Types of Motorcycle Helmets: Which is Best for You?
If you search for motorcycle helmets, you will get an overwhelming number of results. From popular motorcycle helmets with trendy designs to helmets that claim to be the safest on the market, there is a lot of information to sift through when making a decision.
Understanding the various types of motorcycle helmets available today and the usage of each type can help you pick the best helmet for you.
If you're trying to determine which type of motorcycle helmet is best for you; then you need to look at what type of motorcycle you ride, what weather you travel in, & what speeds/roadways you travel at/on. Every rider is different but understanding these 3 main principles will help you make the best decision when trying to figure out, which motorcycle helmet is best for you.
That's just below we are going to be breaking down each type of motorcycle helmet plus valuable tips on finding the right motorcycle helmet!
- Full Face Helmet
- Open Face Helmet
- Modular Helmet
- Off-Road Helmet
- Dual Sport Helmet
- Half Shell Helmet
- Tips for Choosing the Perfect Motorcycle Helmet
The Different Types of Motorcycle Helmets
While there are countless motorcycle helmets on the market today, they all fall into one of six categories. Design, color, and size may change, but the main motorcycle helmet classifications stay the same. Each helmet has unique features that impact safety and comfort.
1. Full-face Helmets
Full-face helmets are among the most popular motorcycle helmets thanks to their safety design. Chin bars are unique to full-face helmets, which contribute greatly to safety. Accidents with high-impact can seriously damage the neck, chin, and face, and full-face helmets mitigate that risk.
As the name suggests, these helmets cover your entire face and part of your neck. The placement of the chin bar can differ based on your preference, and ventilation systems can help avoid a fogged-up visor or stale air. Test potential helmets ahead of time to ensure that airflow is sufficient for your climate.
Full-face helmets are considered the safest option for all types of motorcycles. However, if you suffer from claustrophobia, the enclosed helmet may not be your first pick.
2. Open-Face Helmets
Open-face helmets are also known as ¾ helmets because they cover the majority of your head. Your eyes are protected by a visor, but the rest of your face is left uncovered.
People who ride cruisers and scooters tend to prefer this type of helmet because they travel at slower speeds. The airflow is optimal and no ventilation is needed.
However, this type of motorcycle helmet does not have a chin bar. In the event of a high-impact accident, your face and neck are left exposed.
These helmets are lighter in weight than full-face helmets and often smaller. The open area around your face allows debris to get past the helmet, so they are not the best for high speeds unless you have a quality motorcycle face mask. If you want to feel the breeze on your face as you ride at lower speeds, an open-face helmet can do the job.
3. Modular Helmets
Modular helmets combine the features of full-face helmets and open-face helmets. Also known as flip-ups, these helmets are completely enclosed unless you flip up with visor.
This type of helmet is fairly safe overall thanks to the chin strap, but the hinge that enables the visor to flip up is also a weak point. For long-distance rides or cruising at lower speeds, the modular helmet makes it easy to answer your phone or grab a snack during break time without removing your helmet.
Flip-up helmets tend to weigh more than full-face helmets because of the added hinge. The separate pieces can cause integrity issues in the event of a crash, but the chin strap provides some added protection not available in a ¾ helmet.
4. Off-Road Helmets
For dirt bike riders and off-road junkies, an off-road helmet is a must. Motocross or dirt bike helmets weigh significantly less than other motorcycle helmets and feature impressive ventilation systems. The purpose of these helmets is to provide maximum airflow in warm weather without weighing the rider down.
Off-road helmets are made of one piece, which increases the level of safety around the chin. However, this type of helmet is not meant for high speeds. Dirt bike helmets are typically not made with a visor, and goggles are needed to protect the eyes. The sun peak attachment adjusts to keep the sun out of your eyes while you ride and prevent dirt from spraying in your face.
5. Dual-sport Helmets
If you want the features of a dirt bike helmet for your motorcycle, a dual-sport helmet is your answer. These helmets have the same level of superior ventilation that off-road helmets have as well as a visor that flips up and down. Dual-sport helmets differ from Modular helmets because the chin bar is permanent, better protecting the jaw.
This type of helmet is more insulated than dirt bike helmets, which muffles sound better on the road and provides extra warmth. The modified sun peaks on dual-sport helmets are more aerodynamic, so you can reach higher speeds without lift while still blocking the sun.
6. Half Shell Helmets
Half shell helmets are designed for style. Coverage is minimal, which means safety features are lacking with this type of helmet. However, for riders at slow speeds, cruisers, or scooters, a half shell helmet lets you enjoy the wind on your face as you ride. Half helmets are also called brain buckets because they only cover the top of your head.
Your face is completely exposed as you ride with a half shell helmet. Riders who prefer this style of helmet often purchase riding goggles & a motorcycle face mask to keep debris out of their eyes and mouth. With minimal protection, brain buckets should only be worn when riding at low speeds.
Tips to Find the Right Style Motorcycle Helmet
Take the following items into consideration when searching for a motorcycle helmet. The right helmet can make the difference between life and death and save you from considerable injuries in the event of an impact.
- Check your local laws. In some states, certain features are required for motorcycle helmets.
- Try the helmet on. Fit is crucial to safety. If the helmet is too tight, you will have headaches or discomfort. If the helmet is too loose, safety is compromised.
- Look for a DOTS certification. Department Of Transportation helmets are required in the US, and these types of helmets are tested to meet safety standards.
- Consider the weather. The amount of insulation in your helmet will depend on your riding conditions. Hot and cool climates will need varying degrees of insulation for comfort.
- Consider customizable options. Different helmets will fit best on different head shapes. Some helmets come with removable padding to create the perfect, custom fit.