View Full Version : Motorcycle helmets
12-04-2002, 05:03 PM
Im not sure if this should go here or imho but
I have to buy a motorcycle helmet soon and was wondering what should I be looking for in terms of safety, quality, fit. What brands are better than others. I've only worn a shoei but in terms of riding I'd like one that doesnt fog up so I can see.
What are the best motorcycle helmets out on the market for a newbie rider.
12-04-2002, 05:26 PM
My girlfriends brother is/was a new motorcycle rider. He had a full head helmet and then switched to the type that just covers the top of your head. Partially so he could see more, but he also claimed that during an accident you neck is less prone to injuries without the added weight of a full helmet. (He may have just liked it more, he also went bought and returned about 3 leather jackets before he settled on the one he wanted)
12-04-2002, 05:27 PM
Oh and he returned his orginal bike a week after he bought and got a different one.
12-04-2002, 05:27 PM
Fogging up is a characteristic of the face shield. By law, these are all polycarbonate, and there is no variation between manufacturers. If you want to reduce fogging, ask your motorcycle dealer about Fog City fog shields, or some other variety of de-fogger (from O'Neill, etc.).
As far as the helmets themselves, Shoei is of extremely high quality, and you won't find anything significantly better. However, each helmet manufacturer has a different model of the head that they try to fit, and some other brand may be more comfortable for you. Go to the dealer, try them all on, and see what fits best. Always look for the Snell Memorial Foundation's label on the inside of the helmet. Snell is a nonprofit organization dedicated to testing helmets for safety and efficacy.
Fit: the helmet should be SNUG, and resist swiveling from side-to-side or up and down on your head. The chin strap should fit tightly under the chin without strangling. The more expensive helmets from each manufacturer are usally lighter and more comfortable, but not necessarily safer.
Wear leather; never wear shorts, short-sleeves or sandals.
And if you're a new rider, take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Rider Safety Course. It's the best thing you can do.
12-04-2002, 05:33 PM
Yeah, I think IMHO is a better fit, so I'll move this thread over there.
12-04-2002, 05:40 PM
Yes, I'm very serious. Different brands come in different shapes, and the fit is the most important decision factor.
Try on a bundle and find one that's really tight-fitting but still comfortable. Wear it for at least 15-20 minutes in the shop - there should be no pressure points getting sore. (Remember, the fit will loosen as the padding settles.)
As for fogging up, in my experience they all do that. Keep the inside of the visor spotlessly clean and/or get one of the aftermarket chemical treatments. At speed, the airflow will keep the fog in check.
Personally, I try to keep the number of vents etc. at an absolute minimum - I find them noisy. YMMV.
I really, really like my Shoei, but I've also had an AGV that worked very well for me - and Shayna rides with an HJC she seems quite happy with.
Shiny side up!
12-04-2002, 06:33 PM
Ah thank you for the heads up. I've heard of the dot something snell logo iirc and will get one thats compliant. In terms of colors, do y'all go for colors or dark helmets. I dont really like the shaded visors because it was harder to see at night.
Im going for one thats either xs or s but should it be extra tight fitting or snug, or will I know once I've tried on a few. I am most likely going to be purchasing this at a bike show so I dont know how long I can wear it. Maybe I should scope out the shops before I go to the show.
I cant wear one without a visor because the wind makes my eyes watery.
12-04-2002, 06:52 PM
I have a Shoei RF-800, and I couldn't be happier with it. As was mentioned earlier, fit is very important. I measured my head and mail ordered my helmet, and when it came in I was sure it was way too small. I thought my eyes would bug out, it was so tight. But the manufacturer said this was normal and that it would break in, and they were right. After a long days ride, I am in no big hurry to take it off. It almost feels like you don't have it on, it fits so well.
12-04-2002, 07:00 PM
Any helmet with a Snell rating is going to be better than one without.
Steer clear of helmets that are replicas of famous riders helmets- they cost a hell of a lot more without being any better than base models from the same manufacturers.
Go for a lighter helmet than a heavier one
In terms of fit, I've found that just about all of the padding in a helmet compresses significantly except the padding across the forehead. If a new helmet is too tight there after you've worn it for five minutes, it's likely to be too tight there forever. (It does compress there a bit but not as much).
As long as it meets reasonable standards, go with whatever fits your head and your wallet best.
FWIW, I've owned Arai, Shoei, FM and Lazer helmets. The trim in the Arai and Shoei helmets is significantly better but I liked the Lazer best because it is significantly lighter than the others (and significantly cheaper) but still has a Snell rating (nb, not all Lazer models have the Snell rating). However, wind noise was higher in the Lazer and some people don't like the look of them.
Several of the helmets have a small lever at the base of the visor that allow you to crack it open a tiny bit and stop the visor from fogging up.
12-04-2002, 07:06 PM
Originally posted by cherry
In terms of colors, do y'all go for colors or dark helmets. I dont really like the shaded visors because it was harder to see at night. <snip>
Im going for one thats either xs or s but should it be extra tight fitting or snug, or will I know once I've tried on a few.
As for colour, I've always wanted to buy neutral-coloured helmets that won't clash horribly with either leathers or cycle colour. Being a cheapskate, I've always ended getting a good deal on a coloured one, anyway. Btw., the dead bugs are very visible on light-colour, monochrome helmets.
The fit: Ideally, the fit on a new helmet will slightly force the inside of your cheeks in between your teeth when you open your jaws slightly. (It will get looser, OK ?) The important thing is to get a helmet that doesn't exert any extreme pressure on any particular point(s) - that'll end up hurting.
Most newbies buy their helmet too big, and that's dangerous in a crash as well as serioulsy annoying when riding. But try on a few - you'll soon find that some fit way better than others.
12-04-2002, 07:11 PM
I wear an Arai Quantum/F helmet.
If I leave the vents open, I only have a problem with fogging when its below 50 degrees. You can buy a breathguard, or there is a spray that supposedly keeps the visor from fogging(no personal experience with it though).
Don't buy into the argument about not wearing a full face shield. I highsided on track at 75mph, and hit face first into the track surface. The shield and helmet was incredibly gouged, but the shield did not crack at all.
I know people say that you don't get any more out of a $500 Snell approved helmet than you do for a $200 one, but I will never wear anything other than Arai's helmets again. The impact was violent looking enough that the medical team started rolling on track, yet I was able to get right up and get back on the bike.
Or, as I have heard others say-- "go buy a $200 helmet if you only have a $200 head"
12-04-2002, 07:27 PM
I love my Shoei. Nametag and several others above have given super advice.
Especially the caveat about tank-tops and flip-flops...
12-04-2002, 07:49 PM
Motorcycle safety course.
Ride defensively, assume your helmet will not help you at all and ride accordingly.
Ride always as if you are in shorts and flip flops.
Assume you are invisible and the ones that CAN see you will deliberately try to kill you.
Hope to see you out there......
12-04-2002, 11:44 PM
Again, don't buy into the bullshit about open faced helmets. I saw a lot of death and disfigurement in Sturgis this year because of half helmets or idiot wannabes with NO helmets. That argument would be sent directly to the Pit, so I'll leave it alone. Full faced is the way to go, and if you're on a sportbike, anything else will look just plain stupid. Plus, it keeps the bugs, tar, etc off of your face. Face shields are interchangable, if you want to be able to use smoked shields get a helmet with a quick change system. I think Arai, Shoei and HJC all make helmets with that kind of system and you can change shields on the side of the road in about 3 mins. I'll dig for a link to where you can buy the shield sling to carry the extra one (it goes under your arm, along the rib cage). I take a Small HJC LT-10, and I think it's great, but they stopped making that model. If you have the money, buy an Arai, they'll make sure it's the right helmet for you.
Edward The Head
12-05-2002, 07:47 AM
Most of it has already been covered but I ride with an HJC 12 and really like it. You really need to try on a few different models because even within the same company there are different fits. I also have a Symax HJC, it's a flip up, that does not fit right after about 1/2 hour.
For the fogging problem I would use an after market product. I have a Fog City on my helmet and it works great. However if you have glasses like I do it really doesn't matter, I still ride in extreme cold with the shield part way up. If you want to keep the wind down you can get a higher windshield and ride with your face shield up, that's how I normally ride.
12-30-2002, 11:14 PM
Sorry something came up at the time so I couldnt reply back, thanks for the responses and moving this to the right forum, yes I'm taking the msf course, and I'm going to wear leather, and ride a bike I can flatfoot and get a full face helmet when I leave it up partially my nose gets runny (I know gross) and my eyes watery. I've used shoei before and liked them, I've tried some more on and its a toss up btw Arai and Shoei. I have to find gloves that fit my small hands, I got the jacket. Thanx again, happy riding.
12-31-2002, 02:18 AM
I'm actually surprised that people wear anything but full-face helmets. Just the idea that there might be an accident that lands me face-first is enough to make me wear one. I think everyone else is just trying to maintain an image.
Plus, it was so noisy when I tried once without a helmet. ICK.
12-31-2002, 05:11 AM
Couple of points to add, but significant ones so pay attention.
Crash hat colour is important, the brighter the better, dayglo or white may not be hugely sexy but bright crash hats draw the eye of car drivers more than any other part of a bike, being seen is about the most effective bike safety measure there is.
Wear earplugs on every trip, no matter how quiet your crash hat is, it will generate lots of noise at any speed above 40mph, and some will be noisy at 30mph.If yo do not do this and you ride regularly your hearing will be damaged.Prove this by riding with and without plugs for just a short trip, and then try hold a conversation with someone immediately after, you will find that without plugs you might struggle temporaily to catch all that is being said.Hearing damage is cumulative and pernicious, you don't even realise its happening until its too late.
Keep lots of earplugs available, in pockets of all your regular clothing, on the mantlepiece, in drawers at work etc,, the more the better, and keep them clean!
12-31-2002, 05:50 AM
As for the fog problem, I've seen some after-market fogshields that seem to work well. They're bolted to the inside of the standard visor, and prevent ANY fog in the aread they cover, which is 99% of the helmet opening. I've been thinking about getting one myself, as fogging remains a problem in innercity (read: low speed) riding, especially in the cold and/or rain.
Other than that: full face all the way, glassfibre is better than polycarnonate (lighter and more expensive, too), brands don't mean shit as long as they're rated (I have a Bayard helmet myself, very comfy, haven't crash-tested it yet :)).
Having said that, I'm seriously lusting after the Schubert Concept (http://www.schuberth-usa.com/pages/Concept.html), which is an insanely expensive touring helmet with retractable sun visor (no more shades!) and chin-up design. Now, watch and see Spiny Norman make fun of me for being a touring git. ;)
12-31-2002, 08:29 AM
I have been riding (and in the retail motorcycle business) for about 20 years and I will pass on my .02:
Try helmets from several manufacturers as the fit is different with each one (an XS Arai may be equivalent to a S Shoei) and some manufacturers use different molds to make different models of helmets (ex. the Arai "round oval" and "long oval").
Open faced helmets are popular, but in my mind they are RIDICULOUS, if my stylin' helmet allowed my face to be ripped off, why would I want to protect my brain?, all it's going to do is process the astounding pain coming from my ripped off face.
Suggested brand names: Arai (my ONLY choice), Shoei, AGV, Nolan (an amazing value, I think about $200.00 for the "flip up face" model), HJC and there are many more.
A helmet (full face) can be bought for as little as $65.00, my last Arai was $450.00 (no, it's black), how much is your head worth?.
12-31-2002, 09:20 AM
I had no idea how much difference helmet color made until I was with a buch of guys on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Their white helmets GRABBED my eyes. Extremely visible.
12-31-2002, 11:59 AM
If you want a cool looking bright yellow/green helmet, get one of Valentino Rossi's AGV XVent replicas...there are a few different models, but a couple of them are neon green/yellow.
12-31-2002, 12:31 PM
Most people either have a "Shoei head" or an "Arai head", and trying to wear the opposite helmet from your head type usually results in painful spots. Arai heads are a little rounder, while Shoei heads are more elongated front to back. My spousal unit and I both have Arai heads, and Shoei helmets cause us identical painful red spots on the fronts of our foreheads whenever we try them on. Many helmet manufacturers use either the Shoei or Arai design, so after trying on several helmets you'll get a feel for which brands fit you well and which don't.
The helmet should fit you very snugly, but it shouldn't hurt.
12-31-2002, 05:08 PM
Arai and Shoei are my favorites, with Simpson in the running. (Simpson used to make great helmets for motorcycle riding, but have leaned heavily towards car guys lately)
Make sure it is tight.
If you have a problem with fogging, you may want to look at a helmet maker who offers a snowmobile shield to fit your model (many are interchangable) that feature a double-pane, and resist fogging.
Aw, screw the sig!
01-01-2003, 09:51 AM
Here's a good link (http://teamoregon.orst.edu/to_web/helmet_fit.html) on the TeamOregon motrcycle safety training site that gives a good rundown of how to fit a helmet.
Personally, I use a Shoei RF-900. I bought mine online for a good $200 less than the local shops after spending a day and a half AT the local shops trying on almost every helmet sold. I have a big head and it's not easy for me to find a comfortable fit - for instance, I cant get the biggest Bell helmet on my head without ripping my ears off - and then, it's so tight front-to-back that it causes my vision to blur.
Arai's fit me OK, but there are some very uncomfortable tight spots around my forehead and cheekbones.
So, like others have said, the only good way to fit a helmet properly is to try on lots of them, make sure it's tight but not cutting off circulation or causing pain, and make a choice based on the shape of your head.
As far as fogging, it's tough to TOTALLY elimnate fogging with a full-face helmet. There's all sorts of gadgets, films, cleaners, coatings and stuff out there to help with the situation and some of them even sort of work. But when you're sitting at a traffic light on a damp 40 degree morning, NOTHING will prevent fogging other than cracking open the face shield. Otherwise, look for a helmet with a good ventilation system to keep air moving over the inside of the face shield while you're moving.
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