Whole article with thanks to https://www.infinitymotorcycles.com/news-and-events/motorcycle-helmet-buying-guide
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A helmet is the best protective gear you can wear while riding your motorcycle. It won’t prevent crashes, but it will protect you and reduce serious injury. A good helmet also makes riding better; it helps stop wind blasting in your face, wind noise roaring in your ears and deflects road dirt, bugs and other UFOs. It also shields you from changing weather and reduces rider fatigue.
Your helmet is the most important piece of your kit, so choosing the right one is VERY important. Simple enough, except finding the right helmet isn’t as easy as picking the size and colour. You need to consider the whole package. What’s more, with all the different options and brands on the market it’s pretty hard to know where to start. That’s where we come in. Over the last 17 years, we’ve helped thousands of customers find their perfect helmet across our 14 stores and now, we want to share our collective knowledge with you guys.
Whether you are a veteran tarmac grinder looking to replace an existing lid or you are just starting off, this guide is designed to equip you with everything you need to know about finding your perfect motorcycle helmet.
HOW DO MOTORCYCLE HELMETS WORK?
Helmets have four main components that work together to provide protection: an outer-shell, an impact absorbing liner, comfort padding and a good retention system.
THE OUTER SHELL
Usually made from fibre-reinforced composites or thermoplastics, this is the tough stuff. It’s designed to compress when it hits anything hard, dispersing the energy from the impact to lessen the force before it reaches your head.
THE IMPACT-ABSORBING LINER
Normally made from expanded polystyrene, this dense layer cushions and absorbs the shock.
THE COMFORT PADDING
This is the soft foam and cloth layer that sits next to your head, helping to keep you comfortable and the helmet fitting snugly.
THE RETENTION SYSTEM
Also known as the chin strap, this is another vital part of the helmet. It is the one piece that keeps the helmet on your head in a crash. Every time you put your helmet on, you should fasten the strap securely.
Both the shell and the liner compress when hit hard, spreading the forces of impact throughout the helmet. Some helmet shells delaminate on impact, others may crack and break when taking a severe hit. These are two ways a helmet can act to absorb the shock and it means it’s doing its job.
Helmets should meet the minimum safety requirements for the European standard ECE22.05. The ECE22.05 motorcycle helmet standard is the basic European helmet standard that covers both the helmet and the visor. ECE stands for ‘Economic Community of Europe’, ‘22’ stands for the number of regulations for testing, and ‘05’ stands for the amendments made to the regulation in 2005.
ECE22.05 approved helmets normally have a marking on the helmet stating that they are approved to this standard, this can usually be found on the strap of the helmet.
It’s important to remember the ECE22.05 is not necessarily a reflection of the quality of the helmet.
HOW TO CHOOSE A MOTORCYCLE HELMET
WHICH MOTORCYCLE HELMET SHOULD I BUY?
The simplest answer to this question is: the one that fits you best. Even the safest helmet on the market will fail to protect you if it’s so loose that it comes off in a crash. Fit should always be your first concern when finding the best helmet. Here’s what you need to know…
WHAT MOTORCYCLE HELMET SIZE AM I?
Measuring your head yourself isn’t always the most accurate way to judge its size. So ideally we’d recommend you coming in to one of our stores to try helmets on, especially if this is your first time. However, if you do plan on doing it yourself, it’s best to know the right way to do it.
HOW TO MEASURE YOUR MOTORCYCLE HELMET SIZE
The key measurement you want to get is the circumference of your head from your forehead, as this is what helmet sizes are measured on. It’s important to measure your head at its widest point, using a cloth tape measure. Measure around your head above the ears, across the forehead and over the natural bump at the back of your head. It’s important to keep the tape measure level whilst doing this. Make sure it feels firm but not too tight.
Motorcycle helmets come with a variety of different internal shapes and it is one of the most important factors to understand when buying a motorcycle helmet. Most motorcycle helmets can be characterized as generally having a ‘neutral’, ‘oval’ or ‘round’ shaped internal profile, using the elevation view (looking at the head from the front or rear). The internal fit of some helmets can be modified by changing the cheek pads or crown liner.
HOW IS A MOTORCYCLE HELMET SUPPOSED TO FIT?
When wearing a full face helmet, your cheeks should remain in contact with the helmet as you turn your head from side to side. The cheek pads should push on your cheeks, but not so much you bite down on them and the helmet should not push too much on the front or top of your head. Make sure that you cannot simply lift your helmet off whilst strapped in. If the helmet moves or slips whilst you move your head, it’s probably too large and therefore the wrong size.
Remember: it would be impossible to find the perfect fitting lid without trying on several different helmets first.
FOLLOW THESE CHECKS TO TEST YOUR HELMET IS THE RIGHT FIT:
- Put the helmet on and secure the chinstrap so you can fit no more than two fingers between the helmet and your jaw.
- With the helmet on and the chinstrap fastened, hold the chin bar and try to move your head from side to side. If your head moves side to side freely in the helmet then the helmet is too big. The helmet lining and cheek pads should be in direct contact with your skin. While shaking your head, your skin should move with the helmet.
- Place one hand on the back of the helmet and push forward. Use your other hand and try to slip your little finger through the visor aperture, between your forehead and the helmet lining. If there is room for more than just the tip of your finger, the helmet is too big.
- Place one hand on the chin bar and push up (while the chin strap is secured). If the helmet comes off your head, it is too big. Next, place one hand on the back and push up again. If the helmet rolls off of your head, it is too big.
- Lastly, try and sit in your helmet for at least 10 minutes or so to get a better understanding of how it will feel on for a longer.
If you’ve ordered your helmet online, we recommend testing the fit by keeping it on whilst watching MOTD or an episode of Corrie. You may look a bit daft, but having the helmet on your head for a long period of time will make you more certain of the fit.
Remember: Many helmets may feel comfortable for the first minute or so, trying a helmet on for a longer period of time will make you aware of any pressure points that may develop over time.
HOW TIGHT SHOULD A MOTORCYCLE HELMET BE?
A helmet should fit tightly to begin with, because over time the padding will compress, making the fit a little looser. It should not however fit so tight it feels painful or gives you a headache. It should fit snugly around your whole head and the internal padding should act as a comfortable cushion between your head and the helmet’s externals. There should be no gaps between your temples and the brow pads. The cheek pads should touch your cheeks without feeling uncomfortable. If the helmet has a neck roll, it shouldn’t push the helmet away. Comfort and safety are as important as each other when trying on your helmet. Any protection that a helmet could offer is of no value if it is too uncomfortable to wear.
MOTORCYCLE HELMETS AND NOISE
There are many variables that can make it extremely LOUD when you’re out on your bike including: the motorcycle you ride, the weather and your helmet. Whilst some helmets have been intrinsically designed to be quieter than others, it varies so much based on the rider it is impossible to ever say ‘this helmet is the quietest’. That is another reason why it’s so important to get a helmet that fits your head shape correctly, especially around the neck.
The noise levels on a motorcycle can seriously damage your hearing and wearing a helmet may not always reduce noise levels significantly while riding. So you should wear good quality, properly fitted earplugs whenever you ride.
It’s incredibly important to have a properly fitting helmet (have we said this before?!) so the weight of the lid is evenly distributed around your head and shoulders. A lightweight helmet can feel heavier and put strain on your neck if the fit is wrong.
MOTORCYCLE HELMET VENTILATION
Decent airflow through a helmet is an important factor when it comes to comfort. The clean air helps to keep you cool when riding in hot weather and ensures it stay fresh inside your lid. Look for inlet and outlet vents at the top, side and back of the helmet that are easily opened and closed with gloved hands. A good ventilation system should provide direct paths for air to flow on to your face/head and be capable of shutting off air flow completely. Vents on the chin are also handy as it prevents the visor from misting up.
The efficiency of a helmet’s ventilation system can only really be judged when you’re out riding.
To ensure you find the best possible fitting helmet we strongly advise you coming in to one of our stores and to be fitted by one of our experts, especially if it is your first time buying a helmet.
So you’ve got the fit and comfort down, what next?
Here are the other key questions you should ask yourself before stepping in store or clicking on our helmets page.
WHAT WILL I BE USING MY HELMET FOR?
Once you’ve thought about safety and fit, you want to think about usage:
- Is the helmet for touring or short bike rides?
- Will you be riding in the city or out in the country?
- Will you be commuting or only riding for pleasure?
- Do you plan to ride at night?
- What about the weather?
The situation in which you will be riding your bike always should be taken into consideration when choosing your helmet. For example, if you are doing a lot of miles, your main priorities (other than fit) should be a quiet and lightweight helmet, good for long distances. If this is the case, you may want to add a Schuberth to your shortlist, as they make some of the quietest helmets in the world. If you ride as part of a group you’ll probably want a Bluetooth ready helmet so you can talk to your friends while you’re riding.
WHAT TYPE OF HELMET DO I WANT?
There are three different types of helmets you can choose from: open face helmets, full face helmets and flip front helmets.
A full face helmet offers you the greatest level of protection and is the most popular type of helmet amongst motorcyclists. A full face helmet usually has a moveable visor that protects your eyes when closed.
Why do people choose full face helmets?
- Shield you against the weather
- Better aero dynamics
- Greatly reduce noise levels
- Peace of mind (that you have the most protection possible)
Full-face helmets can get hot so it’s important to choose a helmet with a good ventilation system.
Open face helmets are constructed with the same basic components as a full face helmet, but do not offer the face and chin protection of the full-face alternatives. They are popular with cruiser riders, scooter riders and anyone who finds a full-face model claustrophobic.
Why do people choose open faced helmets?
- Fewer blind spots
- Enable you to be more aware of movements and noise around you
- You can wear them whilst paying for petrol
If you use an open face helmet it is recommended to have a snap-on visor in place when you ride or a pair of goggles that can withstand the impact of stone or other debris. Prescription glasses or sunglasses may not be sufficient protection.
Flip front helmets, sometimes referred to as modular helmets, have become increasingly popular in recent years. These lids offer both the protection and security of a full face helmet and the convenience of nipping in to the petrol station without needing to take your helmet off. Most of the flip front models we sell have only been tested and approved as a full face helmet however, there are several models that have been tested as an open-face helmet too. So make sure you check. If you are looking for a helmet you can wear both ways we suggest: The Caberg Duke.
It is an offence to ride with a non-approved helmet in the open position.
HELMET COLOUR AND DESIGN
From a safety point of view, you may want to consider choosing a helmet that will make you more visible, especially if you plan on riding in the dark. Picking a lid with some contrast helps other drivers spot you on the road.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A NEW HELMET?
We’re glad you asked. Here is a list of features many other riders look for in a new helmet. Generally:
- Multiple vents and exhausts that are easy to open/close
- Easy removal
- Wind tunnel tested
- Weight (1.5kg is about average for a full face helmet)
- D ring or rachet chin strap
- Replaceable cheek pads to tailor the fit
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN THE OUTER SHELL
- Material: fiberglass, carbon fibre or a composite
- Sleek/aerodynamic (to reduce buffeting)
INSIDE THE HELMET
- A multiple density shock absorbing interior (for added shock absorption)
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN THE INTERIOR LINER
- Easily washable
- Sweat absorption
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN THE VISOR
- The visor should have an opening that doesn’t block your vision and can be easily adjusted for air flow
- Wider aperture for increased peripheral vision
- Easy open and close
- UV protection
- A tight seal
- Pinlock ready (a pinlock visor insert helps prevent a visor from misting up)
- Easy removal
- Internal drop-down sun visor that is easily deployed (great for changeable conditions)
Through Bluetooth you can have GPS navigation control, listen to music and make calls. You can purchase a Bluetooth device along with your helmet and ask us to install it at the same time. Alternatively, you can buy a Bluetooth-ready helmet and have a helmet-capable Bluetooth device installed later.
QUESTIONS WE’RE OFTEN ASKED
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND ON A MOTORCYCLE HELMET?
We get asked this question a lot and it’s a difficult one. It all comes down to how much you value your life. That doesn’t mean only the most expensive helmets on the market are the safest, are lightweight, or have good ventilation. There are helmets at both ends of the scale that are all three.
It means you shouldn’t pick a sub-standard helmet for the sake of cost-cutting or saving money. In other words, always go for fit over price and spend as much as you can afford on your helmet. As we said at the start, your helmet is the most important piece of kit you’ll own.
At Infinity we know investing in a helmet can be a big financial commitment, that’s why we offer 0% finance when you spend more than £400 with us, so you can spread the cost and pay for your new lid in instalments.
WHAT ARE THE BEST MOTORCYCLE HELMET BRANDS?
At Infinity, we only stock helmets from brands we trust, love and use ourselves. Some of the more popular and well-known brands include HJC, Shoei, Arai, Schuberth, AGV and Caberg helmets. There are many different models in each manufacturer’s range that have slightly different features and price points to suit different people.
WHAT MOTORCYCLE HELMET IS THE BEST?
Again, this is another really difficult question to answer. The five most popular selling helmets both online and across are stores are:
1. LS2 Strobe
3. HJC IS-Max 2
4. Shoei NXR
5. Shoei GT-Air
However, this does not mean that one of these helmets will necessarily be best for you.
WHAT MOTORCYCLE HELMETS ARE BEST FOR GLASSES?
Some helmets like the Shoei Hornet ADV, have grooves where the linings of the pads go to enable you to fit your glasses on underneath. HJC also has a good selection of helmets for glasses wearers. Flip-front lids make the job of putting glasses on after your helmet somewhat easier.
If you intend to wear glasses under your helmet, make sure you try your helmet on with your glasses.
WHAT MOTORCYCLE HELMETS ARE BEST FOR CONTACTS?
The wind will start to dry out your contacts if you’re on a longer ride. A full-face helmet will definitely help prevent this.
WHAT MOTORCYCLE HELMET IS THE QUIETEST?
It’s impossible to tell how noisy a helmet will be as there are many varying factors. A good tip for finding a quiet helmet is to look for a lid with a smaller neck to stop wind traveling up inside it.
Schuberth are well known for producing some of the quietest helmets on the market.
WHAT MOTORCYCLE HELMET IS THE SAFEST?
The safest motorcycle helmet is the one that fits you best. Also look for the sticker that shows it has passed EU safety standards.
WHAT MATERIAL IS BEST FOR THE OUTER SHELL?
A fiberglass shell is the go-to for strength and it’s lightweight too. Carbon fiber is also very lightweight and a popular choice for racers.
WHAT HELMET IS BEST FOR RIDING IN HOT WEATHER?
If you’re riding in hot weather you want a helmet with good ventilation, so open-face or flip-front helmets are an obvious choice. If you are after a full-face helmet, look for one with plenty of vents and exhausts to aid a continuous flow of fresh air through the helmet. You’ll also want to look for a helmet that has a sweat-absorbing liner and a visor with UV protection the GT Air is a good place to start your search.
DO I NEED TO BREAK MY MOTORCYCLE HELMET IN?
Yes, all new helmets need breaking in however this depends on how often you ride and for how long. The average is around 2-3 weeks when worn every day.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU REPLACE A MOTORCYCLE HELMET?
Helmets should be replaced on average every five years. You should replace your helmet immediately after any kind of crash.
MOTORCYCLE HELMET AFTERCARE
HYGIENE AND SMELL
It can get pretty sweaty when riding and your lid may start to get a little smelly. You can get spray cleaners for your helmet, but it’s important you clean your helmet properly at least once a year.
HOW TO CLEAN A MOTORCYCLE HELMET
Removable interior linings can be washed by hand, on a hand wash or delicate cycle in the washing machine. A very mild soap, specialist helmet cleaner and soft cloth are good for removing grime, oil and dirt from the outer shell. Remember strong detergents can damage the helmet’s protective coating and/or design. Using the wrong cleaning product on your helmet can render it useless, so always check which products are recommended for use with the manufacturer. If you have a removable liner, first remove the cheek pads, breath guard, visor and so on. Then hand wash it with clean water, a very mild soap or a specialist helmet cleaner.
Never put a wet helmet in the cupboard. Always pat it dry to avoid leaving water spots and leave your helmet in a cool, DRY place to air-dry. Using heat to help speed up the process can cause the glue used in the helmet’s construction to weaken.
OTHER POST-SALES ADVICE
- Don’t store your lid near fuel, cleaning fluids or excessive heat as these can damage the materials.
- Never put stickers on your helmet. The glue can damage some thermoplastic and polycarbonate helmets.
- Always carry your helmet correctly. This means doing up the chinstrap and carrying it like a handbag, or in the bag it was in when you bought it. Don’t carry your helmet by the chin bar.
- Don’t hang your lid from your bike mirrors, fence post or anything similar. This can damage the interior lining and it’s most probably going to end up on the floor.
- Don’t store your gloves inside your helmet. The dirt from bike gloves is one of the major factors that reduce the life span of your helmet lining.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH MY OLD HELMET?
You can donate old helmets to your local St John’s, Fire/Ambulance or Police station for motorcycle accident and RTC training. If you are going to bin your old helmet make sure you cut the chinstrap off first.
So, there you have it. All the important things you need to know about buying and caring for your motorcycle helmet. If you take one thing from this guide remember: fit over price, but spend as much as you can afford on your helmet after all, it is the most important piece of kit you’ll own!
Whole article with thanks to https://www.infinitymotorcycles.com/news-and-events/motorcycle-helmet-buying-guide