Dirt Bike Safety: How To Have Fun & Prevent Injury
Dirt bike riding is unique and fun, but is it safe for you and your family?
This article will answer all of your concerns and how to make riding just as safe as it is exciting.
Is Riding A Dirt Bike Dangerous?
Can you get hurt from riding a dirt bike? Absolutely. Are you likely to get Injured from riding? There’s no definitive answer because there are a lot of factors involved.
Like driving a car or playing football, there’s always a risk of danger while riding a dirt bike. The top factors that determine how often you might get hurt may include:
- What type of riding you’re doing
- What your skill level is
- The gear you’re wearing
- How aggressive you ride
- Are you riding legally?
- How your dirt bike is set up
- What kind of physical shape you’re in
- And more
Dirt biking can be a surprisingly safe sport for you and your family. Riding bikes is one of my biggest passions in life, but staying safe is paramount to me and my family.
How Hard Is Dirt Biking?
Riding a dirt bike with or without a clutch is actually not that hard. However, riding technical single track trails or riding fast on a motocross track takes a lot of skill, which requires many hours or years of riding experience.
Are ATVs Safer Than Dirt Bikes?
This is a much debated topic. I have ridden dirt bikes, ATVs and UTVs and they can all be surprisingly safe to ride and drive if you have respect and take caution.
What I mean is that any bike or 4 wheeler machine can be ridden recklessly and increase the chances of an accident.
With that said, severe injuries are more likely in the event of an ATV crash. This is simply because an ATV is a bigger, heavier machine that tends to roll more than a dirt bike.
A dirt bike landing on you will hurt a lot less than a 4 wheeler landing on you.
In the end, any machine can be dangerous, but there are many ways to help prevent a crash or accident.
How Do You Prevent Injuries Riding A Dirt Bike?
I’m always trying to become a better dirt bike rider, but increasing your skill often requires you to push yourself.
So how do you get better at riding without getting hurt then? I’ve put together my list of tips that I’ve learned over the years to stay almost entirely injury free.
My best tips for staying safe on a dirt bike are:
- Wear proper riding gear
- Don’t start with motocross
- Riding within your comfort zone
- Follow the rules/laws
- Start on the right bike
- Get proper training
Dirt Bike Safety Gear List
Everyone knows there’s specific dirt bike gear you can buy, but I see many riders that choose to ride without a lot of it. The reasoning is typically because it’s too expensive.
Is name brand riding gear actually necessary? In short, my answer is not exactly. Protective gear for riding is extremely important, but you don’t need the most expensive gear. You also don’t need every piece of riding gear available to stay safe, in my personal experience.
So, what do you need? I will cover the basics.
You need to protect your head. There’s no way around it, your noggin is the most critical part that needs protection to stay safe.
Those $600+ helmets are nice and packed with technology, but if you’re new to dirt biking, you can save a lot and buy a much cheaper helmet that will be just about as safe.
In fact, currently the 2 biggest factors that will give you the highest amount of safety in a helmet are: a proper fit, and lightweight.
Not all helmets fit the same, so it is important that you try different brand helmets on to see which fit your head shape the best.
Lightweight helmets often cost more, but the current technology and competition has brought prices down to be affordable.
A heavier helmet is more dangerous because your head has to hold that weight up, and there’s more force hitting the ground if you get in an accident. Whiplash is more likely to occur with a heavier helmet.
Your feet and ankles will take a lot of abuse from dirt biking, especially if you do jumps. Dirt bike boots are unique because they have the support and protection needed to prevent your feet from getting twisted or crushed.
Having a 250lb machine crush your foot in the event of a crash will do some major damage if you’re wearing shoes or even some work boots.
Again, you don’t need a $500 dollar pair of riding boots to properly protect. Do spend at least $100, though, if it’s a new set of dirt bike boots. $150-200 is usually a good price for solid entry level riding boots.
Do I need to wear a dirt bike jersey and motocross pants?
Then why does almost everyone wear them?
Because they are usually the most comfortable to wear when riding.
I’ve ridden with jeans and a long-sleeve shirt or hoodie many times
The most important thing is that you wear clothing that covers your skin to help prevent road rash if and when you tip over.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand riding any kind of bike (even my bicycle) without wearing gloves.
I say this because I’ve seen a lot of people riding without any gloves or hand protection.
While gloves won’t save you from any major injury, they can help prevent you from losing a lot of skin off your hands.
One low speed tip over or scraping a tree will take a nice chunk out of your knuckles or palm.
Wearing gloves is not only important for safety, but I like the added comfort when holding onto my dirt bike handlebar grips.
The most important factor when choosing which riding gloves is that they fit properly.
Even if they’re the right length for your fingers, I’ve found that if it’s too loose in the palm then it will slide back and forth, causing blisters after a long or hard day of riding.
Also note that wet hands result in blisters more quickly. If your hands easily get sweaty, look for a highly vented glove for maximum airflow.
I’m thankful for my eyes that can see this beautiful world. Therefore, I’m going to protect them so that a rock or dirt won’t fly up and put one of my eyeballs out of service.
Dirt bike goggles are definitely the best protection because they are designed to fit a dirt bike specific helmet and form to your face. This prevents dust and debris from getting into your eyes.
I sometimes wear motorcycle glasses on days when there’s no dust. They allow more airflow, which is nice on a hot day.
Armor can include full torso protection, as well as elbow and knee guards.
It may sound bulky, but modern dirt bike body armor is actually pretty lightweight. I’ve been wearing my full body armor for years and it has helped on a lot of impacts.
Just grazing a tree with my shoulder or elbow would seriously hurt, but with the body armor it just bounces off and I’m fine a minute later.
Is Motocross A Dangerous Sport?
Motocross is a dangerous sport. The faster you go and the higher you jump, the higher risk you are of getting injured in a crash.
Does this mean I dislike motocross? Not at all.
I simply recommend that you don’t jump in to racing right away in your dirt bike riding career.
Motocross vs Trail Riding
I’ve practiced and raced in both motocross and off-road type of events. Both are exciting and fun in their own ways.
I’m a little more scared of doing huge double jumps with a big gap between the takeoff and landing. I know riders that are more scared of weaving through trees on trails.
Do, which is better? Well it depends on what type of riding you enjoy more.
How Do You Stay Safe On A Dirt Bike?
As far as safety goes, there’s one factor that you must always keep in mind, whether you’re trail riding or hitting the MX track.
Riding within your comfort zone has probably saved me from the most injuries. If I ride my dirt bike faster than I can comfortably handle, I’m not only risking the safety of myself, but of others as well.
Yeah, I know it’s not the “cool thing” to do, especially if you’re young, but it is one of the smartest things to do.
Even though I ride within my known limits, I still increase my skill as speed over time, and with less crashes.
What Is The Most Common Injury In Motocross?
While there are a lot of possible injuries caused by motocross accidents, there are a few that happen more frequently.
The most common injuries in mx racing include:
- Broken collar bone
- Broken arm
- Dislocated shoulder
- Broken wrist
- Torn ACL/MCL
- Broken foot/ankle
Are Dirt Bikes Safer Than Street Bikes?
It all comes down to how you ride and where you ride. Riding a street bike recklessly downtown with traffic is definitely more dangerous than a casual trail ride.
On the flip side, racing aggressively on a high speed motocross track might not be as safe as going for a cruise out on country roads.
Is Dirt Biking Good Exercise?
Dirt bike riding is excellent exercise. It forces you to use many muscles in new ways, and it can get your heart rate high for a sustained time.
Dirt Bike Safety Course
The number one thing you can do to stay safe on a dirt bike is to get proper training. I want to help new riders like you, which is why I made a comprehensive course on how to ride a dirt bike and how to do it safely.