All About Helmets

All About Helmets

July 20, 2013

All About Helmets!

What do you think about them?

The mandated use of a helmet while riding a motorcycle is a hotly debated topic in the riding community. Those who support helmet laws argue that helmets make everyone safer on the road. Those who oppose the laws believe what you wear should not be dictated by any governing body and that the use of a helmet should be a personal choice.

At Eagle Leather, we understand and support both sides of the debate. We also happen to have the largest selection of motorcycle helmets in the Pacific Northwest. When it comes to buying a helmet, it all comes down to one thing: safety.

How Helmets Work

Helmets are the single most effective means of preventing a debilitating or life-ending head injury in the event of a motorcycle accident. A helmet is comprised of an outer shell, an impact-absorbing liner, comfort padding, and a chin strap.

The outer shell compresses upon impact, dispersing energy from the blow and lessening the force before it reaches your head, similar to a brake or shock absorber. It also prevents sharp objects and debris from penetrating the helmet. The expanded polystyrene liner crushes and absorbs the shock of an impact, preventing the dangerous energy of the crash from reaching your skull. The chin strap keeps the helmet strapped to your head in the event of a fall.

A helmet reduces the risk of debilitating or life-threatening brain injuries by giving the brain extra time and space to stop in the event of an impact. Inertia propels the brain into your skull when your head comes to a sudden stop at high speeds. Think of it like throwing a wet sponge at a brick wall as hard as you can. Because the helmet absorbs and disperses the shock of the impact, your brain does not stop as suddenly, and the impact it takes is lessened.

The Five Year Rule

Helmets should be replaced every five years. Over time, a helmet’s protective qualities become degraded by body oils, sweat and other bodily fluids, cosmetics, and normal wear and tear. Furthermore, helmet technology is constantly improving. Within a few years of purchasing a helmet, advancements in materials, design, and production standards contribute to the availability of safer helmets.

Helmet Drops

Generally, dropping your helmet does not mean having to purchase a new one. While helmets are one-time use products, an occasional drop from a few feet should not damage it—they are highly durable. However, spiking the helmet hard into the ground, dropping it frequently, or dropping it at highway speeds while not on a head could contribute to an accelerated degradation. But generally speaking, the most damage is done when an impact occurs while the helmet is on someone’s head—so you want to avoid hitting things with your head while wearing your helmet. After one spill involving your helmet, you will need to replace it, and when in doubt—change it out.

Purchasing a Helmet Online

A helmet purchase is a lot like buying shoes—fit matters. You can’t try on shoes that you order online, and the same goes for your helmet. That’s why we really don’t recommend making helmet purchases online. It helps having an expert fit you, as there is no way to truly know if a helmet will fit according to the size designations listed on a website. The shape of your head also affects a helmet’s fit, so there really is no way to know if a helmet fits properly without physically trying it on.

Helmet Fit

To get the proper size, measure your head at its largest circumference. That is typically just above the eyebrows. Most helmets are sized S, M, L, or XL. Most manufacturers offer sizing charts that help you decide which size matches the circumference of your head. But helmet sizes vary depending on the brand. That’s why it is important to be fitted by a professional.

When trying on helmets, try a few different models until you have one on that fits snugly all around your head without being uncomfortable. A brand new motorcycle helmet should fit very snugly.

Selecting a Helmet

The four main factors to consider when selecting a helmet are: Fit, Comfort, Style, and Safety.

    1. Make sure your helmet is the right size, as described above. An expert in helmet fit at a store like Eagle Leather is best suited to help you with this.
    1. Your helmet needs to be as comfortable as possible. An uncomfortable or annoying helmet will distract you while riding.
    1. You need to choose a style of helmet that is appropriate for the environment in which you are riding. For instance, full face helmets protect the rider from debris to the face and bugs to the teeth. However, they retain much more heat. So it’s important to consider which style of helmet best suits your riding habits. Furthermore, the stylishness of a helmet is also a factor to consider. Riding is a lifestyle—and you are more likely to wear a helmet that looks awesome than one you don’t like!
  1. Your helmet is meant to keep you safe to the highest standards. Only wear DOT and Snell certified helmets. Period.

What are your thoughts on helmet safety and mandated usage?


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