A helmet is probably the single most important safety gear for motorcyclists. It can save your life, so it is essential to buy the right one.
There are six main types of motorcycle helmets: full face, modular, open face, half face, motocross, and dual-sport.
Full face motorcycle helmets provide the most protection around your head and neck. They often have a visor that can be flipped up, but the rest of the helmet is a solid, uniform entity that includes the chin bar. Most full face helmets have ventilation that allows the sweat to evaporate, reduces visor fogging, and keeps you cool. This type of helmet is considered the safest and is a great choice for all motorcycle riders.
Modular motorcycle helmets, also called flip-up helmets, are a mix between a full face helmet and open face helmet. They have a chin bar that can be flipped up above the helmet along with the visor. Due to the flip-up hinge structure, they often weigh more than the full face helmets. That hinge structure also reduces the safety of this helmet a little. The modular helmet is designed for an upright riding position.
Open face motorcycle helmets are three-quarter helmets. They cover the top, back and sides of your head, but leave the face open. That means they do not protect you against weather conditions and road debris. Some open face helmets come with partial or full face visors. However, they do not have a chin bar, which leaves your chin very vulnerable in case of an impact. When it comes to safety in the areas where they do provide coverage, open helmets are typically as safe as the full face ones.
Half motorcycle helmets cover the top of your head and provide minimal protection. Some half helmets are extended to cover the back of your neck and ears. Most half helmets do not come with a visor or a face shield.
Motocross motorcycle helmets are also known as MX, off-road, or dirt bike helmets. They are designed for riding on dirt roads and are not a good option for city roads and highways. Motocross helmets have a large visor and a prominent chin bar; usually, they do not offer eye protection. That means that extra glasses or goggles are recommended!
Dual sport motorcycle helmets have several other names: crossover, ADV, hybrid, and endure. These helmets are a mix between an off-road helmet and a full face helmet. The exterior is similar to an off-road helmet, but the interior has more padding, just like a full face helmet. Dual sport helmets are designed to be used both on the road and off-road.
So, which type of motorcycle helmet is right for you? That depends on the main purpose of your motorcycle! Do you take it out on weekends to cruise the dirt roads? Or do you use your bike as your primary mode of transport to and from work? Think about that first, and then consider the advantages and disadvantages of the different types and styles of helmets. Do note that high visibility, brightly coloured helmets are becoming increasingly popular, because being seen is a good accident prevention strategy, especially in heavy city traffic.
Whichever type you choose, it is imperative that the helmet fits your head well. It should be comfortably tight all over. Helmets typically range in weight from 1.4 to 1.8 kilograms, but the weight of a properly fitting helmet will be evenly distributed around your head and shoulders. When you shop for a motorcycle helmet online, it is a good idea to buy the brand, model and size you already tried on.
Remember to replace your motorcycle helmet after five years, if you drop it, or if you were involved in an accident. Even if there is no visible damage, the safety of your helmet might be compromised.