RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
What to look for when buying a new motorcycle helmet? Motorcycle helmets come in all shapes and sizes. The type of helmet partially determines the fit and comfort. And each type has its own specialty.
Think of a full-face helmet for racing, a motocross helmet for off road and enduro rides and modular helmets for convenience while touring. And to make things a bit more complicated; every brand and model often has its own fit and shape. Feeling a bit lost? No worries. We give you some tips for buying a new motorcycle helmet.
We won’t have to tell you that a motorcycle helmet must fit well. Aspects like safety, comfort and the prevention of head aches come into play. Don’t go for cheap this time. Think it through and set some money aside to buy the helmet that fits you best. We can’t look into your wallet, but if the more expensive one fits the best, then just go for it. But when does it fit well? You have to pick your desired type of helmet first, before we can tell you that.
More and more types of motorcycle helmets enter the market. Brands go all in with fancy designs and catchy colors. We often distinguish four types of helmets:
A full-face helmet consists of one piece and is by far the safest choice. Do you plan to go touring a lot? And do you want the convenience of having a little snack on a quick stop? And pay the gas quickly, while still wearing your helmet? Then a full-face helmet might not match your desired level of convenience. You would have to take your helmet off every time. Do you plan on racing? Or at least some sporty riding? Then the full-face helmet is definitely the best choice. The helmet ensures lots of comfort also on high speeds, thanks to the great aerodynamics and the light weight of the helmet.
The HJC RPHA 11 is such a full face helmet that was made for sporty riding. Want to know more about this motorcycle helmet? We wrote a review about it after wearing it for two years.
A modular helmet (also known as system helmet) resembles the looks of a full-face helmet. The special part; you can flip the chin piece up and down. The issues we spoke of above become lots easier. A little snack, a kiss for your partner or paying for gas while still wearing the helmet. Non of it is a problem anymore. The downside of this type of motorcycle helmet? The construction is a little less strong than that of a full-face helmet. But of course it’s still a safe choice. Just remember a system or modular helmet will always weigh more than a full-face helmet.
An open face or jet helmet is a helmet without a chin piece. They come with and without visors. This type of helmet is ideal to wear while riding lower speeds. And preferably with good and warmer weather, since your face can get quite cold when wearing this type of helmet in cold temperatures. Combine the helmet with some cool goggles or sunglasses and you’re good to go. The absence of the chin piece ensures lots of fresh air and a cool face. The downside; your face is more vulnerable in case of a crash.
Enduro or MX helmets are designed for – it’s all in the name – offroad riding. The base of the helmet is the same as that of a full-face helmet, but they’ve added a bigger chin piece and a peak. The helmet peak catches little stones and mud that’s flying around and offers some extra protection for your face. The bigger chin piece basically does the same. Enduro or motocross helmets are also often worn in combination with a pair of goggles to protect your eyes.
It doesn’t all stand or fall with choosing the right size. The fit of the helmet and the shape of your head also play a big part. Not every brand uses the same fit and shape for the helmets. In general, three shapes are used; oval, round oval and round. These shapes match the different shapes of a humans head.
We talked about different types of motorcycles and how they all got a different fit. But what about the material? What’s the best material for a motorcycle helmet? And what’s the difference?
It’s often said that a motorcycle helmet will last up to 3 or 5 years when it’s made of polycarbonate. This is due to the plasticizers that are used to keep the helmet strong. These softeners disappear over time, for example because of the impact of the weather and UV radiation. This hardens the shell of the motorcycle helmet. When it hardens it is less capable of absorbing impact in case of a crash. This might sound scary, but it happens very slowly over the years.
Do you want to spend a little less on a new motorcycle helmet? Then a helmet of polycarbonate often carries a friendlier price tag. Don’t mind to spend a bit more? Or were you able to safe a bit more? Then a motorcycle helmet that’s made of fiberglass or carbon can be a great option. These helmets can last up to 8 or 9 years. Fiberglass and carbon are more resistant to the elements. So it’s able to absorb impact for over a longer period of time. Another plus; those materials weigh a lot less. You don’t get all that for nothing. Those helmets tend to be a bit more expensive.
Keep in mind the number above are averages. Do you hardly wear your motorcycle helmet? Then it often lasts longer. Do keep in mind that the foam inside the helmet can dry out, also when you hardly wear it. This decreases the safety level of the helmet. Do you wear your helmet on a daily basis? And do you put it on and off several times a day? Then it wears off much faster. Did you crash and hit your head on the tarmac? In that case, please replace your helmet. Internal damage and cracks in the helmet aren’t always visible to the eye. Stay safe and sane and get yourself a new one. No, your wallet won’t like that. But it’s the most sensible thing to do. It’s still your head we’re talking about.
And please don’t buy a used motorcycle helmet or a second hand helmet. You never know what happened to it. It might have cracks or damage to the inside, which you can’t always see. Or the foam is dried out by sweat or from age. The helmet will give less protection in case of an accident.
To determine the right size for your new motorcycle helmet you need to know how big your head is. We mean the circumference. Go through your drawers and find yourself a some measuring tape. Wrap it around your head or find yourself a victim to do it for you while you sit still. Measure the circumference of your head just above your eyebrow and above your ears. Do it multiple times and move the measuring tape a little. You want to know the biggest circumference. Then you check the size guide on a webshop of your choice. Find the size that resembles the circumference you’ve measured. Are you between two sizes? Then choose the smallest size.
If that was all, it wasn’t that hard at all to buy a new motorcycle helmet. But due to the different fit of each brand and sometimes even each model of helmet it can still be a tricky adventure. That’s why it’s often recommended to try a few helmets in a motorcycle clothing store. This way you can feel and notice the difference between models and brands. Are you unable to go to a motorcycle shop? No worries. You can also buy a new motorcycle helmet online. We give you some tips to check whether you’ve ordered the right size.
You’ve picked a design you like and a size that matches the circumference of your head. The package arrives! Happy days. Unbox that baby and put it on your head. Try to put one finger between your forehead and the helmet. Having some trouble? Perfect. Does it slip between your helmet and forehead without any issues? Then the helmet is too big. If it won’t fit, try it again when you push against the back of the helmet with one hand. Now that finger has to fit between the helmet and your forehead. Still no succes? Then there’s a big chance the helmet is too small.
Then also wear the helmet for a bit while wearing your glasses. Go through tip 3 twice, once without wearing your glasses and once with them. Feel how the helmet fits on your head. The helmet fits evenly everywhere in the most ideal situation. Like wearing a tight beanie or balaclava. This won’t always be the case, but that’s okay. As long as it feels tight and semi-comfy, you’re good to go.
Quite some aspects have an impact when buying a new motorcycle helmet. Your own preference is ultimately a strong determining factor. You can surely wear a system or modular helmet on a supersport bike. And a full-face helmet on a naked bike. You could even wear a motocross helmet. Would that be the most ideal choice? No, maybe not. But riding a motorcycle is something personal. And in the end, it has to make you feel good.
Furthermore, the shape of your head together with the shape of the shell determines whether the helmet fits well. The range of motorcycle helmets is huge and therefore there are lots of choices. And it might sound really cliché but it’s still the best advice; go to a motorcycle shop and try a helmets. Or a lot. And don’t immediately go for cheap. Keep that pretty face safe.