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Types of Motorcycle Helmets


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Your motorcycle helmet is one of your most important pieces of riding gear.

In many states, a proper helmet is required by law. You can learn more about motorcycle helmet laws here.

The right helmet can save your life in the event of a crash, and it can also make your ride more comfortable (warmth, wind protection, helmet coms and headsets).

The main types of motorcycle helmets include:

  • Full face helmets.
  • Modular helmets, which can be used as full face, 3/4, or 1/2 depending on the design.
  • 3/4 helmets or open face.
  • 1/2 shell helmets or skull caps.
  • Dirt bike/off-road helmets.
  • Dual sport-specific helmets.

Full Face Motorcycle Helmets

A full face motorcycle helmet offers the most coverage and protection out of all the styles.

Full face designs cover your entire head and chin and feature a built-in visor.

Many feature air vents and cooling systems to prevent the visor from fogging up.

Full-face helmets will also offer the best sound-proofing and wind protection.

These are a good, safe choice for pretty much any type of riding.

Modular Motorcycle Helmets

A modular helmet is a type of hybrid. It can be reconfigured to be used as a full face, 3/4, and sometimes half helmet.

The most common modular motorcycle helmet features a flip-up or removable chin guard.

It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a balance of protection, comfort, and versatility.

If you’re taking a longer ride on the freeway, use it as a full face. If you’re just taking a ride around town, a 3/4 configuration may be more comfortable.

Open Face or 3/4 Motorcycle Helmets

A 3/4 helmet provides coverage around the top, sides, and back of your head, but lacks a chin strap.

These will typically feature an adjustable or removable face shield, or they can be used with goggles.

They’re comfortable to wear at slower speeds, but once you get up to highway speeds, the lack of face protection can be a problem with wind, bugs, and debris.

These are best for more leisurely rides.

Half Helmets or Skull Caps

A half helmet sits on top of the rider’s head and offers the least protection.

They’re cheap and comfortable, and better suit some riders’ styles.

Skull caps are most popular among riders who chose to abide by a state’s helmet law to the minimum.

Off-Road and Dual-Sport Helmets

Motocross helmets are often lighter and feature more ventilation than a street helmet.

At the same time, they’ll typically run louder with less sound dampening than a street helmet.

Dual sport helmets attempt to combine aspects from both street and off-road helmets so that they’re lightweight with better sound proofing for highway use.

These are most commonly available in a full-face design.

What is the Safest Motorcycle Helmet?

The safest motorcycle helmet you can use is a full face helmet with a face shield.

This design will provide you with the most protection in the event of a crash, and will also protect you from road debris, bugs, etc.

How Much are Motorcycle Helmets?

The cost of motorcycle helmets vary quite a bit.

Cost depends on the type of helmet, the features, and the construction materials.

The typical range for most motorcycle helmets is from about $150 to $600.

Check out some recommendations for the best motorcycle helmets in our gear guide section.

How to Choose a Motorcycle Helmet

To choose the right motorcycle helmet for you:

  • Select something with as much protection as you are comfortable with. A full face helmet is going to be your safest option.
  • Choose something that is comfortable to wear.
  • Pick something that suits your own personal style.

Whether you go with a top-of-the-line premium helmet like a Shoei, or something more budget friendly like a Bell, you’ll be better protected in the event of an accident when you wear a quality helmet properly.

Remember, your motorcycle helmet is something that should be inspected regularly and replaced periodically. Learn more about motorcycle helmet care, cleaning, and replacement here.

If you’ve been in a crash or your helmet has experience some damage, you’ll need to replace it.

Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is to replace your motorcycle helmet about every 5 to 7 years.

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