We are often asked for recommendations about which is the best helmet for a particular type of rider, but it is not always that simple.
Choosing the right motorcycle helmet involves different factors that are unique to each rider, such as your budget, level of comfort, riding style, preferred features, and head shape and size.
There’s a bit to consider, so we’ve created a comprehensive helmet buying guide so you can make an informed decision.
Types of Motorcycle Helmets
As a general rule of thumb, the type of helmet you choose should be designed for your riding style and the terrain.
Full Face Helmets
Full face helmets often come with a durable face shield, chin guard, and, depending on the style of helmet, a sun visor. They don’t just provide maximum protection from potential head injuries caused by accidents, but they also deflect debris and can help reduce wind noise.
Generally speaking, full face road helmets weigh and cost more than other helmet types, but they offer the highest level of protection for your head, and in some cases, even your neck. You will often see full face helmets worn by professional racers, long-distance riders and even city riders.
Modular Helmets (Flip up)
A popular choice among motorcyclists, modular road helmets can be worn in full face and open face styles. You can flip up the chin bar if you need to get some air, have a drink, or strike up a chat with other riders without taking it off. To enjoy greater protection on the road, simply put the chin guard down.
Modular helmets are highly versatile and can be used for commuting, cruising, and even long distance riding.
Adventure Helmets (Dual Sport)
Adventure helmets, also known as dual sport helmets, have a unique blend of features that are also found in dirt and street bike helmets. This versatile helmet is designed to protect you whether you are racing on the track or dirt road.
Adventure helmets can either come in full face or open-face styles. Full face adventure helmets often have a sun visor, detachable screen, and an elongated chin bar. Conversely, its open face counterparts often don’t have a sun visor or a screen, requiring you to wear goggles for eye protection.
Open Face Helmets
Open face helmets are perfect for city cruising in retro style. It does not have a chin bar so it stays open at the front and bottom part of your face, offering you a wider field of vision and greater airflow than full face helmets. Some open face helmets can also be worn with a sun visor or goggles as an added layer of protection from weather and harmful UV rays.
MX / Off-road Helmets
Designed to offer you greater protection from dirt, dust, mud, rocks and all the other elements present in any Motocross track or off-road terrain, off-road helmets often come with removable and washable cheek pads, multiple vents, lightweight yet sturdy shells and chin pads, extremely thick Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) liners, and sun shields.
A helmet made of high-quality materials will provide you with a higher level of comfort, safety and performance.
Entry-level helmets are commonly made of thermoplastic and fibreglass shells. They may be less advanced than Kevlar and carbon composite shells, but they still offer you the safety and protection you need from head injuries.
Helmets made out of thermoplastic (e.g., polycarbonate) are more pliable and affordable, making them a popular choice among budget-conscious riders. Thermoplastic isn’t the most durable material, however, so helmet manufacturers use multiple layers of this material to provide greater protection, which leads to a heavier helmet weight.
More robust but less pliable than their thermoplastic counterparts, fibreglass helmets weigh less and come at a higher price tag. Helmets made of fibreglass offer excellent energy absorption in the event of a crash, but they have a tendency to break upon massive impact, requiring you to buy a new helmet.
A composite helmet combines different materials such as fibreglass, aramid, Kevlar and carbon. Riders looking for a lightweight helmet that offers excellent durability and safety find composite helmets to be an ideal choice.
Kevlar/Carbon helmets currently reign supreme as the strongest helmets in the world today. These helmets have exceptionally sturdy shells that are almost unbreakable, and thus, are priced higher than helmets made with other materials.
Many helmets come with polycarbonate face shields and visors which are effective in keeping dust, rain, and debris from getting into your eyes. Look for visors with an anti-scratch coating to ensure your crystal clear vision and minimise your risk for accidents. Once you see scratches on your visor, have it replaced immediately.
Quality helmets come with at least two layers of inner padding, the first designed for impact absorption, and the second for your comfort and ventilation.
The first, impact-absorbing layer is usually constructed out of expanded polystyrene (EPS). EPS liners come in different densities, with higher density (harder) EPS liners providing greater head protection in the event of a high-speed, high-energy collision. Lower density (softer) EPS liners are designed to protect your head from injuries during slower-speed accidents.
The second, comfort-enhancing layer is typically removable and washable for your proper hygiene. Some helmets are furnished with breathable and moisture-wicking comfort liners to keep your head dry from sweat during your ride.
In an emergency, some helmets have quick release chin pads.
Designed to keep your helmet securely on your head, chin straps commonly have a chin padding for your greater comfort. Chin straps (or retention systems, as they are sometimes called) come in traditional DD/ double D rings and quick release closure types. The quick release system is becoming the norm.
Size, Fit and Comfort
Finding a perfectly fitting helmet involves more than just trying helmets on. Look for one that matches your head size and maximises your comfort as well as safety.
Use Size Charts for Online Purchases
Not everyone has time to try on helmets in a store. While we recommend that you try on different helmets in our showroom to see which shape fits you best, we also have size charts available for each helmet on our website so you can make a decision confidently online.
If you do intend on a purchasing a helmet online it’s important that the supplier allows you to return or exchange a helmet if it does not fit you correctly. Our customers enjoy a 28-day return and exchange policy (terms and conditions apply) so you can easily return a helmet if it’s the wrong size.
Before using our size charts, you will need to measure the circumference of your head with a measuring tape. Place the measuring tape two centimetres above your eyebrows and wrap it around your head (above both ears) until the tape is touching. Ensure the tape is a snug fit by pulling it firmer or looser around your head, as required. Write this measurement down.
You can then check your measurement with our size chart attached to the helmet you are interested in. You will see a Head (cm) row in the size chart which will indicate what the right size is for you based on your head measurements. If you are still unsure, our team can help you further.
Trying It On In-Store
If you have time to try on helmets in our showroom, we do recommend it as it’s the best way to ensure a perfect fit first time.
When trying helmets on, the helmet should have a snug fit so when you move your head around, it won’t come off easily. A helmet that is too small or too large for you is less comfortable and less safe for your use. Focus on the pressure points around your ears, cheeks and brow area. If you start to feel uncomfortable, then you have the wrong size.
Depending on your head shape, certain helmets might not fit squarely on your shoulders. Most entry-level helmets have a round head shape while premium ones sport an oval shape. Our advice is to try on a wide variety of helmets that come in different shapes to see which feels most comfortable for you.
Remember to take your eyewear such as eyeglasses or goggles when you are trying helmets on at a store. For a more comfortable fit, choose helmets that accommodate the use of eyeglasses or goggles, or complement your helmet with eyewear that has been designed for motorcycle riding.
Once you have chosen the perfect fitting helmet for you, try to avoid lending it to other riders as it may alter how it fits your head after it has been returned to you.
A well-ventilated helmet goes a long way in keeping you comfortable and safe throughout your rides in the summer, winter, and all seasons and temperatures in between.
You’ll find that most helmets come with a similar ventilation system: several vents on the front top, and a couple of vents at the back. Air enters through the front vents into the rider’s head, goes through the inner liner – usually made of breathable fabric – and out to the rear vents, keeping your head cool and dry from sweat. Aside from enhancing your comfort, a well-ventilated helmet keeps the inner liners dry and stink-free from your sweat, resulting in less frequent washing.
Front vents minimise your chances of having a foggy visor so you get a clearer view of the road. Helmets that come with adjustable vents allow you to open and close the vents accordingly, making it an ideal choice for riders who want greater flexibility in terms of their airflow.
Choosing a helmet with strategically-placed vents will help you feel cool and fresh throughout your ride, and even reduce the noise brought about by the increased airflow so you can focus on your performance on the road.
If you are a professional racer, choosing a full face helmet with an aerodynamic shape and spoiler may help improve your stability while you’re riding at high speed on the track. Helmets that come with these aerodynamic features – e.g., wind tunnel tested spoilers – cater to competitive sports riders looking to boost their racing performance.
Open face and some off-road helmets don’t have these aerodynamic features because speed is not a primary concern of riders engaged in these types of riding activities.
Helmets come in a wide range of prices to suit every motorcyclist’s budget. You can buy a decent entry level helmet without all of the bells and whistles for $150 to $400. If you want the best of the best, you’d be looking around the $1,000 mark.
Some helmets cost more due to the quality of materials used. For example, expensive helmets often have an outer composite shell made from fibreglass, aramid fibres and carbon fibre. These materials are more durable than polycarbonate materials that are typically found in entry-level helmets.
We also strongly advise against buying second-hand helmets because they may have suffered damage from a previous crash, and can no longer provide you with the full protection you need.
As of 2016, motorcycle riders in all states and territories of Australia have been allowed to wear “European standard” helmets. For your maximum safety on the road – and to minimise your chances of being pulled over by the police for wearing a helmet that is not “fit for purpose” – we recommend buying helmets that contain either one of two standards: AS/NZS 1698 and UNECE 22.05.
Helmets that passed the AS/NZS 1698 standards usually come with a label attached to the liner, while those that are compliant to the European standards have a UNECE 22.05 sticker on the chin strap. Helmets with these certifications mean they have been tested and approved to give you a higher level of protection from head injuries in the event of a crash.
If you are a professional MX racer, we advise looking for helmets specifically designed for off-road use, not road use. Your MX / off-road helmet must meet required safety standards as well.
And if you are looking for a modular / flip-up helmet, we suggest buying one with a double homologation / P/J homologation, which simply means the helmet has been tested and certified to protect you, whether you put the chin guard down (P for protective face covering) or up (J for jet or open face style).
Regardless of your motorcycle use or terrain, we recommend choosing a helmet that has an excellent shock absorption feature to minimise your risk for head injuries in the event of a crash.
Other safety benefits that helmets offer a maximum range of vision, contoured base that minimises the risk of a collarbone injury, and a micrometric retention system or double D rings for a more secure fit.
If you’ve got style, flaunt it.
Helmets come in different colours, patterns, and graphics. If you want it to be an extension of your personality, you can either have its design customised, or pick a ready-made design that reflects your unique style.
By expressing yourself through your helmet’s design, you are also able to make a statement that sets you apart from other motorcyclists.
Decide Before You Ride
Now that you know the factors involved in choosing the right motorcycle helmet, use your newfound knowledge to choose the best helmet that matches your intended use, budget and other non-negotiables to ensure your future rides will be as comfortable and safe as you want them to be.
Where possible, we will always recommend buying the best helmet possible within your budget. You’ll be thankful that you did when it matters most.
Just remember, we’re here to answer any questions that you might have and you’ll always be welcome to try on some helmets at our showroom.