Helmet buying guide for motorcycle riders: Choose the best for protection

11 min read

Helmet buying guide for motorcycle riders: Looks can be deceptive at least when you are buying motorcycle helmets. You must purchase an attractive helmet, you but cannot afford to compromise with the safety features.  While many different types of helmets can offer almost endless options, you must first consider what kind of a rider you are and what kind of journeys you would undertake.

The terrain through which you ride, the weather conditions and the duration of trips are factors that you must consider when choosing a helmet that offers the right protection. If you usually ride through cities but want to go on a journey through hilly terrains, the risk factors of riding increase drastically. The helmet that you had been using for city rides on the plains would not be good enough for the hilly terrains, and you must get a new helmet.

By browsing the websites of reputed dealers of Motocross gear akin to motorcycle safety gear you can select helmets that meet your requirements. All helmets are safe, but you must be sure that the helmet is particularly safe for the journey you undertake.  Every helmet that you find in the market offer varying degrees of protection, and the more you know about helmet materials and its safety features, more natural it becomes to make a choice.  

Instead of being carried away by aesthetics and design, base your decision on the functional aspects so that you can ensure safety. Remember that security is an uncompromising agenda for motorcycle riders because the price that you have to pay for deviating it could be just too much.

Another aspect that you must keep in mind is to create a perfect balance between safety, aesthetics, and price for getting the right helmet. The more you know about the materials used for making helmets and the different safety standards, the better it will be for you to pick the right one.  As a thumb rule, the price of helmets can be an indication of its quality because experienced buyers believe that it is better not to buy dirt helmets that cost less than $100. When saving a buck keep in mind that it could have a far-reaching effect on your life because a poor-quality helmet could sound the death knell for you.

Helmet selection – what to look for

Five years is the typical lifespan of a good quality helmet and even if you do not see any external damages to it, go for a new one. The level of protection keeps diminishing with time because the multi-layered multi-density Styrofoam used for making helmets tend to become weak as the adhesive starts to lose its cohesiveness. Helmets have several replaceable parts like the visor, cheek pads, etc. that might need replacement during its lifetime. Ensure that the spares would be available for the brand you select.

Get a feel of the helmet by wearing it for some time at the store and only when you are comfortable with it, shortlist it for selection. The weight of the mask is a factor that affects how comfortable you feel because it could make you tired as you cannot wear it for long.

Ventilation is an essential factor for helmets because if your head is sweating profusely, it would be difficult to keep on the helmet for long. Lastly, consider the design and graphics that give the helmet its look and appeal which you may have to compromise sometimes to match it with the safety features.

Helmet safety standards in different countries

You cannot use helmets that do not have the stickers for the minimum safety standards of that country because it is illegal.  Department of Transportation or DOT certification is mandatory for helmets in the US, and every legitimate helmet has to carry the DOT sticker.  

Similarly, other countries have their standards of helmet safety.  For the European Union (EU) it is ECE-22.05, for Australia it is AS -0168, for New Zealand it is NZ5430, and for the UK it is BS or British Standard.

The highest safety rating of helmets is the Snell standard that many manufacturers follow.  The Snell Memorial Foundation has created the standard that follows stringent testing to assure complete safety.


Helmet materials

The helmet material is essential because the helmet shell is primarily responsible for safety. Different materials have different properties and offer varying degrees of hardness and protection. The shell of helmets bears the brunt of the impact, and the choice of material determines its ability to withstand it.  Helmet shells are made with polycarbonate and fiberglass, and you would also come across helmets made of Carbon fiber and Tri Composite material containing carbon fiber and Kevlar as well as fiberglass.

  • Polycarbonate – Polycarbonate is injection molded plastic used for making windshields of aircraft.  The material is durable and light but has lower penetration resistance than other materials used for making helmets. It can shatter or crack under massive impact.
  • Fiberglass – Fiberglass ranks just above polycarbonate concerning strength and the ability to resist impact. However, the weight of fiberglass helmets can be a concern for those who prefer light but sturdy helmets that are comfortable to wear.
  • Tri Composite – Carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar are the constituent materials in Tri Composite. It is like getting the best of everything because the helmets are quite strong and even lightweight that justifies its higher price.  
  • Carbon Fiber – Carbon fiber is the best material for making helmet shells, and it is so strong that Formula 1 motor shafts are made from it. Carbon fiber is also used for making MotoGP bike frames.  Extremely lightweight, carbon fiber is super strong, and the combination is just perfect for making the most robust helmet shells. However, you must be ready to pay the price because it is quite expensive.

No matter of which material a helmet is made and which safety label it carries, never buy a used helmet as it is not possible to ascertain the structural integrity that reduces with time and weakens it.

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