Your motorcycle helmet is more then just head protection, It's an extension of your personality, a way to express yourself. Are you a skull, crossbones and horns type of guy? Or you do take a simple, clean, "less is more" approach? What you may not realize is that motorcycle helmets come in all shapes and types, each serving a different purpose. After reading this guide you'll be an expert on varieties of Motorcycle helmets.
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After the death of Lawrence of Arabia (due to head trauma in a motorcycle accident) one of his doctors, Hugh Cairns, initiated extensive research on how to prevent future injures. This research led to the development and use of Motorcycle helmets all across the globe. Today we take a look at the different types.
Also known as the Shorty helmet, this is the design that most people picture when you think of a motorcycle helmet. They offer protection from the ears up and are preferred by countless bikers due to the fact that they are the most comfortable even though they provide the least amount of protection required by law.
Open Face Helmet:
AKA the three quarters helmet. It provides more protection the the half helmet by providing coverage to the ears and lower rear part of your head. It still leaves the front of your face vulnerable, though a lot of 3/4 helmets do have visors.
Full Face Helmet:
We bet you could have guessed, but this one covers your full head. Most full face helmets have a clear or colored flip up visor which protects the eyes. Some of them even have a secondary visor under the first which is usually smaller and can be retracted into the Helmet. This helmet type provides the rider with the most protection, but is also the most intrusive. It is most often used by people who ride street bikes, sport bike and other on-road motorcycles/ machines.
Off Road Helmet:
Some people would argue this is a sub type of the full face helmet, but we feel their are enough differences to put it as a different type, it is also known as a motocross helmet or ATV Helmet. The Off Road helmet is elongated in the mouth and chin area, this allows the rider to breathe a bit easier while providing additional protection. The Off Road Helmet also has a visor, but it is not the same as the Full Face Visor. This visor is a piece of plastic (often adjustable) which keeps the sun out of your eyes. This is especially useful when the rider is airborne. It is the preference of most Dirt Bike Riders, people who ride ATV's as well as Snowmobile riders.
This type of helmet is really a mix between the Full Face helmet and the Open Face helmet. It normally looks like the Full Face helmet but the protection on the chin (Known as the chin bar) as well as the visor can be completely opened (Flipped up). When opened the chin bar will be near your forehead and the helmet will more resemble the Open Face Helmet. It is important to note, that the flip up feature of the Modular Helmet is more of a convenience, in other words you are not supposed to ride with the helmet open. It allows a rider to conversate, eat or drink without removing the helmet completely.
DOT Certified: This certification is issued by the US Department of Transportation. A helmet will undergo safety testing to ensure it provides adequate protection. If the helmet passes these standards in testing it will be awarded a certification. All subsequent helmets created with the same exact materials and schematics will also be approved. These types of helmets are often called "DOT Helmets" "DOT Certified Helmets" Or "DOT Approved" Helmets.
Snell Certified: Helmets which the Snell certification are the best of the best. If a helmet is a SNELL Helmet that means it has passed the most rigorous tests a helmet can undergo. A Snell Approved helmet is safer then one that is just DOT approved. It is Possible to be DOT approved and not Snell Approved. But the reverse is not likely. Snell Helmets undergo the following tests: Impact Tests, Stability Tests, Retention Tests As well as testing of the Chin Bar, testing penetration and testing flame resistance.
Just about any helmet can be a novelty helmet, but we mostly see them as half helmets. Novelty helmets are not DOT or Snell Approved and offer minimal protection. We can't even call it "protection" when talking about some of the novelty helmets. They are usually much lighter then other helmets are are sometimes given cool, weird or strange designs. Here
is an example of a Novelty Helmet.
Snocross Helmets: We weren't sure whether to put this as a main or sub type, but in any case here it is. This is a helmet intended for Riding snowmobiles. Often called a Snowmobile Helmet, Snocross just refers to the sport. Just like a Dirt Bike helmet is also called a Motocross Helmet. The Snocross helmet looks similar to the full face or "Street bike" Helmet but has a slightly elongated chin/ jaw area and often times it comes with a breath box. The breath box just re-directs your breath so it does not fog up the visor of the helmet (which is the build in lens).
German Helmet: This type of motorcycle helmet is a sub type of the Half Helmet. It resembles a German Military helmet. Starting from the hears going around the back of the helmet is a slightly elongated lip going outwards. The front of the Helmet also a tiny overhang which we will call a visor in this case.
Jockey Helmet: Another Sub-Category of the half helmet. The Jockey helmet was modeled after helmets worn by persons who ride horses, or Horse Jockeys. They also has extra material on the back of the helmet from ear to ear however it goes downward providing slightly more protection to the back of the head. It also has a tiny visor on the front.
If we've misses any type of Motorcycle or ATV helmet let us know and we will be happy to add it. Don't forget to check us out at