A motorcycle helmet is the most important piece of safety gear you can buy before hitting the road on your cruiser bike. It provides protection during a crash, shields your head from the elements while riding, and improves your riding experience. Motorcycle helmets come in many different styles, shapes, colors, and sizes. When choosing a helmet, there’s a lot to consider, including what features to look for, how to size and fit it properly, how to pick the correct type of helmet, safety certification, and more.
Whether you’re buying your first motorcycle helmet, replacing an old one, or upgrading to the latest helmet, you need to ask yourself: what makes a helmet great? What are the essential features to look for when shopping for a helmet? Our guide helps you answer these questions so you can be confident when buying your next helmet.
What To Look For When Buying a Motorcycle Helmet
Before buying a helmet, the first thing to do is to understand exactly what you should be looking for. With so many motorcycle helmets available, it’s vital to make sure what you’re buying is the right one. Here’s what matters most, no matter your riding experience or needs.
Safety is the first element to consider when choosing a motorcycle helmet. This is because a motorcycle helmet’s primary purpose is to protect the rider from injury in case of an accident. A helmet will not prevent all injuries, but it can help reduce injury severity and damage when involved in an accident. Safety should be considered before style or comfort because this ensures that a person does not needlessly risk their safety while riding.
You’ll want a high-quality helmet that meets safety certification standards, such as DOT and SNELL. In fact, the U.S has the strictest motorcycle helmet safety standards in the world. All motorcycle helmets sold in the United States must meet its safety standards and the minimum performance requirements. So, before buying a helmet:
- Ensure that it is compliant with DOT, SNELL, or other international safety standards.
- It needs to withstand high impact speeds and resist penetration from sharp objects such as nails or screws.
- It should have certification stickers and be designed and constructed using materials that meet the latest standards.
- It should include other safety features like reflective strips and bright colors, especially if you ride at night or in poor visibility conditions such as foggy weather. A visor is also helpful because it helps block the sun’s glare from one’s eyes during morning and afternoon rides.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers some extra guidelines on choosing the right motorcycle helmet that we’re also going to explain below.
Fit & Comfort
How a motorcycle helmet fits is critical. A helmet that properly fits provides maximum protection for its wearer and makes riding more pleasurable. Of course, this means you have to consider the size of the helmet, the materials, and how comfortable and breathable it is.
- A motorcycle helmet should fit snugly on your forehead without pulling down too much around your entire face.
- If there is pressure in the area around your forehead or cheeks, it’s too tight.
- You should also check for pressure points by wearing the helmet and trying to rotate it from side to side and up and down.
- If there’s no movement in the skin under a specific point on your head as you try to move the helmet around, that means that particular spot is too tight.
- You should also make sure that the cheek pads fit properly on your face.
- If you’re not wearing a balaclava or neck warmer, try to see if there’s enough room around your chin so it doesn’t feel too snug and pinch when you open and close your mouth.
- Make sure the helmet is secure in the back so it doesn’t slip or move around. It’s also important to see if you can fit two fingers between the strap and your chin when you go to open your mouth while talking.
- The helmet should be tight enough that it stays in place during normal activities but loose enough not to cause any pain.
- Consider helmet customization. Helmets are often provided with pads, inserts, and detachable pieces that may significantly alter how a helmet fits.
- It’s also vital to consider the weight of the helmet. A lightweight helmet is more comfortable to wear for long periods of time but ensures it provides the protection you need.
Type of Helmet
Motorcycle helmets also come in various shapes, sizes, and designs to suit your riding style and type of motorcycle. For instance, a great helmet for cruising around town might not be the best option if you’re planning an off-road ride. There are several brands of helmets on the market, each with its own unique style and design. If you’re looking to buy a new motorcycle helmet, it’s important to understand the different types available:
- Full Face Helmet – The full-face helmet is the most protective. As its name implies, it covers almost (if not all) of your face.
- Open Face Helmet – Without a chin bar, this style of helmet leaves the face exposed.
- Modular Helmet – A modular helmet is a type of open-face or full-face helmet that allows you to remove or flip up the lower section.
- Off-Road/Motocross Helmet – These helmets come with sun visors, extra chin protection, and venting. They’re a must-have for anyone who rides adventure or enduro motorcycles for fun or in pro competitions.
- Half Helmet – A half helmet, unlike other helmets, covers only the top portion of the head and leaves the remainder uncovered.
- Dual-Sport Helmet – Dual-sport helmets, sometimes called adventure helmets, can be used on or off the road. The majority have integrated visors. However, as with off-roading, many do not have face shields.
Depending on the type of motorcycle you ride, you may or may not need a full-face helmet. If you’re just riding around town, an open-face motorcycle helmet is much less cumbersome and more stylish. This type of helmet also gives adequate protection in the event of an accident because it covers your head all the way to your ears without blocking peripheral vision. However, if you ride on highways or commute, a full-face motorcycle helmet is your best bet.
Price of the Helmet
While price shouldn’t be a primary factor, it can’t be ignored. You don’t want to go over budget, but spending the extra money on a more expensive helmet with better features and materials might be worth it in the long run. The price of a helmet is determined by various factors, including the materials used, technological features, certifications, and brand. For instance, the latest high-tech motorcycle helmets might be more expensive because they are equipped with features like Bluetooth, integrated cameras, and other tech-savvy components.
If you’re just getting started, you can go for a mid-range helmet that isn’t too pricey but still offers decent features. Keep in mind that you also need to buy other safety gear like a jacket, gloves, pants, and boots. So, spend wisely and look for deals. Read reviews of helmets before making a purchase and compare prices. It’s easy to find helmets that offer the perfect balance of features and price.
What You Need to Know About Helmet Features
Motorcycle helmet features vary widely, so it’s important to know what you need before making your purchase. First, consider the type of riding that you will be doing most often when choosing a helmet. For example, if you ride mostly on the highway at high speeds, you’ll want something lightweight for easy maneuverability. You’ll want to consider these vital features:
- Helmet Shell Material: The materials that make up a helmet are important. Weight, comfort, and safety classification are all influenced by the material of the helmet. The majority of helmets are composed of polycarbonate, fiberglass composite, or carbon fiber with a layer of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam on top.
- Helmet Weight: Helmets weigh between 1400 and 1800 grams on average. The most important aspect of weight is a correctly fitting helmet, which ensures that the weight is dispersed equally around your head and shoulders. A lighter helmet can feel heavier if the center of gravity isn’t correct. A modular helmet may weigh considerably more than a full-face helmet because it includes visor components.
- Safety Features: Motorcycle helmet safety tech is quickly advancing with innovative safety technologies like the emergency cheek pad system or similar technology that allows access to an injured rider’s head by making helmet removal safer and simpler for medical personnel.
- Comfort Features: Today’s helmets come with a wide range of technological advancements. The integration of a sunshade, wind reduction measures, and communication outlets all contribute to a more enjoyable ride.
With so much to consider when it comes to helmet features, it’s sensible to only choose what matters most to you. For instance, if you and your friends love hitting the road on some of the best cruiser bikes around, you’ll definitely love listening to music and communicating with your friends during the ride. You can opt for a Bluetooth-equipped helmet with multi-communication capability so you can chat along the way. Also, if you want extra padding, choose a helmet with removable liners. It’s all about finding what you need for your personal riding style.
Why Head Shape Matters and How to Determine Your Head Size
Your head shape matters when buying a motorcycle helmet. A lot of helmets are made to fit round heads, while others are sized for oval-shaped ones. If you have never owned or tried on a motorcycle helmet before, it can be difficult to know if one fits your head shape correctly without trying it on in person at the store. To get an accurate measurement, you can wrap a measuring tape around the widest part of your head to determine its circumference. Measure just below your ear, which is where your helmet’s cheek pads will sit.
This circumference measurement will help you determine the size of the motorcycle helmet to purchase. Remember that the helmet size is likely to vary depending on your head shape, which could be long oval, intermediate oval, or round oval. Helmets for round heads tend to have a smaller internal diameter than those made for oval-shaped heads. If you fall between sizes on the measuring tape or if it feels like there are pressure points at certain areas of your head, you should consider trying on a larger or smaller size to determine which one fits best.
Replace a Motorcycle Helmet After 5 Years
Remember that a motorcycle helmet is a life-saving piece of safety gear and should be replaced after five years. If you have been involved in an accident, the helmet may no longer offer the same level of protection as before. Even if your helmet appears undamaged, there may still be internal damage that compromises the integrity of the protective material inside of the helmet. You should also replace your motorcycle helmets if the fit no longer feels comfortable. A motorcycle helmet should fit comfortably around your head, but not too tightly.
Motorcycle helmets are a must when riding. They keep the rider safe and aware of their surroundings while driving so they can take in all that life has to offer. Be sure to wear one every time you ride your bike, no matter how short or long it may be. This guide should help you make the right decision when it comes to purchasing a motorcycle helmet. If you are unsure, take your time and read through different reviews until you find one that suits your needs best. They come in many different types and styles, so there is bound to be one out there for everyone.
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