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Helmet Styles and What is the Right Choice

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Recently a long time MSTA Member sent a link to us about helmets. It is very interesting in how they talk about all styles of helmets and which is the right choice for you. This link gives examples of the four main styles of helmets, and the differences in construction and safety. They also talk about the different types of testing of helmets, as well as the ratings.

If you know someone that does not read the MSTA forum or they are not a MSTA Member and they ride motorcycles, forward this link to them. This will help them decide what type of helmet is best for them when they go to buy a new helmet. If they are racers, they will have a Snell rating that they will need to adhere to for their helmet.

I wrote an article last year for the Dan Clark Safety Program, about the different helmet laws in Central America. It was very interesting to note, that in Costa Rica, a country that is probably not as tough on some laws, but still they require a full face helmet. Keep in mind, that most cycles in Central America are of small single cylinder type. We did not see any sport touring or large cruisers, but maybe a few 2 cyl. bikes, but they were the small type. Nothing that would be capable of high speeds.


Good article...thanks for sharing the link.

Thanks for the compliment Geoffrey. I have always tried to help people understand what safety really means, and to prepare for the unknown situations. Many people are not familiar with the difference in helmets, and the reasons.

A friend pointed out to me that in the above link to the article on helmets, that there are several other links to more good information on helmets that are worth reading. One thing that is mentioned is that currently there is NO Modular helmet that has obtained the Snell Certification. They mention that they do not meet the Chin Bar Test or the Shell Penetration test as well as the side impact test.

The Snell Certification is used world wide in many forms of racing making it much simpler for the sanctioning bodies. This was the case when I was involved as a Tech Official for SCCA Pro Racing in MX-5 Cup, Trans Am, and World Challenge. Also, when I was with F4 which is a world wide series, and Formula E cars which are only raced in New York for the USA, but many other countries in the world. That meant that drivers did not need to have a different certification for the helmets as well as suits in other countries.

Another item to think about when purchasing a helmet is the Peripheral vision. Try a helmet on and check to see if you can see to the sides easily. The first full face helmet that I had in the early 1970's had very little side vision. That is one of the reasons that I have heard many times for not wearing a full face helmet. That has changed through the years, especially if it is Snell Certified.

When I was racing snowmobiles in the early 1970's, at first, if I remember correctly, only a helmet was required in the Stock classes. Then when I went to the Open Modified Class with a snowmobile that I built from 3 different brands and 4 different years of parts, they required a full face helmet. At the time, they did not require the Snell Certification. As time went on, Snell was required for all helmets in all classes for safety. Which meant the open face helmet was no longer eligible for racing.

I hope this information helps everyone when they go to purchase a new helmet. They can then decide what helmet to purchase as well as how safe they want to be for when the critter or parked car jumps out in front of you. Just ask anyone that has had an accident, if they were expecting the crash? If they had, they might have worn safer gear, whether it be helmets or clothing.


I have asked my MSF class participants if they'd wear their helmets even if they knew they wouldn't be involved in an accident on a given day. It's been mostly positive, but occasionally get a "No." But when you ask if they would wear their gear when they don't know (as it is always the case), it's far and away a resounding "yes!" Just trying to make them think.

That is a good way to get them think about safety.
When I started riding, and at that time in Minnesota, if under 21 yr old, you were required to wear a helmet. I would have worn it anyway. Well as it turned out when I went to lunch that day, I was riding in town, on a 4 lane road. I see this guy with his signal on and thought, he sees me. He did not and turned and hit me on the left side throwing me off and I rolled and hit the curb with my helmet. The people standing there had to stop him and told him you hit someone. He said, oh is that what that thump was. I tried to get up and thump him, but everyone told me that I was hurt and the ambulance was on the way. Cracked the bones in my left foot arch, where he hit me. 350 Honda was totaled. Helmet also had a crack were it hit the curb.

After that, I have told many people about that incident when they say they don't need a helmet in city riding. I tell them that everything is solid in town, so it is just as important to where a helmet. And, you should see my helmet.
I kept it for many years to show people how important a helmet is. It cracked and saved my head.


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