Motorcycle Helmets

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Buying guide

What to Consider When Selecting a Motorcycle Helmet


Motorcycle helmets are the most important protective clothing for riders. Manufacturers recommend they should be replaced after every five years. It protects the most important part of the body from harm. Helmets are designed differently depending on their use. Depending on one’s preference the following varieties are available: modular, dual sport, open face, full face and half shell.

Are you an experienced rider looking to replace your helmet? Are you a new rider looking for a helmet? This guide will help you select a perfect fit for your head that will offer maximum protection.



Use of the helmet


How the helmet will be used should be the most important factor to consider when buying a helmet. If you’re a beginner, a helmet with many features will not be an ideal choice. A rider who plans to use his motorcycle to use for daily activities like commuting to work should consider purchasing a high-end helmet. A high-end helmet has many features and reduces wind noise. If planning to use the motorcycle for racing in a group consider a helmet that comes with preinstalled communication provisions. For communication there are Bluetooth headsets available that are easy to install on open or full face helmets.


Features of the helmet



The weight of most helmets ranges from 1400 to 1800 grams. Full face helmets have less weight compare to modular helmets. Heavy helmets can only be comfortable if they fit properly because the weight is evenly distributed on the head and shoulders.




Helmets are made from either fiber composite that consists of carbon fiber and fiberglass or a molded polycarbonate plastic. Polycarb helmets are cheap to produce hence not expensive.  On the other hand, helmets made from fiberglass or carbon fiber are light and more expensive.




Check if the helmet has removable cheek pads. This is an important feature that makes it easy to adjust the helmet if it doesn’t fit well. For noise reduction consider one that has a cushy neck roll and a lined chin strap.


Safety Ratings

DOT (Department of Transportation): This certification of the United States sets a minimum standard that requires all helmets to have its sticker. A helmet that is not approved by DOT is a “novelty” helmet. This certification means that a helmet can withstand any amount of impact energy and force.

ECE: This is a standard set for the European Union regulated by the Economic Commission of Europe. More than 50 countries in Europe use this standard.

SNELL: The Snell Memorial Foundation determines Snell standards. Snell standards are voluntary and are a requirement for some race bodies. The standards require that both the helmet and its liner should withstand higher repeated impacts.

SHARP: This is the most recent and it assigns star rating but not certifications. Sharp issues a star rating after testing helmets using energy levels and multiple impact points. Sharp only tests helmets that have already been certified by ECE because their goal is to provide additional information to European consumers.

SABS is a standard in South Africa therefore motorcycle helmets should be approved by SABS in addition to ECE. Here are motorcycle helmet standards for specific countries.



Safety Standard


CSA CAN3-D23-M85


AS 1698-2006

New Zealand

NZ 5430






IS 4151

All the three bodies use the same method to test how well a helmet manages motorcycle energy. Helmets can either have one, two or all the three certifications.




Helmets that fit well contribute to comfort and safety in addition to expressing your personality and style. For the helmet to fit properly, it is important to determine the shape and size of one’s head. Our heads generally fall in between round and oval shape.  There are three shapes available namely:


Long oval: This type is good for a person with an oblong head that is narrow on the sides and is long front to back.

Intermediate oval: The most common and is a good fit for round heads.


Round oval: Shaped to resemble an oblong head but not narrow on the sides like the long oval. To ensure that your helmet fits properly consider taking the following test.


Start with fastening the strap then grabbing the back of the helmet try lifting up and pulling it off your head. If you’re able to remove the helmet with a lot of effort, then that is a perfect fit as it assures you that it can withstand strong wind. Lastly check the cheek pads and liners that help to adjust the helmet to prevent it from rotating.



The type of motorcycle

Modular and dual sports helmets are good for riders have motorcycles meant for adventure touring. Modular helmets will allow the rider to raise the face shield or the entire front. Shark Evoline 3ST is an example of a helmet that allows the rider to raise the entire front. Others can be changed from full face to open face like the Nolan N44.

For cruisers, a half shell helmet is recommended to enjoy a breezy style.

For riders with the old school type, the open face helmet is recommended because it offers more protection compared to the half-shell.

Sportbike riders should use full face helmets that are the safest for all round protection.

So these are factors that should be considered before buying a helmet to ensure that you get value for your money.


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