When you are riding a motorcycle, you are more exposed than you would be in a four-wheel vehicle. The best way you can protect yourself on two wheels is with a motorcycle helmet. It seems like common sense, but data supports that wearing a proper helmet will greatly reduce the risk of death or traumatic brain injury to a motorcycle rider in the event of an accident.
Motorcycle Helmet Types
A half helmet is exactly what it sounds like, half a helmet. This helmet only covers the top of a rider’s head and does not protect the ears, face, or chin. These helmets also do not have face shields to keep debris away from the eyes and faces of the riders. Half helmets are lighter and provide more air flow than those below, which makes them popular in hot weather. Though these helmet are favored by more fashion forward riders, they seriously lack protection.
Up one step from half helmets, open-face helmets protect the rider’s head and ears but not the chin or face. They also provide more ventilation and some say more visibility than a full-face helmet. Because these helmets do not cover the rider’s face, they allow for drinking water while riding, though leave your face exposed to possible bugs and debris..
Full-face helmets offer the most protection to riders. They protect your entire head and also reduce wind and road noise. The addition of an internal sun visor that can be flipped down also helps with sun glare. The downside of these helmets is that they can get hot and cause sweating. Though, some manufactures are attempting to combat this with varying levels of ventilation and removable, washable liners.
Modular helmets bridge full-face with open-face helmets. These helmets have a hinged chin bar that allows the rider to eat or drink while wearing it but can be flipped down for the added chin protection. However, this convenience does compromise the helmet and creates a weak spot that can be damaged on impact. Similar to full-face helmets, many models include an internal flip-down sun visor, removable liners, and ventilation to make them more pleasant to wear.
Other Safety Considerations
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that all motorcyclists always wear a helmet that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. You can easily check if a helmet meets this standard by looking for the DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet and checking the permanent inside label for the manufacturer and care information. All helmets that meet FMVSS 218 will weigh around 3 pounds, have thick polystyrene-foam lining, and sturdy chinstraps.
As important as the helmet that you choose, it’s even more important that it fits you properly. An ill-fitting helmet could move around and fall off when you need it most. To determine your proper fit, the first thing you need to do is check your head shape. The three most common shapes are long oval (head is longer front-to-back than it is side-to-side), intermediate oval (slightly longer front-to-back than side-to-side), and round oval (same dimensions side-to-side as front-to-back).
Once you have determined your head shape, measure your head using a cloth tape measure. Begin an inch above your eyebrows and circle the largest part of your head. Reference the manufacturer’s sizing charts to find your right size helmet.
The last step is to try helmets on. The fit should be snug, but without pressure points. When the chin strap is fastened, you should not be able to wiggle the helmet. Ensure you can’t fit your fingers between your forehead and the padding nor that you are able to move the helmet by lifting the back off your neck. If you aren’t sure, consult a reputable and knowledgeable retailer.
For a more in-depth look at how to choose the right motorcycle helmet, watch this video from the NHTSA. No matter the length of your trip, ALWAYS wear a helmet. In the event that you are in an accident, make sure you have the right motorcycle insurance for the right price. Get a free quote from Safe Auto Group Agency and Dairyland today.