There’s no better time to get out and ride than during the summer; the sunshine, blue skies and dry roads are inviting to any motorcycle or...
Motorbike Protective Clothing - Buying a Motorcycle Helmet
Always buy new, and try on several different makes as fit is very important and, like clothes, different manufacturers work to different shapes.
Get a friend to try to twist the helmet on your head (gently!). If it moves more than a few millimetres it’s either too big or the wrong shape for your head. It shouldn’t move enough to hurt your ears! If you’ve got the unflattering hamster-cheek look, that’s a good sign. Watch out for pressure across your forehead as this can cause headaches and affect your concentration.
There are 3 styles – full-face, open face and flip front. Clearly, full face offers the best protection, but the best flip front helmets should protect your face and chin in an accident. Off-road helmets are a slightly different shape, and may not have a visor, so you need separate eye protection. They give you the Dakar Rally look, but they’re not nearly so aerodynamic as a full-face road helmet, and riding in goggles at normal traffic speeds can be wearing.
Some people prefer an open-face helmet, especially for town riding. Just bear in mind that as well as giving less protection, again it’ll be harder work at motorway speeds, and you may need goggles if it has no inbuilt visor.
Always buy a new helmet. It will fit better, and you know it hasn’t been dropped, or rolled along the road, or painted with something that’s busy eating through the shell. All those things can reduce the protection it would give you in an accident. If you want to buy one as a present, make sure the rider is with you to try it on. Helmets can’t be returned or exchanged unless there’s a fault, so get it right before you leave the shop.
And if you’ve just dug out a helmet you wore years ago, check that it’s still good enough. If it has been stored in sunlight, the lining is compressed, the strap is stretched or frayed or the visor is scratched it’s probably time to buy yourself a new one.
Once you have, you may be pleasantly surprised by how light, quiet and comfortable modern helmets are.
Other factors to bear in mind:
Whether it’s a basic double-ring system or a seatbelt-style buckle, you should be 100% confident that you will do it up securely every time. There’s really no point in wearing a helmet that could fall off.
The sound of the wind rushing over your helmet can damage your hearing surprisingly fast, so it’s worth having a pair of earplugs in your pocket, especially for longer trips. But helmets also vary in how much noise they let in, something that it’s hard to measure in the shop, unfortunately.
Most visors are fine in shop conditions. It’s when they get covered in rain or misted up, that the problems start. You can buy various anti-fog or water-repellant coatings or gadgets, but you should at least be able to open the visor a crack while riding, as that’s often the simplest way to clear a foggy visor.
You’re allowed to wear a lightly tinted visor to keep out sunshine or glare, but take care not to leave yourself riding in the dark. Check that your visor has a CE mark as some dark visors are illegal.
Some helmets have darkened visors that you can drop into position as you ride. Others have quick-change visors so you can put the tinted one away at dusk and go back to a clear one. Or you could just find some sunglasses that fit inside your helmet.
Most helmets have some kind of vent system to keep air flowing through, which helps keep your visor clear, and to keep you cool in summer. And clearly it’s better if you can open and close them easily, with one hand, so you don’t have to stop every time you want more air.
Some helmets have removable linings that you can wash. Others have adjustable padding so you can get a really snug fit around the face.