Motorcycle helmets for off-road motorcyclists
Learn the basic types of off-road motorcycle helmetsHelmets are essential for off-road motorcyclists. Off-road helmets provide protection in case of a fall or collision, shield the rider from debris, and cut down on noise and wind so the rider can concentrate. Different models of off-road helmets offer varying levels of protection and comfort.
Types motorcycle helmets for off-road motorcyclists
Off-road helmets are protective head gear. While safety is the primary factor to consider when purchasing a helmet, some designs stand out for additional features that add to a rider’s comfort and performance. Today’s off-road helmets have elements of both open-faced and full-face helmets.
Open Face Helmets
Open face helmets offer full coverage to the base of the skull, but there is no chinbar or face shield. While this style was prevalent in the original off-road helmets, most helmets today include chinbars. Similar to road helmets, motorcyclists with open face helmets wear special goggles to protect their eyes from debris or face shields to avoid a mouthful of bugs. Some models have visors to reduce the sun’s glare, but this design offers little protection in case of an accident.
Open face helmets aren't recommended for young or inexperienced riders, because the risk of injury is too great. This is especially true for off-road and race situations, but even when you ride on a street, more protection is better, at least until you reach a much higher level of expertise.
Full Face Helmets
Full face helmets cover the entire head from the base of the skull to the face and chin. They have vents for air flow that keep the rider from overheating and prevent the face shield from fogging. There are open cut outs for the eyes and nose, which are covered by a plastic shield that is clear or tinted. While street riders complain that full face helmets make them feel isolated and hot, off-road motorcycle riders appreciate the full protection and can concentrate on maneuvering the course.
Full Helmets without a Face Shield
The alternative to a face shield is an off-road helmet with a chinbar and open cutout for goggles. These helmets have ventilation on the sides of the chinbar and are molded to fit over the nose. Standard-sized goggles cover the eyes to shield debris while an extended visor blocks the sun’s glare.
Almost all helmets are made from plastic or fiber glass on the outside with an interior soft, thick liner of fabric and foam. By law, all helmets must pass Department of Transportation (DOT) and Snell safety guidelines. Many motorcyclists choose their helmets based on familiarity and comfort – some feel more comfortable with a face shield while others feel it limits their peripheral vision more than they are comfortable with.
Once you’ve decided which type of off-road helmet is right for you, it’s time to choose a color. You’ll have an array of patterns and sleek designs to choose from. Choose what you like, but note that the 2007 case study ‘Motor Rider Conspicuity and Crash Related Injury’ found that riders wearing a white helmet are more visible than those with a black one, and reduce their chances of collision by 24%.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers a handy guide for getting the right fit. In order to provide maximum protection, your helmet should fit like a glove.
Best Beginner Motorcycles: helmets
Motor Cycle Safety Foundation