Learn to ride with Visordown: Choosing a helmet

How to find the right helmet for you

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Submitted by Tim Skilton on Mon, 01/07/2013 - 14:01

Comfort is the most important factor when choosing a helmet

MODERN SAFETY helmets are wonderful things. They're brimming with the latest technology, like lightweight composite shells and ingenious induction-style venting, which makes today's lids the most comfortable yet -- if you pick the right one.

And we've never had a better selection to choose from. Take a look inside any decent bike accessory shop and you'll usually see a dazzling array of stunning designs glistening in glass showcases. Some are simple with minimal frills, others look like something out of Battlestar Galactica. Some cost around £50, while others over £500. But how do you know which one's the right helmet for you?

Passengers need a helmet too!

Full or open face

By law, everyone riding a motorcycle in the UK needs to wear a helmet. Whether it's a full-face race replica or an open face retro-style lid that takes your fancy, every helmet must have a European safety standard ECE-2205 label. Full face helmets obviously offer greater protection in the event of a crash, from the elements and flying objects, like stones and even birds! Open face helmets are less restrictive, often offer better peripheral vision and are usually lighter in weight. Flip up front helmets, usually worn by Police riders, are a handy compromise but should only be in the 'up' position when you're stationary.

Open faced helmets won't stop wind, rain and flying debris

Flip front helmet - not to be opened when riding - although plenty do

Where should I buy it from?

Buy from a reputable shop, as most have trained staff that'll measure your head properly to ensure you get the best fit. They'll also have a large variety of sizes, colours and different makes of helmet to suit individual head shapes. NEVER buy a secondhand helmet, even if it's cheap, as it could have been involved in an accident. A first class full face can be picked up for £150 - £200.

Which helmet brand's the best fit?

Remember that everyone's head shape is different. Just because your mate's helmet fits him perfectly doesn't necessarily mean it'll be right for you, so be open-minded rather than hell-bent on buying particular model if something else fits better. I personally love Rossi's paint scheme's but AGVs just don't suit my head shape.

Just because it fits Rossi doesn't mean it'll fit you

How do I know it's a good fit?

Put the helmet on. Do up the strap and try to move it around on your head. Don't be too concerned if the cheek pads seem a little tight, they'll bed-in over a time. The fit round the crown is most important. Any pressure points are a sign that it's too small or the wrong make for your head shape. Take advice from the shop staff - most will have sold scores of helmets before and will give valuable advice on which helmet's best.

Take your time

Wear the helmet while you're perusing around the shop. If you find it irritating after ten minutes then imagine what it'll be like after two hours. Try on as many makes as you can. This could involve traipsing around various shops but it'll be worth it in the long run.

What about mail order?

Avoid buying helmets through mail order unless you know exactly the make and size you want. There's nothing more frustrating than getting a badly fitting lid and then having to send it back to the shop through the post. It's often costly too.

My instructor said to avoid buying a black helmet. How come?

They may look cool, but black or dark coloured helmets aren't easily visible and show scratches in no time. You're much more likely to be seen by other road users if you're wearing a brightly coloured lid.

What about 'old stock' being sold off cheap?

Check that the helmet meets the European standard ECE22-05 -- there should be an identification stamp clearly marked on the helmet. Also check the date of manufacture, again this should be visible inside or on the chinstrap -- you don't want to be buying old stock made ten years ago.

My mate's offered me his old helmet for free?

Never buy or even accept a secondhand helmet. It may sound tempting but you don't know if it's been dropped. And even if it hasn't the helmet will have bedded-in to the previous owner's head shape, not yours.

Should I replace it if I have an accident?

A helmet is a one impact device. Once it's taken a hefty knock the shell and the shock absorbing liner have done their job and must not be reused. Always replace a damaged helmet and never sell it on.

It may look useable but a damaged helmet should be scrapped

The Golden Rule

Remember, it's your head. Go with the helmet that feels best for you, no matter what the cost. But remember, the most expensive helmet might not fit as well as a cheaper one. Spending £500 doesn't guarantee it's comfortable.

Taking Care of Your Helmet

When you're not wearing your helmet, keep it in the bag (most come with one) and preferably in a box to avoid damage. It's not advisble to leave any helmet out in the sun for long periods of time.

Keep your visor clean. Products like V2 visor sponge are handy for removing bugs when you're out and about.

Only use warm water and mild soap to clean your helmet. Avoid chemical cleaners and abrasive materials as they'll damage the shell.

If you're struggling to remove bugs from your visor after a long ride then place a warm damp cloth over it and leave for a few minutes. This will soften the dead flies making them easier to remove.

Avoid balancing your helmet on your bike seat or hanging it off the handlebars -- it'll get knocked off sooner or later. Place it on the floor instead.

A visor insert's a great way to prevent misting

If you're struggling with a misting visor then consider fitting an insert, like Fog City, as it'll help elminate the problem.

Finally

Always buy the helmet that's the most comfortable -- even if it's not the flashy race replica you really wanted. A badly fitting lid's a total pain in the arse and a great fitting one's an absolute godsend.

Look after it, keep it clean, don't lend it to anyone and always replace it if it takes an impact.

MODERN SAFETY helmets are wonderful things. They're brimming with the latest technology, like lightweight composite shells and ingenious induction-style venting, which makes today's lids the most comfortable yet -- if you pick the right one.

And we've never had a better selection to choose from. Take a look inside any decent bike accessory shop and you'll usually see a dazzling array of stunning designs glistening in glass showcases. Some are simple with minimal frills, others look like something out of Battlestar Galactica. Some cost around £50, while others over £500. But how do you know which one's the right helmet for you?

Full or open face

By law, everyone riding a motorcycle in the UK needs to wear a helmet. Whether it's a full-face race replica or an open face retro-style lid that takes your fancy, every helmet must have a European safety standard ECE-2205 label. Full face helmets obviously offer greater protection in the event of a crash, from the elements and flying objects, like stones and even birds! Open face helmets are less restrictive, often offer better peripheral vision and are usually lighter in weight. Flip up front helmets, usually worn by Police riders, are a handy compromise but should only be in the 'up' position when you're stationary.

Where should I buy it from?

Buy from a reputable shop, as most have trained staff that'll measure your head properly to ensure you get the best fit. They'll also have a large variety of sizes, colours and different makes of helmet to suit individual head shapes. NEVER buy a secondhand helmet, even if it's cheap, as it could have been involved in an accident. A first class full face can be picked up for £150 - £200.

Which helmet brand's the best fit?

Remember that everyone's head shape is different. Just because your mate's helmet fits him perfectly doesn't necessarily mean it'll be right for you, so be open-minded rather than hell-bent on buying particular model if something else fits better. I personally love Rossi's paint scheme's but AGVs just don't suit my head shape.

Continue reading Choosing a helmet

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