So, you’re thinking of a shiny new helmet?
Make sure you read our helmet-buying guide before you throw your head into it.
What is it you look for when buying a motorcycle helmet? The colour and style? The latest technology and Innovations? Its Safety rating?
In this guide, we will cover all that you need to know about buying a motorcycle helmet for the road.
Firstly we must cover the obvious, A motorcycle helmet is designed to do one thing…..Protect you. Namely your head and what’s inside it. It’s about buying a helmet that will actually work to protect your head in the event of an impact. When buying a motorcycle helmet this should always be your first concern as without that initial and very vital function you may as well not wear it at all. As a guide to this you can check the Sharp rating of a helmet, what this does is give you a rating out of 1-5 stars on a helmet safety rating. 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.
All helmets must meet one regulatory standard at least to go on sale, that being said Sharp offer independent advice on the protection you will have in the unfortunate event of a crash. You can look for a helmets Sharp rating here: https://sharp.dft.gov.uk/ .
Once you have found a helmet you like and it meets the safety rating you desire, ideally four or five stars, you can look into more detail about getting the perfect fit for you. Get yourself measured, as this will prevent trying on a plethora of sizes that are wrong. Once you’re correctly measured you can focus on actually trying on some helmets.
Now then, ARE YOU COMFORTABLE? This is also an extremely important question. This is because if you don’t have enough pressure in some places or indeed too much in others it will in fact hinder your riding and not perform the job you have bought it for. When you get down to your local bike shop and start trying on new helmets, be you a seasoned rider or new biker on the road to forge your own destiny on two wheels, you must make sure you try on as many helmets as you can. This is because different brands have different fitments and shapes. Example: Arai generally comes with bigger cheek pads than other brands like Shoei.
This means that some people will pick a Shoei over an Arai. Women will find this useful because of smaller jawlines etc, be that as it may, we all come in different shapes and sizes so it is a good idea to travel around – many shops won’t stock the same brands as others. When trying a helmet on you should feel comfortable. Do up the chinstrap and if it’s a ratchet type then adjust it if you need to.
GIVE IT TWO FINGERS…
When you can get two fingers between the strap and your jaw the helmet is fastened correctly, if you’re wearing a full-face helmet at this point you will notice pressure on certain points of your head and face, you will have cheeks like a hamster stocking up for winter, but do bare in mind this should only be a reasonable amount of pressure so you should not be able to feel any pain from your pressure points nor should it leave any red marks, at this point try rotating the helmet left to right and back again, your cheeks should follow where the helmet goes. If the helmet slips or your cheeks lose contact with the cheek pads then you need a different size.
Another test you can and should perform is seeing if the helmet can be pulled off. If needs be ask the shop staff and they will more than likely be happy to oblige, if they can pull it off whilst you’re stood in a shop it will most definitely come off in an accident, rendering it useless.
ACTUALLY, SIZE DOES MATTER…
Now that you will have hopefully found a helmet in the correct size and a brand that is comfortable for you, it’s time to start looking at features. If you’re new to riding and may be unsure of what features a helmet can have so here is a quick summary. Visors, almost every helmet on the market has a visor and will come in a variety of colours, ultimately the visor’s job is to protect your eyes. Sun visors, many helmets come with a drop-down sun visor with a switch located on the side of the helmet, if you are planning on riding in all weather conditions and varying light conditions the integral sun visor really will come into its own extremely useful feature.
Air vents, pretty much every helmet comes with them and they do as the sound, they vent the helmet and provide air circulation.
Pinlock, is a separate piece of plastic that is fitted to the inside of the visor and forms a seal, this prevents the visor from misting up in various weather conditions, most visors come with an anti-fog treatment, but in my humble opinion you won’t beat a Pinlock, they’re also available in an auto tint variation as well.
Wind skirts, these help reduce wind noise in your helmet so you don’t damage your hearing however if you want real protection from that then you’re better off getting some ear plugs tailored to suit.
LEDs, some new helmets like the Shark Skwal and Skwal 2 come with integrated LEDs that can be on solid or flashing to increase your visibility.
Intercom cutouts, you can fit a Bluetooth intercom or radio system into your helmet if you wish and some helmets have special cutouts behind the cheek pads to cater to helmet-mounted headphones.
Now then hopefully you’re not bored yet but I like to cover all bases. You can now look at what features you like and want your helmet to have. This includes colours, the brighter your helmet the more attention you’re likely to receive from other road users, this means they’ve seen and are aware of you. Being a third the size of the average car you need to make sure you are seen and a white or fluorescent helmet will make that easier.
Now you will have all the information you need to go out and buy a new helmet for the very first time or indeed the seventeenth time. Nonetheless, I hope this information helps you. Ride safe and stay shiny side up!
For more information on the UK laws regarding motorcycle helmets click here
SHARP provides advice on how to select a helmet that fits correctly and is comfortable, and information about the relative safety of helmets to help motorcyclists to make an informed choice.
Read more about SHARP before you buy your next helmet, by clicking here