The instructor at the riding school told us that: "There are two kinds of people. The one that fell, and the one that will fall". Now, since the fall is almost guaranteed, you want to minize your risk by wearing proper safety gear. One of the things you want to look at is your helmet. This is what this node is about.

Types of helmets:

There are essentially four types.
  1. Full Face Helmet: This is the type of helmet that you see serious riders wear. Covers your face completely and protects you from elements. It doesn't get hot as there are usually vents that provide good ventilation. It provides excellent protection in case of collision.
  2. 3/4 Helmet: Very similar to a Full face helmet, a 3/4 Helmet doesn't provide as much protection against the wind and such, and not as good in case of an accident.
  3. Shorty: A shorty is essentially what you see motorcycle cops wear. It doesn't cover the ears - this apparently is a commincation benefit. It has pretty much the same drawbacks as a 3/4 helment.
  4. Skull cap: the Harley Davidson style helmet. Practically useless. It's essentially a piece of metal on top of your head. No protection what so ever.

Most modern helmets are constructed out of space age materials like fiberglass, kevlar and carbon fiber. The outer shell is like a hard hat - it prevents foreign objects from hitting your head. Inner shell made out of polystyrene or polyurethane absorbs and dissipates the rest of the shock by slowly collapsing under impact.

Choosing a helmet
There are few things you're going to be looking at. Price, color, weight and of course fit. When you do settle on that check that your particular helmet adheres to standards. Check whether the helmet was approved by DOT (Department of Transport), SNELL (The Snell Memorial Foundation) or by the ANSI institute. If it has one or both seals of approval you're good to go.
When trying on a helmet here are few things to remember:
  • Cheek pads should touch cheeks without pressing uncomfortably. Remember though, that the comfort liner will compress after a bit of usage and plan for that.
  • There should be no gap between temples and brow pad.
  • There should be no gap between forehead and helmet.
To test whether the helmet really suits you, put it on for 10-15 minutes. Walk around. Do you feel comfortable?
Unless you know what you're doing, don't go for expensive brands like Arai. They generally cost more than the noname brand, however they may be constructed with lighter materials. Consider getting a lighter helmet when you go for extended rides.

Other things:
When your helmet is not in use store is somewhere dry. When you get of your bike and take off your helmet, don't put it on your seat - it will fall. Most motorcycle helmets are designed for one fall only. If you drop the helmet hard enough, it might be useless in an actual accident. Therefore, either put your helmet on the ground or on the handlebar.

Hopefully this provided your with some information on motorycle helmets. Wear your safey gear and stay safe!

Most of this information was learned at motorcycle school. Some around the web

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