How To Select a Motorcycle or Offroad Helmet

A female rider adjusts the chin strap on a full-face motorcycle helmet

For most riders, a motorcycle helmet is their first piece of riding gear. A motorcycle helmet is the most important piece of Riding Gear that you can wear. When you are shopping for a Motorcycle or Powersports Helmet, there are several factors to keep in mind: Safety, Fit, Features, and Style.

Shop Now | New Helmets | Amazon Marketplace

Looking for more information about different types of motorcycle and offroad helmets? (link coming soon)

Safety

Closeup of the Maker's Mark and DOT sticker on a Bell Helmets RF-1000 Motorcycle Helmet
The DOT stamp should be in located on the rear center of the helmet.

Choose a motorcycle helmet certified with recognized safety standards and regulations. The big ones areDOT, ECE, Snell, and BSI. Stay away from Novelty Helmets.

A full-face motorcycle helmet is going to offer greater protection in a crash than a half or three-quarter style helmet. I know a full face helmet is going to offer the best protection. I don’t like wearing full face helmets because I tend to get too hot very quickly when stopped. I usually wear my three-quarter style HJC with the flip up shield, and am tossing the shield up before my feet hit the ground at a light.

Proper Fit

Shop around. Make sure you try on different brands and models before you decide on a helmet. Different brands and models of motorcycle helmets have different internal shapes. You may find certain brands suit the shape of your head better than others. Some Motorcycle Helmets offer removable, interchangeable cheek pads which can allow you to customize the fit to your head shape.

Here’s my tips on helmet fitment. (link coming soon)

Size Charts

Materials

Many low priced motorcycle helmets are made with a Molded Polycarbonate Plastic outer shell. They are much heavier than helmets made of Fiberglass, Kevlar or Carbon Fiber Construction. Your neck will appreciate it if you choose a helmet that weighs less. They are more comfortable for long rides. The more comfortable the helmet, the more likely you are to wear it.

Features

Key features to look for in your next new motorcycle helmet include:

Is it comfortable?

Is it well ventilated? Find a helmet that offers adequate Ventilation. Sweat and hair products can cause the Expanded Polystyrene Liner (EPS) liner to break down more quickly. Better quality helmets have openings in the internal liner that align with the exterior vents. In the event that you get exhaust gasses inside your helmet, you are going to want them back out as quickly as possible.

Does it have a removable, washable inner liner? Keeping your helmet clean can extend its lifespan. It’s something I look for in a helmet.

Be sure to choose a helmet that offers an injection molded face shield to get the best optical quality. Low quality helmet shields are often heated and bent into shape which leads to imperfections that can cause distortions in your field of vision.

A Motorcycle helmet with an inner sun shield can offer a darker tint to protect your eyes and reduce glare without needing to change shields later into the evening. Regardless of how easy it is to switch face shields on your helmet, keeping up with a second shield while out on your motorcycle presents its own set of headaches.
If you ride with groups or like to stay in contact with your GPS or the outside world while you ride your motorcycle, consider shopping for a helmet that is ready for an internal mount style intercom or Bluetooth headset.

A female rider adjusts the chin strap on a full-face motorcycle helmet
Fasten the Chin Strap

A motorcycle or offroad helmet that offers a padded chin strap is going to be much more comfortable than one that has a bare nylon strap. Some helmet chin straps feature a ratchet style buckle. Most have a double-D-Ring style chin strap. Be sure you understand how to properly secure your helmet chin strap before riding.

HJC CL-MAX-II Modular Street Motorcycle Helmet in Matte Black.
HJC Helmets CL-MAX-II Modular Street Motorcycle Helmet
When shopping for a Modular Motorcycle Helmet, be sure to verify whether the chin bar section has EPS foam in it for the best level of safety. A modular helmet is one that looks like a full face helmet, and features a hinged chin bar which is convenient when you are stopped. If the chin bar does not have EPS in it, then it will only offer protection from the elements. Beware of that difference in quality of modular helmets. For more information about the different types of helmets, please click here. (link coming soon)

Style

Our helmets are an extension of the image we present as bikers. It’s a reflection of our individual styles and the perceptions we want others to make when they see us. You have to choose a helmet that meets your needs, and is comfortable. If you choose a helmet that you like, and that is comfortable to wear, you are more likely to ride with it.

Shopping for a Motorcycle Helmet

Shop Amazon for Motorcycle and ATV Helmets

Once you have done your research, and have a few helmet options in mind, it’s time to get to shopping.
Don’t buy used Helmets. – Period.
You don’t know for sure if it’s suffered from an impact which may have deformed the internal Expanded Polystyrene Liner (EPS), reducing its ability to protect you in a crash. Also, the foam can start to conform to the shape of your head, or in the case of a used helmet, the previous owner, who, even if the same size probably doesn’t have the same shape head as you.

Industry standards recommend that you replace your helmet after five years, even if not involved in a crash or impact. The foam can start to deteriorate from age. The manufacture date can be found on a sticker on the inside of the shell. Even when buying a new helmet, make sure it isn’t one that has been sitting in a warehouse for two years.

Go to your local dealer and try on some helmets, and make sure you know what you are looking for before you start to shop. Every day mobile shopping is getting better. Hit up Amazon or the search engines from your device and make sure your local shop has a fair price on the right helmet for you before you lay down your cash.

Open face motorcycle helmet wrapped with the image of a butt.
Don’t be a butthead. Wear your helmet!
If you go online, you can see a myriad of options, and I suggest it for your research. I also suggest laying your hands on the helmet you are interested in and make sure it meets your needs and expectations before you order online. All of the big helmet brands will have a dealer locator to find the closest place you can lay hands on their helmet offerings. Call ahead and verify they have the model you are interested in before you make the ride.

Visit a few motorcycle dealerships and riding gear shops before you decide which helmet is right for you.

Thank you for reading. Please do not let my advice substitute for doing your own independent research on Motorcycle Helmets and Safety standards before you purchase your next motorcycle helmet. I hope that I have given you some factors to keep in mind as you do your research and shopping that will help you to make a more informed decision. Helping riders stay safe is very important to me.
Please share this informative article with your friends.

Shop Now | New Helmets | Amazon Marketplace

Top/Front view of Monster Energy graphics on an RPHA- full face motorcycle helmet by HJC Helmets.
Race Replica Monster Energy RPHA- by HJC Helmets
The Pop-N-Lock CL-X7 Helmet by HJC Helmets.
The Cl-X7 Offroad Helmet by HJC Helmets

Here are some links to the information I read as I prepared to write this article.
They will make a good starting point for your research.

10 Tips for Choosing a Motorcycle Helmet from the Schuberth blog

Snell Memorial Foundation FAQ

Motorcycle.com Buyers Guide to Motorcycle Helmets

HelmetCheck.org Sponsored by the Motorcycle Industry Council’s (MIC) Helmet Task Force