Good Motorcycle Helmets – What to look for
Naturally, we want and should be protected all around when we are driving a motorcycle. But from most other injuries, you can get up faster than from a serious impact to the head. Since your brain is so critical to your body’s functions, it makes sense that a motorcycle helmet should offer the best protection possible. But what makes a motorcycle helmet a good motorcycle helmet?
The Anatomy of Motorcycle Helmets
Motorcycle helmets come in different shapes and builds, but they all have their basic elements in common:
- shell | The hard outer shell protects from abrasions and penetrations. It is made from robust materials like carbon fiber, Kevlar, or plastic.
- impact absorption | The shell is followed by an impact absorbing lining. It is made from a cushioning material like EPS foam (expanded polystyrene) that can absorb and redistribute the force of an impact.
- padding | After the absorbing liner, there is another cushioning foam layer that acts as padding to make the helmet more comfortable. It is covered by a fabric, since this is the part of the helmet that rests on your head and skin. It can usually be removed and washed.
- cheek padding | Your cheeks are framed with extra padding that protects your cheekbones and keeps the helmet in place.
- visor | The visor is made from a break-proof clear glass like plastic. It keeps the wind, rain, bugs and other particles from your eyes. They can be clear or tinted.
- retention system | The retention system is the strap and closing mechanism that secures the helmet underneath your chin. It is typically padded for extra comfort.
Different Shapes of Helmets
If you take a look at the listing of motorcycle helmets by ChromeBurner, you can get an idea of just how many different helmets there are. The shop carries almost 3,000 individual motorcycle helmets. They have different sizes, designs, and brands. In general, motorcycle helmets can be divided into three categories:
- full-face helmets | A full face helmet covers your entire head, including a visor and chin bar. It is the most protective helmet. They come in different designs, such as smooth helmets or off-road helmets with a peak over the visor that blocks sunlight.
- modular helmets | With modular helmets, the chin bar can be flipped up. They are a good compromise for more versatility.
- open-face helmets | Open-face helmets, also known as ¾ helmets or jet helmets, do not have a chin bar. They offer less protection in case your face gets impacted because the uncovered areas like chin and nose can get injured, and the visor can break easier.
How to Choose a Good Motorcycle Helmet
There are two things you need to look out for when buying a motorcycle helmet to make sure it is safe:
1. Only buy helmets that have been certified.
Traffic Administrations and other relevant (usually government led) organizations test motorcycle helmets. If the helmet meets their safety and quality standards, it gets a certificate:
- FIM | The FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) is the international organization that sanctions global professional motorcycle racing. Their standard is relatively new but effective, since it is aimed at competitive motorcycling gear and accidents in that setting.
- DOT | The DOT Standard is the S. Department of Transportation’s quality rating.
- SNELL | Testing your helmet according to the SNELL standard is voluntary, since it is an American private non-profit organization dedicated to racing sport safety after the death of race car driver Peter Snell.
- ECE | Products marked with a CE conform to the EU’s Economic Commission’s standard, the ECE 22.05.
- SHARP | The Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme was created by the British Government to improve on the safety on public roads in the UK.
2. Only buy helmets from official vendors.
When you buy a helmet from a private vendor, you cannot guarantee the age and condition of the helmet.
Motorcycle helmets lose their efficiency after 5 years because the protective layers start degrading. Additionally, any impact to a helmet can cause invisible damage that leaves it less effective in an accident.
- Make sure to avoid these problems by not buying used helmets and replacing them after impacts or 5 years.
A certified motorcycle helmet has been tested on whether it can protect a head, how secure it stays on and how much force it can withstand. The most effective helmets are full-face helmets, who sit the most secure and cover the entire head to absorb impact force and redistribute it over a large surface. Make sure to try on many helmets for the best fit. Buy it from a vendor to make sure it is new and in a good condition. The Motorcycle Helmet Standards and their certifications help you find the highest quality and protection.