How Do You Determine the Right Gear to Use?

Anatomy of Riding Gear

Whatever you ride and wherever you ride, protecting your head is the most important thing. You should always wear a legit helmet, made to Department of Transportation standards, with eye protection. That’s just for starters. Here’s what else to wear:


Because you’re on asphalt and in traffic, you want real gear designed for motorcycling that is abrasion resistant and impact absorbing. DOT-compliant helmet, full-fingered gloves, jacket, long pants, and over-the-ankle boots whether you’re running errands or going across the country. A lot of today’s street riding gear has protective armor built right in. Some styles of street gear even look like normal cool clothes while still offering the protection you need. And there are even some jackets and riding suits with air bags built in.


DOT-compliant helmet, full-fingered gloves, long sleeves, long pants and over-the-ankle boots while out on the trails. For even more protection, or when out on the racetrack, many dirt bike riders wear motocross style gear including elbow armor, plus chest, back and neck protectors, and knee and shin guards.


For riders interested in road racing or track days, involving much higher speeds, full head to toe gear is a must. In addition to the helmet and gloves, track riders will often wear one-piece riding suits with armor, back protection and even knee sliders. Track gear is designed for maximum abrasion resistance and impact absorption.


DOT-compliant helmet, full-fingered gloves, long sleeves, long pants and over-the-ankle boots for more protection while doing chores or out on the trails. Many ATV riders wear motocross style gear including elbow armor, chest and back protectors and knee and shin guards. If your ATV is designed to carry a passenger, they should wear all the gear, too!


DOT-compliant helmet, full-fingered gloves, long sleeves, long pants and hiking boots for more protection out on the trails and dunes. Every passenger should wear all the gear, too!

Choosing a Helmet:

Not sure how to choose what helmet is right for the riding you want to do? Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to choose a helmet that has a Department of Transportation label, usually on the back of the helmet, and made to the standards of the DOT.
  • Proper fit is critical. The helmet should fit snugly, fasten securely and still be comfortable to the rider. When you buy your helmet, consult an expert. Your local dealer can help you determine what size helmet is right for you.
  • Regardless of the helmet type you choose, protecting your eyes with a shield or goggles is very important.
  • You need a real helmet, designed for motorcycle, ATV or side-by-side use. Bicycle, skateboard, football or baseball helmets are not acceptable when you are riding on two or four wheels.

Helmet Types:

There are three main types of helmets rider wear on motorcycles, ATVs or side-by-sides.

Full-Face Helmets

As the name suggests, full-face helmets provide protection for your face. These helmets have a built-in shield that opens and closes, protecting your eyes while keep out wind and rain. Some styles of full-face helmets are “modular,” with the front part of the helmet able to flip up, while you’re stationary, and lock down while you’re riding. Some models even have Bluetooth communication capability built right in.

Three-Quarter Helmets

Three-quarter or open-face helmets cover the head and ears, but not the face, so they are much less protective than a full-face helmet. These helmets can be worn with goggles or a snap-on bubble visor. Some models have a built-in shield that can flip down. Even with the bubble visor or flip-down shield, the bottom of the face remains exposed.

Off-Road Helmets

Off-road or motocross style helmets offer full-face protection, but the eye protection comes in the form of goggles. You want goggles for dusty off-road conditions. Off-road helmets generally have a visor to block the sun while riding.

ADV Helmets

ADV or “adventure” helmets combine elements of full-face and off-road helmets. While they look a lot like a motocross helmet they have a face shield for eye protection. And the visor is typically heavily vented to prevent helmet pull-back at higher speeds while on the road. For use in dustier conditions, it’s possible to remove the face shield and replace it with a pair of goggles for eye protection.