Motocross riding gear has come a long way since the early days of real leather pants and football shoulder pads in the late 1960s. Heck, moto gear has come a long way in the past five years! In 2012, the now-defunct apparel brand One Industries debuted its line of Vapor Racewear, which was unlike anything motocross had ever seen. Extremely lightweight and built almost entirely of four-way stretch materials, the pant, jersey, and gloves were marketed as high-performance riding apparel for racing applications only. Though the concept was greeted with some skepticism at first, the idea of minimalist, lightweight, and super-stretchy riding apparel has been embraced by almost every major apparel manufacturer today. Furthermore, the cut of riding gear has become much more tailored and form-fitting, with a much more athletic appearance. If you don't believe us, just Google a photo of Chad Reed's Thor gear from when he was on San Manuel Yamaha. Heavy rubber patches and extra-thick nylon and Cordura panels are a no-no on the pants found in this feature story, as high performance and comfort--although not necessarily durability--are their main objectives.
Perhaps way ahead of its time, Axo produced a two-piece motocross jersey back in 2009 that consisted of a tight-fitting compression base layer, with a sleeveless tank top over-jersey. Axo's attempt to popularize compression technology in motocross apparel lasted only a couple seasons, as the jersey was hot and looked too different for most. In 2014, the compression and over-jersey design was revamped and brought back by James Stewart and Seven MX, and this time the design was a hit. Seven's compression base layer was much cooler, as it was thinner and featured laser-cut ventilation holes in the inner elbow, armpit, and back. That said, the truth of the matter was that Stewart's star power is what the original Axo jersey lacked.
Nonetheless, jerseys these days tend to be much more streamlined and less billowy to match the four-way stretch features of the pants they are paired with. The gear sets featured in the pages that follow are as lightweight, stretchy, and comfortable as you'd imagine them to be. For comparison's sake, we ordered all sets in size 32 pants and a large jersey, then weighed each piece at our local post office. Every gear set in this guide is certainly lighter than conventional gear, and we sought out their weights just for curiosity's sake.
ALPINESTARS VISION SUPERTECH
As the lightest-weight jersey and pant you can get, Alpinestars' Supertech gear literally feels like you are wearing nothing. The jersey has a slim fit and feels not unlike a high-end cycling jersey, with amazing airflow and a high level of comfort. The pant, meanwhile, is super tight in the knee area and hard to pull on over knee braces, and disproportionately on the baggy side in the top area of the pant. The Cordura saddle offers nice traction against the seat, but the super-thin material area on the front of the pant offers little in the way of roost protection for your "private bits." We've heard that Alpinestars has gone back to the drawing board for big revisions before more Supertech gear is released to the public.
ANSWER RACING TRINITY
This is by far the best gear Answer Racing has brought to the table. The fit of the Trinity pant and jersey is excellent, and the pant especially is ridiculously comfortable. The four-way stretch materials that the pant is made of offer no restriction while riding, and they fit nicely over knee braces. The laser-cut vents in the crotch area of the pant flow a noticeable amount of air, as do the vents in the jersey. Though Trinity gear is athletic in build, it isn't as tight as some of the other offerings in this feature, which makes it even more comfortable for the not-so-svelte rider. The jersey flows plenty of air and offers no restriction while riding. Durability of Trinity gear has proven to be excellent.
FLY RACING LITE HYDROGEN
The most unique feature of Fly Racing's Lite Hydrogen gear is the waist adjustment and closure system in the pant. At the closure, the zipper is secured by a Velcro strap beneath a traditional ratchet system to ensure that the pant does not pop open in seat-bounce riding situations. At the rear of the pant is Fly's exclusive Boa system adjuster, which is not only easy to use, but pulls nicely across the whole waist area for a perfect fit. The pant itself has a traditional cut and feels very substantial, but lighter and more stretchy than other pants in the Fly Racing line. Like the pant, the jersey has a more traditional feel and cut. The stretch material in the neckline and wrist cuffs is exceptionally comfortable.
FOX RACING AIRLINE
Airline is the lightest gear set that Fox Racing has ever produced, and it is definitely minimalistic in design. Though the pant it not constructed completely of stretch panels, the four-way stretch areas on the backside of the pant give the pant a high comfort rating. The most unique feature of the Airline pant is the waist closure. Instead of a zipper, the Airline has a stretch panel that expands as you slip the pant over your waist, then is folded over and secured with a traditional ratchet closure. This system reduces bulk and cost, but it does make it difficult to tuck the jersey in. The Airline jersey is the most snug-fitting jersey in the Fox lineup, and the stretch mesh material flows a ton of air. We like the minimalist yet bold graphic treatment on both the pant and jersey.
FOX RACING FLEXAIR
Now in its second generation, Fox Flexair gear has been greatly refined and the pant is one of our favorites. The most unique component of the pant is its waistband, which utilizes a wraparound waist closure chassis that cinches down on your hipbones. When you put the Flexair pant on, the pant is stretched into place and buckled for a comfortable, secure fit. The entire pant is built of four-way stretch material and there is plenty of stretch in the knee panels to accommodate knee braces. Full-grain leather inner knee panels offer great grip against the bike and protect against burns. The material of the Flexair pant is substantial and has proven very durable. The jersey, meanwhile, feels like you're wearing nothing at all, as the vented mesh breathes exceptionally well.
FXR RACING REVO MX
FXR Racing is known best as the best-selling snowcross and snowmobile apparel in the sport, but it has been making giant strides in motocross in recent years. The Revo MX apparel is a good example why. Built entirely of four-way stretch material, the pant fits perfectly over knee braces and offers no restriction when riding. The waist is infinitely adjustable with two adjusters on the sides, plus the waist closure that relies on a Velcro through-strap rather than ratchet adjusters or snaps. Full-grain leather inner knee panels offer great traction against the bike and protect your bike's plastics from knee brace damage. The jersey, meanwhile, is ultra-stretchy and flows a lot of air, thanks to its vented mesh construction. Tapered wrist cuffs are comfortable and stay put, without feeling restrictive.
Husqvarna has long had its own accessory apparel line, but the new-for-2018 Gotland apparel is much more than we would have expected from a manufacturer's in-house riding gear line. In contrast to KTM's apparel that is made by Troy Lee Designs, Husky's apparel is sourced independently. The Gotland pant is made of durable four-way stretch fabric, and it fits fantastically. Full-grain leather inner-knee panels and double-and triple-stitched seams make the Gotland pant super durable, and these are likely the sturdiest pants in this feature. The Gotland jersey is made of stretchy micromesh material, and it is quite comfortable. Husqvarna branding is minimal on the jersey, and we'd actually prefer a more elaborate graphic scheme so as to reduce the amount of fluorescent yellow. But that's just us...
KTM SE SLASH
Made for KTM by Troy Lee Designs, the KTM accessory line SE Slash gear is traditionally cut with a standard-style fit. Though it is based on the new TLD SE Pro line, the KTM SE Slash apparel is cut a bit more generously and has some different fabrics. The jersey is super stretchy and breathes well, and we like the preformed wrist cuffs and neckline. Though a vented version is also available, the standard jersey breathes just fine. The pant offers lots of stretch and fits nicely over knee braces, though we feel the overall cut of the pant could be a tad sleeker, although heavier riders will enjoy this kit thanks to their flexible nature. Still, the pant is very comfortable, highly adjustable in the waist, and has nice leather burn guards on the insides of both knees.
SEVEN MX ZERO
PRICE: $40 (OVER JERSEY) $75 (LASER-CUT COMPRESSION LAYER) $50 (STANDARD COMPRESSION LAYER) $220 (PANT)
WEIGHT: JERSEY NINE-OUNCES; PANTS ONE-POUND THREE-OUNCES
FIT: THE COMPRESSION JERSEY IS MEANT TO FIT AS SNUG AS POSSIBLE. THE OVER-JERSEY HAS A SLIM FIT AND THE PANT HAS AN ATHLETIC CUT THAT IS SPOT-ON FOR A 32.
Until you ride in a Seven MX Zero jersey, it's hard to understand just how comfortable a compression layer can be. Though it's odd at first, the base layer's ability to hold your muscles tight actually does seem to reduce fatigue. Furthermore, the compression jersey wicks sweat away from your body and has a cooling sensation that we love. We've been surprised to find that the road rash we've amassed on our forearms with the Zero jersey on hasn't been notably worse than with a more traditional jersey. Pulling the compression layer on if you're already sweaty can be a challenge. The Zero pant features strategically placed stretch panels that make it non-restrictive and comfortable, but the real star in this gear set is the jersey.
SHIFT MX BLUE LABEL
PRICE: $84.95 (JERSEY) $229.95 (PANT)
WEIGHT: JERSEY SEVEN-OUNCES; PANTS ONE-POUND THREE-OUNCES
FIT: THE JERSEY HAS A VERY ATHLETIC FIT AND PANT HAS A SLIM CUT. THE PANT RUNS SLIGHTLY SMALL FOR A 32.
Launched in 2017, Shift MX Blue Label gear is the most advanced gear ever produced by Shift. The pant is constructed of stretch Cordura, and there is no inner liner to bind or restrict. One might expect the pant to fit just like Fox's, but the Blue Label does have its own proprietary chassis. The Shift pant is a tad slimmer, and the stretch panel in the rear yoke of the pant offers a lot of movement. We're not crazy about the asymmetrical fly zipper, though, as it isn't as intuitive to operate. The jersey, meanwhile, has a slim fit and a high-performance feel. Though not as tight as a true compression layer, the sleeves of the jersey are pleasantly snug.
THOR MX PRIME PRO
Thor Prime Fit gear has been around for several years now, but with Prime Pro, Thor has upped the ante in lightweight, super-stretchy, performance-based riding gear. The Prime Pro pant is constructed entirely of four-way stretch material, and all graphics are sublimated into the fabric for maximum weight savings and flexibility. The cut of the pant and jersey are form fitting, and the new Prime Pro pant has articulated knees and a built-in base-layer short that resembles a Lycra cycling compression short, sans the chamois. Considering that the pant has no inner liner, the shorts are a nice touch and give the Prime Pro pant a feature that no other pant has. The new Prime Pro line has a very clean, simplistic graphic scheme that we love.
TROY LEE DESIGNS SE PRO
PRICE: $90 (JERSEY) $209 (PANT)
WEIGHT: JERSEY SEVEN-OUNCES; PANTS ONE-POUND FOUR-OUNCES
FIT: THE JERSEY AND PANT HAVE AN ATHLETIC CUT. THE PANT RUNS SLIGHTLY LARGE FOR A 32.
We've seen Team Honda HRC's Cole Seely racing in prototype SE Pro gear for over a season now, and we're stoked to see that it is available to the public. Definitely the most technical gear ever offered by Troy Lee Designs, the SE Pro gear is athletically cut. Gone is the billowy look that TLD has become known for in the past. The jersey is super stretchy and flows air well, and we like the preformed wrist cuffs and neckline, as well as the laser-cut perforations for air- flow. The pant offers lots of stretch and fits nicely over knee braces, though we feel the overall cut of the pant could be a tad sleeker, thanks to their flexible nature. All in all, this is our favorite TLD gear, ever!