The problem with having more helmets and features to choose from than ever before is that the choice is that much more complicated. With retail prices ranging from under $100 to over $800, there’s a quality helmet for just about any budget. This is our helmet buyers guide and it’s intended to help you make an educated decision on which helmet is right for you. There are several helmet coverage configurations to choose from, most of which are tailored to the needs of a specific riding style. There are some basic terms that are used to describe different types of helmets including open face and half-helmets (you may also hear these called three quarter or full-coverage), full-face and modular configurations. There are a few new styles on the market today that cater to the growing dual-sport or adventure touring riders as well as snowmobile-specific and dirt bike helmets on the market, all of which are designed to fit the unique needs of off-road riders. All helmets must meet DOT standards as a minimum but that is not the only standard you should be aware of. Most manufacturers meet or exceed DOT, SNELL, ANSI and BSI standards, many of which are recognized globally but not all of which satisfy DOT requirements here in the USA.
Every helmet design consists of a hard exterior commonly referred to as the shell, which surrounds some type of foam liner that offers the impact protection. A soft fabric liner and cheek pads are used to make sure the helmet fits correctly and is comfortable. Helmets have a way to secure them to the rider’s head, usually by a strap that uses a D-ring closure system to allow you to tighten it across your neck. We will go into more detail on each of these details in the rest of this guide but you should have a general idea of what parts make up a helmet.
Types of Helmets:Open face helmets cover primarily the crown of the head and offer varying degrees of coverage down the back of the head depending on the design. Half-helmets are popular among cruiser riders but are also a favorite for scooter riders and those who prefer to have the wind in their face when they ride. Here are some of the benefits and concerns with this style of helmet. The trade-off for wearing a helmet that provides less crash coverage is that the open face styles are lighter at the 2-lbs. range and are generally considered cooler when riding in warm weather than a full-face version. Open face three-quarter helmets cover further down the back of the head and also over the ears, but still leaves the rider’s face unprotected from the elements or debris. Generally, open face helmets offer an unobstructed field of vision but they also require the rider to wear eye protection like sunglasses or goggles. Some open face helmet designs offer some type of face shield that provides eye protection while retaining the open face look and feel. The reduced crash protection associated with an open face helmet is a risk many riders are willing to pay in order to meet state and local helmet law requirements. Even though an open face helmet might not offer the same level of protection as a full face helmet they are a great compromise for the rider looking for a little insurance against injury in the case of a crash.