Motorcycle Helmets: An In-Depth Guide to Wearing Helmets on the Road

TCMT Dot Youth & Kids Motocross Offroad Street Helmet

Motorcycle helmets and an in-depth guide to wearing helmets on the road are covered in this article to help keep you safer out on your journey.

Is there anything better than riding your motorcycle on an open road? Just you, the sky, and the 800 pounds of machinery over which you have complete control. Is this the first time you’re riding a motorcycle and want to make it back home safe?

Or are you a longtime riding enthusiast who’s been on the road for years but still have some issues you want to clear up? Whether “Born to be Wild “has been your life’s theme song for years, or you’ve just recently joined the club, we suggest you read our detailed FAQ for the most common helmet issues surrounding motorcycle helmets. 

Whether you’re a newbie at riding or an experienced one, purchasing a motorcycle helmet will not be as simple as it sounds. While there are many choices and models to choose from, there are also vast differences in pricing. Moreover, there are other crucial factors to consider, particularly the standards, safety features, and overall performance of your helmet. These will determine your comfort, safety, and protection as a motorcycle rider.

So here below is everything you might need to know and learn about motorcycle helmets- one of the most essential pieces of your personal riding equipment you’ll own- so you can have a great yet safe time out on the road!

GLX Unisex-Adult GX11 Compact Lightweight Full Face Motorcycle Street Bike Helmet:

* Compact, aerodynamic DOT shell design.
* Impeccable impact protection.
* Short-distance street performance.
* Long-distance touring comfort.
* Multiple designed ventilation panels.
* Large lower vent shutters for ease of use.
* Trendsetting springs for precise functionality.
* Unique 3D molded design to ensure a distortion-free view.

View further details here on Amazon:
GLX Unisex-Adult GX11 Compact Lightweight Full Face Motorcycle Street Bike Helmet:

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Most Common Motorcycle Helmet Issues

Q: Do I really need a helmet?

Yes. Yes, yes, and yes. There is no situation or valid enough reason for you to sit on a motorcycle and not wear a helmet! Remember that you’re sitting on 800 pounds of moving metal traveling at speeds between 50 and 150 miles per hour. Any small crash, pull, or type of collision and it’s game over.

Research has shown that your head will most likely be the first part of your body to get hit during a crash. Unless, for some silly reason that I cannot imagine, you have a death wish, never ride without a helmet. You’re already moving much faster than the human body was ever made to go. Do you need to test its impact on resistance, too?

However, if you need further convincing, there’s one more thing you should know. While you may be lazy enough not to wear a helmet because it’s not comfortable or you love the feeling of an open road, look at it this way- bugs. Yes, just that one word, bugs. 

Just imagine a million tiny insects splattering all over your face when you’re riding 100 miles per hour on the highway. Not only do you NOT want to pick out mosquitoes and flies from your teeth (we assume, if that’s your thing, that’s ok, we won’t judge), but also, it may cause you to crash. A mosquito flying 100 miles per hour and hitting your eye during a ride is a guarantee for a crash.

Another factor is the wind because no matter how fast you’re riding in any temperature outside, the wind will simply be a nightmare for you without the helmet. 

The faster you go and the colder it is outside, the more painful the wind will be. After an hour-long drive, the wind will feel less like light air and more like a steel knife. 

As a bonus, looking tough is all nice and cool, but do you want to look ten years older on account of your rough and air-bruised skin?

And the last part? Honestly, helmets make you look pretty cool.

ILM Full Face Motorcycle Street Bike Helmet with Removable Winter Neck Scarf:

* 2 visors included: clear + smoked.
* 1 neck scarf for winter use.
* Streamlined aerodynamic design.
* Reduces wind noise and drag.
* Advanced and lightweight durable abs shell.
* Quick-release clasp and strap.
* Removable inner lining pads.
* Meets or exceeds FMVSS-218.
* Meets or exceeds dot safety standards.

View further details here on Amazon:
ILM Full Face Motorcycle Street Bike Helmet with Removable Winter Neck Scarf:

Q: Which type of helmet should I get and why?

So, we hopefully convinced you to get a helmet. It can be overwhelming to choose which type, as there are so many. 

However, helmets can be split into five categories: 

  1. Full-face
  2. Off-road (or motocross)
  3. Modular
  4. Open-face (or ¾ helmet)
  5. Half-helmet

After you read all their pros and cons, you can decide for yourself which one suits your needs the best.

The full-face helmet undeniably protects your whole face. It covers the entire head with its rear watching out for the base of your skull. It also comes with a beneficial inbuilt visor that protects your eyes and a section over the front of your chin.   

With a full-face helmet, you get to enjoy a quiet, tranquil ride as it usually blocks out the sound of the road and your motorcycle. It’s probably the safest type, though it can be a bit warmer heavier (as they have much more material). With little wind resistance, they’re also a godsend for your neck and shoulders. All around, probably your best bet.

The motocross helmet is a bit different than the full-face one. It has a longer, drawn-out chin and visor part. As it’s mostly used for off-road riding, its shape helps deflect debris that’s often caused by the environment in which you ride. 

This type of helmet is also often combined with goggles that you really should get, on account of the bugs and dirt. This may at first seem like a hassle, but it’s what makes the motocross helmet great- it has the most incredible amount of flexibility and movement when you ride.

You can move your head more than you could with the full-faced type, and its design allows for a wider and greater field of vision. 

The sun visor is very important as it does wonders if you ride during the day in hot, sunny locations. The vents are specially designed to help you cool down and allow the heat to escape the helmet. 

The motocross helmets offer less protection than the full-faced type and are best used on, you guessed it, dirt roads.

The modular (or flip-up) helmet is a hybrid between the open-face and the full-face helmets. What makes them unique is that they simply have the best of both worlds. 

ILM Motorcycle Dual Visor Flip up Modular Full Face Helmet:

* High resistance abs shell.
* Micrometrically adjustable strap.
* Meets or exceeds FMVSS-218.
* Meets or exceeds dot safety standards.
* Helmet liner/cheek pads are lightweight.
* Sleek and lightweight design reduces wind noise.
* Modular flip-up function anti-scratch.
* Anti-fog and wide view clear visor.

View further details here on Amazon:
ILM Motorcycle Dual Visor Flip up Modular Full Face Helmet:

As with the full-face type, it protects the base of your head, your chin, and your eyes. If you want to talk to someone or want to breathe with a bit more ease, you can easily remove the chin bar and slide the visor up. Both the chin bar and the visor are quick to replace and move, depending on the situation. 

Keep in mind that this is the heaviest of motorcycle helmet types because it has so many additional and movable pieces. It’s also not as snug as a full-face type, making it more comfortable, making it less safe, and offering less protection. 

I suggest that you always ride with the modular helmet fully assembled and closed and open it up during slow rides or when you simply stop (since you don’t have to take the thing off to breathe). Another problem could be wind drag or high wind resistance. Because of its design, the modular helmet is less aerodynamic than other types.

Open-face helmets cover the ears, back of your head, and your cheeks, but leave open the chin (and the whole front of your face). However, they are often made with an added face shield. Some countries even demand that you have a face shield or a pair of goggles, as you can seriously get hurt and get into a crash because of debris flying into your eyes. 

Trust me, you are not that pretty, and you don’t need to show your face everywhere. Plus, the wind will make you even less appealing (unless you’re going for that aged-like-fine-wine old man look). 

On the upside, they offer excellent visibility, like you’re not even wearing a helmet. You’ll have an easier time eating and talking to people. Another plus is that they are very light.

Finally, the half helmet or the skull cap- unfortunately, they’re not called that because they’re cool (or at least shouldn’t be). They offer the least protection possible, as they cover only the top of your head. 

Some motorcycle safety foundations prohibit using these things now. If you get into a crash, you need to be very lucky and hit the pavement with the top of your head; otherwise, you might as well have “helmet hair” for nothing. 

Another problem is that they don’t even protect your eyes, as most half-helmet models don’t have visors, so you’ll have to get goggles. They also have very high wind resistance, which will make your neck muscles sore as they’ve never been before. 

At least they’re very light and offer the most head mobility. However, unless mobility is that important to you (or you want to get a neck like a wrestler after a few months of riding), there is little reason to get this type.

GLX Unisex-Child GX623 DOT Kids Youth ATV Off-Road Dirt Bike Motocross Helmet Gear:

* Precise placement of EPS material.
* More compact, lightweight design.
* Enhanced impact absorption.
* High-quality EPS liner material throughout.
* Fully removable, washable, and replaceable inner.
* Soft yet durable fabric for a plush fit and feel.
* Boasting fourteen intake and exhaust vents in total.
* Optimized to excel in off-road and motocross environments.

View further details here on Amazon:
GLX Unisex-Child GX623 DOT Kids Youth ATV Off-Road Dirt Bike Motocross Helmet Gear:

Q: Is my helmet safe? What do all those motorcycle safety ratings mean? What are SHARP, SNELL, DOT, and ECE?

Now that you’ve decided which type of helmet you want, let’s look at the most critical factor- actual protection. You’re basically looking for proof that your helmet will save your life during a crash and not crack like a piece of plastic. 

It is always best to keep in mind that tests for motorcycle helmets are a lot more challenging to plan and carry out than, let’s say car seatbelts. There are a few ways seatbelts can act during a crash and a million ways (one for each angle of impact) a motorcycle helmet can get hit.

First off, you need to keep in mind that safety rating varies from country to country. At the same time, there are a couple of these ratings valid for the whole of Europe, the United States, and Australia. These are the ECE 22.05, DOT, and AUS 1698-2006, respectively. These represent the bare minimum a helmet needs to have to do what it’s supposed to do, i.e., protect your head. 

However, there is another point, and this involves manufacturers often sending their helmets to third-party testers. This allows them to have more proof that their helmets will save your noggin even in the worst of conditions.

The test is not just for the actual impact resistance and durability but also for checking any defects around the straps, the field of vision, and the helmet’s general construction.

1Storm Dual Sport Motorcycle Motocross Off-Road Full Face Helmet:

* Advance dual sports and dual visor design.
* Inner smoked visor and outer clear shield.
* Lightweight durable aerodynamic thermoplastic alloy shell.
* Heavily cushioned and comfortable interior.
* Removable and washable interior.
* Beautiful glossy UV protective finish.
* DOT approved.

View further details here on Amazon:
1Storm Dual Sport Motorcycle Motocross Off-Road Full Face Helmet:

The DOT motorcycle helmet safety standard is the minimal (though a comprehensive) test, and you can be assured that your helmet will do its job. If you don’t see this (or the ECE or AUS) related to your helmet, you shouldn’t buy it, as you have no way to prove the helmet will save your life until you get into a crash.

The best and guaranteed proof of your helmet being safe is the SNELL guarantee. It is known as the Snell Memorial Foundation because it was made in honor of William Pete Snell. He was a racing car driver who died in a crash. His helmet was not enough to protect him. What makes this special is that it’s used by taking into account actual race track crashes. It demands a very low maximum energy transfer during testing (low means good in this instance).

This is tested using the so-called anvil, which hits the helmet at different angles and speeds to see its strength. All certifications use anvils for their testing, but few use an edge anvil, which is the most serious of types. The SNELL certifications take into account the worst situation possible and make sure your helmet will survive that. It even tests how easy it is to remove the helmet in case of an emergency.

Besides these three, there is also the SHARP certification. It’s different from other types in that it does not have the binary pass or fail rating but issues star ratings. These ratings give you much more flexibility and knowledge about the resistance and strength of your helmet. 

For a helmet to even be tested on the SHARP level, it needs to pass the ECE. This also means it’s exclusive for Europe. This certification is much more thorough than other types and gives you information, based on its color coding and stars, to know where your helmet is the most vulnerable or durable.

ILM Youth Kids ATV Motocross Dirt Bike Motorcycle BMX Mountain Bike Helmet:

* Quality ABS shell, high-density EPS padding.
* Meets or exceeds FMVSS-218 and DOT Safety.
* Multiple air vents.
* Removable cheek pads that absorb sweat.
* Adjustable sun visor for a greater field of view.
* Strong quick release buckle.

View further details here on Amazon:
ILM Youth Kids ATV Motocross Dirt Bike Motorcycle BMX Mountain Bike Helmet:

Q: I can’t find a helmet that fits me. What should I do?

This can be a grave issue. The certification mentioned above also tests for how well helmets fit, also known as helmet retention. It may seem like it’s only about comfort and looks, but actually, this can impact how well your helmet protects you during a crash. 

On a lighter note, it can ruin a fantastic and fun ride. That little annoying tightness can cause massive headaches after a few hours on the road. Not only that, but the helmet can cut off circulation in your temples, cause chafing and even make you overheat if it’s too tight. 

You need to keep in mind two elements: the size and shape of the helmet (or, instead, your head). These can be altered a bit, as some helmets have removable and adjustable pads, but these can only do so much for a poorly fitting helmet. It can also make wind noise, absolutely maddening if it fits poorly.

Now, the most obvious way you can check is to simply go to the store and try on every single helmet until you find the one that fits. This can prove problematic, though, as you would need to have the helmet on for at least half an hour before you determine where its pressure points are. However, there is an easier way and more guaranteed way. Almost every manufacturer has measurements for its products, and it’s up to you to determine whether those are ok or not.

First off, either fiddle around with a mirror or have a friend take a picture of the top of your head. This can help you get a general idea of your head shape. 

1Storm Motorcycle Modular Dual Visor Sun Shield Flip up Full Face Helmet:

* DOT approved.
* Advanced modular/flip up and dual-lens design.
* Inner smoked lens/outer clear shield.
* Lightweight durable aerodynamic thermoplastic alloy shell.
* Beautiful glossy UV protective finish.
* Removable and washable padding.

View further details here on Amazon:
1Storm Motorcycle Modular Dual Visor Sun Shield Flip up Full Face Helmet:

The other thing you should do is take some measuring tape, place it slightly above your eyebrows, and measure your head’s circumference. Then, you can compare this data with the one provided by the helmet manufacturer.

In general, you should remember that while the helmet can move slightly, it should still be snug enough that any movement will feel like it pulls your face in that direction. It should also feel tight on the cheeks and snug on the crown (or the top) of your head. To go into more detail about the cheek tightness, you should not be able to, for example, chew gum or speak clearly, but also you should not feel any pain.

Now, some helmets are more oval while others are more round. To make it easier to find out which one suits you best, you can determine if you need a wide or narrow helmet by merely seeing where you feel the pressure. 

If you feel pain evenly around your head, it probably means the shape is good, but the size is too small. On the other hand, if you feel pressure on your forehead, then you need a helmet that’s a bit narrower. If you feel pain on the side of your head and your temples, then the helmet is too narrow.

Never, ever think that just because the helmet is the wrong shape that you can only get one that’s one size larger than it should be. This is a recipe for disaster, as it’ll offer you minimal protection in case of a crash.

Bell Qualifier Street Helmet:

* The helmet is shown with an optional tinted shield.
* Lightweight Polycarbonate/ABS shell.
* Padded wind collar reduces wind and road noise.
* NutraFog II anti-fog, anti-scratch, and UV-protected shield.
* Velocity Flow Ventilation system with FlowAdjust.
* DOT approved.
* Meets the FMVSS 218 Standard.

View further details here on Amazon:
Bell Qualifier Street Helmet:

Q: How do I repair, clean, and maintain my helmet?

Let me start by saying that if your helmet was in a crash (on your specific head or not), it’s done. They are designed to actually be destroyed during a collision, as this allows them to dissipate the energy more easily and, therefore, save your life. Even if it seems like it’s ok on the outside, without any noticeable cracks, dents, or weird sounds, you still can’t rely on it ever again.

Even dropping it often, and using it as a joke in fights or whatever else your hyperactive mind can think of, can damage it. It’s not a toy; it’s supposed to save your life one day (that will hopefully never come). It probably won’t get damaged, but it can, and there is no reason to expose yourself to such a risk. 

Another critical point is that the polymers and materials used in assembling a helmet degrade over time. The average lifespan of a helmet is five years, after which it should be replaced. The visor should be replaced once a year, regardless of expense.

Try to develop good habits when handling your helmet. Please don’t drop it; store it in places where there’s plenty of dust or fumes, or have high humidity levels. Please don’t hold it by its chin bar as it can damage the straps and seals of the helmet (this is extra important for Modular helmets). Always let it sit on a clean and stable surface.

With all those bugs that commit suicide by crashing into your visor and leaving quite a mess, you should regularly clean it. 

Just take a warm, wet towel and gently leave it on your visor. Let it sit for a few minutes and then gently wipe it down. Do not under any circumstances scrub the visor with a rough surface, or use strong, irritating detergents. This will ruin the plastic and destroy your field of vision. So no dish soap or ammonia-based cleaners. 

Vega Helmets 7850-021 Helmets Unisex-Adult Half Size Motorcycle Helmet:

* More comfortable stylish helmet with its small, lightweight, custom-fit.
* Drop down inner sun shield on the Warrior half-face helmet.
* Size-adjustment dial system for the perfect custom fit for your head.
* Advanced moisture-wicking liner.
* Padded quick-release strap.
* Meets or exceeds US DOT FMVSS 218 safety.

View further details here on Amazon:
Vega Helmets 7850-021 Adult Half Size Motorcycle Helmet:

You can follow the same principles for the rest of your helmet. The other parts are less susceptible to this kind of damage, but all the chemicals mentioned above can ruin the paint and the shine. We suggest using an automotive polish or automotive wax to keep it looking as good as on the day you bought it.

Next is the hardest part, which is the lining. As a general tip, never put anything inside of your helmet except your head. Your gloves, for example, are covered with sweat and bacteria and will ruin the insides of your helmet quite quickly. 

Another general tip is that you wear a bandana. This will help reduce the helmet’s contact with your sweat and grime. Also, let your helmet air out overnight- you do not want to ride for a few hours while wearing a helmet that stewed in a stuffy bag overnight after the previous day’s sweaty road trip.

If the lining inside your helmet is removable, then you’re in luck. You simply take out the pads and the liner (be careful not to tear or damage them). Please put it in the washing machine with a very mild laundry detergent on a weak cycle and then let them air dry. Or, simply, you can hand wash them.

O’Neal 0200-S14 2Series Adult Helmet:

* Shell is constructed with ABS
* Ultra-plush removable/washable padded liner
* Multiple air vents ventilation and cooling
* Rubber roost nose guard
* Height adjustable visor
* Double-D release chin strap
* Durable multi-colored clear coated graphics

View further details here on Amazon:
O’Neal 0200-S14 2Series Adult Helmet:

However, if the lining cannot be removed, then we suggest you do the following: 

  • First, remove any pads that can be removed, the visor, and any other added and removable parts. 
  • Then, put the helmet in a container full of warm water mixed with a mild laundry detergent. Dunk it completely, and make sure you have a towel on the bottom so that the shell won’t get damaged.
  • Gently massage the liner so the detergent can enter. 
  • After you’re satisfied with doing this, rinse it off thoroughly. Let it air dry, but try to pat it down with a towel and remove as much moisture as you can. 
  • Also, use cotton swabs to clean the vents and the joints.
  • Don’t use a blow dryer; just let the helmet air dry. The heat from the blow dryer can, after repeated use, seriously damage the helmet.

Miscellaneous Motorcycle Helmet Questions FAQs

Q: If my glasses don’t fit, does that mean I need a different helmet?

No, it means you need to either get specialized glasses or goggles if you’re serious about your riding, and vision is that poor.

TCT-MT DOT Helmet Motorcycle Pink Black Butterfly Full Face Street Sport:

* Beautiful glossy UV protective finished.
* Lightweight extremely durable composite shell.
* Heavily cushioned and very comfortable interior.
* Removable and washable padding.
* Adjustable circulation vents with a flip-up visor.
* Well vented all-purpose product for summer or winter riding.
* DOT safety standard.
* Comes with a helmet bag new inbox.

View further details here on Amazon:
TCT-MT DOT Helmet Motorcycle Full Face Street Sport:

Q: What is helmet loudness?

Helmet loudness is correlated to wind resistance. The more protrusions, wings, and other knick-necks the helmet has, the louder it is. This is especially the case with helmets that have a lot of vents. If this is a serious issue for you, try to either find more aerodynamic helmets (smooth) and have fewer vents or helmets that have their vents built into the Styrofoam liner.

Q: Are there any accessories I should get?

While there are not obligatory, there are some that are very useful:

  • First, let’s consider specialized earplugs. These drown out helmet noise and other annoying sounds from the highway while not minimizing cars and sirens’ sounds.
  • A tinted visor is always a good idea.
  • A padded helmet bag.
  • Communicators are fantastic additions that let you talk to your fellow riders without distracting you from the road.
  • Duct tape to let you tape over air vents on freezing winter days.

Q: Won’t helmets increase the chance of me breaking my neck?

No. No, no, and no. This is a myth that may, at first, make sense. Of course, there is a danger of you breaking your neck when there is a helmet placed there, giving it perfect leverage to snap. However, this time, common sense fails. The helmets are specifically designed to carry away the force of impact away from your neck and onto the helmet itself.

O’Neal 0817-501 Unisex-Adult Full-face Style Sierra II Helmet:

* Shell is constructed with ABS
* Weight: 1590G ( 50G)
* Moisture-wicking, removable/washable inner.
* Air channeled comfort liner
* Integrated face shield
* Padded chin strap with double-D safety lock

View further details here on Amazon:
O’Neal 0817-501 Unisex-Adult Full-face Style Sierra II Helmet

Motorcycle Helmets Conclusion

We hope we have answered and dealt with any helmet issues you may be having. These are all the most critical points you need to know when buying or taking care of your helmet. Please keep it safe, keep it clean, and respect it. The helmet might just save your life one day.

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