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Top 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Helmets

Chaparral Motorsports
March 29, 2018
Last Updated: June 5, 2020

The motorcycle helmet has come a long way since its rudimentary beginnings as a simple piece of canvas covered in shellac. Over the years safety, design, and build materials have improved significantly, but even with all the advancements and being one of the most integral pieces of safety when it comes to motorcycle gear, people still have a lot of questions about motorcycle helmets. We have compiled some of the most popular questions and provided answers to them.

1. Do You Need A Full Face Helmet For A Sports Bike?

No you don't NEED a full face motorcycle helmet for a sports bike, but you absolutely should wear one for several reasons. From minor tip overs to high-speed high sides you never know where the impact is going to be when you go down. Studies have shown that the bulk of impacts in motorcycle accidents occur to the rider's face.

Wearing a full face helmet ensures the entire head is much better protected than say a three-quarters motorcycle helmet or a half helmet. With its articulating face shield a full face helmet allows you to completely block wind and debris from getting to your eyes and possibly obstructing your vision. Lastly, riding at high speeds on a sports bike means high wind noise, by wearing a full face motorcycle helmet your ears and face are sealed off from the rushing wind making for a much quieter ride.

2. What Is The Best Motorcycle Helmet Brand?

Some of the best motorcycle helmet brands are, Arai, Shoei, and HJC just to name a few. These brands have great build quality, meet high safety standards, are very comfortable, and offer a broad assortment of styles to suit the needs and preferences of many riders.

3. What Is The Best Motorcycle Protective Gear?

The best motorcycle protective gear is a full face motorcycle helmet. Protecting your head from impact and your eyes from flying debris is of the utmost importance when riding a motorcycle.

4. What Kind of Helmet Do You Use When Riding A Motorcycle?


You can use any kind of motorcycle helmet when riding a motorcycle. However, it's important to make sure that whether you choose to wear a half helmet, three-quarters helmet, beanie style helmet, dual sport helmet, or full face helmet that it meets the safety standards required in the areas where you will be riding.

5. What Is A Good Motorcycle Helmet Under $150?

One of the best helmets you can find for under $150 is HJC's CL-17. The HJC Cl-17 offers a lot of variety in colors and sizing; it's available in six solid color options and sizes XS to 5XL with prices ranging from $139.99 to $144.99. You get a lot of bang for little buck with this helmet such as plenty of adjustable front intake vents at the chin, forehead and top of head as well as exhaust ports at the rear to expel heat.

The CL-17 is outfitted with an optically correct, three dimensional design face shield that offers exceptional UV protection and is pinlock ready. The RapidFire shield replacement system allows for quick and easy tool-less shield removal and installation and the SuperCool moisture wicking interior features crown and cheek pads that are removable and washable. For those that wear glasses the cheek pads are grooved to accommodate the arms of the glasses for a more comfortable fit. Sizes up to XXL are Snell and DOT rated while sizes above XXL are only DOT rated.

6. How Effective Are Military Helmets For Motor Bike Riding?

Military helmets aren't the best option for motorcycling. Military helmets are designed for different tasks that aren't really related to motorcycling. A motorcycle helmet is designed to be aerodynamic, lightweight, and provide head protection from impacts at motorcycling speeds. Military helmets are often designed to help protect your head from flying bullets and therefore are made from different materials that can make them heavier than a motorcycle helmet; they can also be not as comfortable or as aerodynamic as a motorcycle helmet.

7. Can I Wear A Football Helmet On A Motorcycle?

You can wear a football helmet when riding a motorcycle but you're going to run into a couple problems. First of all, football helmets are not DOT, ECE, or Snell approved, so if you plan to ride somewhere where a motorcycle helmet is required by law a football helmet isn't legal form of head protection. Secondly, football helmets aren't designed to withstand the high-speed impacts that motorcycle helmets are so they won't provide adequate protection in a crash.

8. What Is The Safest Motorcycle Helmet?

Currently there isn't a universally accepted organization or process for testing helmet safety and there isn't a universally accepted way to determine which motorcycle helmet is the safest. There are several safety standards that motorcycle helmets can get certified with. Different countries have adopted regulations stating which standards motorcycle helmets must meet to be legal for use.

The three most common safety certification stickers you will see on the back of motorcycle helmets are DOT, Snell and ECE. Every motorcycle helmet sold in the United States has to pass testing procedures and meet specific standards established by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to be street legal in the United States.

The Snell Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization that has established its own safety standards for helmet testing that are beyond the minimum standards of what DOT has established, their website they states "Snell Standards are the world's toughest." Therefore if you come across a helmet that has the Snell sticker in addition to the US mandated DOT sticker you can be assured that the helmet passed tougher safety standards than a helmet with just a DOT sticker.

The ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) is Europe's version of the DOT, meaning helmets sold in Europe have to meet ECE safety standards in order to be deemed a legal motorcycle helmet. Just like Snell has different safety standards than DOT, the ECE has its own testing procedures, safety criteria, and pass/fail thresholds that helmets must meet. ECE is the standard across more than 50 countries.

AGV Corsa
AGV Corsa

In 2007 the Department for Transport in the UK started SHARP (Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme) which along with providing information on proper helmet fitment, conducts its own helmet testing beyond what is specified for ECE approval and then gives each helmet it tests a star rating between 1 and 5 (five being the top rating) for safety. So far SHARP has tested 434 helmets with helmets such as the AGV Corsa, Bell Star, HJC IS-17, and Shoei Quest, just to name a few, getting five star ratings based on their criteria.

Again with no globally accepted safety standards and testing procedures in place there is no universal system for establishing the "safest motorcycle helmet." With that being said, it simply based on design and coverage, a full face motorcycle helmet will proved more protection and therefore be safer than say a three-quarter or half helmet. As a consumer you should research and make sure that the helmet you are interested in meets the certification for the area where you will be riding and then look at other features incorporated into the helmet that can help improve upon its overall safety.

9. What Are The Best Motorcycle Helmets For Long Rides?

The best motorcycle helmet for long rides is one that fits you the best, feels lightweight on your head, and offers great protection from impacts as well as the elements. When it comes to long motorcycle rides a helmet that doesn't fit properly can cause headaches, rashes, pressure points, or flop and slip down over your eyes as you ride. Most riders prefer a good fitting full face helmet for long rides as these helmets provide the most comfort and best overall protection.

A full face helmet is the best choice for long motorcycle rides because your face and eyes will be protected from the rain, wind, sticks, rocks and other debris. A full face motorcycle helmet is also great for situations when you get into cold weather conditions, and with multiple vents they can be good for warm weather riding as well. One of the best benefits of using a full face helmet for long rides is that your ears are protected from the rushing wind making for a much quitter ride and it will be less likely that your ears will be ringing from the sound of your motorcycle exhaust when you get to your destination.

10. Why Do Motocross Helmets Have A Pointed Chin?

Motocross helmets have a pointed chin because it allows for more airflow to reach up into the riders face, helping to keep them cool while exerting energy as they race or ride. Motocross riders use a lot of energy which results in elevated heart rates and heavier breathing. With the pointed chin bar design on motocross helmets being further away from the mouth than a standard motorcycle helmet it makes it easier for the rider to breathe heavily and for the expelled air to exit the helmet and not get caught up in the riders face or fog up their goggles.

11. Is It Possible To Listen To Music While Driving A Motorcycle?

Yes it is possible to listen to music when riding a motorcycle. Many of the larger touring motorcycles come with stereos built into the fairing. If you don't own a motorcycle outfitted with a stereo then your best option is to purchase a motorcycle helmet communications system also known as a comms system. This is a device that mounts to the helmet (most of to the side) and has speakers and a microphone that allow you to listen to music as well as communicate with other riders who comms systems are compatible with yours.

Sena SMH10
Sena SMH10

These comms systems are often Bluetooth enabled which allows you to connect to your smartphone so you can receive turn-by turn directions, make and answer calls, as well as listen to music stored on your phone or stream music through an app like Pandora. With most systems the accompanying speakers are compact enough that they can mount inside or behind the ear cushion found inside a full face or half helmet. The Sena SMH10 is one of the more popular motorcycle comms systems on the market.

Another way to listen to music while riding a motorcycle is to use ear buds-small speakers that you lightly press into your ear canal. If you choose to go the ear bud route, its best to use a setup that is wireless and offers Bluetooth so you don't have to worry or fuss with a cord connected to your music device flying around as you ride your motorcycle. Take note before you ride with ear buds as some states don't allow it.

12. How Heavy Should A Motorcycle Helmet Be?

The average large sized full face motorcycle helmet weighs about 3-1/4 to 3-1/2 pounds. Some helmets may weigh a little less and some may be heavier but that doesn't mean those helmets are better or worse. Things like helmet sizing, design, and the type of safety testing requirements that the helmet meets can have an effect on the weight and how a helmet feels on your head. That's why it's important to try a motorcycle helmet on to see how the weight of it is distributed over your head. A lighter weight helmet that is too large will slip and slide around causing the weight to move around your head making the helmet feel heavier in some areas. You might find a motorcycle helmet that fits perfectly but is a little heavier than 3-1/2 pounds, however, the shape and design of the helmet may be better suited for your head profile thus making the helmet feel lighter and more comfortable overall.

13. Can A Bike Helmet Stop A Bullet?

While a motorcycle helmet can protect your head in a crash, it was not designed to stop a bullet. Bullets travel at much higher velocities than the speeds at which motorcycle riders will ever reach. So even though a motorcycle helmet can withstand a significant impact, it is not recommended to wear a motorcycle helmet if you think someone will be in a shootout.

14. Do You Think Wearing A Helmet Really Saves Lives?

Yes wearing a motorcycle helmet really saves lives. Just like a seat belt or air bag in an automobile, a motorcycle helmet is a piece of safety equipment designed to help protect you from impact. In the event of a crash, just like a having a seat belt or air bag in place, wearing a motorcycle helmet adds a protective barrier between your head and the ground, a tree, another vehicle, or any other object. Wearing a motorcycle helmet can greatly increase your odds of reducing trauma if you are struck or crash your motorcycle.

15. Do We Need Full Face Helmet Or Half Face?

Deciding between a full face or half helmet is a matter of preference. Some people like to wear half helmets because they want that open air feeling as their ride and love that "wind in their face" experience. Other people like full face helmets because they provide more head and face protection than a half helmet and a full face helmet helps block the wind for a quieter ride.

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