Motorcycle Helmet Styles

Motorcycle Safety No Comment

As you all know by now, motorcycle helmets are a critical aspect of riding both for legal and safety reasons.  All helmets are intended to protect riders from injury if a fall occurs and improve the overall riding experience. There are several different motorcycle helmet styles and types on the market today which we discuss below. The different helmet types are generally interchangeable but typically best matched depending on which type of motorcycle you are riding and what type of rider you are.  Without doubt, as motorcycles have become more powerful over the years the need for a well performing helmet has increased dramatically.  So, before you discover the best motorcycle helmets our guide below will help you understand the different styles.

Full-Face Helmets

biker safety Shoei GT Air Yellow helmetThere’s no disputing that full-face motorcycle helmets are the safest helmet type available.  They are considered the safest due to the amount of protection they provide. These helmets cover the entire head as well as the majority of the face. The hard shell of the helmet, which is heavily padded for both comfort and protection, extends from the brow over the head and ends at the base of the skull.  Full-face helmets also cover the cheekbones, jaw and chin area.

Full-face helmets include a clear acrylic visor to protected the eye area which slides over the viewport to block out the elements such as rain and wind as well as dust, debris and any other vision obstructions.  The visor is also helpful at preventing eye fatigue while riding.  Full-face motorcycle helmets also include a chinstrap to secure during use and usually come with a venting system to allow for adequate airflow.  Full-face helmets are popular with those who ride sports bikes or simply those wanting the maximum amount of protection.

Although full-face helmets are the safest helmet type they do have their disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that they are heavy and due to this weight neck fatigue can occur.  Full-face helmets are also quite limiting on your vision and other senses given the enclosed design. Fortunately with today’s technology full-face helmets are becoming lighter to improve comfort without compromising safety.

Flip-Up or Modular Helmets

biker safety Shoei Neotec Open helmetThe flip-up or modular helmet is similar in appearance to a full-face helmet but have a moveable face protection shield or chin-bar which slides up to the top of the helmet as desired at the push of a button.   They are designed to allow for riders to communicate, have a drink or bite to eat without removing the helmet fully.  This can be a tremendous advantage for certain typed of riders and they are particularly popular these days with police officers.  Note that in most cases the chin-bar is meant to be in the closed position while riding and should only be moved when stationary.  Only certain ‘dual-certified’ helmets may be worn with the chin bar up when riding.

While these helmets are greatly convenient you should take note that they will never be as protective as a solid full-face helmet.  In addition they tend to be the heaviest of all the helmets.


Three Quarter Shell or Open Face Helmets

biker safety Shoei RJ Air helmetThree quarter shell or open face motorcycle helmets are very similar in construction to the full-face helmet but do not extend fully around the face. This helmet extends from the brow, over the head and stops at the base of the skull.  It also covers the ears and features a chinstrap to secure.

One of the great aspects of this type of motorcycle helmet is that they can be quickly removed. It is also very easy to communicate with other riders while the helmet is in place. Overall you’ll find these types of helmets are better suited to Harley-type riders and even law enforcement.  The level of protection is enough to pass DOT standards in most cases but again you won’t get the type of protection afforded by the full-face cousin.




Half Shell Helmets

biker safety GMax GM55 helmetHalf shell (or “shorty”) motorcycle helmets are the least restrictive helmet type available as they only cover the top half of the skull.  It’s by far the lightest helmet type but as you would expect due to its lack of coverage the half-shell does not provide much in the way of protection.

The half-shell helmet type is popular amongst riders who are generally not fond of helmets. They are best suited for those who ride cruisers and hence you’ll typically see them worn by biker groups (think Hells Angels!).




Off-Road Helmets

biker safety Shoei VFXW helmetOff-road helmets are popular with motocross riders and are designed to allow for the use of separate goggles.  As such the chin and visor stick out much further than on a full face helmet and allow a much greater airflow that is needed for these types of sports.  The visor offers eye protection from the sun and from road debris when the head is angled downwards.

All in all these helmets do offer excellent protection but obviously suited to a particular type of rider.



Novelty Helmets

One type of helmet to steer well clear of is the novelty helmet or “beanie”.  These offer little to no protection at all and only serve to keep your head covered from the sun.  Remember, always check for the DOT certification when buying your helmet.

Last word…

Overall, when it comes to motorcycle helmets the fit is key. A helmet that is too tight will result in a headache and one too loose can cause neck strain. To ensure the correct fit we recommend having a professional perform a helmet fitting for you.  You can then go and buy the same helmet from an online vendor typically for much less than you’d pay in the store!

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