Choosing a motorcycle is like choosing your soul mate. It takes time and tons of research to find your one true love, but once you set eyes on it you just know that is the bike you are meant to spend the rest of your life with. Just like when you are with that girl of your dreams, when riding down the open road you want to make sure you look your best even if down deep inside you know the bike is the one people will be staring at. As high up the priority list as looking good is though, being safe on your bike is second to none. At speeds of 65-75 mph you need as much protection as you can get between you and the asphalt. This is why picking out a good helmet is just as important as choosing between beach bars and ape hangers.
Five tips for picking out the perfect helmet
- Is it DOT or Snell approved? When choosing a helmet the first thing you need to look for is some type of label that states that it is either DOT or Snell approved. DOT (otherwise known as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) is the standard to which all helmets are judged by. A DOT certified helmet has been tested to make sure it meets impact velocity requirements, can pass a retention system positional stability exam, passes international helmet regulations, features an adequate chin strap, and for those with a visor the helmet must provide proper eye protection. The Snell Standard is similar in that it tests for the same basic safety requirements as DOT. If you don’t see a label featuring one or both of these safety certifications, than you need to move on to one that will offer better protection.
- Believe it or not color matters! It’s not just a fashion statement it’s a safety statement. A colorful helmet is more likely to draw a motorist’s attention to your presence than almost anything else you are wearing. Regardless of whether you like a helmet with flames, skulls, or a neon Mohawk blazing straight down the middle; the thing you want most is to get noticed. Dark helmets won’t help you get seen when zipping through the city streets. Even with full light outside you will still run the risk of getting lost in the shadow of a building or overhanging tree when you are wearing a dark colored helmet.
- Used could mean abused. When thinking about purchasing a used helmet you very well be holding your safety in the palm of your hands. If it’s one thing that is worth the extra cost, it’s making sure you have the tools to stay safe while riding your motorcycle. That used helmet may be a great deal, but in the long run it could mean the difference between life or death. The thing about a used helmet is that you don’t know the history. For every nick, scratch, and scuff you see there could be dangerous flaws underneath the top layer of paint that you don’t. Regardless of if they are DOT or Snell certified a used helmet is never the way to go.
- Helmets are gender specific. These next two definitely go hand in hand, but before step up to the plate and decide on what feels right you need to make sure you are in the right ballpark. Ask around and you will no doubt discover for yourself that most people never realize there is a difference between a male and female helmet. Now the easy joke here is that female helmets are pink and male helmets are blue, but the truth is men and women have differences in the size of their skulls. These differences mean that what fits him won’t always fit her and vice versa.
- Comfortable will take you a long way. If you’re one of those journey men or women that love nothing better than to jump on your bike and hit the open road for days or weeks at a time then you know the importance of comfortable head gear. Like that favorite shirt that’s perfect for laying around the house on a rainy day, an ugly helmet will never die as long as it makes you feel like you’re not wearing one at all. Before making that final purchase, try all the different sizes, shapes, and designs on the market and then decide which one is the best fit for you.