A motorcycle helmet is very likely the most important item of gear you’ll ever buy. As exhilarating as riding is, safety is not something that can be forgotten or pushed aside. Wearing a helmet has plenty of benefits, including: decreasing the likelihood of a fatality in the case of a wreck, making the rider more noticeable to other drivers and thus decreasing the odds of getting in a wreck in the first place, and protecting the rider from the elements. By choosing the right helmet, riding can be an even more enjoyable experience, knowing you have that crucial protection surrounding your head, and comfortable protection from rain, sun, and wind.
But once you’ve decided to pick out a helmet, where do you start? There are many different kinds of motorcycle helmets, and choosing the helmet that’s right for you depends on a number of factors, including your style of riding and your location. And once you’ve chosen the right helmet for you, there are plenty of ways to customize it to your own style and preferences. There are five main types of motorcycle helmets, so let’s cover those now.
Full Face Motorcycle Helmets
Full face helmets without a doubt provide the greatest protection of any style, and are most likely what you picture when thinking of a motorcycle helmet. Like all helmets, they’re designed to protect your head, thanks to the full side and frontal overage are designed to protect your jaw and face as well. Similarly, the full coverage design provides ample protection against the elements, such as rain, sun, or wind. These helmets also make for a nice, quiet ride, due to the fully enclosed design. Full face helmets are not free of setbacks, and predictably are slightly heavy compared to their less-coverage counterparts.
Open Face Motorcycle Helmets (or ¾ Helmets)
As you can probably tell from the names, open face helmets provide decidedly less coverage than full face. Like full face, open face helmets cover the back, sides and top of the head, but unlike full face they do not cover the front, lacking a chin bar and often lacking a face shield. In general, open face helmets are typically popular amongst cruisers and scooters, and give off a distinctly vintage feel due to their style. Benefits of the open face helmets better visibility due to lack of obstructions on the helmet, and a lighter, more airy feel.
You can think of modular helmets as the middle ground between full face and open face. They are similar to full face helmets in structure, however instead of one fixed unit the chin bar is on a hinge that can be lifted up or removed entirely, affectively transforming into an open face helmet. Again, a modular helmet will provide less protection that a full face, but more protection than an open face when the chin bar is in use. The main benefit of modular helmets is their versatility, allowing the rider to choose a full face or an open face helmet style, depending on the particular ride.
Half helmets are less popular with motorcycle riders than scooters and cruisers, due to the minimal protection they provide. Often times, the helmets provide protection only for the top of the head, leaving the back and sides of the head partially exposed. Again these helmets are extremely light and offer great visibility, but protection from falls and from the elements is being sacrificed.
Off Road Helmets (or Motocross Helmets)
Off road helmets are similar to full face, but are built specifically for off road riding like racing and motocross. Because of this, they are outfitted with very specific features, including a sun peak or visor, and a lack of built-in face shields, as they should be worn with goggles. They’re designed to be as light as possible while maximizing ventilation, so they usually come with a unique venting system.
Picking Your Perfect Helmet
Once you’ve decided on the type of motorcycle helmet that is right for your riding needs, there are countless options for picking the one that suits you best. Custom motorcycle helmets are popular, and allow the rider to wear a helmet with whatever colors and graphics they desire. Skull motorcycle helmets are fairly popular as well, sporting a paint job that makes the helmet look like one massive skull.
If you want to take customization even further, one extremely cool feature that can be added is a motorcycle helmet camera. By attaching a simple mount to your helmet, you can ride with a camera whenever you please, either to memorialize a great road trip or document a new trick you’ve been perfecting. There are all kinds of ways to customize your helmet, but the most important thing you can do is just make sure you wear one.