The Different Types of Motorcycle Helmets: Helping You Choose the Perfect Helmet Style

If you think about all the different sorts of activities where people wear helmets it should come as no surprise that there are different helmets built for different purposes. While some focus on safety on road, some are built for sports, and there are some meant to be aerodynamic. As mentioned in the title, we’ll be discussing about the different types of motorcycle helmets. Shall we get started?

We have decided to make a guide for the different sorts of helmets out there where we aim to help you realise which one you’d like to pick to meet your own specific requirements. Make a note of the fact that these requirements should vary from activity to activity. Read on below, to figure out which helmet you’d rather prefer.

In case you’re planning to buy one, consider checking out our post on the Best Motorcycle Helmets in 2019 which includes the 14 models which are highly-rated by experts and a buyer’s guide which will help you learn about things you should consider while buying a motorcycle helmet. In case you don’t know which style suits best on you, continue reading this article to find out the different types of motorcycle helmets in the market and choose the style which looks great and suits you!

1. Full Face Helmets

Full Face Helmets are usually made with a goal of safety in mind. This kind of helmet tends to cover the entire head from the very back of the head all the way to the chin including the sides. Nothing about this helmet leaves anything exposed. Summing the helmet up in one word, it is safest of all motorcycle helmets. This sort of helmet is one where you can be the safest in the event of an accident or a crash especially because of the way it covers the entire face.

However, therein lies the drawback to this helmet as well. All the additional safety added to the helmet serves to take away from the freedom of accessibility while riding. While these helmets are the safest kinds which you’ll find, it sacrifices a lot of other features to include that additional safety.

In short, while these helmets provide the most security, they also sacrifice accessibility and other features which can provide comfort for the same. While some see this as a price to pay for the safety, others would prefer to purchase another kind of helmet altogether.

Vintage models of these helmets can often be found being paired up with cafe racers while newer, more graphically detailed variants are often coupled up with sports bikes.

Pros
  • This helmet covers the whole head making it very secure.
  • It isolates noises like wind and other vehicles from the outside.
  • Complete protection shields the rider against various elements of weather such as rain, wind, and cold.
  • The design is more aerodynamic than other variants.
Cons
  • While it keeps the entire head secure, it sacrifices accessibility for the same. Any part of the face can’t be accessed while wearing this helmet. Any adjustments cannot be made while wearing this helmet, and you have to take it off to drink or eat.
  • The noise isolation which it provides makes it difficult to communicate with your partner or other riders.
  • The helmet can get quite hot in warmer weather and can even feel suffocating when it’s humid especially without the proper ventilation installed.
  • Since it covers the entire head, it is more difficult to find a better fit for these types of helmets.
  • Cannot be easily removed during an accident unless an emergency release system is built in.

2. Open Face or 3/4 Motorcycle Helmets

Open Face Helmets, or Three Quarter Helmets are called so because they cover three quarters of the face. These helmets lack the Chin Piece which full face helmets have and may or may not have a face shield attached to them. These helmets are responsible for covering the back, the top, and both the sides of the head, while leaving the face and chin exposed.

While these helmets provide lesser safety than the full face helmets, they are still comparatively safer than others. The Face Shield acts as more of a barrier against wind and rain in these helmets as the lack of a chin piece doesn’t let the face shield be as secure as possible. In fact, the face shield is the weakest part of these helmets and can easily break and fly off in the event of an accident.

However, just like in the case of full face helmets, these helmets give their users other features where they lack the safety.

Pros
  • Gives greater amount of protection to most sides of the skull including the more delicate areas.
  • This allows parts of the rider’s face to be accesed while wearing the helmet which enables them to eat and drink with the helmet on.
  • It can shield the rider against rain and wind provided a face shield is installed in the helmet.
  • The helmet provides sufficient amounts of noise isolation while riding as the ears remain covered.
  • This sort of helmet requires no additional ventilation. As a result, there is no risk of suffocation inside.
  • It is easier to communicate with other riders and your partner since the head is not completely isolated.
  • Can be easily removed during an accident.
Cons
  • Exposes the face and the chin, which are rather sensitive parts of the human skull.
  • The helmet fails to protect against colder weather. An additional Face Shield is required to protect against rain and wind.
  • The helmet has a greater risk of slipping off during a crash and requires a tight chin strap.
  • The exposed face takes away from the aerodynamics of the helmet.

All in all, this helmet provides much more comfort than a full face helmet for the heavy sacrifice of safety. This helmet is also provides a greater amount of accessibility while riding. However, a face shield comes highly recommended with this helmet as it greatly improves the experience for the rider.

These kinds of helmets are generally found paired with V Twins and other sorts of cruisers and powerful bikes which aren’t meant for sport. Needless to say, this comes as a preffered favourite for bikers and others who spend a lot of time and go long distances on their bikes.

3. Half Helmets

Half Helmets are the least safe kind of helmets available. These helmets only protect the back and the top of the head. The sides and the face are left unprotected. However, they carry with them a certain sense of freedom and bring the rider closer to the experience of riding at a steep price of safety.

On the bright side, these helmets allow for the most accessibility and don’t hinder the wearer from feeling much of the experience of a ride. We only recommend wearing these with low powered rides. High speeds can be easily devestating with one of these helmets.

To sum things up, these helmets are great for accessibility but are the worst when it comes to safety. These helmets are simply not built for higher speeds or for extremes. If you want to commute within a limited area under safer speeds, then these helmets would prove great for your purposes. However, that is their limit and they cannot be of much use elsewhere. These helmets are generally found paired with scooters and other sorts of low powered rides.

Pros
  • The majority of the head is accessible. This means that that the rider can eat and drink while werain the helmet and much more.
  • Provides no noise isolation. While this is not ideal for high speeds, this is good for hearing other vehicles around you.
  • Doesn’t take much away from the experience of riding a bike.
  • These helmets don’t require any ventilation.
  • Can be easily removed during a crash, provided they actually make it out of it in the first place.
  • They can allow for greater ease of communication with fellow riders and your riding partner.
Cons
  • This helmet does not provide much safety.
  • Lack of noise isolation is not ideal for high speeds.
  • The helmet is not aerodynamic in nature and requires a tight chin strap to keep in place. High speeds with this helmet on does not come recommended.
  • These helmets don’t protect the wearer against the weather. Even a face shield will not help much apart from taking care of wind from the front.
  • They can easily fly off during a crash.

4. Modular Helmets

Modular Helmets are hybrids between Full Face Helmets and Half Face Helmets. Just like the Full Face Helmet, they can cover the entire head all the way from the back to the chin. However, unlike the Full Face Helmet the chin piece and the face shield can be flipped up to turn it into a Half Face Helmet, giving it the name Flip Up Helmets.

These helmets are designed to give them best of both worlds, full face protection when needed and an exposed face when desired. The only problem with this approach is the fact that the face shield usually has to be flipped down along with the chin piece, making the face shield dependent upon the face shield.

In a few words, while these helmets look to offer the best of both worlds, they do have their own set of drawbacks and advantages. While they offer both protection and accessibility on demand, they still have a few weaknesses of their own and come at a more expensive price point and the sacrifice of a little bit of safety.

Pros
  • This helmet covers the whole head making it very secure.
  • It isolates noises like wind and other vehicles from the outside.
  • Complete protection shields the rider against various elements of weather such as rain, wind, and cold.
  • The design is more aerodynamic than other variants.
  • The faceshield and chin piece can be removed to increase accessibility and ventilation whenever desired.
  • Comparatively easier to communicate with other riders and partner during a ride with the chin pice flipped up.
Cons
  • The presence of joint to make the helmet modular need to be well maintained. Othewise, they can become weak points for the helmet and can be the first to crack during a crash.
  • It requires proper ventilation built inside as flipping the chin peice isn’t always the safest option while riding.
  • Face Shield is dependent upon the chin piece which makes it impossible to use the face shield without lowering the chin piece. This can be very problematic if there are issues with the ventilation.
  • Difficult to remove in the event of a crash unless an emergency removal system is built in.

5. Sports Helmets

As the name suggests, Sports Helmets are meant for use in sports and other recreational activities. These helmets have added features which are required for their respective sports and should only be used while participating in such sports and recreation. This is because while these helmets are designed for safety in sporting environments, they are not the safest options on the streets simply because of the different circumstances which riders can face in such conditions. Needless to say, all sports helmets are full face helmets due to the focus on safety. The different types of sports helmets available are as follows:

5.1 Racing Helmets

Racing Helmets are meant for racing out on the tracks. They have many special modifications to the helmets which makes them more durable than the normal helmets. These helmets are also constructed with a fireproof coating as even race car drivers wear these helmets in addition to riders.

While this addition is not necessary for the streets, it is necessary on the track in the event that the vehicle catches fire and the rider or the driver can’t fly off to safety because of the safety belts. Furthermore, these helmets contain smaller viewports and no ventilation.

These helmets are made specifically for the racetrack and should not be used for safety on the streets for obvious reasons. Needless to say, these safety standards and regulations come with high price points. Using these on the streets can easily prove fatal as they rid the rider of a lot of senses which are not required on the racetrack for more protection.

Pros
  • These helmets are among the most durable one available.
  • These helmets are designed to be the most aerodynamic to enable the rider to reach maximum speeds while racing.
  • The helmets have very small viewports to help the rider focus on the road in front of them. This also gives them greater head protection.
  • They isolate most of the noise from the outside.
  • The helmets are fireproofed which makes them even safer even though it isn’t necessary for the streets.
  • They offer complete protection against the weather.
Cons
  • These helmets have very little to no ventilation as they generally interfere with aerodynamics and overall safety. This makes these helmets useful for short term, high-speed races and not for longer times of usage. It may easily cause suffocation and discomfort.
  • The smaller viewport may offer greater focus and head protection, but it also blocks the rider’s peripheral vision. While this poses no issue on the racetrack where there are clearly defined pathways, this can pose a major problem on the streets where there can be oncoming traffic and other vehicles looking to overtake you.
  • They offer greater amounts of isolation, which may make hearing other vehicles more difficult.

5.2 Dirt or Off-Road Helmets

Dirt Helmets are meant for use on Dirt Tracks and other Dirt racing event where there is dust and dirt flying everywhere. These helmets lack a face shield as dirt can easily block the rider’s view and commonly feature elongated chin pieces to help save the rider’s face. They also feature a sun visor to keep the sun out of the rider’s eyes.

These are optimized for riding on the dirt and as a result have aggressive ventilation as the focus is not on much speed, but rather dealing with the strenuous intensity of maneuvering a bike on rough terrain. Riders usually wear face masks and goggles inside these helmets to protect their eyes.

These helmets are basically meant for usage on the dirt track. While using one of these on the streets can be good enough, it is always better to simply go for a conventional full face helmet instead.

Pros
  • Aggressive ventilation to make sure that the rider does not run out of oxygen. This also helps the rider breathe despite any dirt that may get stuck in the vents. It also helps the riders breathe fine as riding in the dirt can be quite a physically exerting task.
  • Elongated chin piece makes sure that the front of the face remains well protected. This is also done to keep dirt and dust away from the rider’s nose and mouth.
  • Sun visor helps keep the sun out of the rider’s eyes. This also helps the rider shield themselves against incoming dirt and debris.
  • Larger viewport to enable better oxygen inflow.
Cons
  • Additonal ventilation makes the helmet less safe.
  • Sun visor takes away from a more aerodynamic design.
  • There is no face shield on these helmets. Riders need to use their own goggles for protection of their eyes.
  • Additional ventilation does not protect rider from the weather.
  • Additional ventilation does not isolate much noise.
  • Communication still difficult despite lack of good isolation.
  • Face inaccesible when worn.

5.3 Snow Helmets

Snow Helmets, as the name suggests are meant for use on the snow. While they might look similar to dirt helmets, they have a few subtle differences which can make a world of difference between riding in the snow and in the dirt.

For starters, snow starters preserve the longer chin bars and the sun visors. Even the ventilation is the same. However, that’s where similarities end. Snow helmets feature face shields as snow isn’t as sticky as mud is and usually melts off soon due to the heat generated. Beyong that, snow helmets also have reflective visors which help riders see better the glistening snow. Furthermore, the face shield helps them better protect themselves agasint the wind and cold.

These helmets are designed for use while riding in the snow. While they can make for good helmets for use in the streets, they are generally preferred for use where there is more snow than road.

Pros
  • Offers quite a good amount of protection.
  • Sun Visor helps keep the sun away from the rider’s eyes.
  • Reflective visors on the inside help the rider see better in bright reflective snow.
  • Elongated Chin Bar provides better protection for the rider while keeping snow away from mouth and nose.
  • Enough ventilation to keep with the demands of the sport.
  • Provides enough solation to protect the user from the weather, especially wind and rain.
Cons
  • Additional Ventilation makes noise isolation a little difficult.
  • Difficult to communicate despite good ventilation.
  • Sun visor takes away from a more aerodynamic design.
  • The helmet remians less accessible when worn.

5.4 Dual Sports Helmets

Dual Sports helmets are meant to be a hybrid between Dirt Helmets and Racing Helmets. They have features from both and are meant for casual practicioners of both recreational sports. They feature the sun visors from dirt helmets and an overall rounded shape and face shield from racing helmets. This makes for a mixture of both streams which can’t really be termed as inclining towards any certain side.

These helmets are meant to give the rider more a mixture of both worlds rather than the est of both worlds. As can be seen from the design, these are not of proper use in either the racing track nor on the dirt track. However, it can make do for a casual substitute for either case.

Pros
  • Offers good protection.
  • Face shield protects wearer from the weather including rain and wind.
  • Additional venitaltion ensures that the wearer doesn’t suffocate.
  • Sun visor helps keep sun out of the rider’s eyes.
  • Isolates a fair amount of noise.
Cons
  • Difficult to communicate with other riders.
  • Face remains inaccessible while wearing this helmet.
  • Sun Visor takes away form a mroe aerodynamic shape.
  • The traditional rounded chin bar makes it unsuitable for usage in the dirt or even the snow.

6. Touring Helmets

Touring Helmets are meant for the recreational activity of touring on a bike. These helmets tend to focus more on the comfort and features that they offer. While there are many helmets in this category which are full-face helmets, most of them tend to be modular helmets to provide the best comfort and accessibility to the wearer. This type of helmet comprises of a wide variety of helmets, some which contain communications facilities, while some contain other features such as reflective visors and photochromatic face shields. All for the express purpose of more comfort during longer journeys which can span across entire countries and continents.

Hopefully this guide has helped you understand a little more about how different helmets are built for different purposes and helped you realise the type of helmet which you want. After all, there are so many kinds of helmets out there that knowing the purpose of each helmet, or at least how you can use them can be greatly beneficial while using them.

Pros
  • Provide good protection.
  • Focus on accessibility and comfort.
  • Contain sufficient ventilation to not suffocate the wearer, but also enough to isolate noises well.
  • Generally contain devices for communication or have spaces for installing them in the future.
  • Generally contain visors to protect the wearer’s eyes from the sun when necessary.
  • All of them have a dense layer of comfort padding to add comfort to safety while riding.
  • Provides sufficient isolation against weather.
Cons
  • Additional features for comfort usually result in a weaker helmet as a lot of material is taken away to accomodate space for features.
  • Additional features also make use of more joints which can act as weak point for the helmet to crack from when subject to a crash.
  • Difficult to communicate without any devices for communication. Other riders in the group need similar devices even in such a case.
  • Face might or might not be accessible depending on the model of the helmet.
  • Too varied in nature to make a reliable guess at safety and features involved. Only comfort is guaranteed.

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