One of the most important safety items for motorcycle riding is a helmet. Even if your state doesn’t require that you wear a helmet, it’s highly recommended to protect you in the event of a fall. Even the highest rated helmet won’t protect you if it doesn’t fit right. Understanding the basics of what makes up the helmet can help you find the right one when you’re shopping for motorcycle helmets for sale.
DOT Motorcycle Helmet Standards
Motorcycle helmets are rated by three main bodies, SNELL, ECE and DOT. SNELL is a private organization that certifies helmets to strict standards. ECE is the European standard for helmets. It’s not quite the same as the American certification, but it does have some good features. DOT stands for Department of Transportation, which is the American organization that certifies helmets for road safety. If you’re riding on highways or byways in the United States, your helmet should be DOT certified. Many helmets will have two or more certifications. Understand more about DOT ratings explained.
Motorcycle Helmet Considerations
Helmet technology has come a long way since the early days of motorcycles. The first helmets were only a strap of leather designed to fit on your head. Today, the shell is made of one material, while the interior is made of another material.
The shell material of a motorcycle helmet must meet certain standards. One material isn’t necessarily better than another, but less expensive materials may weigh more and be bulkier.
- Thermoplastic helmets tend to be thick and heavy, but they do protect your head.
- Composite helmets are considered the best compromise between protection and cost. Generally, these helmets are made of fiberglass combined with Kevlar for added strength.
- Fiberglass helmets are lighter than thermoplastic helmets, but if you crash, you will need to purchase another helmet because they crack easily.
- Kevlar helmets are practically indestructible, but they come with a high price tag.
Most helmets have two layers of inner padding. The first layer provides absorption of energy when you impact. This keeps your head from bouncing around after a crash. The second layer is more about comfort. This layer should be removable and washable, because it will pick up the sweat from your skin.
Picking Your Helmet Based on Sizing & Comfort
Helmets come in different sizes, much like motorcycle jackets on sale. It’s better to have a less expensive helmet that fits well rather than an expensive helmet that doesn’t work for your head. Helmet size is determined by the circumference of your head, or your hat size. Take a tailor’s tape measure and start with it about two finger widths about your eyebrows. Measure around the head, above the ears and through the widest part of the back of your head. It’s kind of how you would wear a baseball cap. A motorcycle helmet should fit well on your head. When wearing the helmet, if you move your head, the helmet should move with the head. If your head moves without the helmet, it doesn’t fit well.
The best motorcycle helmet is one that is rated for the way you use it and is comfortable for you to wear when you ride. Shop for motorcycle helmets to be safe on the road.