Why do we ride? Why do we insist on twisting the throttle to the stop, banging through the gear box as fast as we can? It’s simple; we crave the thrill of speed. Riding is our escape to the ultimate freedom that only exists on two wheels. Part of that thrill and freedom is leaving behind the over-cautiousness of regular life, the cages of society that tries to dictate what’s safe and good for us. We know miles on the highway or laps on a track is better therapy visit to a psychologist, but that danger that excites us can also hurt us.
Protecting your head is the highest priority in terms of safety, so it’s no surprise that a helmet is the most vital piece of protection you can wear. Here at Motorcycle Superstore, we strongly encourage every rider to wear a helmet, because we want to see you riding for years to come (and also required by law, save for a few states). So what should you look for in a helmet? What makes a helmet safe and right for you? These questions have stumped not only beginner riders, but even seasoned veterans. There are a few factors that play a major role in determining what route you should take when choosing a helmet. Style, fit, safety ratings, budget and plenty more factors all come into play.
How or where you ride can determine what style helmets will make riding more enjoyable. For example, a long distance touring rider will have different demands out of a helmet than a racer at the track or a biker cruising to his next rally. Luckily there are helmets purpose built for virtually every riding scenario, which is good news for us riders!
Full Face – Full face helmets are the most popular style of motorcycle helmets because they are the safest and can be worn for almost all types of riding. No matter if you’re a commuter, racer, tourer or cruiser, a full face helmet is a perfect fit. The design of a full face helmet offers full coverage, with a chin bar and a shield protecting your face.
Modular - Full coverage when you need it, open face when you want it; modular or flip-up helmets are incredibly versatile with the ability to turn a full face into an open face helmet by flipping up the chin bar. If you’re on a scenic backroad, take in the view open face. When it’s time to hit the highway, pull the chin down for full face protection. Most popular amongst adventure and touring riders, you can get the best of both worlds with a flip up helmet.
Half Helmets/Open Face Helmets – Craving the wind in your face? Half helmets and open face helmets give you the feeling of freedom with protection. If you ride a Harley or metric cruiser, a half helmet is right up your ally eliminating the confinement of a full face lid. Vintage or café races rejoice with the retro vibe of a ¾ or open face helmet, just strap on a set of goggles or shades and you’re ready to ride.
Off Road/Motocross Helmets – Riding in the trails or at the mx track require a whole different helmet than on the road. Lightness and ventilation are two of the primary focuses for a dirt bike helmet. As a very physical type of riding you need a helmet that is easy to move around and will keep you cool. Now even though these are full face, they lack the shield a street helmet may have, and are typically more compact in size.
The only way a helmet is going to protect you, is if it fits. The most expensive, safest helmet in the world won’t do its job if it doesn’t fit properly. Every helmet on our site has a size chart from its respective brand, so always take a look before you purchase (not all manufacturers use the same sizing). If you’re not sure what size you are, how to get your measurements, or what a properly fitting helmet feels like, checkout our full guide to helmet sizing and fitting.
So how do you know if a helmet is considered safe? For motorcycle helmets, the safety standards are set by three primary organizations: DOT, ECE and Snell. Every helmet page on Motorcycle Superstore (and even the helmets themselves) will say the ratings of the helmet. Some helmets are rated for one, some for two and others are rated by all three standards. Each organization has different methods on how they achieve their ratings, but in general, ECE and Snell are considered a higher rating than DOT. You can read more about each of the certifications and how each test is conducted in our motorcycle helmet buyer’s guide.
This question always comes up “how much should I spend on a helmet?” There’s no easy answer for this, but we’ll rebuttal with “how much is your head worth?” You don’t always have to have the most expensive helmet, to get safe and quality helmet. However, respected brands like Shoei, Arai, Bell, AGV, Schuberth and others spend countless hours dedicated to providing the safest helmet available and often have affordable styles. Sure, they may be a bit more expensive than an entry level lid, but you’re getting proven protection and science behind the helmet as a whole.
Other things that factor into price are the features. Removable sweat-wicking liners, tinted shields, shell construction, internal sun visors, ventilation, Bluetooth compatibility are all features that can be found on various helmets. The best way to approach buying a helmet is figure out what features you need most for your style of riding, and find a helmet within your price range that has what you need. Obviously, the more features you want, the higher the price.
Hopefully this has added a little fuel to your quest for the ultimate helmet. Styles, fit, safety ratings and price are all things to take into consideration, however there are a few other tools you can look for to help you on your journey. Read up on other rider reviews and see their take on the helmets. Often you’ll see candid and honest comments on fit, sizing, features they enjoyed and even things they didn’t love about the helmet. Also, many of the helmets we sell have featured videos where we break down everything about the helmet, so you can see firsthand what we think. So before you think about letting out the clutch on your next ride, make sure you’ve got a well-fitting, well-equipped helmet that will keep you safe while you’re out there twisting the grip!