material or texture around the heel help to further keep your foot where it needs to be.

Fit/Protection

The fit of motocross boots is also becoming more anatomically profiled. Alpinestars’ Tech 7 Boots features one such example with their shin plate. Something anatomic goes hand-in-hand with ergonomic, and ergonomic=comfy. The 7s also have an EVA/Lycra footbed that ensures even weight distribution. Toe boxes in recent years have become more low-profile than ever, making gear shifting a breeze. One-way closure systems have enabled riders to adjust their footwear one-handed!

Alpinestars Tech 7 Boots: Lots of top-tier features for a more affordable price.

Protection, above everything else, is the main purpose that riding boots serve. Dual-compound soles usually have an integrated steel shank, which is basically a metal plate in the sole that prevents your foot from getting punctured. Because NO ONE is down to have a gash in their foot, right? TPU (that same stuff talked about in the Gloves section) plates often cover at least the shin, with some boots offering more extensive coverage. TPU plates are an excellent lightweight shield against any roost and debris. Rubber burn guards on the bike-side of boots do 2 things: they shield you from the engine’s intense heat, and they provide grip to help control your bike. Look for some tread on the rubber for even more grip.

GOOD THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

  • Alignment systems
  • Lightweight, aluminum/alloy buckles that can be replaced
  • Dual-compound soles
  • TPU protection plates
  • One-way closure system
  • Linear movement/support features
  • Grippy rubber burn guard
  • Mesh/memory foam comfort liner
  • Low-profile toe box
  • Integrated steel shank
  • Anatomically profiled components

(NEAR) ESSENTIALS

So, we’ve covered everything that is absolutely essential if you want to properly race. The next couple of items, while maybe not 100% required, are great-to-haves and substantially increase racing safety.

ROOST GUARD/CHEST PROTECTOR

EVS specializes in protective gear, so give their products at least a look-see.

Roost guards and chest protectors are pretty much one and the same. What used to just be solid foam padding has evolved into a much more aerated, lighter, and slimmer piece of gear. A vast majority of the protectors/guards are made with a high-impact, lightweight plastic polymer shell. These shells are built with plenty of ventilation channels to help reduce sweating. The padding on the interior on a lot of these, like the EVS Revo 5, has molded foam that allows for air to be able to pass through.

The fit and movement of these are quite adjustable as well. Articulating backplates let the protection move and bend with you, like in the Leatt 3.5. Adjustable straps normally on the sides and/or shoulders allow the wearer to fully customize their fit. Make sure when you’re looking at protection gear that it is CE certified.

Leatt makes excellent quality protective gear, just like this 3.5 Protector.

GOOD THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

  • High-impact, lightweight plastic polymer outer shell
  • Ventilated, patterned interior padding for shock absorption/comfort
  • Articulating design that moves with the body
  • Adjustable fit/configuration
  • CE tested and approved
  • Neck brace compatible

NECK PROTECTION

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, neck braces/race collars are here to stay. Plenty of riders swear by them, and there’s hard evidence that they reduce forces to the neck.

EVS' R3 collar takes up minimal space but offers good protection.

So race collars differ a bit from full-on neck braces. They’re softer and more minimalistic than the bigger, rigid neck braces. EVS’s R3 Race Collar is made from a soft density core and PU foam base. This works to dissipate energy from a crash. The outer nylon shell is washable. There are 2 things that race collars and neck braces have in common; they can connect to chest protectors, and they prevent neck injury.

Leatt is unrivaled when it comes to neck braces.

If you’re looking at getting yourself a neck brace, definitely, definitely, check out Leatt. They’ve been doing them better and longer than anyone else in the business. The structure is made with a non-flexible polyamide EPS platform. A split rear thoracic strut (the part of the brace that sits on your back/shoulders) not only works with the body’s movements, but is designed to snap off before applying excessive pressure to the wearer’s spine. The front side is split as well. The entire thing has airflow ribbed body padding for comfort.

A new decade is always an exciting time. It brings in an exciting new era of trends and advancements in technology, and the motocross industry is a prime example. If you’re in the market for some new gear, make sure to look for the qualities that we’ve listed. If you feel good, you ride good. Simple as that. You can get all of the gear mentioned as well as absolutely any motorcycle gear you need at BTOSports.com! And if you’ve read this far, thank you. You’re a real one.  

Trevor Edwards
A wordsmith that also keeps it wide open, I have been known to win a race or two. The world of music and dirt bikes come together in my life for an epic ride sesh!