Choosing a helmet for your motorcycle involves a number of considerations, though you are likely to focus primarily on style and safety. The popular opinion often holds that opting for one means sacrificing the other. However, some of the safest helmets now emphasize style, so the decision is not as difficult as you think.
There are five basic styles of motorcycle helmets from which to choose. The most popular, particular among sport bikers, is the full face helmet, which surrounds the head, including the base of the skull and the chin. The off-road helmet bears a similar shape, though it has no visor and requires goggles for eye protection.
The open face helmet, often known as a three-quarters helmet, is similar to the full face helmet, but it lacks chin protection. Covering the ears, cheeks and base of the skull, the helmet may or may not include a face shield. If you opt for a version sans shield, plan on wearing wraparound sunglasses. The modular helmet looks like a full face helmet, but the visor and chin bar flip up as a unit, resulting in three-quarters protection. The half-helmet, generally known as a "shorty," covers only the top of the head, meeting the minimum safety requirements.
Whatever style of helmet you choose, be sure to avoid so-called novelty helmets. These helmets typically weigh one pound or less and contain little padding, opting instead for looks. Few of these helmets meet the Department of Transportation standards for safety, and they provide little protection in the event of an accident.
In addition to the overall style of helmet you choose, there are a number of other factors to consider. You must ensure that the helmet you select fits your head properly to make sure that it is adequately protecting you. Consider the internal shape of the helmet as well as its exterior contours. Always remember that a helmet is a safety device first and an expression of style second.