Choosing a motorcycle helmet
Posted by Howard Trott on Thursday, July 27, 2017 Under: Motorcycle Accessories
Picking the Right Motorcycle Helmet
Welcome to one of life's greatest adventures. Whether you ride a sportsbike or a cruiser as a pleasure seeker or commuter, riding on two wheels is a phenomenal experience designed to give you years of enjoyment and satisfaction.
Before you fight traffic or plan that weekend excursion on back-country roads you'll need to invest in some very important equipment - namely riding gear. Body protection is a must when riding your sportsbike or cruiser and nothing could be more important than a helmet. You likely did some research before deciding on a sportsbike or cruiser so you're going to want to do the same before grabbing any old helmet.
You'll notice a sportsbike helmet looks much different from a dirt bike or motocross helmet. Helmets designed for sportsbikes and cruisers are more round without the extended chin protection needed for dirt bike riding. Plus, you have a variety of choices depending on your preference:
- Full Face
- Dual Sport
- Half Shell
- Open Face
Whether you are a seasoned rider looking to replace or upgrade an existing helmet or you're just starting off - This Helmet Buying Guide is designed to take some of the heavy lifting out of finding the right helmet for you. In this guide I cover the following:
- What Will The Helmet Be Used For?
- What Features Do You Want?
- Safety Ratings
- What Type of Bike Do You Ride?
- Helmet Size and Head Shape
Besides, if you're busy doing research that means you're not on your bike enjoying the freedom of an open road and beautiful countryside.
What will the helmet be used for?
Are you a beginner?
If you're new to sportsbikes or cruisers, a high-end, high-priced helmet loaded with features may not be the best purchase. Getting your feet off the ground and adapting to the bike is important in order to decide whether riding on two wheels is the hobby and transportation method for you.
Do you plan to ride a lot or commute to work?
If riding is your everyday transportation or you take weekly road trips, higher end helmets may prove to be more comfortable and offer better dynamics and reduced wind noise.
Are you riding with a group?
Many bikers join riding groups and if you haven't already done so eventually you'll pal around with others and find group riding enhances the overall experience. One key element to group riding is communication and you'll want a helmet with built in communication provisions.
What Features Do You Want?
Helmets typically range in weight from 1400 to 1800 grams. The key to weight is a properly fitting helmet so the weight is distributed evenly around your head and shoulders. If the centre of gravity is off a lighter helmet can feel heavier and strain your neck. Modular helmets often weigh more than a Full Face because of the apparatus installed to flip up the visor.
What the helmet is made of influences a number of factors including weight, comfort and safety rating. Polycarbonate, Fibreglass composite and Carbon Fibre compose most helmets.
Today's helmets offer numerous technological advances. Features like integrated sunshade, wind reduction measures and communication provisions all serve to enhance the riding experience.
Consider Helmet Safety Ratings
Safety is paramount in all walks of life and motorcycling is no exception. That said, as it stands the only item of protective clothing you are required to wear by law while riding a motorcycle or moped is a helmet. The helmet you wear however must comply with one of the following standards:
British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI (British Standards Institution) Kite mark
UNECE Regulation 22.05
Any standard accepted by a member of the European Economic Area which offers a level of safety and protection equivalent to BS 6658:1985 and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kite mark. These do not apply if you are Sikh and wear a turban.
SHARP are the U.K.’s safety helmet assessment and rating programme. They are responsible for testing the protective properties of motorcycle helmets on sale in the U.K. and providing consumers with an easy to use 5-star rating system to help you choose the best helmet for your money. 1-star being a low rating but still conforms at least to the minimum safety standards while 5-stars indicators much better all round protection.
Helmet Size and Head Shape
How to Measure Your Helmet Size
A properly fitted helmet can play a major role in the outcome of an accident. The first step in finding a motorcycle helmet is determining your head size. Follow these steps:
Wrap a soft measuring tape around your head about a half inch above your eyebrows, above your ears and around the back of your head at the largest point. It's best to have assistance when measuring.
Compare your head size with the specific motorcycle helmet manufacture's size to find a match. Each motorcycle helmet manufacture provides different sizing charts for their helmets so you will need to compare your helmet size to each brand's sizing.
Try the helmet on before using it. The helmet should sit squarely on your head with the top of the helmet's eye port just above your eyebrows. A properly fitted motorcycle helmet will not go on easy at first but loosen slightly as it is broken in.
If the helmet moves or your fingers fit easily between your head and the helmet you'll likely need a smaller size.The helmet should fit snug around your head and face with no pressure points. If desired, the check pads can then be adjusted for better fitting.
Additionally, you MUST determine your head shape. A perfectly sized helmet may fit snug on one rider but loose or uncomfortable on another. Head shape is just as important as head size. Some manufacturers factor in the following shapes when making their helmets:
Long Oval - This shape resembles a more oblong head that is longer front to back and narrow side-to-side
Intermediate Oval - This shape closely resembles a round head with a shorter front-to-back and wider side-to-side than the Long Oval. Most companies make their helmets Intermediate Oval. Round Oval - This shape resembles an oblong head that is longer side-to-side rather than front-to-back like the Long Oval.
Helmet shape contributes to overall comfort and safety. A correctly-sized helmet that doesn't fit right is cumbersome and does not offer the same protection as a correctly sized and fitted helmet.
What Type of Bike Do You Ride?
Riders on these bikes typically prefer Modular helmets which allow you to raise the face shield and some incorporate elements to raise the entire front of the helmet.
Cruiser riders generally enjoy the breezy style in the Half Shell helmet. This is a minimalist helmet for the casual rider.
Old School/Cafe Racer
These riders hearken back to yesteryear for the old days of motorcycle riding using an Open Face helmet. It offers more protection than a half-shell and provides a big nostalgia factor.
A full face helmet is the norm for sportsbikers. Full face helmets offer elite all-around protection with a solid chin bar and flip-up shield. These are the safest helmets.
Price is likely one of the first things you'll consider especially if you are a beginner. Price does not necessarily mean a better helmet or even a safer helmet. Price is often reflected in the materials used and the number of features. For example, a helmet constructed of carbon fibre will typically cost more than a polycarbonate helmet. An Open Face Helmet with a face shield option costs more than an Open Face without a shield option and so on.
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