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Different Types of Motorcycle Helmets
Most people agree that wearing a motorcycle helmet is an essential part of riding safely. But one helmet is not equal to the next. There are many different models and standards for motorcycle helmets, and all of them have varied benefits and downsides. Here are the different types of motorcycle helmets and which offer the best protection.
There are six primary motorcycle helmet types
We can separate a motorcycle using its shape, functionality, and protective features. Typically, that leaves us with six categories of helmets:
- Off-road &
- Dual-sport Helmets.
Some of them separate themselves from the others by their general build, others have differing areas of use. Other subcategories of helmets can be defined by their additional abilities, like smart helmets that include helpful electronic technologies. If you buy motorcycle helmets, using these categories can help you find the helmet that suits your needs the most.
Full-face helmets cover your entire head, including your face, chin, and neck. Next to the hard shell covering the back and sides of your head, forehead, and chin, there is a clear or tinted visor protecting your eyes.
The helmet is lined with several layers of foam and padded to comfortably frame your head and keep the helmet in place. Underneath the chin is a strap to secure it additionally. The chin bar protects your chin and jaw. It has a built-in ventilation to keep the inside of the helmet cool and dry. You can manually open and close this slit in the winter to keep the cold out.
This all-around protection makes the full-face helmet the safest type of motorcycle helmet. Many of the following helmets can be classified as full-face helmets. Their builds and features differ slightly to make them more appropriate for their specific use.
- High protection & comfort, low airflow. Good for road use.
Open-face helmets, or ¾-helmets, only cover the top, back and sides of your head and leave your face and chin open. Some have visors, but many offer no eye-protection. This is the type of helmet you often see on casual cruisers and scooters. It is less heavy, restrictive and lets you breathe freely.
However, these factors also make it ill-fitted for motorcycles. They are among the least protective kinds of helmet.Studies show that the chin receives about 50 % of severe impacts in a motorcycle accident. With an open-faced helmet, your chin, jaw, and nose have no protection and would be badly injured.
- No protection for chin, jaw, and nose. For slow cruising. Insufficient protection.
The half helmet covers even less area than an open-faced helmet. Here, the sides of your head are largely uncovered. They also lack a visor of any kind. Naturally, these kinds of helmets are the most comfortable and light, and some still have good safety certificates. If you want to use high-quality protective gear, however, you should stay away from both ¾ and half helmets.
- Barely any protection. Inadequate.
The modular helmet has two modes: a ¾-helmet or a full-face helmet. You can use this helmet the same way as a full-face helmet and have a similar level of protection. What makes the modular helmet special is that you can flip the chin bar and visor up to open up the front.
The hinge structure needed for this feature makes this helmetslightly heavier and less effective when it comes to impact protection.
Since the modular helmet is often built specifically for an upright riding position, the weight and shape are not made for forward leaning riding positions.
- Slightly less protective &heavier than a full-face, but more flexible.
Off-road helmets can be considered full-face helmets, though they typically lack the protective visor. Since their intended use is for off-road riding, they have different requirements than a regular street helmet. The chin bar of these helmets is more prominent and the visor area is wider, which allows for a better air circulation. This also lets you combine this helmet with additional eye-protection like goggles.
They are typically built to be lighter than regular full-face helmets and have more aerodynamic shapes. Since many use them for racing, not all of them are suited for an upright seated riding position and additional body armor or neck braces, so be aware of the helmet’s angle when buying. They often come with fewer options to accessorize with bonus features like Bluetooth speakers.
- Good for racing. A lot of air flow & light build.
Dual-sport helmets hit the sweet spot between off-road and full-face helmets. It has a less protrusive chin bar than the off-road helmet, which makes it more soundproof and reduces airflow. It also comes with a full-face helmet’s level of padding and comfort. At the same time, it uses the off-road helmet’s wider visor and often allows us to flip it open and use goggles instead to increase the air circulation.
The visor is shaped more aerodynamically than it is with regular full-face helmets. This makes dual-sport helmets more appropriate for racing, since speed and a forward leaning riding position do not cause wind to lift it.
- Halfway between full-face & off-road helmet. Flexible for road & off-road riding.
Full-face helmets offer the best protection on the streets. They have great padding, soundproofing, and strong protective qualities. However, their general shape and heavier build does not always make them appropriate for racing. Here, off-road helmets allow for a better airflow and are aerodynamically shaped to keep the helmet from lifting in the wind and a forward leaning riding position.
The best mixture of both can be found in a dual-sport helmet, which is as protective and comfortable as a full-face helmet, but more aerodynamic, with the option for increased airflow by opening the visor. Only ¾ and open-face helmets do not offer the kind of protection a motorcycle rider should look for.