Helmets, in many parts of the
USA, and in many other countries n the world, are mandatory when riding
motorcycles, scooters or ATVs. Riding a motorcycle is a dangerous thing, and
a small accident is never far away. Simply loosing your foot while coming to
a stop at a red light and falling over is not as rare as you might think.
When your head hits the ground, not matter at what speed, it will suffer
consequences. It's therefore a good idea, even if the local law does not
make it mandatory, to use a motorcycle helmet.
But buying a helmet requires a few thing you need to look out for.
Fitting A Helmet
No matter what kind of a
helmet you buy (apart from half helmets), one thing that you need to make
sure off when fitting a helmet:- once it is on, make sure it fits snuggly.
When your helmet is on, and the chin strap is closed (preferably tightly),
move the chin protector or the top of the helmet with your hand. You must
feel resistance! If the helmet moves very freely, it will come off if you
have an accident, and you loose the benefits of its protection.
But do watch out. A helmet that is too tight is bad for you. It will prevent
proper blood circulation, and make you tired, even dizzy.
Many types of helmets can be found with a moveable sun visor. This
should be on the top of your shopping list when looking for a new
The sun visor is something you can move up or down to diminish the sun
if it is shining in your face, much like sun visors in cars.
everything in this world, there are always several choices, and your choice
of a helmet is one of them. There are 4 main groups of helmets available,
each with more manufacturers than what you will ever need.
Mostly, each category of helmet has its usage, though most can be used for
Integral/Full Face Helmet
The safest type of helmet out there is the “full face,” also known as
“integral helmet”. Integral helmets cover your whole head, and the
helmet consists of one piece. The chin and mouth protection is an
integral part of the helmet, so if you do hit the pavement, your chin,
mouth and teeth should be well protected.
USAGE: The integral helmet is used mostly for speed riding, like
races and fast street motorcycle, but also for touring or long distance
riding. It is never used for riding off road, unless it's a purpose made
off road helmet (see below).
SOUND: An added advantage of an integral helmet is that it
isolates outside sounds more than any other type of helmet.
FITTING: Fitting an integral helmet needs a bit more patience and
experience. If you wear glasses, you will need to take them off before
putting on the helmet. You need to slide the helmet, usually with the
top part high, and squeeze it over your head.
The helmet should fit very snuggly. Make sure the mouth/chin protector
does not sit on your mouth, and that there is sufficient space between
your mouth and the protector.
Modular helmets, also know as
flip-up helmets, are your next best bet in terms of safety, and one of
the most widely used helmets. They offer a full face protection, but the
chin/mouth protection flips away from your face when not riding.
The chin protector usually slides up, after pressing a button or two,
but some models offer the protector sliding sideways.
The advantage of a modular helmet is that it is easier to put on, and
you can instead of having to remove your helmet to, for example, talk to
someone, you just slide open the front part.
The downside is that it does offer a little bit less protection, since
it has been known that in some accidents, the chin protector has broken
on impact. A lot of will depend on the quality of the manufacturer.
USAGE: Street and touring.
FITTING: Fitting a modular helmet is easier than an integral helmet, but
as with all helmets it should fit snuggly. When you put it on, move the
chin/mouth protector completely up (or sideways), take the sides of the
helmet with both hands, and gently move apart.
While holding the sides gently apart, slide the helmet over your head,
and then release the sides. Close the chin protector and make sure the
helmet fits snuggly, but not too tight.
SOUND: Modular helmets offer a good protection against outside noise and
Open face helmets, also known
as jet helmets, are helmets that offer head and ear protection, but are
totally open in the front, apart from usually a visor.
Although some open face helmets have a metal chin protector, usually a
metal rod, they offer no protection if your face hits the pavement.
Most open helmets have visors, some even have an extra sun visor.
USAGE: Street, commuter and often found with scooter riders.
FITTING: Fitting an open/jet helmet is easy. Hold the sides and gently
pull apart, sliding the helmet over your head.
Open helmets tend to move more than integral or modular helmet, so the
strap is a very important part of the helmet. When your strap is closed,
preferably quite tight, there will be more movement, but your helmet
should stay in place when juggled.
SOUND: Open face helmets offer an adequate sound protection.
Off-road helmets are meant for riding off-road, motocross or enduro.
Their shape is a bit like an integral helmet, but the chin/mouth
protector extends more forward, offering a better protection when
hitting the ground when you fall of your motorcycle, and offering you
The helmet rarely has a visor, and you will need to use goggles that fit
FITTING: Fitting an off-road helmet is like that of an integral
helmet, it requires a bit of experience, since they are quite tight. If
you wear glasses, you will need to remove them before you put on the
You will need to ensure that the helmet fits pretty tight on your head,
since the chances that you fall are much higher off-road than on the
street. But makes sure your blood can flow properly in your head.
SOUND: Off-road helmets offer some sound protection, though
usually the noise of riding off-road is so high, the sound protection
will be just enough to avoid you from becoming deaf.
Many of the
types of helmets now offer you an integrated Bluetooth communicator,
either with the helmet, or something you can fit afterwards.
These Bluetooth units offer you the ability to use your mobile phone,
listen to music and/or your navigation device, and communicate with your
pillion. Some even allow you to communicate with other motorcycle
riders, as long as they have the same equipment.
In case you are wondering which helmets offer the best protection, and
built the best, offering the best sound protection, one reference exists
in the world, at that is in the United Kingdom. They have a government
testing facility which tests many helmets, rating them for their