Motorcycle Helmets: Choose your perfect Fit & Style
The technology applied to motorcycle riding is getting better by the day. It is mandatory in most countries in the world that all riders wear motorcycle helmets all the time. This ruling is not arbitrary; there are lots of years of backing evidence. If you have been a rider for some time, you might be aware of the benefits of wearing a helmet. If you are just starting out in the wonderful world of riding, then you should learn all you are about to read. Wearing a motorcycle helmet could save your life and that of others, read on and find out which is the best for you. Also, I will give you a couple of tips and show you the most fabulous accessories you can add to your ride to be safer and more comfortable.
Motorcycle Helmets History
The story of motorcycle helmets takes us one hundred years to the past. It was the year 1914, and the early motorcycle racing scene was starting to gain strength in the United Kingdom. The Brooklands race track was the place where Dr Eric Gardner worked as a medical officer. What he first noticed was that he had many cases of riders with injuries in their heads that were very risky for their lives.
He came up with the idea of designing a motorcycle helmet to use in the track so there would be no more head injuries. The risk of dying with a helmet and those without it are very different, but we will get to that soon. Let´s fast-forward to the Isle of Man TT races where the helmet was made compulsory for the first time. The resulting concussions and head injuries of any kind after the race were zero.
Let me do fast-forward twenty years to the death of the famous Lawrence of Arabia. He was riding near his house when two cycling boys came across. He swerved the bicycles, hit a rock and died in a coma six weeks later for hitting his head. After this event, the use of a motorcycle helmet became mandatory for all riders (civilians included).
The history of motorcycle helmets starts just like that, to stop injuries and death. It was created because the injuries and deaths were occurring at the time and not the other way around. So, the first question solved: not wearing a helmet in 1914 was wrong; not doing it in 2018 is absolute madness.
Motorcycle Helmet Types
There are many types of helmets the same way there are many types of riders and bikes out there. To answer the eternal question of which one you should buy, we will review the main styles. After that, we will suggest the best to purchase and highlight the improvements technology made over the years on them.
Which are the basic types of motorcycle helmets?
- Full-Face Helmet
- Off-Road Helmet
- Modular Flip Helmet
- Open-Face Helmet
- Shorty Helmet
When talking about road helmets, the full-face helmet is the best protection. These types of helmets are designed to cover the entire head including the base of the skull and the chin. It has had many variations over the years because of riders´ needs and complaints. Mainly, the first thing you feel when you slide one of these on (at least my experience) is suffocated and isolated. It depends largely on the use you give it and the helmet´s quality, but it is generally the first sensation.
Over the years and with the different applications, these full-face helmets have been modified, and today we have many options. For example, urban scooter riders prefer jet helmets, and for those who love to travel more a modular is the best choice.
This is one of the best inventions regarding motorcycle helmets. Let me tell you my story with it. I have always been a rider, ever since I was a teenager and met this woman of whom I fell in love. She lived in Texas, I am from Seattle, we met in New York. You guessed correctly, I moved to Texas (where I have three little girls and a house with her). I was very used to wearing my full-face helmet and be ok with the weather up North, but when July came along in Texas it was just unbearable. Moreover, the amplitude of the weather in this state is just mesmerising.
To make a long story short, I was melting inside my old helmet and freezing with my new 3/4 one until I saw one of these. It was in the window of a bike shop looking straight at me. I ran inside, tried it on and when I lifted the whole front side of it, a lot of fresh air just hit my face. It was the solution, I could lower the chin part as I sped up the highway and lift it for street-cruising. If you happen to live in a place like Texas, this is the helmet for you too.
Off-Road (Motocross) Motorcycle Helmet
The main two differences between a regular full-face motorcycle helmet and an off-road one are the chin and visor. The chin is wider, and the visor is much bigger. The idea behind these modifications is to allow more air into the helmet itself. This feature gives more room for the rider to breathe. When you are riding out in the open, avoiding big bumps and trying to have fun, you wish to connect with what´s around you. This is the essential part of doing off-road kilometres, feeling the speed, the adrenaline, the air. If you have ever been on a big motorcycle, accelerating in the mud, you know that you need to breathe and feel freedom. Some of the best brands are Arai, Fox, Leatt, Airoh, Shark, Shift … and many more 🙂
Also, since most off-road motorcycle riders wear protective goggles inside the helmet, space is bigger. Most of these kinds of motorcycle helmets feature a hardcover in case you need to protect yourself more. The extended chin coverage can save your jaw in the case of an unwanted accident. It happened to me once, that the bike sledge in the mud a little too much and I hit a small rock with my chin. My helmet broke, my smile is still intact.
This is a type of motorcycle helmet that covers the base of your skull all the way to the forehead. It is open in the front part and doesn´t offer any chin protection. The benefit of such a helmet is the freedom and the beautiful sensation of wind in your face. The con is, of course, you are not as protected as a full-face one. Most modern 3/4 helmets come with a front windshield that covers the full extent of your face.
This kind of helmet is usually beautiful, really cool, but not as useful in the event of a crash. I used to ride a black Harley Sportster and had a 3/4 helmet that was all black with a blackened windshield. I was the king of the road, but less protected than with my full-face one. It is a great motorcycle helmet for high temperature and casual riding at your own risk. I do not recommend you buy one without a windshield because of bugs.
This kind of motorcycle helmet is a half helmet and goes only on top of your head. If you ask me, it is the best-looking kind of helmet and takes me to the rocking sixties scene. If you happen to have a great pair of Ray Ban Aviators or Wayfarers, just slide the helmet on and look at the mirror. It is a killer, but unfortunately, it provides way less protection than all the others mentioned before.
I used to have a shorty at home, and it is the minimum protection allowed by US laws, but my wife won´t let me use it anymore. Marriages sometimes are like that, you need to have the flexibility to negotiate certain things.
Best Motorcycle Helmets
These are the best price-performance motorcycle helmets you can buy in 2018 in my opinion.
Safest motorcycle helmets
Conquer´s Snell-approved Auto Race Helmet
For fast riders out there, who love that matte black finish and living on the wild side staying safe at all times this is the best pick. It looks fantastic and is entirely made of light-weight fibreglass with a kevlar strap and a nicely padded inside. The material of the filling is fire-retardant while the outer material is fire resistant. Another cool spec about is the vents that keep your head fresh at all times. No communication technology, just amazing protection and killer looks.
YEMA Modular Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
Yes, of course, I was going to choose a modular flip helmet for this list. These are the ones I use every day! Let´s start again with the looks, this motorcycle helmet looks menacing, like the one you can see a Yakuza guy wear. Again, matte-black, superb aerodynamics with ABS shell and fantastic, mushy multi-density EPS. The ventilation system in it works like a charm and if you want more, just flip it open. The interior is fully removable, and you can wash it if you like and has a quick-release buckle that is great.
Smart motorcycle helmet
ILM Stealth Bluetooth Motorcycle Helmet
When you buy a smart motorcycle helmet, it is utterly imperative that you go for safety too. A helmet is a protection measure to keep you safe. That being said, the great looks and state-of-the-art technology always help a lot. This specimen has built-in speakers that can whisper the GPS signals right at your ear. This is so useful on long trips it is hard to describe. The noise-cancelling microphone allows phone calls to be amazingly crisp. Bluetooth means that you can blast Van Halen all road long if you like. Finally, the handy intercom is amazing for riding in groups. The only downside I find for it is that the visor is not anti-fog, so you have to bring an extra one for foggy days.
Why is wearing a motorcycle helmet so important?
When you become a rider, you know that you are not the safest ride on the road, but more likely the opposite. The only thing that separates your body from the soil, the asphalt or other vehicles is clothing and your helmet. According to a study from 2008 about motorcycle crashes of riders with and without helmets, the results back up the idea of wearing one. Motorcycle helmets, according to the results, reduced head injuries about 69%. Also, the mortality by head injury dropped 42% in those wearing motorcycle helmets at the moment of the crash. These are real statistics from only ten years ago, so it is important to bear them in mind.
For riders like us, safety should come first (along with the looks, of course). If you pay close attention to your helmet, add the devices I told you about and ride consciously, you might find yourself ageing on a bike. There are few things better than sliding your favourite motorcycle helmet over your white hair and hitting the road with your daughters on a sunny Sunday afternoon. You don´t want to miss that, stay safe, wear a motorcycle helmet.