What helmet should I buy (and how much should I spend)?

By: Tony Carter MotorCycle Direct Posted: February 28th, 2018



The second part of our focus on lids from collaborator and friend of MotorCycle Direct, Tony Carter, who has written a comprehensive guide to motorcycle crash helmets.

Tony is a bike safety expert and has appeared on both BBC TV and Radio talking about motorcycle and driving issues.

Part 1 can be read here.

Many experienced riders (and often, dealers) will insist that only the most expensive helmets will afford the rider the highest levels of protection, and on this basis, they will suggest that to get the maximum protection it will cost several hundreds of pounds.

Well I am sorry to disappoint, but the key to maximum protection is the fit of the helmet, regardless of price. It matters not whether you spend £500 on a crash helmet or £50, as they all must offer the same levels of protection.

What is important is getting a helmet that fits correctly to the shape of the rider’s head, as a £50 helmet that fits correctly will offer far more protection than a badly fitting £500 helmet. Unfortunately, many riders are using their machines with poorly fitting helmets and in many cases, helmets that are also in very poor condition.

What you will usually get with more expensive helmets is a variety of more exotic materials being used, and additional features such as better ventilation, a fancy paint job and so on, but the basic level of protection remains constant regardless of price.

Every manufacturer has their own idea of what constitutes a standard head shape. It is therefore important that you try a variety of crash helmets before buying, simply because a poorly fitting helmet could:

  • Cause rotation upon impact leading to a broken neck.
  • Come off in the event of an impact.
  • Cause excessive wind noise.
  • Lift at speed causing the rider to lose sight of the road ahead as he/she attempts to look through the chin bar rather than the visor aperture.

A new crash helmet should be a tight fit even to the point where with a full-face style helmet, you are just about biting the inside of your cheek, and there should not be excessive pressure on the forehead. A helmet will mould to the contours of your head and will “give” by about half a size over the first few weeks. Therefore, what started off as a tightly fitting helmet will soon become a comfortable snug fit, whereas if it is a comfortable fit at the start, it will soon become loose, noisy and increase the chance of it becoming detached from your head in a collision.

Next time, Tony looks at how to buy your helmet and make sure it fits.

Click here to find out more about Tony Carter