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How to choose the right motorcycle helmet

Carberg-drift-Evo-Carbon-Matt

Choosing the right lid is a tricky task. With so many styles on offer, it can be all too easy to just buy the one you think looks coolest. But how do you know that’s the right product for you?

AS the only piece of protective equipment that is a legal requirement in the UK, a crash helmet is probably the single most Important bit of gear you’ll own. It’ll also for many people be the most expensive item they wear when out on the bike. And for good reason, it’s the bit that saves your brain after all.

But how do you know that the lid your looking at in the warm, dry and well-lit shop is the best one for you – given that most of the conditions you’ll use it in won’t be as warm, dry or bright as the showroom. In truth you won’t know. Not until you hit the road at least and then it’s too late to find out you’ve bought the wrong kit.

There are a few things you can do that can increase the chance of getting the right product for your needs.

Helmets on shelves

How much should I spend on a crash helmet?

The way I’ve always bought lids (and I’ve bought more than I’ve got for free before you say it) is to go for the best suited, highest quality item I can afford.

Think about it like this: You wouldn’t spend months and months saving £5000 to buy a car to ferry the family around but then go and spend half that on a rusty wreck would you? Lids are the same. Your brain is a magic sack of electrons and voodoo, don’t do it a disservice and buy the best you can afford without starving the family!

Shoei NXR MV

How do I choose the correct type of lid?

The first thing to do is work out the type of riding you do, this’ll define the construction of the lid you should use. The following examples should give you an idea of the type of helmet that will suite your needs.

What’s a full-face crash helmet?

If much of your time is going to be spent on dual-carriageways or motorways, a full face lid is probably the way to go. A full face helmet completely covers the back and sides of your head and has a chin bar that covers your lower face. Most will have a visor that protects your eyes from dust, water, stones and wildlife that could otherwise cause you harm.

If you want to do trackdays a full face lid is a must and most companies insist on these before they let you out on track.

Pros:

  • Offers the most protection
  • Most are water-tight
  • Keeps your face warmer in winter

Cons:

  • Visors can fog up in cold/wet weather
  • Must be removed in shops, garages and petrol stations

Spada-flip-front

What’s a modular crash helmet?

A modular helmet (also known as a flip-front) is a full-face lid that has a hinge – normally near your ear – that lets the chin bar flip up over the top of your head, allowing your face to be seen. They’re handy as most businesses allow flip-front lids to be worn when carrying out transactions, petrol stations and so on. They also allow you to have conversations with people without shouting, handy if you are riding in a group and stop to chat at a junction.

Some modular helmets are homologated (tested) in such a way that you can ride safely with the chin bar in the up (or flipped) position. If you own a modular lid that isn’t homologated to this standard, you should never ride with it in that manner. For some modular helmets, the chin bar forms a structural part of the shell, and when not locked in the down position, the helmet’s ability to protect you in a crash is massively reduced.

Pros:

  • Offers a good level of protection
  • Keeps your face warmer in winter
  • Can be flipped up to talk to people or enter businesses

Cons:

  • Some flip-fronts can whistle at speed due to the design of the shell
  • Visors can still fog up in cold/wet weather
  • Sometimes look more bulky and less sleek than a normal full-face lid

Check out the next page for more advice on choosing the right product for you.