Choosing the Perfect Motorcycle Helmet
You’ve just bought a new bike, finished a project or giving your old trusty steed a new look with a coat of professional motorcycle paint, now you need the helmet to match. A helmet is more than just a safety feature, it is also about looking good and feeling comfortable while riding. It is important to not only get the right size for your head, but also one that is up to all the mandatory safety standards of your country. But, with so many makes and styles to choose from, how to you know which one is best for you?
This article will help you decide which is the best helmet for your ride, look into helmet size and give you all the information you need to buy a new lid.
The Right Fit
Helmets are not one size fits all, they have different sizes depending on the size and shape of your head. Getting the fit right is the difference between a comfortable ride and thoughts of giving it all up. If a helmet is too tight, it can trigger pressure points in your head and can be very painful. If it is too big it will shake and move around, causing discomfort and won’t protect you as well in the event of an accident.
There are three basic head shapes: long oval, intermediate and round oval. Knowing the shape of your head and classifying it in one of these three basic shapes will increase your chances of finding the perfect fit. To measure your head, use a cloth tape measure, like a tailor would use, and measure just above the eyebrows around the thickest part of the back of your head. That is the size of your head. There is no standardized system for all helmets, so keep in mind that a medium in one brand might be a small in the next.
Now you know your measurements, it is time to go to a dealer and try helmets on. You can buy one online, and many online stores offer easy returns and full refunds if the visor stickers are still on. However, the best thing you can do is go to a dealer and try on a variety of helmets, without looking at the prices at first, to get a feel for different brands and styles. Don’t be shy to try on several different makes and models.
Once you have bought a helmet that fits comfortably (preferably at the dealer, as you might need them in the future) it is recommended to wear the helmet for 30-40 to see if it triggers any pressure points and is fully comfortable before going riding. Leave all the stickers and labels on in case you need to return it.
Different Types of Crash Helmet
While there are many styles of helmet to choose from, from motocross helmets to touring, they all fall under three main categories: Full face, Open face, and Flip Front.
Full Face: These offer the most protection and are the most popular type of helmet. They come with a visor that opens and closes to protect your eyes and help with ventilation, as full face helmets can get hot, so ventilation is important.
Open Face: These are constructed the same way as full face helmets, except they come without chin and face protection. They are a popular choice among cruisers, scooter riders and those who get claustrophobia in full face models.
Flip Front: Also known as modular helmets. These have become increasingly popular in the last few years. They have the same construction as a full face model, but with a chin bar you can lift up and turn into an open face. Many of these helmets are only tested as full face and are illegal to ride with the face up, although there are some which are also tested as open face and can be worn with the chin bar and visor up.
Each type of helmet offers advantages and disadvantages, so choosing one can be difficult. Consider your riding position, style, how long you will be wearing it each time, the weather you will be riding in (all year round or only in fair weather) and what you ride. Investing in a quality lid is the best thing you can do, especially for those who ride all year round. The most important factor for choosing a helmet is your own comfort, within reason. We don’t recommend and open face style on a superbike you only ride on sunny weekends for example, no matter how comfortable you feel that style is. A full face is what is recommended for that type of riding.
The main things you will be looking at when buying a new helmet are:
- Multiple vents and exhausts that are easy to open/close
- Easy removal
- Wind tunnel tested
- Weight (35 oz is about average for a full face helmet)
- D ring or ratchet chin strap
- Replaceable cheek pads to tailor the fit
There is nothing to say that the most expensive helmet in a dealer’s range is the best. That being said, it is not worth sacrificing your life to save a few bucks. If a helmet is the right fit, has all you need for your riding habits, then it is worth every penny you pay for it.
Looking After Your New Helmet
In order to keep the lifespan of your newly acquired lid, it is important to follow these recommendations:
- Don’t leave it on your tank, fuel vapors can damage the inside and out.
- Don’t put stickers on, the glue can damage the material.
- Don’t hang it off your wing mirrors or posts or anything, as dirt gets inside and damages the inside.
- Don’t put your gloves inside it, for the same reason as before, dirt inside cuts the lifespan of the interior and the Velcro fastenings on gloves can cause damage too.
- If you have to put your helmet down, lay your gloves flat on the ground and rest your helmet on top or put it in a helmet bag.
- Carry your helmet by the chin strap and not the chin bar, or again, in a helmet bag.
Thank you all for reading and remember, the helmet is your most important piece of kit. Stay safe!