A helmet that meets British safety standards is vital when riding a motorcycle or moped on the road in the UK. It’s required by law but is also just good old common sense.
Whether in the UK or further afield, we all know that the perils of motorcycling are not few or far between. It’s certainly not a sport for the faint hearted, nor is it something to be scared of as long as you come prepared both mentally and physically. If, like us, you follow the ATGATT rule (All The Gear, All The Time), then you really can't go wrong.
Knowing the options available to you when it comes to safety gear will help you get a head start (see what we did there!) on protecting yourself, as well as choosing the right equipment to suit your riding style and conditions.
Read on to find out what size, type and fit you’re looking for in your first (or fifteenth) motorcycle helmet.
What kind of motorcycle helmet do I need?
Think about how, where and what you ride.
Full face helmets are a great all-rounder for those who want maximum protection, optional ventilation and all over coverage thanks to a chin bar. They also suit many riding styles, with a variety of tailored road, race replica and long-distance touring designs on offer. Recommended for new riders and veterans alike, good starting points are brands such as Shoei, HJC, AGV and Shark.
Open face helmets keep you cooler in the hotter months, have a wider range of view and enable you to hear what's going on around you better; ideal for city riding. This comes with some disadvantages; much less protection in a crash, plus dirt, road debris and rain straight in your face. There are ways around it though, with goggles, glasses, neck tubes and masks all providing different levels of protection from the elements. We love AGV for their variety of open face colour schemes and Spada for their ceaselessly stylish Italian look.
Flip up or Modular helmets incorporate the best of open and full face, allowing a higher degree of ventilation, but a better level of protection. Popular with off-road, urban and commuter riders, they’re practical and functional. If you want to ride with the chin bar raised you'll need to look for dual homologation helmets that have been legally approved, like the Shoei Neotec 2.
Motocross helmets are designed for the dirt, with removable and machine washable inserts. They usually have a large eye port to accommodate goggles plus strap grips to keep them in place. MT Helmets offer value for money whilst Shoei are the best you can get.
What features should I look for?
Motorcycle helmets have two different fastening options; double D ring and micrometric (or ratchet) fasteners. Micrometric fasteners are easy to put on and take off but track racers swear by double D ring helmets for a more secure fit. Plus, full face helmets with double D rings are mandatory for motorcycle track days in the UK.
When riding in sunny climes it can pay to have a helmet with a drop down sun visor. It’s also worth seeing if your clear visor is Pinlock compatible and whether it comes with a Pinlock anti-fog visor in the box. If not, it may be worth trading up to the next best helmet that includes one, otherwise you’re looking at an extra £20-£30.
Ventilation is equally important. How many vents are there and where are they positioned? Are they easy to use with gloves on? A good quality switchgear helps control air flow easily, making adjustments second nature, rather than a pain.
If you’re looking to use your phone on the move, does your helmet have the slots and cable channels for a bluetooth kit? We stock Shark's Sharktooth, HJC's Smart and Sena systems (for Shoei helmets) if that’s a feature that appeals for long journeys and adventures.
What colour motorcycle helmet should I get?
When it comes to colours, the brighter your helmet, the more likely you are to be seen on the road. We know, not everyone wants to rock a HJC Joker and there are some fantastic black helmets around (take the Scorpion Exo 1400 Air for example - positively drool worthy) but it's worth bearing visibility in mind when weighing up your options, particularly if you do a lot of rural riding. Matt helmets, although they look very cool, will also show up marks and fingerprints much easier than gloss finishes. Beware thy sticky mitts!
Are tinted visors legal?
All of our helmets are sold with clear visors but there are options to customise your lid with a tinted or coloured visor. These range from £30 for a value helmet and can top £100+ for a premium lid. A tint of 50% or less is legal for bright daytime riding, but make sure you keep a clear visor on you too. That way you can switch over when the light drops and night time rolls around, minimising your chance of being pulled over by the police or involved in an accident due to poor visibility. Win, win!
What size helmet do I need?
First things first, measure up! Using a tape measure or a piece of string, measure the widest part of your head, the line just above your eyebrows and ears. Check this measurement against the sizing charts under each helmet on our website. You’ll notice that they vary, much like the model designs and shapes so always go for the size that matches your measurement.
How much should I pay for a new motorcycle helmet?
It ultimately comes down to how much you can afford. As the only piece of safety gear you are legally required to wear when riding a motorcycle or moped in the UK, we’d recommend not skimping on it.
What’s the difference between a £99 helmet and a £999 helmet?
Increased safety features, design variations, material quality and brand name can push prices up, but all for good reason. If you know what to look for, you can get a lot of helmet for your money. As an example, MT offer some great graphics that you'd expect to find on more expensive helmets. Across the board winners like AGV and HJC produce helmets in a range of budgets, right up to carbon fibre race replicas. Premium brands like Arai, Shoei and Schuberth are world renowned and rightfully so. Then there are the wildcards like Scorpion who have some great designs, but are lesser known.
Finding the right kind of helmet, the right price point, then the right fit is a sensible way of working through the overwhelming amount of choice and successfully pinpointing the helmet for you.
Helmet Safety Standards
Every motorcycle helmet we sell has passed the minimum safety standards and testing required to be road-legal in the UK and Europe, so you can shop safe in the knowledge that we’ve done the legwork for you.
Additional levels of safety come in the form of high end materials, such as carbon fibre, technology advances and certifications for racing. The SHARP (Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme) scheme is a useful resource, rating helmets by a range of manufacturers from 1-5.
You may just want to upgrade or replace your helmet when your personal usage changes. If you think you'll take your bike and helmet on track in the UK then you’ll need a full face helmet with double D ring fastening and a Gold ACU sticker.
Racers in all FIM circuit events such as MotoGP and World Superbikes are required to wear FIM approved helmets, such as the Shark Race-R Pro GP FIM Racing #1. If you are using your helmet for motorsport, racing, rallying and karting it's always worth checking current helmet specifications with the relevant authority as these may change over time.
How do I know if my helmet fits correctly?
Pop the helmet on and fasten. You're looking for a snug, but comfortable fit with no gaps between the helmet and your cheeks, temples, forehead or crown. If you can feel pressure points immediately, try another.
Next, grip the front and back of the helmet and tilt forwards then backwards. You want some movement, but not enough to come off or lift up and obscure your view. Finally, check visibility. Is the chin bar in the right place for your riding position? Is there room for your glasses?
If the answer is yes, congratulations! You've got yourself a new lid! 🎉