Choosing the right helmet is the most important safety aspect when it comes to purchasing motorcycle wear. The structural integrity of your current helmet can be diminished by anything from stickers to damage from the sun.
As it's the main piece of protective kit, 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.
If you're involved in an accident out on your bike and your helmet is sub-standard in terms of safety or not the right fit, it could have serious consequences.
Here are some motorcycle helmet buying tips.
Follow the Safety Regulations
The first step is to familiarise yourself with the latest regulations. Consider the SHARP ratings of different helmets, which is an independent assessment programme that rates and reviews a wide range of helmets from a safety point of view.
You should also ensure the helmet is not counterfeit; look for certification of safety from the supplier of motorcycle accessories.
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 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 provide the neccesary protection in the event of an accident.
Get the Right Fit
Whilst it's possible that you could save money by buying online, we highly recommend you go into a retailer and try on a number of different helmets to make sure they fit comfortably and firmly.
Full face helmets should be quite tight around the cheeks. If it moves about when you jiggle your head, it's too big, and can cause all sorts of problems such as fatigue and excess tension in your neck.
Make sure to check the chin strap, the clasp and how adjustable the helmet is. If you're unable to properly secure it, there could be safety consequences. If the straps are too long, they could flap about and distract you.
Bright colours are advised as they are more visible, especially in low light conditions. If you're going abroad on your bike, be aware that many EU countries make having a fluorescent pattern a legal requirement.
Should I Buy a Used Motorcycle Helmet?
Absolutely not; never buy a second hand helmet. Ever.
You don't know what it has been through, or where it's been throughout its life. There is always the possibility with used helmets that they could have been involved in an accident and taken a hard knock.
If it has been involved in an incident, the structural integrity - and therefore safety - of the helmet could be compromised, and put simply, it's not worth the risk.
Open Face Helmets
Open face helmets are perfectly safe and okay to buy, providing you take all the same care and attention and go through the process as we mentioned above.
With open face helmets, goggles will be necessary to provide protection for your eyes. Make sure you get goggles or a visor which have the ECE, CE or BSI trademarks on. If they don't have those trademarks, don't buy the visor/goggles, because they aren't necessarily up to the required safety standard.
Most modern helmets are built so that you can easily change the visor, enabling you to buy tinted ones that are particularly useful in bright sunlight.
To sum up, buying the right helmet is all about safety and comfort. Make sure you get a helmet with a good SHARP rating and the necessary safety standards as mentioned above, and never buy a second hand helmet.
Make sure the fit is nice and tight and comfortable too, so that you can enjoy your ride, and if going for an open face helmet, get a good quality pair of goggles to go along with it.
At Stratstone Harley-Davidson in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, we sell a variety of genuine Harley-Davidson helmets and also offer advice about the fitment. Visit our online store or one of our dealerships to find out more.