When it comes to protective gear, a helmet should be at the top of your list. A quality motorcycle helmet has the advantage of protecting your head from injury in the event of a crash, and can shield your face from debris. It also protects you from rain, sunburn and the cold.
It is a mandatory requirement, in all states and territories of Australia, to wear a helmet which meets Australian standards when riding. Our Australian and European motorcycle helmet blog article provides an in-depth look into the types of standards and how to check that your helmet is compliant.
Whether you are a first time rider, or have been on two wheels for 20 years, there is no shortage of helmets to choose from. We've created this guide to help you distinguish between different helmet types, features and brands, to help you find your match.
TYPES OF MOTORCYCLE HELMET STYLES
There are three major motorcycle helmet styles, each of which have their own unique features and advantages. We break them down here.
Full Face Motorcycle Helmets
A full face helmet is characterised by its fixed chin bar that wraps around the lower half of the shell, providing coverage to your jaw, chin and mouth. The visor, made from shatterproof material, spans from the bottom of your nose to your brow line, providing visibility. This design maximises head, face, and neck protection in a crash.
The "full face" coverage not only safeguards against crashes but also shields you from road debris, airborne elements, and adverse weather. The helmet's full enclosure reduces road and wind noise, improving ride comfort. Full face helmets also tend to be more aerodynamic, resulting in less drag - and that means strain on your neck when riding at speed.
Inside, thick padding separates the rider's head from the external shell. This padding provides comfort and, importantly, absorbs and disperses impact stress away from the rider's head.
The full face helmet sets the highest standard for rider safety, reducing injury risks and enhancing the overall riding experience.
Best suited for:
- All road riders
- All weather conditions
Our top full face helmets picks:
Open Face Motorcycle Helmets
As the name suggests, the open face helmet design is completely open at the front. Unlike a full face helmet design, the open face style does not have a chin bar or, traditionally, a visor. The helmet, instead, finishes at the forehead and comes down the side of the face roughly along the sideburns. Whilst this design provides ample protection to the top, rear and sides of the head, it will not protect your face, chin or front of jaw.
This reduced protection does bring an increased risk for those uncovered areas - exposing you to debris like stones from the road, dust in the air and insects. It will also mean you will feel the effects of the rain, wind and cold more. However, this can be a major advantage for some riders who don’t enjoy the ‘enclosed’ feel that a full face helmet can give, providing more of that sense of freedom. Since there is less helmet shell in the way, the open face design also offers an excellent, wide-open field of view, with reduced obstructions in the peripherals.
Additionally, open face designs tend to be more suitable for people who have a larger or differently shaped head, or who need to wear religious garments, and struggle to find a proper fitting helmet.
Best suited for:
- People that enjoy the wind on their face
- Delivery drivers
- People who wear religious garments, such as a Hijab, Turban or Taqiyah
Our top open face helmet picks:
Modular Motorcycle Helmets
Modular helmets have been developed as a solution to provide the benefits from both full face and open face designs. The modular helmet design incorporates a chin bar, but instead of being fixed in place like the full face, can be flipped up and down on its hinged mechanism.
When the chin-bar is in the lowered position, you gain the benefit of maximum protection to your face, chin and jaw. And when it's in the raised position, you gain all the benefits from an open face helmet - fresh air, a wider viewport, a greater sense of freedom.
The modular design is very popular amongst touring motorcyclists - for good reason. The one helmet provides the versatility to have the chin bar lowered on the motorway, when you want more protection, and raised when cruising along, when you are taking in the surroundings.
The hinged mechanism does, however, add a layer of complexity to the helmet. This means modular helmets can be slightly more expensive on average, and can also result in a loss in aerodynamic performance when compared to a pure full face helmet.
Best suited for:
- Touring motorcyclists on long-distance trips
Our top open modular helmets picks:
POPULAR MOTORBIKE HELMET FEATURES
In addition to the shell design, you can choose from a number of features across the range of helmets, which provide added comfort for your ride. Below are some of our favourites.
Visor fogging can happen in cold weather, when warm breath meets the inside of your cold visor. This can be incredibly inconvenient as well as dangerous. As such, there are a number of options available to combat this problem.
A small number of helmet models are now being produced with an anti-fog visor. These visors are treated with particular chemicals during the manufacturing process to avoid the fogging effect from occurring. However, the majority of visors are still not manufactured in this way, and will require the application of a “pinlock” insert.
A pinlock insert is a thin film applied to the inside of your helmet visor, made from a proprietary material able to absorb moisture from humid air. Running around the perimeter of the pinlock is a silicon seal, which when applied, forms an airlock between the visor and the pinlock. The whole system works together to form a thermal barrier between the two surfaces and prevents any humid air condensing on the visor itself.
A visor is pinlock suitable if it features pinlock pins protruding from the internal of each side of the visor. The pinlock insert is designed to be fitted securely between these 2 pins.
Helmets sold as pinlock-inclusive means the pinlock insert is included with the purchase of the helmet. Helmets sold as pinlock-ready means the helmet is designed for use with a pinlock, but the insert itself will need to be purchased separately.
Internal sun visors
Sun and glare pose as sudden distractions that can significantly affect a rider's visibility. It’s uncomfortable and it’s dangerous.
One solution to this problem is to always have both a standard clear visor for night riding, plus a secondary tinted visor for riding in sunlight. This does work, but can be cumbersome - in both carrying around two visors, as well as having to pull over and switch between them at appropriate times.
Instead, particular helmets now come with a secondary tinted visor built into the helmet as an internal sun visor. This internal sun visor is stowed above the forehead between the shell and padding when not in use and, with the simple slide of a lever, flips down in front of your eyes as and when you require it. When you are done with it, slide the lever the other way and it flips back up, out of the way. It’s always with you and very simple to activate & deactivate.
Year-round riding is simply more comfortable with effective helmet ventilation. You can find vented helmets with multiple ‘intake vents’ at the chin, brow and crown which can be opened to allow cooling air to flow around your head. Depending on your helmet model, you can adjust the individual vents to allow airflow according to your preferences. The exhaust vents at the rear of the helmet shell allow stale and hotter air out of the helmet which can reduce the build up of moisture caused by sweat and humidity. By having air and exhaust vents, you can have the benefits of cool air and ventilation in the warmer months, and then maintain warmth and comfort once temperatures begin to drop in the cooler months.
MOTORCYCLE HELMET MATERIAL TYPES
A motorcycle helmet comprises a hard outer shell created to withstand impacts, disperse them and pass them on to the shock absorbing foam inner layer. While outer shells might look similar, they are actually made from a wide variety of different materials. The type of material that your helmet is made from can affect its strength, weight, cost and comfort level.
Polycarbonate and Fibreglass
Both polycarbonate and fibreglass are a good choice as they are established and well-proven helmet materials. Polycarbonate helmets are made from a tough and lightweight thermoplastic which offers great impact resistance, and are generally more affordable than fibreglass options.
Fibreglass helmets are composed of glass fibre matt or cloth, moulded to a suitable shell shape and then made hard and rigid using a two-part resin. Fibreglass is tough like polycarbonate, but also is not a lightweight material. If you’re not fussed about whether your helmet is featherweight, both polycarbonate and fibreglass can be good options. Helmets made from polycarbonate and fibreglass tend to be a cheaper option, compared to helmets made from other materials like carbon fibre.
Carbon fibre is significantly stronger and lighter than both polycarbonate and fibreglass. A carbon fibre helmet shell is extremely strong in both tension and compression, able to pass on high levels of shock deflection without failing. Carbon fibre is enormously popular with riders who seek excellent protection without the weight penalty. Because of these benefits, helmets made from carbon fibre tend to be more expensive than those made from polycarbonate and fibreglass.
Kevlar and Composite Materials
Kevlar is a strong and heat resistant synthetic fibre, which is higher in tensile strength than carbon fibre yet lower in strength under compression. A ‘composite’ of the multiple materials, including kevlar, fibreglass and carbon fibre can be used to deliver a best-of-both-worlds result. Composite helmets are the perfect choice for riders who are after ultimate protection and light weight.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT MOTORCYCLE HELMETS
At Bikebiz, we are often asked many questions about how to choose the right motorcycle helmet so we’ve answered some of the most popular questions below!
What makes a helmet Australian Standards approved?
The Australian Standards for motorcycle helmets were created specifically with rider safety in mind. Helmets gain certification with Australian Standards through a stringent program of safety testing and Helmets which do not conform to these standards cannot be legally worn in Australia. Read our motorcycle helmet standard blog article for up to date information on safety requirements.
How do I choose the right sized road helmet for my head?
Helmet sizing is always stated across the common ‘small-medium-large’ range, but is also stated in a centimetre measurement range, too. So what’s your measurement? Have a friend place a soft tape measure just above your eyebrows, and run it around the widest part of your head. The result is your head measurement, and helmets in this size range should represent a good fit. You will find a size chart on every one of our helmet product pages which will provide the conversion from head circumference to the size you require. You can find more detailed information regarding sizes by brand on our size guide page. If still in doubt, give us a call.
How often should I replace a motorcycle helmet?
The exact answer to this question depends on factors such as how often you ride and the environment you ride in. However, we recommend replacing your motorcycle helmet every 5 years as this is considered the service life by manufacturers and the limitation on most warranty periods.
If your helmet suffers any type of impact, we recommend replacing it immediately. This is because shell integrity could be compromised. Impacts might be suffered in a minor crash, or just through the helmet falling off the seat of your bike and onto a hard surface.
Finally, another factor to keep in mind is that advances in helmet design are constantly making helmets safer. One example of this is the Multi Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), which is a low friction layer that helps to redirect forces from the head, and is currently being incorporated into some designs to help protect the brain from rotational impacts. In the recent past, this technology simply wasn’t available. So whether or not your 5-year-old helmet is ‘worn out’, it’s a good bet that upgrading to a current model will deliver an improvement in safety for your riding.
CHAT TO THE EXPERTS!
If you need further assistance with choosing the right motorcycle helmet for your requirements, then you can get in touch with our team! We’re happy to help and provide expert advice to ensure you get the best motorcycle helmet.
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