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Risk Hierarchy: Information - Rider Ed - Driver Ed - Conspicuity - Bike Defect - Ultra-Defensive Riding - Crash Avoidance - Injury Mitigation - Crash Scene
We recognize that there is a controversy in the US on this subject. Here's our statement on helmet laws. We understand that many bikers consider it a matter of freedom to not wear a helmet.
We looked at some studies done where helmet laws were not such a hot issue. We're in a helmet state so we obey the law and wear helmets ourselves.
If you decide to wear a helmet, we have some notes in this page.
Here's the Wikipedia reference for helmets.
This helmet gave it up for its owner and protected his face in a crash. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
We think the guys at Motorcyclecruiser.com had it right.
The best helmets have Snell certification. This is considered a higher standard of testing than the DOT. Many racing organizations only allow Snell-certified full-face helmets on their tracks.
Here's Motorcyclecruiser.com on choosing the right helmet.
Modular (flip-up) Helmets
We like the flip-up (or modular) full face helmets with sun visor. Although Snell certifies three-quarter helmets that meet their standards, we don't know of any flip-up helmets that carry the Snell certification. Snell says that the modular helmets are tested to the same standards as full face helmets, which means that the chin bar has to stand up to the regular test, and the helmet must also meet removability standards. It is a fact that a well-fitting modular helmet often can't be removed by cutting the chin strap, and the release mechanism is different across the various manufacturers, and we know that MAST trainers place some emphasis on the removal of this type of helmet. If considering a modular, bear these issues in mind and ensure that the helmet is suitable for your needs.
Here's Art Friedman of the Head Protection Lab on modular helmets in Motorcyclecruiser.com. They tested some popular modular helmets and found that the majority of them provided good protection and comfort. They did not see any reason why they would all fail the Snell test.
A non-DOT certified helmet should never be used, and if you want to play it safe, use a Snell-approved lid.
Once you crash and come down on a helmet, it needs to be sent to the manufacturer for checking before being used again. Helmets are designed to sacrifice themselves for their owner and even a fair-looking crashed helmet might be a write off if the internal shell has been crushed. It makes no sense to buy a used helmet, unless you know its history.
Helmets with airbags? (from Bettermotorcycling blog).
Consider the fit, ventilation, sun protection and fogging features of the helmet.
Different brands and models of helmets accommodate different head shapes. Helmets are one item which should be tried on at a retailer, and the decent thing is to buy at retail, these guys can't stay in business unless we support them.
See the Helmet Conspicuity page.