How to Pick the Best and Safest Motorcycle Helmets

Jake Robison - November 17, 2021

While not all states require motorcyclists to use helmets, safety experts recommend all riders wear a helmet. However, selecting the best and safest motorcycle helmet presents a few problems for riders. If you’re trying to decide which helmet to use, here are a few things to consider.


Understand Why Helmets are Recommended


Head injuries are always possible in bike accidents, and riders without helmets are far more likely to suffer serious head injuries if they’re not wearing a helmet. However, many riders feel wearing a helmet restricts their riding experience in one way or another. So, the question then becomes, are you willing to risk serious injuries or death if you’re involved in an accident?


At this point, only 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring all riders to wear a helmet. Another 29 states require some riders to wear helmets. Only Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire have no laws in place requiring helmet use. It’s always important to know the laws in states you’re riding in to avoid a ticket and fine.


According to the Motorcycle Legal Foundation, helmets saved an estimated 1,772 riders’ lives in 2015 alone. That organization also suggests 740 additional lives could have been saved had those riders been wearing helmets.


Another organization, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, states that wearing an appropriate helmet could reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent and lower the odds of dying by 42 percent. Those are pretty significant numbers, which means riders are strongly encouraged to purchase and wear a well-designed and constructed helmet.


Your Type of Riding


Helmets come in a number of styles to accommodate different types of riding and the preferences of riders. Not all offer the same level of protection, and riders may prefer one style over another. However, there are some basic guidelines to help even novice riders select a helmet that meets their needs.


So, what types of helmets are available for different types of riding? Commuters, for example, will want a different type of helmet than someone riding a dirt bike on back trails or a track bike rider.


Five Types of Helmets to Consider


If you’re looking for a new helmet, there are five basic styles to consider. At the same time, each of those styles will be available from multiple manufacturers and at numerous price points. This is where understanding where you’ll be riding and setting a budget will come into play.


Remember that it never pays to buy the least-expensive option. The cheapest helmets are priced low because they’re not as well-built as their more-expensive counterparts. If you’re unsure how to pick the best helmet for your needs, take the time to ask for advice from a professional prior to purchasing one.


Here are the five types of helmets and their recommended uses.


  • Full-Face Helmets. Just as the name suggests, these helmets cover the rider’s face and include a fixed chin guard. This style provides the best protection for a rider’s head and neck. Different types of full-face helmets are available to meet the varying requirements of touring and sport riders, but the majority of riders will benefit from wearing this type of helmet.

  • Modular Helmets. This type of helmet provides most of the benefits offered by full-face helmets but has a chin bar and visor that flip up rather than remaining stationary. The downside is that these helmets are slightly heavier and not quite as strong as a quality full-face model.

  • Open-Face Helmets. The third type of helmet to consider is an open-face option. Some riders prefer this style as it’s a little lighter and easier to put on and take off than the first two options mentioned. However, the lack of a chin guard means the rider is more susceptible to injuries. Remember that, during an accident, the chin is likely to hit objects during any type of fall.

  • Half Helmets. Even though half helmets remain popular with many riders, they don’t provide the level of protection that safety experts recommend. Since only the top portion of the head is covered, injuries are more likely in the event of an accident. Rather than increasing the risk of injuries, consider another option.

  • Off-Road Helmets. The fifth type of helmet is designed to be used by riders on trails or other off-road locations. They are not ideal for street use, as they don’t provide eye protection and are not designed to provide protection at high speeds. When using this type of helmet, using goggles is strongly recommended to avoid eye injuries.


Some riders will find they need more than one helmet to accommodate different types of riding, so share your type of bike use with an expert to determine if you’ll need more than one helmet to remain safe during your rides.


Sizing is Always Important


When purchasing a helmet, finding one that fits properly is crucial. Far too many riders settle for helmets that are too small, large, or shaped wrong. Even if one manufacturer’s helmet fits perfectly, another company’s model in the same size may not fit.


That’s why it’s difficult to order a helmet online, as there is no way to determine if the model selected will fit correctly. Most experts recommend trying on a helmet and wearing it for a few minutes in the store before making a buying decision. Most retailers have experts on staff to help customers select an appropriate helmet.


Don’t Ride Without It!


Riding a motorcycle is enjoyable, and riders look forward to spending time on the road. However, safety is vitally important, which means riding without the right gear is not recommended.


A quality helmet, matched with your type of riding, is a must, but it’s also important to use other riding gear. When purchasing your new helmet, look at the other gear riders are encouraged to wear. A jacket, vest, pants, boots, and gloves should also be worn while riding, as protective gear significantly reduces the odds of suffering severe injuries in the event you’re involved in any type of accident.





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