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How to Buy a Motorcycle Helmet

How To: Picking a Safe Motorcycle Helmet

If you like to ride motorcycles, you know how important it is to stay safe on the road. Motorcycle riders have far less protection out on the road than do those driving automobiles, and in the event of an accident, your helmet may be the only chance you’ve got to stay alive. In an automobile, the structure of the car protects the driver from much of the impact that can occur in a collision. But when you’re traveling on a motorbike, that protection is restricted almost exclusively to your helmet. Since your helmet is protecting your head, you ought to use that head to put some extra thought into your helmet choice. The following information can help you avoid mistakes and make the proper considerations.

Things to Avoid

First off, never, under any circumstances, purchase a second hand helmet. You can never know the hidden damage that might have occurred to the interior, and finding out after an accident could prove to be fatal. If you’re a bargain hunter, then find a great second hand leather jacket, but don’t skimp when it comes to your helmet. Also, you want to avoid bargains that seem too good to be true. Sometimes, defective items are sold at a lower cost to clear the inventory. If you’re purchasing a pack to carry along, it might not be such a bad deal, but when it comes to the item protecting your skull, don’t take any chances.

Things You Must Do

When riding a motorbike, it is essential that you use proper visual shields. A visor and/or pair of goggles with a BSI, ECE, or CE approval mark is the only option you’ll want to go with. Keep your visor and goggles clear of scrapes, scratches, or any marks that could potentially obstruct your vision whilst on the road. You’re allowed by law to have a tint of up to 50 percent on the shield during the daylight, but ensure the official label is there before purchasing.


When you’re purchasing a helmet, you’ll want to ensure the helmet fits snugly around your head. There should be absolutely no movement whatsoever around your head. If you can shake your head up and down or side to side without feeling any movement in the helmet, you’ve likely found a good fit. But if the helmet moves around, find another one.

Some helmets, such as beanies, generally will not have ventilation built in. Other helmets, such as handmade Arai helmets, will incorporate five different two position front ventilation openings. This includes two vents in the visor itself. The air vents used in Arai helmets cool you over your temples so you don’t overheat while riding. This not only keeps you feeling cool, but it also keeps you alert on the roadway, reducing rider fatigue.

Motorcycle Helmets

Photo by Mondo Lulu, Toronto photographer and motorcyclist.

Comfort Level

While the fit must be snug, your comfort level whilst wearing the helmet is also an issue to consider. If there are pressure points, tight spots, or areas that cause pain, you’ll want to get another helmet. Having a firm fit is important, but pain, undue pressure, or tightness may distract you whilst driving, which would be a dangerous situation, as well.

Safety Rating

Be sure and take a look at the SHARP rating and choose a helmet with the highest possible rating. It’s also important to pick a colour that’s light so you can be seen by traffic. Dark colours might be alright during the day, but when you’re driving at night, a light helmet with reflectors can help others see you on the road.

Polycarbonate helmets usually sell at a cheaper price, and for good reason. They do about as good of a job of protecting your head in case of a crash as a bucket would. Polycarbonate helmets sound fancy, but they are made of plastic. For a much more resilient helmet, it is a good idea to choose one with a fiberglass shell.

Noise Level

It might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re thinking about a helmet purchase, but noise incurred by a poorly fitting helmet – rather by the road or your riding style – can affect your concentration and lead to tiredness or distracted driving.

Remember that helmets sold in the UK must meet either British Standard 6658: 1985 or ECE Regulation 22.05 standards. If a helmet does not meet one or the other, you’ll be in danger whilst driving with it. Most people don’t like to think about the dangers of driving a motorbike, but companies like Irwin Mitchell deal with the results of risky behaviours on the road on a daily basis and are familiar with what can happen when safety precautions are not heeded.

Your head is the most important thing to protect whilst driving a motorbike. The majority of your body can take a bit of a lashing without being too severely compromised, although you’ll want to wear proper clothing, as well, but your head is extremely fragile and can be damaged irreparably with just one wrong blow. Protect your head so you can travel as safely as possible whilst on the road.


Lewis Wild is passionate about motorcycles. He greatly enjoys sharing his passion with others and writing about the basics of maintenance and safety.

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  1. “Polycarbonate helmets usually sell at a cheaper price, and for good reason. They do about as good of a job of protecting your head in case of a crash as a bucket would. Polycarbonate helmets sound fancy, but they are made of plastic. For a much more resilient helmet, it is a good idea to choose one with a fiberglass shell.”

    Have you ever tried to break anything made of polycarbonate? It is TOUGH plastic, and it is WAY better than a bucket.

    • Yes, but have you ever squeezed along the long sides of the oval at the base of the helmet? Next time you’re at a motorcycle shop grab a polycarbonate helmet, flip it upside down, squeeze the ends together. Next, try to do the same with a fiberglass shell helmet. You should find the polycarbonate helmet is much more flexible and much less resilient than the fiberglass shell.
      Sure, it beats a plastic bucket, but a fiberglass shell really is the safer choice.

  2. Motorradbekleidung

    Thanks a lot for sharing such a informative post which is full of great tips and tricks. Your tips will surely help me find a perfect motorcycle helmet for myself. But unfortunately I am not 100% sure about my head shape. Is there any easy way to measure my head shape by myself?

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