How Motorcycle Helmets Work

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How Motorcycle Helmets Work

Motorcycle Helmets save lives. That much has been proved time and again, and never mind the “they block vision, break necks, impair your hearing  blah blah blah” brigade, that’s been disproved just as often. A good motorcycle helmet can’t guarantee your safety, but it can reduce the risks of serious injury to your head, brain, face, it can save your life.

Motorcycle Helmets – How They Work

Different helmets are designed to do different things, cycling helmets are different to motorcycle helmets, are different to football helmets, are different to the helmets worn on a construction site . . . Every type of helmet has been specifically designed to deal with the potential forces they will have to face.  Motorcycle helmets are basically made up of four different components:

  1. an outer shell – designed to withstand penetration and abrasion
  2. a liner designed to take much of the force of any impact
  3. comfortable padding to make wearing a motorcycle helmet more pleasurable
  4. a secure method of retention – straps!!

The outer shell of a motorcycle helmet is a hard nut to crack – by design. Generally made from polycarbonates or some fiber-reinforced composite. It’s tough but it is also designed to compress if it comes across something really hard – like the road – this makes sure that all of that energy doesn’t get to your head.

The inner lining of a motorcycle helmet is where the majority of any impact is absorbed, in the expanded polystyrene. This absorbs any shock if the helmet is brought to a sudden halt, but your head is still on the move. If your helmet is involved in a hard accident it might be damaged, even though you can’t really tell to the naked eye – but it could mean that it can’t still protect you as efficiently as before the accident. Replace your helmet after an accident, even if it looks okay.

The next part is built for comfort, with soft padding making the helmet fit your head comfortably. You might even be able to remove this for washing.

The strap or retention system is one of the most important parts of your motorcycle helmet, after all, this is what keeps it in place for when it’s needed the most. It’s no good having the finest helmet in the world, if you don’t fasten it securely and it falls off just before your head hits the road – ouch! Fasten the strap every single time you wear your helmet, even if you’re only going around the block. These straps are designed for easy use so it only takes a couple of seconds.

Choosing Your Motorcycle Helmet

When you choose a motorcycle helmet it’s very important that you get the right type, and the right fit. Just because a design matches your jacket is no valid reason for choosing a helmet which isn’t up to the job.  You must choose a helmet which has reached the minimum safety requirements.

Department of Transport (or DOT) sticker will show that the helmet has reached the required standards set by the Department of Transport. Alternatively you could look out for a Snell sticker, which also has rigorous safety testing procedures.

It’s really important that your motorcycle helmet fits correctly. Start off with your hat size (if you know it), or if not, measure your head at it’s widest circumference. When you put your motorcycle helmet on it should fit very snugly, even tightly, and not move around sideways even before the straps are fastened. It should wrinkle your forehead a little and squish your cheeks in, not enough to make it uncomfortable, just enough to keep it snug.

Motorcycle Helmet Sizes

Although you can start with your head size, do remember that heads come in many different shapes and sizes, and motorcycle helmets do too. Try on a wide range of helmets until you find one which fits your head perfectly.

Motorcycle Helmet Designs

Motorcycle helmets are available in loads of different designs these days, but do remember that motorcycles are easily missed by the other road users, so choosing a brightly colored helmet can help to keep you safe in even more ways – by making you more noticeable.


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