Motorcycle Helmet Types, Why Riders Wear Them
A motorcycle helmet is a protective shell that is designed to protect the motorcycle rider’s head from trauma and prevent death.
Always Wear a DOT-Approved Motorcycle Helmet
It has been proven that wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces brain injury and death by large percentages.
A helmet consists of a hard outer shell and a liner. The hard shell serves a purpose of protecting the rider from punctures and abrasion. The shell is lined with foam or other shock absorbing material. The liner absorbs or crushes the impact.
Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmets should be the only types of helmets used. Motorcycle helmets should be replaced every five years if they haven’t been in an accident (due to liner degradation). A helmet should be immediately replaced if it was in any kind of accident.
Helmet types can be broken into categories:
- Full Face – Full face helmets protect the rider’s head and face with a visor and mouth covering. Convertible helmets allow the visor and chin bar to flip up for more ventilation.
- ¾ or Open Face – ¾ or Open Face helmets protect the head fully but may only offer a visor to protect the rider’s eyes. These types of helmets offer more ventilation than a full face, but at less protection.
- Off-road/Motocross – Off-road/Motocross offer similar protection as a full face, but have elongated chin and visor sections to allow the rider to use goggles.
- Half Helmet – Half helmets offer only protection to the top of the head and minimal to the sides. Eye and face protection is not usually offered with these types of helmets. These do however offer the most ventilation.
- Novelty – Novelty helmets are not DOT approved and do not offer proper protection against injury. They should never be worn for head protection.
Other important safety gear should be worn when operating a motorcycle or motorized bicycle:
- Protective Eyewear – Protective eyewear whether it be glasses, goggles or a visor should be worn to protect the rider’s eyes from injury and obstruction that could lead to an accident. It is also required by law in many states when on-road riding.
- Protective Jacket – A protective jacket (textile/leather/denim) should be worn to protect the rider’s upper body in the event of an accident. CE approved (Conformité Européene – which means that they conform to European standards) body armor can also be integrated or worn over the jacket as another level of protection for the back, shoulders, elbows and wrists. Electric or heated jackets can be worn for cold weather riding while also offering safety protection.
- Gloves – Riding Gloves made of leather or textile will provide protection in the event of an accident. The first thing a rider will do is put their hands in front of them in the event of falling. Electric or heated gloves can be worn for cold weather riding as well.
- Protective Riding Pants – Protective riding pants made of leather/denim or textile will protect the rider’s legs in the event of an accident. The rider’s legs are closest to the ground. Again, CE approved armor may also be integrated in the knees, shins and buttocks areas for extra protection.
- Protective Footwear – Protective footwear made of leather, denim or man-made materials will protect the rider’s ankles and feet in the event of an accident. Boots provide the best protection, but new protective riding shoes have advanced protection technology to be more comfortable as well.
- CE Approved Body Armor – Armor can be added on or integrated into riding gear. Many armor companies have developed back protectors, shoulder/elbow guards, knee/shin guards and wrist guards as an accessory. This armor includes carbon fiber/ plastic plates to act like the shell of a helmet in protecting other parts of the body.
- Riding Suit / Rain Gear – A one piece riding suit is great for extreme weather conditions. They offer protection against the weather also in the event of an accident. They however are bulky to ride with and cannot be used in warm weather. Rain gear will help keep the rider dry in the event of rain, but is typically worn over safety equipment. Most rain gear does not integrate safety armor or material.
- Masks – Masks offer protection from extreme weather with slight safety protection as well.
- Reflective Vests – Reflective vests are worn over protective gear in an effort to make the rider more visible. The reflective material is seen much easier at night.
Always riding with the proper riding safety gear will provide the best protection against the elements and injury in case of an accident. Planning ahead will make your ride safer and more enjoyable.