The best motorcycle helmet? It doesn’t exist. There is no “one size fits all,” and there is no one, definitive “best helmet” for all riders. There is only the best helmet for YOU; for your head, your riding style and your individual needs. That lid is precisely what the Best Motorcycle Helmets 2019 Gear Guide is designed to help you find. And if you don’t see a lid that gets your enthrallment cortex (not a real cortex) redlining with excitement, you can see last year’s champions in the 2018 Best Motorcycle Helmet Gear Guide to find an option that best suits your needs, style, and price point.
Top 5 Motorcycle Helmets
- High Resistance ABS Shell With Micrometrically Adjustable Strap
- Meets or Exceeds FMVSS-218 and DOT Safety Standards
- DOT Approved; Size L (57-58 CM,22.4/22.8 Inch)
- Advanced Modular/Flip up and Dual Lens Design (inner smoked lens/outer clear shield);
- Boasting a compact, aerodynamic DOT shell design with sharp and aggressive styling for impeccable...
- Multiple conscientiously designed ventilation panels effective in streamlining the cooling process...
- The Rebel Warrior Motorcycle Half Helmet for Men & Women by Vega Helmets is the ideal motorcycle...
- OPTICALLY CORRECT DROP DOWN SUNSHIELD – Protect your eyes from sun, bugs, and debris while...
- GT-Air II Design Concept.Released in 2013, as SHOEI's premium touring full-face helmet with an...
- SHOEI has now released the all-new GT-Air II, a helmet that evolves the GT-Air's functionality,...
Safest Motorcycle Helmet Type
There are numerous styles of helmets, but the three main designs are the full face, ¾, and the ½ helmet. In regards to safety, the full face helmet is the safest choice of the three.
The full face helmet offers the most coverage surrounding your head and neck. A full-face helmet protects you from the environment you’re riding in, whether it be inclement weather or debris and bugs hitting your visor. One of the distinguishing features of a full face helmet is a chin bar, which ¾ and ½ helmets lack. According to an Australian study, the chin encounters fifty percent of severe impacts during an accident. Only a full face helmet will offer you the protection to keep your chin and jaw safe.
Motorcycle Helmet Safety Standards
There are several safety standards for motorcycle helmets, and knowing what they cover can be confusing. They can overlap in requirements, and have different criteria in other respects.
According to motorcycle blogger, Motorbike Writer, “The most important feature in a helmet is its safety rating, so I’d check official ratings such as the UK SHARP website” (which will be discussed below). Here are the main safety standards and what you need to know about each:
Snell Memorial Foundation (M-95 / M2000)
The Snell Foundation certification is not a requirement by law in the United States (or around the world), but they go above and beyond the minimum criteria to thoroughly test helmets in many respects. Beyond motorcycle helmets, they test for bicycling, karting, and professional motorsports. Below are the safety features they test for:
- Impact Testing – The impact test uses controlled impacts to simulate different impact surfaces. The object is to measure gravitational (G) force or acceleration. If the peak acceleration in any test exceeds a value, the helmet is rejected.
- Positional Stability (Roll-Off) Test – A head form is mounted so that it points face downward at an angle of 135 degrees. The helmet is placed on the head form and the straps and buckles adjusted to obtain the best fit condition. Weight is connected via wire rope and dropped from a determined height. The helmet is turned 180 degrees and the test conducted again. The helmet may shift, but must not roll off the head form to pass the test.
- Dynamic Retention Test – The helmet is placed on a head form with the chin strap fastened under a device representing the jaw. The jaw piece has a 23 kg weight applied for around one minute. The retention system is tested by simultaneously removing the 23 kg weight and applying a 38 kg mass in an abrupt guided fall. The retention system fails if it cannot support the mechanical loads or if the maximum instantaneous deflection (stretch) exceeds 30 mm (1.18 inches).
- Chin Bar Test – The test helmet is attached to a base with the chin bar facing upward. A 5 kg weight is dropped to hit the central portion of the chin bar. Maximum downward deflection of the chin bar must not exceed the stated distance.
- Shell Penetration Test – The test helmet is attached to a base. A sharp pointed 3-kg object is dropped from a prescribed height. The test striker must not penetrate the helmet or even achieve momentary contact with the head from inside the helmet.
- Faceshield Penetration Test – The face shield (also called a visor) is attached to a test helmet and shot along the center line in three separate places with an air rifle. The rifle shoots sharp soft lead pellets at speeds approximately at 500 kph (310 miles per hour). The pellets must not penetrate the visor for it to pass the test.
SHARP is a testing a rating system only available for helmets sold in the UK (United Kingdom / England). It measures just impact protection of the helmet based on similar testing to the other standards and rates helmets with a star rating system instead of a pass / fail result. The ratings are shown from a 1-star (lowest) to a 5-star (highest).
Motorcycle Helmet Fit
Each manufacturer helmet will fit slightly different. One brand may be a better fit for a round head, while others may fit better for an oval shape. You can read reviews from each manufacturer, but you may get the best understanding of what will fit you best by trying a few one. Sizing will vary from brand to brand, therefore, a medium in one brand may fit like a large in another. Again, trying on a few may give you the best feedback.
Current helmet technology involves an inner liner to absorb shock, made of EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam. There is a comfort liner that riders often mistake for a protective component, which also does provides some padding. A helmet should also have EPS foam in the lower area to properly protect the face and jaw.
When To Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet
Motorcycle helmets should be replaced every five years, assuming you have not had any direct impacts that would jeopardize the impact protection of the helmet. This recommendation is from a consensus of helmet manufacturers and the Snell Memorial Foundation after studying the effects on a helmet from regular use. Helmet degradation is caused by normal wear and tear, hair oils, and body fluids and cosmetics. Cleaners, paints, fuels and other materials also affect the liner materials and overall helmet performance.