With so many different styles, materials and colors available today, purchasing a motorcycle helmet can be pretty confusing. On top of this, there are many more helmet manufactures on the market today, such as Scorpion, AGV, Thor, Nolan, etc, so you really need to shop around in order to see everything that is now available.
Of course, the right helmet is the one you like enough and that is comfortable enough that you'll always be sure to wear it. Many riders choose a helmet that looks good on them or that matches to the colors of their bike and that's a good way to choose, so long as the helmet is well constructed and meets all DOT and Snell approved.
There are three basic types of motorcycle and motocross helmets: full face helmets, half helmets, and skullcaps.
Full face helmets are just what the name implies: they fit around your entire head and face. These offer the most protection and are frequently the choice of those who ride the more powerful sport bikes. These bikes have some serious horsepower and speed, making it all the more important to have maximum protection in the event of a crash, yet they must also be comfortable. Most of them contain a venting system to keep air flowing in, plus a quick-switch face shield that allows you to quickly change from a tinted face plate to a clear one. Due to the size of these helmets, it's common to see them decorated with custom graphics and bright colors. These are great helmets to individualize to your particular style and taste. When choosing a full face helmet, make sure it fits snug enough that it can not be turned when it's on your head.
Next, let's look at half helmets. A half helmet does not cover your entire head and face like a full face helmet. They cover only the top and sides of your head and frequently come with a face shield to keep dirt and other flying objects out of your face (and teeth!). If the helmet has a visor but no face shield, you can also wear goggles to protect your eyes, although goggles will not protect your nose and mouth. Half helmets are the most common choice for people who ride cruiser bikes, as they allow you greater visibility and more of a sense of freedom. Like full face helmets, they can be found in a variety of colors and graphics.
Last, we have the "skullcaps". These are helmets that cover only the top of your head and they seldom have visors or face shields, for obvious reasons. While these helmets tend to be most popular with riders belonging to clubs, they offer the least protection and frequently are not DOT or Snell approved. You can frequently find them emblazoned with the insignia of the club to which the rider belongs and / or with wild and sometimes controversial graphics. These helmets will do nothing to protect the side of your head or your face, so consider this choice carefully and with full knowledge of the potential for injury in the event that you have to lay your bike down while on the road.
The bottom line when selecting your motorcycle helmet is to pick one that you like and will good about wearing, is DOT and Snell approved, fits snugly and does not turn on your head, and is comfortable enough to wear hour after hour on the road .