If at any time you were looking for a motorcycle helmet online and you have browsed around, I’m sure you were amazed at the different types of motorcycle helmets for sale. Maybe even a bit bewildered at the array of shapes available. I know I was.
If you are that person or even if you know what you want and just want to make sure you are purchasing the right one, this post was written for you. I would like to help shed some light on the types of helmets, their pros and cons and just give you an overview of the main differences. I will be discussing:
- Full Face Motorbike Helmets
- Open Face Motorbike Helmets
- Half Helmets
- Modular type helmets
- Kids Motorbike Helmets
- Motorcycle Off Road Helmets
- Dual Sport Motorcycle Helmets and the
- Novelty Motorcycle Helmets
If, after you read my post, and you have a clearer understanding of the types of helmets or if I have helped you make your choice easier, then I have done what I set out to do.
Full Face Motorbike Helmets
The first full face helmet was designed and produced in 1963 by the famous Bell Helmet company. All full face helmets can trace their heritage back to this iconic helmet.
The Full Face Helmet is arguably the most common helmet worn by motorcyclists today and there is a good reason for that. This helmet gives the rider the most protection from flying rocks or other road debris and heaven forbid, should you be in a crash. Because of its closed design, there is no need to wear goggles and they are normally very quiet.
The full face helmet also allows a host of accessories like attaching action sport cameras, Bluetooth communication devises and different tinted visors.
The downside of the full face, is that it allows for limited vision, sometimes called the “letterbox effect”, and peripheral vision is compromised because of its closed design.
This helmet is also very hot, especially if you live in the warmer parts of the globe and some riders can also experience a feeling of claustrophobia.
The weight of the full face helmet is normally heavier than a lot of the other helmets, but fortunately, with the invention of new, lighter and stronger materials, this will not be a factor in the future.
Open Face Motorbike Helmets
When you see a fellow brother just finishing a ride and he has this goofy smile all over his face, the chances are good that he was wearing an open face helmet. Why is that?
There is something about being completely exposed to the wind, bugs, sun on your face and the inborn sense of adventure and danger that only the open face helmet can give you. It is easy to put on, is normally very light and you will look cool.
Ironic as it is, the pros above, are also where the open face helmet falls short.
It can be very uncomfortable driving in a strong wind with an open face helmet. It feels as if you are being strangled and your head can start throbbing with all the wind buffeting. The open face is extremely noisy and not recommended for long journeys. If you are not wearing a well fit buff to protect your face, the result will be a nasty sun and/or windburn.
The open face helmet does not give you the same protection as the full face helmet and should you be in a crash, the results could be less than desirable. Be that as it may, I own an open face helmet as my second “lid” and use it on very hot days or when I decide to just go for a short ride.
If this is the helmet for you then there are accessories you can purchase, which will help make wearing the open face a lot more comfortable. See my post on accessories for details.
I classify these as “motorcycle cruiser helmets” because they are especially popular under our cruiser brothers. If you thought the open face helmet gave you a feeling of freedom, the half helmet is on another level. Just covering the crown to the top of your ears, the half helmet is arguably the coolest looking helmet around. It is a helmet to wear in states and other parts of the globe, where wearing a helmet is not required by law, but you still do not want to compromise on safety.
It is not the safest helmet to wear, but damn it looks good.
Modular Type Helmets
Modular helmets are the newest design in helmet manufacture and becoming more popular amongst motorcyclists. Most of the big name brands like, Bell, Shoei, HJC, Scorpion and Shark, just to name a few, realized a while back, that this design was going to sell, and invested in their own models. Research and development is ongoing and I am extremely excited for the newer model designs. Watch this space for the updates!
The Modular Type Helmet is extremely versatile, allowing the rider the best of both the safety of the full face type helmet and the freedom of the open face type helmet.
The distinguishing feature of this helmet, is the “flip-up” chin bar, which can be positioned on top of the helmet or in some cases slid over the top to the back of the helmet. In some models the chin bar can be removed completely.
Because of its design, the chin bar is not as wide as that of the full face, giving the rider a better and wider visibility.
The modular helmet is usually a bit heavier than other helmets, because of the flip-up mechanism. Unfortunately the mechanisms of some cheaper models, can get worn over time and stop working correctly.
This helmet is also a bit noisier and because of the chin bar which can move up and down, does not necessarily take all the required accessories for something like an action camera.
Kids Motorbike Helmets
Father like son/daughter! Why not? Why not let your kids experience and enjoy your passion with you?
More and more manufacturers are catering for our children, so we can ride as a family. The same features, comfort and safety but in a smaller “package”. Special emphasis is given to the shape and weight of the helmet so that any air friction is minimized and fatigue reduced. With bright color designs and graphic art catered specifically for the boy or girl, they are assured of enjoying the ride with you. It is important to emphasize again that safety is never compromised.
Take a look at my reviews and make sure you do it together.
Motorcycle Off Road Helmets
Also known as Motocross Helmets or Dirt Bike Helmets, are specifically designed for the rugged off-road environment. Stricter safety standards are applied to especially the outer shell.
The first obvious difference, is that it normally comes without a visor. It has a larger face opening to allow the rider to wear special rider goggles to protect the eyes from flying debris and branches. Some goggles come tinted to protect the eyes from the sun.
The other very visible difference, is the position of the chin bar. This stands out a bit, making extra breathing space for the rider, ensuring that the rider is comfortable during those tough enduro rides and that breathing is unhampered.
Dual Sport Motorcycle Helmets
Very similar to the Motocross helmet but with a few practical differences to ensure extra comfort for the off-road, adventure seeker who wants to go the extra long road. This helmet is the merging between the comfort of the full face helmet with the practicality of the motocross helmet.
It comes with a heavy-duty visor, which can be removed if you fancy, and the familiar “peak” which helps shade your eyes when driving into the sun. Once the visor is lifted, there is enough space to wear rider goggles if that is your style.
Novelty Motorcycle Helmets
When you hear the saying, “wearing this helmet is better than not wearing anything”, then it is normally referring to the novelty type motorcycle helmet. These helmets are fun, lightweight reasonably cheap and some models are based on movies and movie characters and this is unfortunately where the attraction stops.
Novelty motorcycle helmets will not protect your head during a crash. It is not DOT or ECE certified and illegal in some countries. They have a very thin EPS (expanded polystyrene) layer which is covered with a thin padding. The fastening mechanism is not sufficient to withstand long distance riding and is most definitely not made for the long motorcycle journey. If you plan to go to a fancy-dress with your motorcycle, then don your novelty helmet.
Motorcycle helmets primary function is to keep your skull safe during riding (for those unforeseen stone projectiles) and in a crash. Many motorcyclists, however, choose a helmet not for safety, as their primary reason, but for showing off and in a way, displaying their personality. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all, me included, when we are on our bike, feed our egos and that is not necessarily a bad thing. I just want to “bring home” the importance of wearing the correct helmet with the necessary safety features which will keep you safe to ride again.
I hope you found the above short description of the pros and cons of the types of motorcycle helmets informative and that it will help you with your decision and choice of helmet.
Please drop me a line and let me know what your thoughts are.
And remember – Stay on 2 wheels.