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Choosing the right helmet is arguably the most important safety aspect when it comes to getting your motorcycle gear in order. There are ever-changing safety regulations, the structural integrity of your current helmet can be diminished by anything from stickers to damage from the sun. But as it's the main piece of protective kit you'll wear, it's important to take the time to review the different brands and make sure that you get the ultimate in safety and the best in comfort for your money.

Remember: if you're in an accident and wearing the wrong helmet, it could cost you your life.

Safety Regulations

When you're starting your helmet hunt, the best thing to do is to familiarise yourself with the latest regulations and get to know some of the better-known manufacturers on the market. If you're considering a helmet but nobody has ever heard of the brand, it's likely that they're not a reputable manufacturer, and you could be jeapordising your life by wearing their helmets. There are also hundreds of counterfeit, unsafe helmets on the market so when buying on eBay or a similar site, look for certification or buy from a main dealer or supplier of motorcycle accessories.

The rating that you want to look out for is the SHARP rating. This rating system is an independent reviewing program, which rates and reviews a wide range of helmets, and gives them a score from 1 to 5. You can find out the SHARP ratings on the Direct.Gov website.

In addition, all motorcycle helmets that are sold in the UK need to have either the British Standard 6658:1985 mark or an ECE Regulation 22.05 - either of these labels should be found on the outer casing of the helmet (normally at the rear) or inside. Sometimes it will be on the inner lining. If you find a helmet that doesn't have either of these labels, walk away. It's illegal and will be unlikely to save you in the event of an accident.

Get the right fit

Now that you're aware of the SHARP ratings, you can go into a motorbike dealership or accessories store, knowing which of the brands are right for your requirements. Whilst you can probably save money by buying online, we highly recommend you go into a shop and try on a number of different helmets; buying online means you lose the ability to try them on and you need to make sure it fits comfortably and firmly. At Stratstone, we have two Harley-Davidson dealerships offering accessories, in Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

Getting a helmet that doesn't fit properly could be disastrous. It's extremely vital that you try before you buy with any protective kit you buy for your motorcycle.

It it's a full face helmet that you're after, it should fit your head correctly - meaning the fit is quite tight around the face, especially your cheeks. If you put on a helmet and it moves about when you jiggle your head, it's too big. If it's too tight and almost suffocates you... of course, it's too small. Wear it for a few minutes to see if it sits comfortably. If a helmet moves around then it can cause all sorts of problems such as fatigue and excess tension in your neck when riding for long periods of time.

You then want to check the chin strap, the clasp and how adjustable the helmet is. This is equally as important as the helmet itself. If you're unable to properly secure it, it could come off in an accident. If the straps are too long then they could flap about and distract you.

When considering colour, black is the norm. However, bright colours are advised as they make you even more visible, especially in low light conditions such as early morning or evening. If you're going abroad on your bike, be aware that many EU countries make having a flourescent pattern a legal requirement, so that's something to factor in to your decision.

Seeing the road

Most helmets these days come with a visor, however you can still buy open face helmets. If you're going to have an open face helmet then goggles will be necessary to provide protection for your eyes. Make sure you get goggles or a visor which has the ECE, CE or BSI trademarks on. If they don't have those trademarks, don't buy the visor/goggles. You'll be putting your eyesight in danger.

Most modern helmets are built so that you can easily change the visor, so you can buy tinted ones for bright sunlight, but don't use them at night time as it's dangerous!

Used helmets - say no!

Never buy a second hand helmet. Ever.

You don't know what it has been through, or where it's been throughout its life. It could have already suffered a hard knock, damaging the structural integrity of the helmet. Anything that puts your life in jeopardy isn't worth the reduced spend. Apart from that, it's had somebody else's sweat in the lining, and nobody wants that! Buy new, and take care of it.

Conclusion

Ultimately, we want you to be safe on the road, and buying the right protective kit is absolutely vital to that. So, in a nutshell:

  • British Standard 6658:1985 or ECE Regulation 22.05
  • High SHARP rating
  • Tight, comfortable fit
  • Bright colours
  • Good eye protection - visor/goggles
  • Never buy secondhand

If you're looking to purchase your next motorcycle, visit our Harley-Davidson dealerships in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, or view our wide range of used motorcycles online.