It goes without saying that riding a motorcycle entails a significantly higher degree of protection as opposed to driving a car — which you could do practically wearing your pajamas. As a rule of thumb, the absolute bare essentials in motorcycle safety equipment generally consist of a helmet, long pants, and closed shoes. Shorts and slippers don’t belong anywhere near a motorcycle — but that’s a topic for another day. Today, we discuss the nuances involved in choosing the most important piece of safety gear, the helmet.
There are literally tons of options available in the market. Anything and everything ranging from P1,000 brain buckets to the flashiest and safest life setting you back a sweet P60,000. However, price isn’t the only determining factor when it comes to the overall value of a helmet. Here are 5 things to consider when shopping for your first motorcycle helmet.
As the saying goes, safety is the absolute most important thing when it comes to riding a motorcycle. That being said, helmets come with various safety ratings, depending on where you’re situated in the world. However, there are 3 globally-recognized safety ratings. The first would be the DOT rating, which means it has passed the U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards. The second most common rating is ECE, which is a lot more rigorous and subjects the helmets to a battery of tests to ensure they provide maximum safety to their user. Lastly, the Snell rating is mostly used in racing applications and can be found in more high-end helmets.
When it comes to picking out your first helmet, we recommend choosing one that’s at least ECE rated to give you the peace — and physical safety — of mind. A helmet’s safety rating can typically be found on the back of the helmet.
Comfort and fit
The temptation to buy the cheapest and best-looking helmet, especially if it’s your first time, can be quite strong. However, it’s important to take your time and get familiar with a helmet before pulling the trigger. Why? Well, there’s nothing worse than a massage headache caused by a poorly fitting helmet right in the middle of a long ride. Typically, helmets come in three different head shape configurations — round oval, intermediate oval, and long oval. This depends on the shape of the crown of your head and will dictate whether certain types of helmets are compatible with you or not. Doing some research by reading and watching reviews of a certain helmet pays dividends, as well.
Features and type
Apart from safety and comfort, it’s also important to take into consideration what features the helmet offers to its wearer. For starters, we recommend getting a helmet that comes with adequate ventilation. Riding in Metro Manila traffic can at times, feel like a slow roast, and having a poorly ventilated helmet can be so severe as to cause a heat stroke. Typically, an optimally ventilated helmet would have vents on the chin area, the crown, and a heat extractor at the rear of the helmet.
Apart from ventilation, it’s also important to note the two types of straps commonly found on motorcycle helmets. The most common would be the quick release system. We recommend this for commuting or riding situations that require you to make many stops, frequently removing your helmet. On the other hand, the double D-ring helmet is ideal for those who ride sportier machines and do a lot of track days. The double D-ring setup allows for continuously varying levels of adjustment, and not to mention unparalleled security. The only drawback would be that it could be quite fiddly to get on, especially when wearing gloves. Apart from that, it’s also important to choose a helmet configuration that’s best suited for your riding style. There are tons of helmet types out there, from full-face, to open face, to modular, to adventure — having the right helmet for the right type of ride not only makes everything safer, but it makes the ride more enjoyable, too.
Of course, when picking out your first helmet, you want something that ticks all the boxes in terms of safety and comfort. However, we don’t recommend getting a P40,000 Shoei as your first lid. Naturally, a first helmet is likely to be dropped, similar to how your first motorcycle is likely to be dropped. That being said, it’s best to invest in a mid-tier helmet around the P7,000 mark, from a reputable helmet manufacturer. Contrary to popular belief, the most expensive helmets aren’t necessarily the safest helmets. Of course, moving up the price range gets you fancy features and added comfort.
Apart from being an essential piece of safety equipment, your helmet is practically your face while you’re on the road. As such, it’s best to pick one that suits your character. Luckily, helmet manufacturers provide tons of options when it comes to colors and graphics. Some reputable helmet makers like AGV, Shoei, and Arai even sell MotoGP replica helmets off the shelf, letting you represent your favorite racers on the street.
So there you have it, if you’re in the market for a new motorcycle helmet simply consider the things mentioned above, and hopefully you find yourself a lid that keeps you safe, provides you with adequate comfort, and makes you look the absolute bomb when aboard your two-wheeled steed.