Once a rider is ready to race mentally and physically, the next step is to gear up. We have heard the term a thousand times and there’s a reason for that. Humans are not supposed to be travelling at high speeds. One will sustain an injury even if they trip and fall while running and that’s just 10 or maybe 20 kmph! Crashing is an inevitable part of motorcycle racing and one is generally moving faster than 100 kmph even on smaller bikes. Need we say more to assert the importance of riding gear and most importantly, a helmet?

Head injuries are by and large the most serious kind when it comes to accidents. And that is why a helmet is paramount for a motorcyclist and even more so for a racer. And it is not just about a helmet either. One needs a good quality helmet because after all, they are trusting it with their head! So, this article goes over helmets; the kinds of helmets pertaining to the type of riding and the key points to be considered while buying one. First off, the types of helmets and since we are focusing majorly on racing, there are two types available. The first one is the full-face kind which is used on road-racing. And the second one is the dirt bike helmets for off-road racing.

Now, since one usually rides at relatively lower speeds when going at it off-road, that is why this type of racing generally employs lightweight helmets. Also, they generally feature more ventilation to lessen fatigue and keep the rider cool. These helmets generally come with goggles instead of visors which allow for heavy breathing (which is common in off-roading due to the physical strain). They also have a foam lining over the goggles to absorb the sweat. The downside is that they do not offer a lot of protection against the elements such as rain or cold temperatures. Also, the noise at high speeds because these helmets do not have a lot to shield the rider from it. So, these helmets are better suited to just off-roading.

The next major type is the full-face helmet. These are the ones used for road-racing. Since motorcycles move much faster in a road race, these helmets need to offer comprehensive head protection. In addition to top-notch safety, another important feature that a helmet of this type must possess is aerodynamic efficiency. The reason again is the speed and the lower the drag, the more comfortable the helmet is for the rider. Ventilation is also an important factor because road-racing riders spend most of their time tucked in behind the windshield.

For our project #tRacingTheRoots where we rode for 4000 km around India and on the 3 racetracks of India, we chose Axor helmets as our trusted head protection. With comfortable lining, solid shell, stellar aerodynamics complete with a spoiler to reduce buffeting, it turned out to be an amazing choice. The weather was less than forgiving but the helmet did not let the heat get to our heads because of the carefully thought-out vents on the helmet. And then with the Double-D ring strap, DOT and ECE certifications, the helmets are just as good on the track as they are on the road.

Riding Gear

After the helmet, the next important part in preparing yourself from a safety point of view is the riding gear. Crashes and injuries hurt and for some people, the more important factor is that it keeps them out of the action for a while. And that is why it is important to protect yourself from any kind of injuries that motorcycle crashes incur. And if not avoid, at least minimize the damage substantially. Now, racing gear differs considerably from the regular riding gear.

While the regular riding gear includes a jacket (generally with protection for shoulders, chest back and elbows), pants (with hip and knee protection), gloves and boots. Motorcycle racing, a fiercely competitive sport, employs a different kind of gear to maximize the efficiency of the rider while keeping them safe. And since there are different disciplines, there are different gears too. For road-racing, leather suits are the way to go and for off-road racing, perforated jerseys with armours under it are the way to go.

As we mentioned, in road racing, the riders wear full-leather suits (they are mandatory). These full suits include protection for the back, chest, elbows and shoulders. And then there are the boots and gloves. Leather is the material of choice because leather provides the best protection against abrasion and then the armours mentioned above do their job of protecting the respective body parts. There are variations in these suits too where we have one-piece suits that most racers wear and then there are two-piece suits where the pant and the jacket are separable and are joined at the waist when needed. The only advantage of the latter being that the jacket or the pant can be worn separately as needed.

Off-road gear is quite different from the regular touring gear and road racing gear. Off-road racing requires the participants to be standing on the motorcycle and then the jumps, the slides and in case of freestyle, the stunts. So the gear for off-roading needs to be very functional in a sense that it provides the rider with the freedom of movement while keeping the key areas protected. Usu*ally, off-road racing gear involves armoured vests for chest and back protection, armours for knees and elbows with boots and relatively less serious gloves. And then there is the jersey and pants that are worn over those armours. The jerseys and pants are usually made of perforated polyester and the degree of perforation varies.

Now that we know about the kind of gear needed, it is important to know some basics of getting the right gear. Firstly, the gear/ suit should not sag and should fit snugly so that it doesn’t move around while riding because that is not only dangerous because of the lack of armour, but it’s distracting too. Plus, if the gear is not comfortable for the rider to move around in (which needs to be done a lot), they cannot perform at their best. Also, checking for CE ratings of the armours is also an important step because it certifies the effectiveness of the armour.