No matter why you ride a motorcycle, safety should always be your top priority. Whether you’re simply commuting to work or riding as a thrill-seeker, it’s imperative to look out for yourself and those around you. All drivers on the road need to keep motorcycle safety in mind, and as a motorcyclist, your riding gear is your best defense. Of all the options for body protection, your helmet is by far the most important. Motorcycles lack the protection provided by enclosed vehicles during a collision, and head injuries are especially common in motorcycle accidents. Today’s helmets are roughly 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries during accidents, so it’s hard to overstate their importance.  

When looking at motorcycle helmets, you’ll likely notice that they look a fair bit different from dirt bike or other off-road vehicle helmets. Motorcycle helmets tend to be rounder and look much bigger because of the layering of protective materials. Still, you can find lots of options for motorcycle helmets. Just like you probably did with your motorcycle, you’ll want to research some helmets before making a decision.

Function

All helmets have the same basic function — protecting your head. When looking at high-quality motorcycle helmets, however, you’ll need to think about why you’re riding and what you’ll need for your purposes. For example, if you’re planning to ride every day, you’ll likely want a higher-end helmet that can ensure comfort for longer periods of time. If you’re planning on racing or participating in other high performance activities, you’ll likely want to get a Snell-approved helmet. While Snell-approved helmets aren’t required by any laws, Snell’s standards are the toughest for protective capability.

For those planning to ride in groups, as many motorcyclists do, it’s even more important to stay safe. Group riding comes with added risks, and communication with other riders is vital. Because of this, it’s best to either choose a helmet with built-in communication options or ensure you buy a helmet compatible with Bluetooth systems.

Features

You have many features to consider when looking for the right helmet, but shell material is one of the most important. This will determine the weight, comfort, and safety rating of any helmet. Most helmets are made of polycarbonate, carbon fiber, or fiberglass composite.  These materials react slightly differently on impact and will vary in price and weight. Most helmet interiors will have highly compressed EPS foam for shock absorption.

The comfort and weight of a helmet will be major deciding factors for most riders. Helmets with heavier materials or visors may strain the neck of the rider, which can disrupt the rider’s center of gravity, which is highly dangerous. Choosing a helmet you’re comfortable with is just as important as choosing the right motorcycle. For safety reasons, you may want to invest a bit more in a helmet with built-in sunshade or wind reduction to improve your experience.

Shape and fitting

The best features in the world won’t do you much good if your helmet doesn’t fit properly. The problems of a too small helmet are fairly obvious, but a helmet that’s slightly too big can fail to offer adequate protection. Get assistance measuring your head when you’re looking for helmets, especially if you’re shopping online and can’t try them on. In addition to head size, you’ll also need to determine your head shape. Most manufacturers take three basic head shapes into consideration: long oval, intermediate oval, and round oval. Finding a helmet that’s the right size and the right shape will give you the best experience for both comfort and safety.