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How to Buy the Right Helmet

Notoriously fragile, your head’s worth protecting. Follow these four steps to hard-hat happiness

1. Choose your style

Wendy Hearn is Arai UK’s marketing supremo: “Consider what kind of riding you do. If you spend all your time on motorways you’ll need a helmet that performs in a different way to one that’s designed for city dwellers. If you spend a lot of time riding two-up, an open-face or flip-front helmet can be useful since they can make communication easier in town. Race replica helmets might not be the best option. The vents, visor aperture and chin bar are all designed to suit racing, not commuting.”

2. Features and budget

Now that you know what style of helmet you’re looking for, you need to consider your budget. Regardless of the Sharp rating system – the flawed DFT-backed initiative designed to help people choose helmets – what your mates suggest or what the salesman in the shop says, you need to set a budget and spend all of it. Doing this will narrow down your options and allow you to consider the features you want. Built-in bluetooth is gaining popularity, but do you really want someone yapping in your ear?

3. The perfect fit

Paul Mousell is the race and dealer technician for Shoei helmets in the UK: “I recommend you ask the salesman to help measure you up. Line up the helmets you want and wear each one for at least five minutes. You may feel a little stupid but you won’t find out what the helmet feels like unless you spend some time in. After a few minutes, pressure points on your head will let you know if a helmet is working with your head shape. Play with the retaining system, too. The seatbelt type are easy to use with gloves on but don’t provide the security of a traditional double D-ring.”

4. Looking after it

Never put your gloves inside your helmet when you get off your bike as the dirt and fuel residue on your gloves will kill the inside of your helmet. Velcro fasteners will also tear at the fabric of the lining as you yank your gloves out. Clean your helmet properly at least once a week but ensure the cleaning products used are suitable. If you are using a Pinlock or a Fog City, take it out and clean it periodically. If you are unsure about refitting any parts, speak to the shop you bought it from. Most staff are trained in helmet aftercare as well as sales and will be happy to give you advice.