Which motorcycle helmet is right for me?
Your helmet isn’t just one of the most expensive biking purchases you can make – it’s one of the most important. Here’s why.
Under European law, which the UK is still subject to, all helmets used on the road must adhere to European standard ECE22.05 where ECE stands for ‘Economic Community of Europe’, ‘22’ stands for the number of regulations for testing, and ‘05’ stands for the amendments made to the regulation in 2005. Helmets that meet this standard have a marking stating this, usually found on the strap.
Many helmets in the UK also carry an ‘ACU Gold’ sticker which qualifies the helmet for use on the track so this is necessary for track days and racing but this has absolutely nothing to do with road use.
Full face helmets are the almost spherical ones that cover the entire head and face and has an aperture to see out of which is usually covered by a moveable visor that protects the rider’s eyes when closed (although occasionally goggles are used instead, particularly with off-road designs). Full face helmets. Because of their all-enclosing, rigid design offer the most protection and are the most popular style among motorcyclists.
Open face helmets, at the name suggests, are similar to full face but leave the face and chin exposed – and so don’t offer as much protection. Open face helmets also predate full-face helmets, first becoming popular in the 1950s and ‘60s (FF helmets weren’t developed until the early 1970s) so have a more ‘retro’ look particularly popular with cruiser or classic bike riders. They also allow better visibility and, being more basic, they are also usually cheaper than FF helmets, too, although a visor, goggle or at least sunglasses are recommended as well to give at least some eye protection.
Flip-front helmets are the most modern type, having become popular in the 1990s. Essentially they combine the best features of both designs whereby a hinged front section means that, when in the down position the helmet appears to be a full-face, and gives much of the protection and security of that type. While, with the front raised up, the wearer gets the same benefits as an open face. Due to their sophistication, flip-fronts are often the most expensive of these types although they inherently are not quite as protective as the full-face design.
Only you can decide your budget or know your requirements. But generally speaking, the more you spend, the better helmet you get. We would also always recommend going for the most protective type – ie a full-face – but also understand the appeal of an open face (particularly for slower speed, scooter riders, for example) and flip-front designs. We’d also recommend trying as many different types as possible before making up your mind. Whichever you go for, though, it’s crucial that it meets the EC standard, is new and from a reputable brand and fits correctly.
Two types are commonly used: a ratchet or sometimes called ‘seatbelt’ type, which clips together and is the quickest to release. Or the more traditional ‘Double D-ring’ system, whereby the strap is fed into a locking position through two metal rings. This system is often considered more secure as it can’t be accidentally released.
The starting point for getting the right fit is choosing a helmet that’s the right size. Generally, we’d recommend you have this done in-store by a professional to ensure no mistakes are met, But in simple terms helmets sizes are in cms and is the circumference around the crown of your head (ie above your ears and eyebrows). XS is 53-54cms ranging up in 2cm increments to XXL which is 63-64cms.