Did you know that head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents? Wearing a helmet can save your life, but only if you are wearing the right one.
Only 19 states have laws requiring all riders to wear helmets. But even if you live in a state that doesn’t require it, studies show that wearing helmets save lives. Motorcycle crashes kill more than 4,000 people each year, but experts estimate that wearing a helmet prevents 37 percent of crash deaths among motorcycle riders and 41 percent of crash deaths for motorcycle passengers.
What kind of helmet you wear, though, is totally up to you.
If you are a new rider, you may be unsure what helmet is right for you. Walking into the motorcycle shop and seeing a wall full of dozens of different helmets may be an overwhelming sight. How can you even start to find the right helmet for you?
We’re going to give you a few things to consider that should help.
Types of helmets
- Half-helmet. This type of helmet is also called a beanie or a shorty. It offers the minimum amount of protection while still hovering within the limits of the law. Like all helmets, shorties come with or without visors and in all sorts of and textures and designs. A big drawback with these half-helmets is that they tend to shift a little more than the other types as you get jostled around.
- Open-face or ¾ helmet. Some riders enjoy these helmets for their nostalgic value, reminding them of their motorcycle-riding idols of days gone by. However, these helmets do not offer protection in some of the areas most likely to suffer injury if you are in an accident.
- Full-face. The helmets offer the most protection over the most area. If safety is your top concern, there is no other option for you.
Within these three types of helmets, there are all sorts of variation in sizes, colors and other features. With a little shopping, you should be able to find the style of helmet you want with the safety features you need for a price you can afford.
What else matters when buying a helmet?
Here are some factors you should consider when shopping:
- DOT Certification. The Department of Transportation sticker on the back of a helmet is your assurance that when the day comes that you need your helmet to work, it will. The DOT standards require that a helmet will absorb a significant amount of impact energy, prevent most penetration and have a fastening system designed to withstand a significant amount of force. The DOT buys helmets and sends them to independent labs to confirm that they actually do meet their protection standards.
- Retention and fit. If a helmet doesn’t say on when you need it to, there is no point in wearing a helmet. When trying out a new helmet, you should check it if will stay on your head using a simple test. Fasten the strap snugly, grab the rear of the helmet and try to lift it up and roll it forward off your head. You should not be able to get the helmet off. Choosing a helmet that fits snugly will help keep you safe if you are in an accident.
- Comfort. Choosing an uncomfortable helmet can turn a long ride into agony instead of the enjoyable escape it’s intended to be. One of the most important factors in finding a comfortable helmet is trying on several different brands and shapes to see which one best fits your head and face. Things to look for include plenty of comfort padding, a good seal around the ear and a neck roll that fits well around the back of your head and neck.
- Appearance. When you start shopping, you will quickly see that there are a nearly infinite number of options when it comes to graphics and stylings you can choose for your helmet. Of course, as with most things, you get what you pay for. More detailed and fancy graphics will cost significantly more than a simple, single-color helmet.
- Cost. Depending on your financial situation, this may be the most important factor for you. But it’s important to make sure that you don’t skimp on safety features for the sake of saving a few dollars. If you choose a helmet and then are hit with sticker shock, you may have some choices. Check and see if the helmet manufacturer makes the same helmet with fewer bells and whistles.
Finding the right helmet can be a time-consuming effort. But in the end, you will be glad you did.