Part 2: Honest advice that will make you buy a motorcycle helmet
While colour, design and price may be a part of your decision about which helmet to buy, think first about protection and comfort.
A full-face helmet gives the most protection since it covers more of your face. It usually has a moveable face shield that protects the eyes when it is closed.
A three-quarter, open-face helmet is also a choice of some riders. It is constructed with the same basic components, but doesn’t offer the face and chin protection of full-face helmets. If you use an open-face helmet, you should have a snap-on face shield in place when you ride, or buy a pair of goggles that can withstand the impact of a stone or other debris. Prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses are not sufficient protection, and they might move or fly off.
A off-road / motocross helmet has clearly elongated chin and visor portions, a chin bar, and partially open face to give the rider extra protection while wearing goggles and to allow the unhindered flow of air during the physical exertion of this type of riding. The visor is to allow the rider to dip his or her head and provide further protection from flying debris during off road riding. It also keeps the sun out of the eyes of the rider during jumps.
Modern off-road helmets include a (typically angular, rather than round) chin bar to provide some facial impact protection in addition to protection from flying dirt and debris. When properly combined with goggles, the result provides most of the same protective features of full face street helmets.
Modular (flip-up) helmet, is a hybrid between full face and open face helmets for street use is the modular or “flip-up” helmet, also sometimes termed “convertible” or “flip-face”. When fully assembled and closed, they resemble full face helmets by bearing a chin bar for absorbing face impacts. Its chin bar may be pivoted upwards (or, in some cases, may be removed) by a special lever It is also popular with people who use eyeglasses as it allows them to fit a helmet without removing their glasses.
Many modular helmets are designed to be worn only in the closed position for riding, as the movable chin bar is designed as a convenience feature, useful while not actively riding. Since the chin bar section also protrudes further from the forehead than a three-quarters visor, riding with the helmet in the open position may pose increased risk of neck injury in a crash.
A “shorty” half-helmet protects even less of your head. It is more likely to come off your head upon impact. Therefore, “shorty”, half-shell helmets are not recommended. Novelty helmets – characterized by a thin or non-existent liner – must be avoided.
A lot of good helmets are available today, in a range of prices. One look around your dealer’s helmet display will convince you that nearly any look you could want from a helmet is readily available.
Many manufacturers are color-coordinating their helmets with the newest motorcycle models. And the days of heavy or cumbersome helmets are over. They’re made of lightweight, modern materials and are improved each year. Manufacturers are also working to make them less expensive, stronger and more comfortable.
What you must know when choosing a helmet is that it meets minimum safety standards. If you are getting an imported helmet in India, look for the DOT (Department of Transportation) sticker on the inside or outside of the helmet. The sticker means the helmet complies with the safety test standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation. A Snell sticker may also appear on a helmet, meaning the helmet also complies with standards set by the Snell Memorial Foundation. Helmets made in India gets ISI certified and do check for ISI mark on the helmet before you buy one.
Each organization has rigid procedures for testing:
- Impact – the shock-absorbing capacity of the helmet.
- Penetration – the helmet’s ability to withstand a blow from a sharp object.
- Retention – the chin strap’s ability to stay fastened without stretching or breaking.
- Peripheral vision – the helmet must provide a minimum side vision of 105 degrees to each side. (Most people’s usable peripheral vision is only about 90 degrees to each side.)
ALL new adult-sized helmets for on-highway use must meet ISI standards. Helmet dealers and distributors must ensure that all the helmets they sell bear the ISI sticker. Whatever your helmet choice, be sure it has this certification.
You don’t want an inferior helmet or one designed for another purpose. If someone tries to sell you one without it, don’t buy it. If your helmet has no ISI sticker, do not wear it.
Helmets with DOT/ snell certifications are also available. Snell has been testing helmets for decades. Unlike DOT standards, Snell testing is revised (most recently in 2010) as helmet design and technology improve.
The agencies attempt to reproduce, under test conditions, the situations that are hazardous to motorcyclists. Their testing methods differ, but the intent is the same: to make certain any helmet they recognize has life-saving, shock-absorbing minimums.