The motorcycle helmet has become a life-saving part of a motorcyclist’s gear, and you should never leave home without one when you climb aboard your bike! There are several varieties of motorcycle helmets. They vary in design, depending on the type of motorcycle riding they are intended for and the level of safety they offer the rider.
Our comprehensive list of types of motorcycle helmets will keep you informed of the options available that suit the riding you enjoy.
1. Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
The full-face motorcycle helmet is probably the most recognizable of all motorcycle helmets because they have become the golden standard of helmets that provide the best protection for bikers.
The full-face helmet encases the rider’s entire head, providing protection on the side of the head, back of the head down to neck level, and the chin and face.
Full-face helmets normally include a wide range of features to make them more comfortable for bike riders. Many models include a plastic or perspex face shield or visor, which can be raised or lowered via a swivel hinge on either side of the helmet.
The visor can keep the rider’s face warm in cold weather and protect the rider’s face and eyes from debris kicked up by other vehicles on the road and flying insects. The visor can be raised in hot weather to provide a cooling wind into the helmet.
Another cooling feature common to most full-face motorcycle helmets is strategically placed air vents to direct air into the helmet and around the rider’s head to reduce the temperature.
The vents are often adjustable so the rider can close or open them partially or fully to allow the desired airflow. The vent system also helps to minimize fogging of the visor from the moisture in the rider’s breath.
The higher level of protection afforded by a full-face motorcycle helmet has resulted in many safety authorities in numerous countries making these helmets the only legal helmets to be used when riding a motorcycle on urban and suburban streets.
2. Modular Motorcycle Helmet
A modular motorcycle helmet is sometimes known as a flip-up or flip-face helmet and is a hybridization of the design of a full-face and an open-face helmet.
The modular helmet can function as a full-face helmet with all the same benefits as this helmet style, or it can be adjusted to resemble an open-face helmet.
The structure around the front of the helmet protecting the chin is on a hinged mechanism. The entire chin-piece can be clipped up to expose the face of the rider.
The visor or face shield on these helmets must generally first be retracted to allow the chin-piece to be lifted. The visor is designed to slide up into a cavity at the top of the helmet to get it out of the way when the chin-piece is raised.
In certain modular helmet designs, the chin-piece can be removed completely from the helmet if the rider wants to use the helmet as an open-face style helmet.
Modular motorcycle helmets are safer than most other helmet types but are not as safe as full-face helmets. The hinge mechanism on the chin-piece is a weak area in the design, and it can fail in the event of a significant impact.
If the rider rides with the chin-piece flipped up, slower speeds must be adhered to, which will prevent wind resistance from placing undue strain on the rider’s neck.
This helmet design’s convenience includes eating and drinking without removing the helmet, increased airflow in hot conditions, or a closed helmet in cold or wet weather.
3. Open Face Motorcycle Helmet
An open-face motorcycle helmet is sometimes called a 3/4 helmet because it is similar to a full-face helmet without the chin piece in front of the rider’s face.
The open-face helmet provides reasonable head protection because the structure covers the top of the head, the back of the head to the neck level, and the sides of the head from the temple area to the jawline.
The only part of the rider’s head exposed with this helmet is the face and chin. These helmets are popular among scooter riders, cruising motorcycles, and tourers, all types of motorcycles typically ridden at more sedate speeds.
The open-face helmet is often paired with goggles or wrap-around sunglasses to protect the rider’s eyes from debris, bugs, wind, and rain.
When goggles are used, they can be worn with the elastic headband fitting around the outside of the open-face helmet or the rider’s head inside the helmet. Some open-face helmet designs feature a visor or face shield to offer the rider some face and eye protection.
Open-face motorcycle helmets are not as safe as full-face or modular helmets and are generally not worn by riders of fast road bikes where additional safety is necessary.
4. The Half Helmet
The half helmet is known by various names in the motorcycling community, some of which are often not for polite company. Some more socially acceptable names for this motorcycle helmet style include TT or Pudding Basin in the UK or Shorty in the USA.
The name TT in the UK came from early TT or Time Trial races, such as the Isle of Man TT, where these helmets were used and gained popularity. As the speeds of the motorcycles increased, the half helmet was exchanged for safer options.
The half helmet provides limited protection. The protective shell starts above the rider’s eyebrows and extends in a horizontal line around the back of the head. There is no protection for the lower back of the head and neck, the sides of the head, or the rider’s face.
Many of these helmet styles had a leather earpiece that covered the rider’s ears and to which the under-chin strap was connected to fasten the helmet in place.
Goggles or sunglasses are often used with these helmets to give the rider eye protection from dust, debris, bugs, wind, and the weather.
Safety authorities in several areas have banned the use of the half helmet due to the inadequate protection these helmets provide compared to other options.
5. Motocross Helmet
A motocross motorcycle helmet was designed for off-road riding and was born on these dirt tracks. The helmet is often called an off-road helmet, referring to its roots, a dirt bike helmet, or an MX helmet. Motocross helmets resemble full-face helmets but are more angular than their full-face cousins.
They have an integrated chin piece to protect the chin and face of the rider but do not include a visor or face shield. The space between the chin-piece and the helmet’s upper part is wide to accommodate wearing specialized motocross goggles.
These goggles are often fitted with tear-away shields so the rider can pull off a dirty or muddied shield on the goggles to provide better visibility through the clean shield underneath.
Motocross helmets feature a peak on the forehead area of the helmet. The peak may be integrated into the helmet structure or removable.
The purpose of the peak is to keep the sun out of the rider’s eyes and to allow the rider to dip their head to provide extra face protection from debris thrown up by riders in front.
Motocross motorcycle helmets provide the same level of safety and protection as full-face helmets and are a better option than open-face or half-helmets.
6. Dual Sport Motorcycle Helmet
Dual sport motorcycle helmets are designed as crossover helmets that can be used as dirt bike helmets or full-face street bike helmets. They are often called Adventure helmets because they are designed for dual-purpose Adventure bikes with off-road and on-road capability.
Dual sport motorcycle helmets are a hybrid of full-face street bike helmets and off-road motocross helmets. They feature a removable or retractable peak, a face shield that can be raised or lowered, and an angular chin piece more reminiscent of a motocross helmet’s angular design.
The chin piece generally extends further from the face than a standard full-face helmet. The dual sport helmet also has a wider face opening, allowing for better peripheral vision and wearing MX goggles with the helmet.
Safety authorities mostly see these helmets as full-face helmets and consider them to provide good head protection for motorcycle riders.
7. Novelty Motorcycle Helmet
Novelty helmets are the most dangerous of all because they are generally not manufactured to any safety standard and, therefore, cannot be considered true motorcycle helmets.
Brain buckets and beanies are names often given to these helmets, which lack any form of safety protocol for motorcycle riders. Novelty helmets are made from plastic and other materials that will, at most, protect the rider from abrasions on the head but will offer no protection against an impact.
These helmets are made to be fashionable and often resemble military helmets, helmets from a movie or fictional characters, and other headgear deemed to look “cool.”
The only areas where these helmets can be worn legally are where motorcycle riders are allowed to ride with no helmets.
8. Smart Motorcycle Helmets
Smart helmets are a modern adaptation of motorcycle helmets to include our modern communication methods. These helmets are generally full-face or dual sport helmets where the is a lower wind noise factor inside the helmet.
Smart helmets feature Bluetooth or wireless connectivity to the rider’s mobile phone and have built-in headphones and microphones in the helmet’s structure. This allows the rider to make and take calls while riding and allows music to be streamed into the helmet headphones for long road trips.
Advanced models offer a heads-up display on the face shield, with customizable options and a rear-view camera. These helmets are expensive and fairly hard to source, but they are becoming increasingly more accessible to the wider motorcycling public.
In most regions, motorcycle helmets are a legal requirement for all riders. The enforced wearing of a helmet has saved the lives of many motorcyclists and made this form of transport or recreation a much safer option than it used to be.
Choose your helmet carefully to provide the best protection for the type of motorcycle riding you enjoy.