Choosing your motorcycle helmet can almost be as important as choosing the right motorcycle. Because there are so many styles and different types of helmets to consider, we wanted to help you narrow the field! How to choose the right helmet:
There are hemispherical shaped helmets that are designed to protect the head from the ears up and helmets that cover the entire head from just below the chin line. There are also helmets that look like football helmets.
The outer shell is designed to absorb most of the impact in an accident, lessening the amount of force that will reach your skull. When considering the geometry of the helmet (sphere-like) any impact will be distributed throughout the helmet. In a perfect sphere, an impact (a force) will be evenly distributed. This is the case in a motorcycle helmet, except we ought to understand that the helmet is not a perfect sphere.
The next level of protection is found in the liner of the helmet. This unit of protective layer is an impact-absorbing liner. This liner will absorb residual forces not absorbed by the outer shell. While the liner is also shaped like a sphere, forces will be, ideally, distributed evenly. The material of the inner liner is usually made of Styrofoam, a material not as hard and impact resistance as the outer-liner.
The third section of a helmet is called the comfort padding. It functions as what its name indicates. It provides comfort, mainly. The comfort padding also ensures that the helmet fits snuggly on the head. A loose, or ill fitting helmet will not absorb as much of the forces as a well-fitting, snug helmet.
The fourth component of the called the retention system, more commonly referred to as the chin strap. Obvious to many, the chin strap helps to ensure that the helmet stays on your head in the event of a crash. The other elements of the retention system are the devices that attach the chin strap to the helmet. A loose chin strip reduces the effective safety designs of the entire helmet.
Regardless of the type chosen, make sure that they are rated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Of the four basic components, the most important element is the outer section of the helmet, called the outer shell. Modern technologies have found plastics and fiber reinforced composites that allow for high strength, light weight outer shells.
The DOT sticker and the Snell Memorial Foundation run thorough tests on motorcycle helmets for:
Impact—The helmet’s shock absorbing capacity
Penetration—The helmet’s ability to withstand the penetration a sharp object
Retention—The ability of the retention system to fastened to the helmet
Peripheral vision—The helmet’s ability to allow side vision of no less than 105 degrees on each side.
Regardless or the style of helmet or how seasoned you are as a motorcyclist (okay, biker) it is important to check your helmet for the safety features designed to protect you from breaking your head.
No doubt, wearing a helmet while operating or riding on a motorcycle is necessary to reduce the probability of death or life-long debilitating injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies have determined that deadly accidents are a higher probability when helmets are not worn.
No matter how macho you want to be, wearing a helmet is the thing to do.