The helmet is a necessary piece of equipment for any rider. That said, there's an endless number of options out there for one to consider. Helmets differ in color, style, quality, and even construction. Aside from that, different riding styles will also dictate what type of helmet you should use. Whether you ride a sportbike, cruiser bike, or touring bike, you might already have a favorite type of helmet.
One of the more popular types today is the modular helmet. You may be wondering, what is it, and how does it stack up against the classic full-face helmet?
What is a modular helmet?
A modular helmet uses a hinged construction that allows the rider to lift the chin bar and transform it into an open-face helmet. When the chin bar is closed, it gives the appearance and functionality of a full-face helmet.
Essentially, its purpose is to provide riders with two options when riding. Close the chin bar, and you can ride with frontal protection and zero worries. When stuck in traffic or waiting at a stoplight, you can lay back and get some air without having to remove your helmet.
What other things can you do with a modular helmet? When you open the helmet at a stop, you can talk to other riders, take a sip of water, and even grab a snack. Many modular helmets also feature a retractable sun visor.
So, in theory, a modular helmet offers convenience but with a slight compromise in frontal impact mitigation, since the chin bar's hinge is a failure point. For all the good things it provides, the question remains, should you get one over a classic full-face helmet?
Is a modular helmet better than a full-face helmet?
Many riders do prefer modular helmets, but they're not without their drawbacks. The biggest one is that modular constructions typically weigh more than their full-face counterparts. The added hinge and sun visor could bring a helmet's weight up noticeably. Some riders may find the added weight uncomfortable for longer rides. More than that, the shell itself tends to be larger in modular helmets, so that's something else to consider.
In terms of safety, a modular helmet typically provides close to the same level of protection as a full-face helmet. However, manufacturers generally do not recommend using a modular helmet with the chin bar turned up. That means it's not advisable to ride when the helmet is in open-face mode, as it will leave your chin area open and expose you to the elements with less protection.
Riding with the chin bar up can also be dangerous because the wind can mess with the helmet's hinge. Nobody wants their modular helmet closing forcefully at high speeds. It can be unsafe and even cause you to lose balance and crash. There are, however, other helmets that are designed to be ridden in as an open face or without the chin bar in the air depending on the design and the homologation standard of the modular helmet.
As with any other aspect of riding a motorcycle, you have to weigh the pros and cons yourself before making a decision. Each rider may have different requirements and preferences, and one size does not fit all.
If you're into the convenience and versatility that a modular helmet provides, go for it. Just make sure that you know your helmet's limitations, and you don't use it beyond its specifications. On the other hand, if your priority is top-notch protection and nothing else, you can never go wrong with a full-face helmet.