Motorcycle Helmet Guides
The right helmet can save your life during the most terrifying 30 seconds you've ever experienced. The wrong helmet can make you miserable on an uneventful 10-minute ride. Our step-by-step guide will help you choose the right helmet for you.
So you got yourself a motorcycle! Congrats! Now you need to buy some gear and you've decided to start with a helmet. Most people start here because they are either a) smart, or b) their state requires a DOT-certified brain bucket. But, wait! There are so many to choose from!
How could you possibly decide, and what do all these things like EPS liners, Venturi effects, Pinlock lenses or fiberglass/composite shells even mean? Let's boil it down to a process and hopefully by the end you won't have a headache from thinking about it... or from wearing the wrong kind of helmet.
Getting the right fit
"I came here to look for some smokin' hot graphics, not talk about expanded polystyrene! Also, when you say 'round oval' is that just a smooth way of telling me I have a fat head?"
Getting the ideal fit means considering head shape, as well as head size. Some helmets make it easier by offering easily replaceable interior pads of different sizes to fine-tune the fit. Figuring out what kind of noggin you have will help you narrow down the choices and find a helmet that's comfortable on your own unique head.
What is my head shape?
Everybody's head is a bit different, but we are all generally egg shaped, falling somewhere between round and oval. For convenience, we divide this range into three main categories: round oval, intermediate oval and long oval. Modular (flip-face) helmets are mostly round oval, due to the hinge mechanism, though newer technologies are now allowing them to fit intermediate shapes better. Your head shape can be determined by using a mirror or having a friend look down on your head from the top. Extreme shapes should be readily apparent, but if you are not sure, you likely fall into the intermediate oval category (this is the most common). Keep in mind that the length or shape of your face, or the pudginess of your cheeks doesn't affect headshape.
A helmet that is the wrong shape will cause pressure points on your forehead (too round) or the sides of your head (too oval). When you buy a new helmet, we recommend wearing it for 30 to 45 minutes before using it on a ride to check for pressure points. These hot spots may not be immediately apparent but can grow into painful problems over time. Remember, if it goes out on the road it's yours, so make sure to double check fit before wearing it on your bike. The most important aspect here is the crown of your head. Cheekpads are often replaceable and do not determine shape or size.
What is my head size?
Measure your head with a cloth tape measure around your head from just above your eyebrows to the thickest point in the back. This circumference, usually listed in inches, can be cross-referenced with the size chart on any helmet. A helmet that is the wrong size will either be too loose and move around on your head too much or will be too tight and not sit down completely on your head, causing a high fit or simply pressure all around the crown. A correctly sized helmet will move slightly, but will pull the skin on your scalp and face with it, preventing rotation or large movements.
How can I adjust the fit?
Many helmets have replaceable cheekpads and liners that will allow for adjustment of the interior shape and fit of the helmet. Beyond switching out these items or using these features, any alteration to the inside of the helmet will likely result in loss of warranty and risks compromising the integrity of the helmet. Your helmet should feel equally snug around the crown and a good bit tight in the cheeks. Generally, a new helmet out of the box should fit snugly because it will become a little looser after months of use. Head liners typically only break in about 5 percent, while cheekpads often compress about 15 percent to 20 percent over time. A snug fit is good unless you are developing a point or area of pain..
How to fit a motorcycle helmet
Choosing a helmet configuration
Now that we've addressed the critical issue of fit, it's time to decide what kind of helmet to buy. Let's start at the beginning (this is Moto 101, after all) by talking about the different categories of helmets. Then we'll consider how those different kinds of helmets work for different kinds of riders, riding and motorcycles.
It's an absolute must that a worthy long-distance touring helmet does a handful of things extremely well. Balance, ergonomics and low sound levels are of utmost importance, since the rides will generally be longer and any discomfort only becomes magnified after hours in the saddle. Ventilation is critical in hot weather and the upright riding position of most touring bikes works better with some venting configurations than others. The vents should be at the top of the head, most effectively flowing air when the rider is straight up. You will no doubt see upgraded safety certifications, optimal creature comforts and futuristic materials in shell construction.
Modular motorcycle helmets have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years as a growing number of riders seek more versatility from their lids. Designed to be worn in the full-face configuration, with the face shield and chin bar in place, or as an open-face helmet, with the chin bar lifted up, modular helmets are extremely popular with the ADV and sport-touring crowds. At the base level, all modular helmets have a chin bar that can be flipped up. Both of these helmets have removable visors and chin bars and can be configured multiple ways. It's important to consider the level of versatility you desire when buying a modular helmet, as the chin bar systems, face shields, and occasional sun visors vary from helmet to helmet.
High-visibility gear is a growing trend in the motorcycle gear universe. Hi-viz yellow and orange are two of the most attention-grabbing colors in the visual spectrum. Hi-viz motorcycle gear gives the safety-conscious rider the best chance of being seen by other motorists. There are twice as many motorists on the road as there were 20 years ago and staying safe on two wheels continues to increase in importance to many riders
It should be noted that half helmets and three-quarters or open-face helmets are inherently less protective, due to the lack of coverage in the face and the jaw. However, these helmet categories offer their own advantages, such as better visibility, more airflow, less weight and a more intimate connection with rain, hail, bugs, dirt, and the smell of freedom! All jokes aside, you are the only person who can set your priorities when it comes to riding gear. Make sure you understand the plusses and minuses involved, keeping safety and riding experience in mind, and we'll help you make an educated decision from there.
Now that we've looked at different categories of helmets, let's take a step-by-step process to determine which one is right for you.
What kind of bike do you ride?
I know, it's ridiculously cool, it's got two wheels, and it goes faster than Superman on a sunny day, but let's home in on some specifics.
What's your posture on the bike? An upright riding position, like you find with many touring bikes, means that you don't lean forward at all (or perhaps lean back slightly, in the case of cruisers). A touring helmet usually works best with this riding position.
Sport-touring bikes and some standards put the rider in the three-quarters posture, meaning you are leaned slightly forward. The range of variation here is wide, because some bikes have windscreens while others are naked. These riders have the most flexibility of choice and may be happiest with anything from a touring helmet to a dual-sport or race helmet.
Sport bikes put the rider in an aggressive full tuck position. Aerodynamics become more important, especially at the higher speeds on the track. Sport or race helmets are designed to vent best in the full tuck riding position. Some use a spoiler for aerodynamic reasons, too.
What kind of riding do you do?
"Dude, my motorcycle is my freedom! I can go anywhere, anytime, all the time - booyah!" Well, sure, if you really wanted to you could probably get your chopper over the curb and out to the pine barrens. Or, you could probably push your ADV/touring bike to do 120 miles an hour. Motorcycles are able-bodied and flexible creatures, but let's be practical. What kind of roads do you plan to ride? How long are your rides? How many months a year do you ride?
Year-round commuters should look at helmets with adjustable features such as easy-change faceshields, a drop-down sun visor or a photochromatic shield. A weekender canyon carver may be more concerned with ventilation and awesome graphics. A long-distance tourer will need maximum comfort and quiet. For off-road riding, dual-sport helmets give you the option of using goggles or a faceshield, depending on conditions.
Generally speaking, the more time you plan to spend in your lid, the more you should invest. If you plan to commute every day and your trek is 45 minutes or longer, you are going to become intimately acquainted with the inside of your helmet. It should have a removable and washable liner, comfortable cheekpads, and an easy solution to changing lighting conditions. We've already said it, but it bears repeating: long-distance touring riders need comfort, because a minor annoyance after 50 miles becomes a huge pain after 500 miles.
Are you a year-round rider? Consider how your helmet will deal with changing weather conditions. In cold weather, a fog-resistant faceshield or the option to install a Pinlock system is handy. A quickly learned secret to the trade: "anti-fog" coatings wear off over time, but Pinlock is forever! These two-part systems use a Pinlock-ready shield along with a Pinlock insert to provide an additional layer on the inside of your faceshield that prevents fogging. In warm weather, better venting or the convenience of a modular helmet may be more important.
The more you plan to ride, the more it makes sense to buy a quality helmet that will stand up to daily use and give you a full five years of service.
The occasional, short-distance rider may be served quite well with an inexpensive lid. It's all about matching what and how you ride with what you put on your head.
Considering safety ratings
Now let's talk about the downside of motorcycle helmets: literally, what happens when you go down? You may love your helmet for its cool graphics, but you need to know it will do its job when it counts. There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about safety standards for helments, so let's look at the basics.QUALITY CONTROL
Yamaha helmets are manufactured under strict quality control to ensure that it meets the national and the international safety standards. Our state of the art testing laboratory is capable of testing helmets conforming to all the standards of world including DOT, SNELL 2000 (U.S.A), ECE 22.05 European, British, TCVN 5756 Vietnamese and Bureau Of Indian Standards (IS: 4151).