Wearing a helmet whilst you’re riding your motorbike is an absolute necessity. If you want to stay safe on your bike, getting a good quality helmet to protect your head is one of the most important things for you to consider.
We’ve hand selected and tested some of the best motorcycle helmets on the market, to help you find the best helmet for a fantastic price. Motorbike gear can get expensive, which is why we’ve found some affordable helmets, without compromising your safety.
Before you start looking at helmets, you need to decide exactly which style will suit your needs best.
A full-face motorbike will give your head and neck the most protection if you were to have an accident. They are one of the most popular types of motorbike helmets on the market due to how effective they are. Full-face helmets also provide great weather protection, block out road noise and will keep your head warm during the winter weather. In the summer heat, you may be concerned about getting too warm, however many manufacturers offer varying levels of ventilation to keep you cool whilst you're on the road.
An open face helmet will protect the riders ears and head, not their face. If you want to look stylish whilst out on your bike, an open faced helmet will be perfect for you. Particularly for use during hot weather, this helmet style might be useful as it provides a lot of ventilation. However, due to the lack of facial protection, this helmet may not be the best option in terms of safety.
Flip-front helmets (also known as modular helmets) give riders the option to have the chin guard up, or down. This means they are effectively, a combination of a full face and open face helmet. Full face helmets can get a little claustrophobic however if you have a flip-front, you can flip up the front of the helmet when you don't need chin protection. The hinge weakens the overall structure of the helmet which means they may not protect you as well as a full face helmet in a crash.
Your motorbike helmet is the most important piece of kit you'll own which is why you should do thorough research before buying one. Choosing a helmet that fits you well is the most important thing you should consider, no matter how much it costs. It's much better to have a cheap helmet that fits you well, rather than an expensive helmet that's ill fitting.
Spend as much as you can afford on a helmet as this piece of kit could be the difference between life and death.
Expensive helmets tend to be made with good quality materials and may even have multiple outer shells to add extra protection to your head. There are many cheaper helmets which will protect your head perfectly, so it's completely up to you of how much you want to spend. Cheaper helmets may be more susceptible to degradation if certain substances, for example, petrol, get into the helmets fabric. Ultimately, if you're worried about your safety, spend that little bit extra for peace of mind.
Every motorbike helmet sold in the UK and Europe must be thoroughly tested against factors such as impact, penetration, and abrasion. This is called the ECE 22.05 and if your helmet has a letter J, P, NP, or ECE, it has been checked.
SHARP testing is a government funding scheme which provides further testing for helmets. Before you buy a helmet, you could check it out on their website to see what safety rating they give it.
The American motorbike helmet standard is called DOT and this is carried out by the helmet manufacturer. The DOT test targets 3 areas - impact attenuation, penetration and finally, the retention strap is tested under large weight loads. If your helmet has had DOT testing, it will say DOT, along with the manufacturers name, on the label.
NEVER buy a secondhand helmet! If you're not sure where the helmet has been and what damage has been done to it, avoid it.
If your helmet doesn't fit properly, it will be super uncomfortable and it can also be more dangerous than not wearing a helmet at all!
You ALWAYS need to try on the helmet before you buy it! Try on multiple different types of helmets before you choose the perfect fit.
Measure your heads circumference so you can check the measurement against the manufacturers size guide. Once you know roughly what size you're going to be, try on a few different sizes and brands to see which feel comfiest.
Full face helmets can be quite tricky to get on if you're not used to doing it. The best way to put one on, is pull the edges of the helmet out, whilst you squeeze your head through. It may feel tight the first time you try one on, but your head should squeeze in with a bit of effort.
Don't rush to buy a helmet, you really need to find the best one for your head size and shape otherwise it really could make biking an painful experience. Once you've found a helmet that you think might be a good fit, keep it on for a while. This way you'll be able to feel where the pressure points are. If you can feel it hurting or feel too much pressure in a certain area, don't buy it. Some retailers may let you return a helmet if it still has the visor sticker on however this is uncommon, so you need to be 100% sure that the helmet you're going to buy is the right one for you.
Move your head whilst you're holding the helmet, if you can move a lot, the helmet is definitely too big for you! You should also try and put a finger between your face and the interior of the helmet, if you can fit your finger between the gap, you should try a smaller size.
Having a misty visor whilst you're out riding can be extremely dangerous as it can significantly restrict your vision. Some motorbike helmets come with Pinlocks included or come 'pinlock-ready'. A pinlock is one of the best anti-fog solutions for motorbike helmets on the market today. A pinlock is like having double glazing for your visor, providing a second lens between you and the outer shield of the helmet. Some cheaper helmets may not come with pinlocks which may be an issue in the winter as this is when your helmet will steam up.
There are three different grades of pinlock that you should consider buying, 30, 70 and 120. The higher the number, the better the visor will be at preventing the mist.
If you do have a pinlock, it's essential that you keep it clean. Dirt and dust can quickly build up, so you really need to keep it clean to avoid restricted vision whilst you're on the road. You must clean your visor with the correct cleaning equipment, such as a micro-fibre cloth and a cleaner designed for visors. They can be easily scratched which will possibly result in you having to buy a new visor! Motorbike helmets need to be treated with care, otherwise your safety can be seriously in danger!
Some helmets have a built in sun shield to protect your vision when you're out in the sun. They can be really useful when the sunlight is low however depending on your helmet shape, you view may be impaired, particularly if there's a gap between the helmet and the visor which lets light in. Having a dark tinted visor is illegal so your visor must transmit 70% or more light.
All motorbike helmets should be waterproof however some helmets do leak occasionally. This normally happens near the visor seal which means you may be able to adjust the visor placement to make it fit tighter to the helmet. If you do notice that your helmet is leaking often, get in touch with the manufacturer and see what they can offer.
Depending which style of motorbike helmet you choose, the amount of ventilation will be different. If you have an open faced helmet you will obviously get much more airflow than if you have a full faced helmet. It's really important that you have a ventilated helmet as this will keep you cool in the summer and it will also help your visor fogging up.
It's whats on the inside of a motorbike helmet that counts!
Thick padding and a chin skirt are things you should particularly look out for. If the interior is removable, this will make it much easier to clean and maintain the helmet.
Depending what model helmet you get, there are two types of helmet fastener you may have, double D ring, and micro-metric ratchet.
The micro-metric ratchet is a little less common for motorbike helmets however it's extremely easy to use and it allows the rider to get a secure fit.
Double D ring fasteners are strong, and allow a perfect fit so they certainly do have some fantastic benefits. However, they can be quite fiddly to loosen, meaning you'll probably have to take you gloves off to undo and tighten it whilst you're on the road.