A motorcycle helmet is the single most important piece of motorcycle clothing you will buy and not just because they are a legal requirement. The right motorcycle helmet fitted correctly could save your life in an accident. If you ever have to put a motorcycle helmet to the test and I hope you never do you'll be glad your wearing a good one.

There is no need to spend a fortune to get a motorcycle helmet that will provide an adequate level of protection. All motorcycle helmets sold in the UK have to comply to a baseline standard to be legal for road use. More expensive motorcycle helmets meet exactly the same standards as cheaper ones, the differences being in more complex construction, increased comfort and the quality and complexity of finish, visor mechanism, vents, liner material, removable liners and so on.

After the strap that holds your helmet on ( usually a seatbelt type or a pair of D-rings through which the strap passess ) the next most important components are the outer shell and inner liner. Outer shells are usually injection moulded polycarbonate ( normally but not always used at the lower end of the market ), or a laminate of glass fibre, carbon fibre and Kevlar. The outer shell is there to resist abrasion and penetration of objects in an impact. The inner is moulded polystyrene designed to deform on impact, absorbing the force of a blow.

For this reason, motorcycle helmets that have sustained an impact should be replaced, or at least inspected, they are designed to take only one hefty hit. Inside the inner is a foam backed cloth inner. This has no protective value but is there for comfort only. The helmet must fit your head evenly without excessive pressure at any point. If there is pressure try another size or make.

Many motorcycle helmets have vents to allow cool air in and warm air out which is intended to reduce visor misting. There are anti-mist preparations and laminates available to help minimise this problem of full face helmets. Laminates provide longer term protection than sprays which have to be regulary applied. Never let your helmet roll around on the floor, stand it on the head aperture to the ground. Use only very mild detergents and polish on motorcycle helmets since solvents can attack shells and visors.

Never buy a second hand helmet, you don't know its history and it could have been dropped. Some helmets are quieter than others, but none are so quiet as to prevent hearing damage from wind noise so always wear ear plugs. The current British Standard for helmets BS6658 is being phased out in favour of the European ECE22-05. The BS sticker will continue to appear on the back of motorcycle helmets for the next few years. The EC standard is donoted on a label on the chin strap, although some manufacturers are also declaring it on the outside of the shell. Gold ACU stickers  show that a motorcycle helmet has been approved for competition use ( the tag is silver for off road motorcycle helmets ).

You should replace your motorcycle helmet every four to five years regardless of how well you've looked after it, because the materials that make up your motorcycle helmet degrade over time. Always replace scratched visors as soon as possible.