I think most new riders understand that they should wear a motorcycle helmet when riding their new motorcycle but not very many of them likely understand what makes a good helmet and what makes a smart decision. It is far more than just matching the helmet to the same color as your motorcycle. This article is going to be a quick checklist of some points to consider when purchasing your new helmet. I will be expand on each point with a more detailed article if you are not comfortable and need more information.
1. Safety Certification
We would all agree that a helmet is not of much use if it provides you with no protection. A helmet that meets the standards of the Department of Transportation will come with a DOT sticker affixed to the helmet which is a stamp of assurance that the helmet at least meets a minimum level of safety as determined by the DOT In a nutshell, the DOT certification requires that a helmet be able to absorb a certain amount of energy and prevent most penetrations. It must also have a fastening system that will keep the helmet on your head despite a significant amount of force.
Snell is another certification that takes helmet safety to even another level so make sure you look for the DOT and / or Snell certifications on your helmets.
2. Fit and Comfort
A huge factor in the safety of a helmet is how it fits. A helmet that fits well will not come off in an accident and a helmet that is comfortable is one that you will not mind wearing. Both are key factors to your safety. A helmet should fit snugly so that it is stable when you shake your head in any direction. The helmet should not move or slide around on your head at all. You know you are pretty close when the helmet is snug enough such that your skin will move with the helmet when you move the helmet with your hands.
Comfort is very personal to the individual but some general things to consider are the comfort level of the padding. A quality helmet will have firm padding covered in a soft liner that feels good against your face. It should provide a good seal around your ears but not be so tight that it is painful and it should feel good against your forehead. A small pressure point on your forehead can develop into a huge amount of pain after a few hours.
3. Helmet Retention
Helmet retention could be considered part of the fit of the helmet but it bears mentioning separately as well. When a helmet is firmly secured on your head you should not be able to pull it off until you remove the strap. If you can, then it is either a poor design or it is a poor fit. Keep searching until you find one that can not come off your head.
4. Helmet Coverage
This is simple … the more coverage the better. A Full face provides the best amount of protection, a 3/4 helmet would be next, then a half helmet and then of course no helmet would come in last in regards to protection. Study after study will show conclusively that a helmet will reduce the level of damage incurred in an accident, regardless of what anyone tells you.
It of course is still your decision to wear one or what kind to wear but just remember, the more helmet coverage you have, then the better the protection will be if all else is equal.
Cost should not be a factor when it comes to safety but of course it is. Just make sure you spend enough to get the job done. I've seen too many people spend 10k on a shiny new motorcycle and 100 bucks on the helmet that could protect their brain. Look for the DOT certification and make sure you buy a helmet that is quality made. Some brands to look for are HJC, Shoei, Arai, Shark, Joe Rocket etc.
Hey, let's face it. People are vain creatures and I am sure you are no different. You want to protect your head but you want your helmet to look good while doing it. Most riders will try to match the helmet to the bike somewhat and if that makes them happy then I am all for it. Anything that makes you more apt to wear your helmet is something that I am in favor of you doing.
A helmet that looks good and that you feel good about, is one you will wear …. and that's the best kind of helmet.