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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There are myriad choices when considering a motorcycle helmet purchase. Choosing among style, brand, price, color, and fit can be overwhelming for someone who has never worn a helmet before. What to look for in a helmet is often a topic of great debate and indecision. In this article, I will go over some of the basics of choosing a motorcycle helmet.

Properly fitting a helmet

A helmet should fit snugly without binding or causing discomfort. While wearing, you should be able to place your hands on the helmet and move it around without having it shift or slide on the head, meaning your head should move with the helmet without having it shift position. Different head shapes may require different brands to be comfortable, so try several brands if you aren't getting a comfortable fit. It's always best if possible to wear the helmet for around half an hour before purchasing to be sure it will be comfortable in the long term. Before buying online, it's best to check a local shop for fit and comfort. Heck, they might even have a great deal that you would have otherwise missed.

Choosing a brand and price

Helmets range in price from around $50 to several hundred. Personal preference will come into play when choosing a price range. Some of the more expensive models may have better air flow, be lighter, or have a fancy graphic that blends well with the rider's motorcycle paint. Base model helmets, as long as they are DOT or Snell approved, will provide virtually as much protection as the more expensive models.

Helmet styles

There are four basic styles of helmets.

1) Half shell helmets cover the top of the head. While they do not provide protection for the jaw and face, they provide the most total airflow in hot weather. Glasses or goggles are required to wear with these.
2) Open face or 3/4 helmets are the classic style that covers the ears and back of the neck, leaving the face open. Some have attachable face shields.
3) Full-face helmets come with a chin guard and usually have a face shield. These provide the best overall protection. Most models have ventilation slots that can be opened and closed as needed for different weather conditions.
4) Modular helmets are similar to the full-face models, except the chin guard can be lifted up for ease of putting on and taking off the helmet. These are popular with folks that wear glasses.

Color and visibility

Studies have shown that a white helmet is more visible to drivers than a black model. I'd imagine that a fluorescent green, orange or yellow would work as well. It would be a great idea to use reflective material on the back of the helmet if the rider plans a lot of riding at night.

Motorcycle stories

What type of helmet did you choose and why?
 

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2021 CanAm Spyder RT
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Who ever has the opportunity, or would take the time even if possible, to wear several different helmets each for 30 minutes to decide which fits best? And most dealers only carry a very, very limited selection of helmets. I don't know of a single place where one could go and try on, even for a few seconds, a selection of high quality helmets such as Shoei, Arai, etc. and then make a good decision. For me, I rely upon the annual International Motorcycle Show where I can go to several vendor's booths and get the chance to at least try on various lids. But even if you could try on all of your "dream" helmets, and wear each for long enough to really tell if they irritate or bind on your particular head, you would still not know how they really reduce or fail to reduce noise, or what amount of airflow their vents really provide or how they really are to wear for an 8 hour day of riding. So it comes down to trusting what one reads or hears from others and then plunking down your money. Years ago I pretty much limited myself to Shoei since they seem to fit me OK and do the job reasonably well, but I do wonder, after I have spent $400 or so on a new Shoei helmet, if somewhere out there is the perfect helmet for me that I will never know about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You are right, Vito. It would take too long to try on every helmet for 30 minutes. :D I was speaking about once the choice was narrowed down just before the rider was ready to purchase.
 

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Being in the business (part time) of ATV safety instruction, I find I need/prefer a half helmet most all the time while talking to students as there is nothing to hinder my voice. But then it's also convenient to wear the same type of helmet in the summertime when the air circulation around the ears and cheeks is important. And I always say that if someone doesn't want to wear their ATV/dirt bike style helmet (the one with the long bill and mouth guard with the screen in front) because it's just too hot, then at least go with the half helmet.

My point is that any helmet is better than no helmet and an excuse.

Personally, I use different helmets for different purposes on my ATV and my bike, depending on the temperature and the distance I'm traveling. Modulars give me the most flexibility.

RonK
 

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Does anyone have any tips for choosing a quiet helmet? Right now I have a Nolan N103 which is a good fit, but a lot of wind noise, and it's five years old, so am planning to buy a new one.
 

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Does anyone have any tips for choosing a quiet helmet? Right now I have a Nolan N103 which is a good fit, but a lot of wind noise, and it's five years old, so am planning to buy a new one.
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Rather than trying for quiet, consider using ear plugs or cotton. That way, if you don't like it, you can change. I found that when I used plugs and it was totally quiet, I couldn't tell what the engine was doing very well, so I crashed after two miles--but you might like it!

RonK
 

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I already wear earplugs when I go on the highway. A friend mentioned that Schubert helmets are reputed to be very quiet, but I got sticker shock when I looked up the prices. :eek:
 

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Anyone have a Schubert? I've had Shoeis for years but have thought about Schubert. They have to be awfully good to justify the price.
 

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Anyone have a Schubert? I've had Shoeis for years but have thought about Schubert. They have to be awfully good to justify the price.
I own a Schubert C3. It is the quietest and best fitting helmet I have owned. Price however is an issue. I picked mine up on sale for $550. Full retail is $700.

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2
 

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I ended up with a Speed and Strength SS1500 for about $200 after tax. The shop I was in only had the "off the chain" model in my size, that's what I ended up with. It's not really my style, so I put white reflective tape across the words on the side and on the back. The matte black color is pretty cool, and actually with the white tape strips on the side, it gives it a little panache. :icon_cool:

It has a pump system in the cheek pads, which I thought might be helpful for getting a more snug fit at times (ex. on the highway, need to check blind spot); however, I don't think it really does anything.

Overall, the helmet is pretty comfortable to wear. My head only starts getting hot if it's warm out and I'm sitting. Once I'm going, the airflow is pretty good through the vents. Noise is tolerable up to about 35mph, and then I have to wear ear plugs.

I have to wear my contacts with this helmet because the pads are just such that I would have to risk bending my frames getting them on, and I don't want to do that. So, it's contacts, and eye drops every hour or two.

One thing I love about this helmet is the drop down inner sun visor. So convenient. The lever is not as easy to use as the HJC helmets I looked at with the switch on the top, but it's still great. I don't think I will ever buy a helmet without an inner sun visor since having one. :thumbsup:

Whenever I replace it, I won't absolutely get the same thing again, but I'll certainly give S&S a look. Hopefully, by the time I need a new helmet, I can afford one of those fancy ones. :biggrin:
 

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The independents around here only carry HFC and Fulmer. I had a Fulmer when I crashed. It was nearly in two pieces but it saved my life I'm sure. I bought another one just like it. You should buy a new helmet anyway if it has to actually get used in a crash.
 

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My point is that any helmet is better than no helmet and an excuse.

Personally, I use different helmets for different purposes on my ATV and my bike, depending on the temperature and the distance I'm traveling. Modulars give me the most flexibility.

RonK

Couldn't have said it better, great thread!
 

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Your vision will improve greatly if you remove the label from the face shield.
 
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That's what I would call brand loyalty.
 
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