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How to choose a motorcycle helmet that will save your life? [Infographics]

If you drive motorcycle, here is our infographics that shows some interesting findings which you should know on how to choose a motorcycle helmet.

At Motorbikes India we are all about motorcycle safety, so we’ve decided to pair this article on choosing a motorcycle helmet with nice infographics.

A little bit about the history of crash helmets

Crash helmet’s first made their debut in 1914, at the Brooklands Race track in Weybridge, Surrey in the United Kingdom. It was a key member of the Brooklands team namely the medical officer- Dr. Eric Gardner who first put forward the idea of protecting rider’s heads, after witnessing many crashes and recognising the need to protect riders from head trauma.

However, like many more great ideas that improved safety, it was initially condemned by the Auto Cycle union as well as many riders for all the wrong reasons; comfort, vanity, vision, heat, flexibility of the head etc. But eventually after many more fatalities and serious injuries (many of these included riders suffering irreparable brain damage), common sense at last prevailed and it finally became accepted as a compulsory and necessary accessory for bike riding.

So why do you need a helmet?

Statistics speak for themselves as you will see below, yet even after over a 100 years of use and many safety improvements and design development, these figures are still unacceptable, especially if you look at the Indian biker fatality figures (40% of road accident deaths in 2014 were bikers).

Everybody (including Motorbikes India) would agree that this number of fatalities on India’s roads is completely mad, very sad and can be significantly reduced, if firstly, all Indian riders wore helmets, and secondly they were the right type of helmets. (This is partly a reason we’ve created this infographics on selecting a motorcycle helmet).

Lets look at some of the pro’s of wearing a quality helmet, and of course the con’s of not!

PROS of wearing a helmet

  • Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths.
  • 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.

CONS of not wearing a helmet

  • India has one of the highest rates of motorcycle injuries, which is 25 times more than in a developed country.
  • 40% of those killed and injured on Indian roads are motorcyclists.
  • 189 two-wheeler riders lost their lives in India in 2014 and it was discovered that 131 of these were without helmets (even bigger con and definitely preventable).

What are the available choices of helmets?

When thinking about how to choose a motorcycle helmet consider different types of helmets. Each type of helmet suits different situation.

“Full Face”

A full face helmet is designed to cover the entire head, a rear that covers the base of the skull, and a protective section at the front to protect the chin.

  • Pros: Highest level of protection giving shoulder up protection including the lower jaw, this is vitally important as 35% of all crashes demonstrated major impact at the chin.
  • Cons: Heavy and lack of airflow makes it uncomfortable (although there are many full face helmets which now have improved ventilation and increased peripheral visibility).

“Off-road / motocross”

Motocross and off-road helmet has an elongated chin and front visor portions, with a chin bar, and is partially open.

  • 

Pros: Protection close to full-face helmet. Partial chin bar allows for air flow. The visor gives added protection from flying debris while doing an off road riding.
  • Cons: Looks not suited for casual riding, but there again why would you use them for casual riding?

“Open face or 3/4” helmet

The open face a.k.a. “three-quarters” helmet covers the ears, cheeks, and back of the head. It does not however include the lower chin bar.

  • 

Pros: Lighter and comfortable to wear.
  • Cons: No chin protection

Modular or “flip-up”

As the name suggests it is a hybrid between full face and open face helmets.

  • 

Pros: Protection and comfort at the same time.
  • Cons: Degree of protection of movable chin bar not established. This type of helmet is still under scrutiny in terms of its overall safety and effectiveness in protecting the lower jaw in an accident.

Half

Front design identical to an open face helmet but lacks a lowered rear in the shape of a bowl

  • Pros: Lightest and easiest to store
  • Cons: Provides least protection out of the lot. It’s a balance between the perception of looking good and feeling a little more comfortable whilst riding, against the vulnerability of your face and neck. Motorbikes India would always advise against wearing these types of helmets.

When to replace a helmet before it’s too late?

Besides knowing how to choose a motorbike helmet you should also know when to replace motorbike helmet.. Before it’s too late.

A poor condition helmet can sometimes be as bad as no helmet at all. The reason for this is that when you have confidence in something, you may potentially take risks that you would not normally take, if you did not have this false sense of protection.

So you must seriously consider replacing a helmet if any of the criteria below matches yours.

  • Helmet is cracked or crushed from a previous minor accident (get it checked out)
  • The foam has cracked. This can lead to a complete breakdown of the very thing that should protect you in the event of a serious accident.
  • Made in 1970’s without a Styrofoam liner. You really should not be riding around in something this old, and especially without any form of shock absorbance.
  • If the outside is just foam or cloth instead of plastic. Do we really need to explain this?
  • It lacks the all-important ISI Mark on it. This is your assurance that the helmet has passed certain trials and tests and is consider a safe option for modern day biking.
  • Helmet is not adjusting to your head. You need to be able to adjust the helmet to your head. We all come in different shapes and sizes (as your will read below).

How to choose a motorcycle helmet for you head shape

  • Long Oval: When the riders’ head is considerably longer from front to back than side to side.
  • Intermediate Oval: When the riders’ head is slightly longer from front to back than side to side.
  • Round Oval: Riders head has equal dimension from front to back and side to side.

Wear the bike helmet for 30-45 minutes before buying it, this is critical to ensure that it feels right, supports you in all the areas that it should. All good helmet retailers should offer a proper fitting service, and if you buy online ensure you have the option to return the helmet if it does not fit you properly. Motorbikes India can recommend professional suppliers to you in India.

How to make sure bike helmet will fit you?

Another aspect of how to choose a motorcycle helmet is the ability to determine whether it will fit comfortably.

  • The helmet must fit snugly and squarely.
  • It shouldn’t look like that it is tilted back on your head.

Once you put the helmet on your head, here are few other items in our checklist before you get round to fastening the straps.

  • Cheek pads should touch your cheeks but shouldn’t make you uncomfortably.
  • Absolutely no gaps between your temples and brow pads.
  • A helmet with neck roll must not push the helmet away from the back of your neck.
  • On full-face helmets, press on the chin piece. The helmet or face shield must not touch your nose or chin. If that happens then it will hit your nose and chin when the wind pressure gets high at high speeds.

After fastening the straps

  • Move it side to side as well as up and down with your hands. Your skin will also move with the movement in helmet.
  • As the inner liner gets compacted over time it is natural that the helmet will loosen over time but a new helmet should be as tight as you can comfortably wear it.
  • After fastening the chin strap try rolling the helmet off your head. It shouldn’t come out of your head if it has the right size.

Construction of Motorcycle Helmet

Knowing about bike helmet construction will helm in choosing most reliable motorcycle helmet.

Motorbike helmet is composed of multiple layers with the usage of different materials in construction.

  • Rigid Outer shell: Made from fiber-reinforced composites or thermoplastics like polycarbonate. Premium price helmets are built from fiberglass reinforced with Kevlar or carbon fiber. They are designed to be tough and be compressible when something is hit hard.
  • Inner Impact absorbing liner: Made from expanded polystyrene also called Styrofoam. The dense layer cushions and absorbs the shock in the event of an accident when helmet stays still and the head wants to move with the impact.
  • Comfort padding: Made up of Soft foam-and-cloth layer. It keeps you comfortable and pertains the helmet a snug fit.
  • Retention strap: The strap keeps the helmet tightly settled on the head.

How to choose a motorcycle helmet infographics

Download full infographics: How to choose a motorcycle helmet

  • Download version in jpg
  • Download version in pdf
Hopefully you now know how to choose a motorcycle helmet. And remember that bike helmet is not a fashion item (although even the best manufacturers recognise that they have to produce a safe product that also looks good so that bikers will want to wear them), it is something that will ultimately save your life, so that you can go on to enjoy biking for many years to come.

Download FREE “MI Safety Guide”!

Motorbikes India are passionate about biker safety. So, we’ve create a FREE 37-page e-book on motorbikes safety. We hope it will encourage road safety among bikers in India. Download your FREE copy here.

Download FREE Motorcycle Safety Guide!

Happy and safe riding!

Sources:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_helmet
  • http://www.bhsi.org/replace.htm
  • http://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/motorcycle-helmet-guide
  • http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles
  • http://indiatransportportal.com/why-you-should-always-wear-a-helmet-31553
  • http://www.helmetcheck.org/thefit.aspx
  • http://www.helmetcheck.org/downloads/helmet_csi.pdf

Disclaimer: This article was prepared or accomplished by it's author in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Motorbikes India or it's owners.

The views and opinions expressed on this web site are soley those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Steve Gerweck, the GERWECK.NET staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

About Motorbikes India

Motorbikes india (MI) is an online magazine about motorcycles in India. Motorbikes news, articles, clubs & events, routes, insurance, finance, maintenance & safety. We welcome contributions, from anyone that is enthusiastic about biking. If you are part of a motorbike club in India, please be sure to keep your club info and events up to date in our clubs section.

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