Motorcycle Helmet Styles Explained

When it comes to motorcycle helmets, there are 6 main styles. Note, however, most of those 6 have multiple interchangeable names and they can vary depending on where you live.  So, let’s find out what differences these 6 types of helmets have.

The Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet:

 

Full-Face Helmets are the granddaddy of safety.  A full-face helmet covers the entire head and protects your entire face. They are the most protective helmet type.

This is the type of helmet used in professional racing because it has features such as a face shield, vents to increase airflow, and a structural emphasis on protecting that chin.

Pros

Cons

• Covers the entire head to reduce impact during an accident.
• Eliminates the need to wear sunglasses or goggles.
• Tinted models hide the face and offer anonymity.
• Insulates sound to minimize distraction.
• Does not have hinges or additional components, making them more lightweight and aerodynamic than other helmet types.
• Offers the most protection of any Motorcycle helmet type.
• Usually comes with the most features such as internal sun visors, venting systems, and built in bluetooth.
• Best protection from the elements
• Great for all year riding.
• Easy to find advanced safety standard ratings across all budgets.
• Can get stuffy during summer.
• May make the wearer claustrophobic or feel disconnected/isolated.
• Reduces hearing and visibility
• Heavier than most other types of motorcycle helmets.
• They can trap in the heat.
• They have to be removed in many businesses in order to identify the person.
• Eating, drinking and speaking are more difficult.
• Required for most tracks

The Modular or Flip-Face Motorcycle Helmet

Modular, Convertible, Flip Up, or Flip-Face Motorcycle Helmets are the next safest option to full-face motorcycle helmets.  Much like the full face, this type of helmet covers the entire head as well, but with a little added feature – you can pivot the chin bar upwards or even remove it (on some models) if you want a snack, drink, or airflow at lower speeds.

The movable chin bar is more of a convenience factor as it allows folks who wear glasses to be able to wear them without taking the helmet off.

Pros

Cons

• Converts from a full face helmet to an open face helmet with a single push of a button.
• Provides good ventilation and a comfortable riding experience, similar to an open face helmet.
• Protects riders from the elements, but lacks some of the safety features of a full face helmet.
• Versatile design makes it convenient to use in both cold and warm weather.
• Allows the rider to chat, have a drink, take a breath of fresh air without removing the helmet.
• Easier to get on and off then a full-face motorcycle helmet.
• Great for riders to use their bike for road trips, or multiple stop trips.
• Has the most features of any motorcycle helmet
• Protects almost as good as a full-face motorcycle helmet when the chinbar is locked down.
• Quieter than half-shell and open-face motorcycle helmets.
• No need to take off your helmet when entering businesses.
• Dual homologated models are certified with the chin bar down, and also with it up.
• Feels and looks heavier than a full-face helmet because of the hinges that allow the visor and chin bar to pivot.
• Detachable/flip-up chin bar can make the helmet’s structure less sturdy during impact.
• Not totally safe at high-speed rides or when the chin bar is open.
• Heaviest of all helmet types.
• Nondual homologated models are certified only in the chinbar down configuration.
• Riding with the chinbar up can be a wind-catch that can cause fatigue the longer you ride.

The Open-Face or ¾ Motorcycle Helmet

• Feels and looks heavier than a full-face helmet because of the hinges that allow the visor and chin bar to pivot.
• Detachable/flip-up chin bar can make the helmet’s structure less sturdy during impact.
• Not totally safe at high-speed rides or when the chin bar is open.
• Heaviest of all helmet types.
• Nondual homologated models are certified only in the chinbar down configuration.
• Riding with the chinbar up can be a wind-catch that can cause fatigue the longer you ride.

Pros

Cons

• Offers good ventilation while providing impact protection to the head and neck.
• Allows the rider to communicate, talk, drink, eat, smoke, or touch their face without taking the helmet off.
• Feels more lightweight and provides a wider field of vision compared to a full-face helmet
• Does not feel restraining or claustrophobic.
• A good anount of protection.
• A sense of freedom feeling the air on your face.
• Lighter weight than most helmet styles.
• More comfortable than full-face or modular motorcycle helmets.
• They can be found with most helmet safety certifications.
• A great choice for people who are claustrophobic but want a lot of protection.
• The open design leaves the rider’s face and chin more vulnerable to injury.
• Does not offer much coverage and protection during cold weather.
• Does not do a good job at canceling or reducing noise.
• Feels uncomfortable or unstable when riding at high speeds.
• Little face protection.
• More wind and elements on the face.
• Less aerodynamic than other helmet types.

The Half-Shell, Shorty, or Beanie Motorcycle Helmet

The half-shell motorcycle helmet protects the upper half of the head. If they’re not properly fastened, they’re more likely to fall off during a crash.

 

They are the most comfortable, but least protective, of the DOT-approved motorcycle helmets.

 

If you’re going for safety, this one shouldn’t be at the top of your list.

Pros

Cons

• Lets the rider have a more immersive riding experience
• Makes conversing with other riders/people more convenient.
• Does not need to be taken off when you need to drink, eat, or wipe the sweat off your face.
• Feels lightweight and is easier to wear or remove.
• Offers the best ventilation.
• Looks cool and attractive.
• Extremely light weight.
• You can feel the wind as you ride.
• Fits easily into Saddle-bags

• Does not provide full crash protection, especially on the face and chin.
• Leaves the rider exposed to harsh elements and warm or cold weather.
• Rider must wear a bandanna, goggles, or face guards for additional protection.
• Lack of head coverage provides minimal protection.
• Usually need a separate form of eye protection.
• No face protection.
• More likely to come off during an accident.

The Dual Sport or Adventure Motorcycle Helmet

 

Dual sport motorcycle helmets tend to a compromise between the street and dirt. They are produced with the same materials as street helmets but share the off-road features like peak visors and the option to flip up the visor and use goggles instead.  The chinbar is slightly elongated and lower like a dirt bike helmet too.

Pros

Cons

• Flip up visor allows the use of goggles on off-road rides.
• Integrated chin bar provides better protection to the jaw and chin.
• Wide sun peak shields the eyes and face from bright sunlight.
• Offers better sound insulation than full face helmets.
• Great for rides that take you from street to trail.
• Excellent visibility.
• Lightweight reduces fatigue when worn all day.
• Com system compatible.

• Can be more expensive than other helmet types because of the rich features and multiple configurations.
• Provides less ventilation compared to dirt bike helmets.
• Heavier than dirt bike helmets but lighter than full face helmets.
• Noisier than full-face and modular helmets.

The Dirt Bike, Off-Road, or Motocross Helmet

 

Dirt Bike Helmets are designed for maximum protection, to be lightweight, and have increased visibility and ventilation.  With a wider eye opening than street helmets, you will need goggles or eyewear to protect your eyes.

They also have peak visors to help keep debris, dirt, and the sun from your face.

Pros

Cons

• Spacious interior can accommodate goggles or sunglasses.
• Extended chin bar makes breathing easier and allows air to circulate better.
• Wide sun peak keeps sunlight away from the eyes.
• Minimal weight reduces fatigue on the head and neck, especially in long rides.
• Lighter in weight than full-face or modular helmets.
• Great ventilation.
• Protective.
• Maximum visibility.

• Don’t usually have a visor.
• Provides little insulation against cold.
• Not suitable for road use.
• Little protection from the elements.
• Best to try with body armor prior to buying.
• Not all goggles will fit.

 

Did we miss anything?  Let us know by commenting below.

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