Motorcycle Helmet Buyer’s Guide:
Designed to protect and make a more comfortable ride, a motorcycle helmet is the most important piece of riding gear you can buy. But with so many options where do you start? Right here.
Part preference, part price, and part style of bike you ride — these factors dictate the type of head protection you’re going to wear.
Let’s begin by discussing the five helmet categories we’re going to cover: full-face, modular, open-face, half and dual-sport.
Full-face helmets are the largest category, including everything from top-of-the-line race lids, value conscious models, and trendy fashion-inspired lids for weekend getaways.
Designed with convenience in mind, modular helmets afford full-face protection and comfort on the highway with the around town flexibility of an open-face design.
Open-face helmets on the other hand prioritize style and convenience sacrificing some degree of safety for a more pleasurable riding experience for some.
Positioned toward the V-Twin and scooter crowd, half helmets, as their name implies only cover the top portion of the rider’s head. What they lack in protection they make up in convenience.
Designed for riders who ride on, and off-road, dual-sport lids combine the finest full-face features from the street and dirt worlds.
All helmets features a hard exterior shell, however the ingredients and construction is what sets them apart. Most helmets feature polycarbonate construction – which are generally easier and less labor-intensive to produce. Blended fiberglass shells are typically reserved for more premium helmet offerings. Carbon fiber is yet another class of material construction which carries the highest price point.
Most helmets carry up to three types certification, which vary by country, and testing methodology. DOT certification is the government mandated standard in the US. Snell certification is another US rating based on independent testing regiment by the Snell Foundation. ECE certification is a European safety standard.
After choosing a helmet and picking your favorite color, or graphic, the way it fits is the next move in the buying decision. Check each helmet brand’s fit guide for recommended sizing.
Personal preference is another factor. Track day riders typically value a more snug fit, where long-distance tourers desire a more relaxed setup. A helmet should fit snugly and not shift when the head is moved up/down or side to side.
It can take time to ensure proper fit so keep that in mind before your first ride. Some brands offer optional cheek pads and crown liners in varied thicknesses for customized fit.