There is something about kicking off for a long trip on your motorcycle and leaving the world behind in a rush that seems exhilarating and as important as breathing. However, this rush can often make people forget that safety is important. After all, you want to experience this rush for a long time in the future. This is why there are many motorcycle helmet styles to ensure that you enjoy the memorable rides of your life with some added safety.
Still, with the sheer variety in the types of motorcycle helmets out there, even the most veteran riders can become confused about the best option. Is full face better than half face? What about hybrid motorcycle helmets? This detailed guide will help you will all these questions.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing the Right Type of Helmet
The biggest requirement to look for when you research about different motorcycle helmets is safety. This is why even light motorcycle helmets never compromise on safety and have to adhere to the strict safety standards. There are many motorcycle helmet types for you to choose from and in order to avoid confusion, you should take note of these factors:
Your first priority should be safety. How safe is the helmet? Would it protect your head in case of accidents? There are three key words you should keep an eye out for – DOT, ECE and SNELL. DOT is the bare minimum standard of safety that your helmet must possess. ECE is similar to this. SNELL is an independent standard and its regulations are quite strict for helmets.
The exterior of the helmet should be made using carbon and Kevlar or any lightweight plastic combined with composite fiber. The interior should have polystyrene, wick-dri fabric or EPS that would also act as an absorbent. A removable liner is an added advantage. You should also look at the quality of vents – vents made from metal mesh are quite good. Some models use nylex material equipped with anti-bacterial feature.
Shield Options and Visibility Features
Visibility is an extremely important factor that ensures a safe and enjoyable ride. There is a tradeoff to be made in this category, though. For instance, there are different types of motorcycle helmets that come equipped with a wide eye visor which would offer better visibility but you would also be prone to getting flying debris and dirt in the eye. Some higher end models come with features like anti-fog for those difficult weather rides in the winter season. Other have a sun shield that is tinted and can be dropped down when the day is too bright.
Controls and Weight
First of all, the helmet should be light enough so that it doesn’t cause any strain on your neck. The fitting should be good and tight, without causing any pain around the head. Usually, the mic and speakers are waterproof in good models and voice based controls are also available. Certain styles of motorcycle helmets also have multi-directional feature in the built-in speakers with music streaming ability.
The wind resistance in a good quality helmet would be minimal and this feature is a great one because after driving for some time, wearing the helmet doesn’t cause any pain from the sheer force of the wind. This is why the aerodynamics of the helmet, particularly lightweight motorcycle helmets, should be such that there are no protrusions from the body, enhancing the resistance. A lot of fatigue is caused when helmets have too much wind resistance and long drives become impossible.
Going for a trusted brand is always a safe move. Some top brands of helmets for different motorcycle types include HJC, Arai, IV2, Shoei, Bell, Icon, Nolan, and Scorpion.
Types of Motorcycle Helmets
Full Face Helmets
If you are looking for the best protection, full face helmets are the ideal choice but if you are used to a lightweight motorcycle helmet, you’d be slightly disappointed in them.
- All Round Safety – Full face helmets are designed to protect not just your head but also your jaw and your face.
- Quiet Ride – The ride is a lot quieter with these helmets because they allow you to tune out the deafening sounds of the road.
- Weather Protection – They offer ample protection against rain and sun, and are properly sealed.
- Clear Visor – The visor of full face helmets is cleared to offer optimal visibility on the road.
- Little Wind Resistance – The wind resistance is minimum with these helmets. Thus, there are no reasons to have pain around the head, neck or shoulder because of the wind’s force during long rides.
- Slightly Heavy – As compared to other light weight motorcycle helmet styles, these are slightly heavy because they offer full coverage and protection.
Recommended Models: A few recommended full face helmet models include Arai Corsair V Helmet, HJC RPHA 10/RPS 10, and Nolan N-86. All these options are as lightweight as possible without any compromises on the protection of a full face helmet.
Open Face or 3/4th Helmets
Open face or three quarter motorcycle helmets are designed to protect everything but the face and are ideal for those riders who like to feel the wind on the face when they are riding.
- No Eye Protection – Because these are open face helmets, they leave the entire face open for the weather elements to assault at their leisure. As a result, there is no eye protection in most models. It is recommended to buy separate eye gear if you are using these helmets.
- Better Visibility – The visibility is the biggest pro of these helmets because you can use your eyes to see the entire road and as far ahead as it can go without any obstructions from the helmet.
- Easier Communication – Communication with these helmets is easier because the mouth is free.
- Flip Down Shields – Many 3/4th helmets come with sun shields that can be flipped down when needed. These shields add some protection in terms of the weather elements and general debris in the air. However, they do not protect from rain and precipitation.
A modular helmet is a hybrid motorcycle helmet that offers a nice truce between full face and open face helmets.
- Best Of Both Worlds – There are two pieces in this helmet. The features of modular helmets are such that those riders who want the pros of both full face helmets and open face helmets greatly enjoy this type.
- Mobile Chin Bar – The chin bar of these helmets is movable and is operated using a single button. Thus, when you want to bar to be out of the way, you can push the button and it will slide up and settle over the helmet’s top portion.
- Comfortable Use – Unlike full face helmets that offer a snugger fit and are slightly difficult to put on for some people, modular options are easy and fuss free.
- Easy Communication – The helmet comes with a face guard that can be flipped up when needed. This makes communication quite easy for the rider.
- Not Lightweight or Sealed – These helmets are even less lightweight than full face options because they come with various contraptions, especially the latches. They are not sealed either.
Half helmets are not that popular with motorcycles as they are with scooters and cruisers. This is because of their “skull cap” status.
- Extremely Lightweight – Half elements are so lightweight that wearing them feels like nothing. There is no pressure on the head and they are also easy to put on and carry around.
- Superior Visibility – Because of the design of these helmets, the visibility is better than all other styles of motorcycle helmets.
- Least Protection – The biggest problem with these helmets is that they offer little to no protection to the driver. They tend to cover the top part of the head but the lower area along with the neck is completely exposed in these helmets.
- Wind Resistance – The design of these helmets is such that wind resistance is great. As such, after a hard day’s ride, you would experience a lot of fatigue with these helmets and you might also suffer pain because of the force of the wind.
- No Protection From Weather Elements – Since the coverage with these helmets is minimal, weather elements are offered a free reign on your face.
Off Road/Motocross Helmets
Off road helmets are one of the most unique motorcycle helmet types because they come with special features meant for those riders who are into racing or motocross. These helmets are basically ideal for short races.
- Sun Visor – The sun visor of these helmets is long and particularly noticeable. Various off road helmets offer protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun using this sun visor.
- Chin Protection – The chin portion of off road helmets is noticeably elongated and the purpose of this design is to protect the rider from any debris and dirt on the road.
- No Face Shield – Because there is no face shield in these helmets, there are no worries of the shield fogging up during rainy or cold conditions. The lack of face shield also improves visibility for the rider.
- Special Vents – Another unique feature of this lightweight motorcycle helmet type is the addition of special vents in its design. The ventilation system allows the heat to escape and this also regulates the temperature and humidity levels inside the helmet.
Tips on Choosing the Right Helmet Type
With different motorcycle types, you research a lot to find the best option for you. Treating a helmet the same way would yield great returns for you, especially in terms of safety and comfort. Here are some top tips for choosing the right helmet for your motorcycle:
Coverage Is Essential – There is a popular adage for motorcycle helmets that says, “dress for the crash”. You are not dressing for the ride and might as well go for full face helmets that would protect your entire head, face and neck in the event of an accidental collision. Why take chances when so much is at stake?
Research About Safety Standards – Generally, DOT or ECE standards are good enough and almost every good helmet would pass these standards. If you are looking for even more safety, go for SNELL rating.
Check The Fit – Even when you buy your helmet online, wear it when you take it out of the box and look for an ideal fit. It shouldn’t be loose so that it stays on your head. It shouldn’t be too tight either or it will cause your head to hurt. The fit should be snug. Did you know that loose helmets come off during a road crash? Loose helmets also increase the amount of wind resistance, causing your neck to hurt.
Making The Decision
Have you found the helmet of your dreams among different types of motorcycle helmets? Wait before you purchase it from a brick and mortar store and give online stores like Amazon a chance.
You would be enjoying big discounts and if you are lucky enough to buy a helmet during the holiday season, you could end up receiving some amazing free accessories with it as well.
Now that you have read our in-depth reviews and perused our guide, what are you waiting for? Create a shortlist of your favorite helmet models and get to work.
Make sure you check the size guide of different manufacturers. Balance your budget with quality and you would be fine. Buy a motorcycle helmet today and enjoy many more trips on the road with safety and comfort.