Email    Password      Remember me  

Child Safety in Cars
Hybrid Cars 2010
Marine Diesel vs. Gasoline 2010
Air Bags 2010
TurboCharging 2010
Drive-Train System 2010

Motorcycle Helmets 2010
Driverless Car 2010 
Tires Not Just Rubber 2010
Car Aerodynamics  2011

Pascal Hayek



When it comes to buying safety equipment for a motorbike, nothing is more important than a good motorcycle helmet. Think of it at the same time you think of your ignition key: Pick up the key; pick up the helmet. They go together. In a crash, a helmet can help protect your brain, your face, and your life. Combined with other protective gear, the use of helmets and protective gear is one way to reduce injury.    

 Another good reason beside protection, wearing a good helmet makes riding a motorcycle more comfortable. It cuts down on wind noise whistling in your ears; on windblast on your face and eyes, and deflects insects and other objects flying through the air.

Protecting a rider's head is serious business, but with so many styles and brands on the market, choosing a motorcycle helmet can be as difficult as choosing the right motorcycle.



The motorcycle helmet consists of 4 main components: an outer shell; an impact-absorbing liner; the comfort padding; and a good retention system.

The outer shell, which is usually made from fiber-reinforced composites or thermoplastics like polycarbonate is a strong, rigid layer designed to provide abrasion resistance and protection from foreign object penetration. Most helmet designs utilize lightweight plastic or fiberglass composites for this shell. Some motorcycle helmets make use of high-end materials like Kevlar or carbon fiber, which are very lightweight, strong and expensive.

This is tough stuff, yet it's designed and intended to compress when it hits anything hard. This action disperses energy from the impact to lessen the force before it reaches your head, but it doesn't act alone to protect you.

Inside the shell is the equally important impact-absorbing liner, usually made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam which is rigid yet lightweight and crushable. During the high-impact traumas of a crash, the foam liner absorbs and disperses energy that would otherwise be transferred directly to the skull and brain. This dense layer cushions and absorbs the shock.

When hit hard, both the shell and the liner compress , spreading the forces of impact throughout the helmet material. The more impact-energy deflected or absorbed, the less there is of it to reach your head and do damage. Some helmet shells delaminate on impact while others may crack and break if forced to take a severe hit; this is one way a helmet acts to absorb shock. It is doing its intended job. Impact damage from a crash to the non-resilient liner may be invisible to the eye; it may look great, but it probably has little protective value left and should be replaced.

The modern motorcycle helmet delivers its life-saving protection via the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, which dissipates the energy of high-impact trauma.

The comfort padding is the soft foam-and-cloth layer that sits next to your head. It helps keep you comfortable and the helmet fitting snugly. In some helmets, this padding can even be taken out for washing.
The retention system, or chin strap, is very important. It is the one piece that keeps the helmet on your head in a crash. A strap is connected to each side of the shell. Every time you put the helmet on, fasten the strap securely. It only takes few seconds. To ride without your helmet secured would be as questionable as driving without your seatbelt. Keeping all this protective material in place is a chin strap cinched down by a pair of D-rings. The chin strap is a simple yet vital component of a helmet, as it ensures the life-saving protection remains in place during a crash.

With all these technical details, how can a consumer know which helmet is best? Well, there are industrial standards to which
motorcycle helmets must conform. In the United States these two helmet standards are DOT and Snell while in the UK it is the BSI. Some countries have their own helmet rating systems.

Finding the DOT stamp of approval is a must for a helmet sold in the United States. Riders will often find helmets which also conform to other standards, like Snell, or in this case, BSI.


Full-face motorcycle helmets deliver the best protection to a rider. As its name implies, a full-face helmet provides total coverage to the front and rear of rider's head. An added benefit of the full-face design is built-in eye protection in the form of a visor or face shield, which can be swapped out with tinted or non-tinted versions. This kind of helmet is utilized in motorcycle races.

Full-face helmets deliver the optimal protection. Many designs are direct replicas of the helmets worn by professional road-racers - like this AGV helmet worn by Moto GP star Valentino Rossi.

Special full-face helmet features include: Removable shield, washable removable liners, variable sized cheek pads, venting system, room for glasses and integrated communication sound system.


As the name implies, open-face motorcycle helmets lack the total coverage of a full-face design. Open-face also has another meaning if you imagine what might happen if a rider is ejected face-first onto the roadway. Within this classification of helmet there are three basic designs: Three-quarter, flip-up and half-helmets.

The open-face
three-quarter motorcycle helmet
design delivers significant protection for riders who want to feel the wind in their face. The three-quarter helmet incorporates the same construction components as its full-face sibling but without face shield and jaw piece - although some open-face designs do incorporate built-in visor/shields for eye protection.

3/4 Helmet

Flip-up motorcycle helmets, also referred to as modular helmets, are a hybrid design that offer the best of the full-face and three-quarter helmet worlds. A rider can opt for full-face coverage or flip up the movable face shield/jaw piece whenever they feel like going open-face. The flip-up helmet is convenient when stopping for a quick snack or drink, or to snap a photo, as the rider doesn't have to remove their helmet. Modular flip-up designs are growing in popularity, especially amongst touring riders.

 Flip-up Helmet

Half-helmet motorcycle helmets, also referred to as beanies, are the bare minimum as far as safety is concerned. Popular in the cruiser market, half-helmets protect the top of the head while leaving the face and critical base of the skull exposed. Rider's need to be extra vigilant that the half-helmet they purchase is DOT-approved and not just a novelty design.

Special open-face helmet features include:

Secure chin straps. Having secure chin straps on any helmet is critical, but the fact is even more pronounced on an open-face design.

Half-helmet designs are popular amongst the cruiser/custom set, but they offer up far less protection than a full-face design. With the reduced protection of an open-face design, riders are susceptible to airborne  objects and the weather. Riders should bulk up with added eye protection in the form of goggles or aftermarket shields.
Off-road Helmets

Yet another type of motorcycle helmet are those for off-road dirt bike enthusiasts. Most off-road motorcycle helmets are full-face designs, although there are some open-face helmets on the market. Off-road helmets are distinguished from their full-face street cousins by their elongated visors and chin protection, as well as an opening for goggles.

Off-road helmets deliver full-face protection, with an elongated visor, chin guard and a large opening for goggles. Construction materials are similar to street helmets.

Special off-road helmet features include:  Scratch-resistant, replaceable parts, ventilation systems and washable, removable cheek pads and liners.



Motorcycle helmets come is various sizes, from small to extra large. There is also a chart available for different sizes in metric and imperial. Measure the head circumference at the eyebrows level and choose the size.

 They also come in different shapes as well, in order to fit all the different sized heads out there. The shapes and sizes of different brands vary as well, so it is critical to try on a wide array of models.

When trying on a helmet, the entire interior liner should come into contact with the head. Shaking the head back and forth, the helmet should follow without wiggling.

 If the helmet can be removed without concerted effort, it is too big. If a rider's nose or chin touches the front of the face shield, it is too small. The key to an effective helmet fit is finding a design that is snug without being uncomfortable, remembering that the interior comfort liner in a new helmet will break in over time.

Try on a variety of helmets and wear them for a couple minutes. If you feel pressure or discomfort, abandon the helmet for a more comfortable design.

One nice feature to look for on full-face designs is removable cheek pads, which can be swapped out for different sizes to improve a helmet's fit.



 Remember crash helmets are designed to stem the damage from one major impact and are not reusable. If involved in an accident, a helmet should be replaced and a dropped helmet can have its effectiveness diminished as well. Also, helmets do not improve with age. The general recommendation is that they be replaced within four to five years.

The helmet is there for worst case scenarios. It is a critical life-saving instrument, but its function is to protect the most important safety tool in a rider's arsenal - the human brain.







Follow the manufacturer's care instructions for your helmet. Use only the mildest soap recommended. Avoid any petroleum-based cleaning fluids, especially if you own a polycarbonate helmet. Exposure to strong cleaning agents can cause the helmet to decompose and lose protective value.


Keep your helmet's face shield clean. Normally, mild soap and water with a soft cloth will do the job or use glass cleaner. If it gets scratched, replace it. A scratched face shield can be difficult to see through. At night, it could dangerously distort your vision and your view of oncoming lights.

A helmet looks tough and sturdy, but it should be handled as a fragile item. This means that you don't want to drop your helmet onto hard surfaces. It could ruin your helmet. Remember that its function is to

absorb impacts.


It is not wise to store helmets near gasoline, cleaning fluids, exhaust fumes, or excessive heat. These factors can result in the degradation of helmet materials, and often the damage goes unnoticed by the one who wears it. Read the information that comes with the helmet so you know how to care for it.


Definitely read the instructions about painting, decorating, or applying decals to your helmet.

Never hang your helmet on the motorcycle's mirrors, turn signals, or backrest. The inner liner can easily be damaged from such handling.

In fact, avoid carrying a spare helmet on your motorcycle, unless it's well protected or on your passenger's head. Even the bumps and jarring from normal riding can damage a spare. If it is strapped near hot engine parts or exhaust pipes, the inner liner may distort or melt at the hot spot. The outer shell may not show the damage.

When you take your helmet off, find a flat, secure place for it. You could set it on the ground, secure it on a rack, or stow it on a shelf. On some motorbikes, putting it on the fuel tank may expose it to fumes. If you place it on the seat, make sure it won't fall off.






Written by:

Pascal Hayek


  Contact us




















































































Present Issue
  Previous Issues