Picking a motorcycle helmet is like picking an apple, or any kind of fruit, I personally like oranges, but I’m not here to compare apples to oranges. To tell a good fruit from a bad one you have to know the characteristics to read the fruit. Typically smell, touch, color, and so on. It is kind of similar with motorcycle helmets, but just much more complicated.
The general qualities you would read off a helmet are: Durability/Safety ; Comfort/Ventilation ; Vision/Noise ; and Aerodynamics/Function. Here is a vertical list to help you remember each characteristic :
You may be asking where is ‘Style’ on the list. Let’s get one thing straight, all motorcycle helmets are cool.
>> But this one is still the coolest <<
HOW TO TELL :
WHAT IT'S FOR :
Safest and most durable motorcycle helmet :
It’s the main reason why you have to wear a motorcycle helmet. Luckily the same rules that make you required to wear a helmet also make it easier to tell how safe a helmet is. There is a regulatory body which helmet manufacturers have to meet standards with. I won’t go into all the technicalities, but simply you just have to look on the back of your helmet for what level of safety standards your helmets meet. If there is no sticker, well there might be a chance you’re just wearing a tin bin on your head.
The basics differences between DOT, ECE, and SNELL are as follows:
DOT stands for “Department of Transportation” of the United States. So it’s a federal regulating body to determine safety standards for U.S roadways. They do a number of tests on each helmet and if the helmet meets the standards it will have a sticker that looks like this :
ECE, on the other hand, stands for “Economic Commission for Europe,” which is just as it sounds. It's the European standard for motorcycle helmets, and is accepted in 47 countries. The sticker will typically read “ECE” followed by a number.
Lastly, we have SNELL. Unlike DOT and ECE, the SNELL standard was developed by a private foundation whose goal is to better helmet safety. These standards are the highest of all safety standards. While also having a set of letter codes to better understand how safe each helmet is.
2. Comfort and Ventilation
HOW TO TELL :
WHAT IT'S FOR :
Comfortable Helmets and Helmets with a lot of Ventilation:
The next big factor that goes into picking a good motorcycle helmet is simply comfort. It is pretty self-explanatory, the better a helmet feels on your head, the more you will enjoy using it. This is especially important for long tours and when racing on the track. Being comfortable is a factor for any kind of helmet, not just full-faced motorcycle helmets.
The best way to test a helmets comfort is to wear the helmet. See how it fits on your head. Next, you will want to inspect the inner lining, is it removable and washable. If the inner lining is quality or not, you can usually tell by just handling the removable lining.
Ventilation is an important factor that affects comfortability in full-face helmets. You can get a good idea on how well the vent systems work by observing the front and back vents, and inspecting the air channels in the internal shell. Although, just wearing the helmet and feeling the airflow system is the best way to feel the ventilation.
The comfort and ventilation of a helmet set the foundation of how good a helmet is, because how could you consider an uncomfortable helmet any good. The biggest take away you should take from this is that wearing a helmet is the best way to tell a helmet’s comfort. Next, you could look at the quality of material used for the inner lining. Also, a little bit of research goes a long way.
3. Vision and Noise
HOW TO TELL :
WHAT IT'S FOR :
Motorcycle Helmets with great Vision and Noise Reduction
A motorcycle helmet’s vision and noise reduction is really only a factor with full-face motorcycle helmets. Since all half-shell, open-faced, and 3/4ths helmets will have maximum vision and rarely any noise reduction. Being that there is nothing on the helmet obstructing your face.
The visibility on a helmet can be best estimated by wearing the helmet for yourself, or just seeing how far back into the peripherals the shield visor goes. As well as the as the vertical clearance of the shield visor. A helmet with good visibility will give you a wide field of view, and minimal obstructions to sight.
Visibility increases the enjoyability of tour riding. Both road tour and adventure tour, you will be able to see more things around you and appreciate the view. On the track, vision is especially important. Since you need to be able to see and react at very high speeds. It’s a situation you would want as little distraction as possible.
This is also king of the same idea as noise reduction. By suppressing the amount of noise caused by wind in a motorcycle helmet you can expect to get a more enjoyable tour, or a better time on track. Since you will not be distracted by the nuisance of noise.
With these three factors in mind you should be able to tell a good helmet from a rotten one. When it comes to figuring out which helmets are the cream of the crop, you would have to do a little more research and compare between available helmets on the market.
Now you can look at any helmet and by assessing its (1) Durability and Safety (2) Comfort and Ventilation (3) Vision and Noise to be able to tell if a helmet is worth your time. Take a look at the helmets listen in each of the categories so you can see which motorcycle helmets have built on a strong foundation.
Here at Pick My Helmet we want to help you be a more informed consumer, check out our other articles to learn more about the motorcycle helmets available to you on the market.