08 Jan How to Select the Perfect Helmet
Buying a helmet should not be considered a luxury purchase; this is your head we’re talking about. If you value your life, we recommend wearing a quality helmet.
How do I choose the right helmet?
We suggest that you do some practical research by simply fitting different makes and sizes before buying your next helmet.
Some riders will say that they don’t have the budget for an expensive helmet. There seems to be a debate on whether an expensive helmet is better than a ‘budget’ helmet. We’d say there are some safety test results to consider, along with the ‘extras’ that some of the more popular and expensive brands offer. These ‘extras’ can be seen in design, weight, air ventilation and in better mechanisms, linings, fastening units and so much more.
We buy for comfort and not just safety, but you should ensure that the helmet you buy is at least ECE 22.05, SHARP, DOT and Snell -tested and approved. SHARP is a new form of impact testing done in the UK with some interesting results. DOT and Snell -testing is more focused on preventing piercing incidents, but is this enough? There are a lot of head/brain injuries due to impact that, we believe, need to be taken into account by all helmet manufacturers.
What are my choices when shopping for a helmet?
If you’re serious about keeping your head intact, you should not consider buying a helmet under R3000. Good helmets vary in price from between R3 000 and R15 000 per unit.
You can look at brands like Shoei, Nolan, X-Lite, AGV, Shark, Bell, HJC and Arai, along with some cheaper options as well. Some motorcycle manufactures like Ducati and BMW also provide their own corporate branded full-face and flip-up helmets. For some results on these helmets, I suggest you visit the Billy Crash Helmet site .
Something else to consider, is the colour of your helmet. As a biker, you want to be as visible to motorists as possible. That black helmet may look sexy and mean, but you’ll be so much harder to spot by other road-users. As for used helmets: avoid like the plague – you don’t know their history.
How should I take care of my helmet?
Don’t let anyone borrow your helmet. Besides the hygiene factor, with time, a helmet’s padding takes the shape of your unique head and face. If you give it to someone else to use, they might stretch the padding, and it won’t fit you like it did anymore.
Some helmets allow you to take most (if not all) of the padding out to wash. Never leave it lying on the floor for dirt and bugs to get in. When placing/storing your helmet somewhere, ensure that it can’t fall and crack or damage in any way. Your helmet is designed to withstand a serious impact once, and every time you drop it, you are reducing its ability to protect you. Some riders even sit on their helmets; this is a big no-no!
When carrying or storing your helmet, always try and protect your visor from scratches, which will impair your vision. Visors are not cheap to replace anymore, but if you have to, be sure to go through the manual of how to do this, as each helmet manufacturer’s visor mechanism works differently.
How do I determine the best fit?
Our heads come in different shapes and sizes. This means you should try on at least three different makes until you understand what type of fit you prefer. Some helmets may expose your chin too much, while others may be too tight around the cheeks or on the forehead. Once you’ve found a make and model that seems to suit your head, the sales person should be able to give you more options on helmets with a similar fit.
A helmet should never be able to turn loosely on your head, from back to front, or side to side. It should fit snugly. You should not be able to fit a finger in at the upper temples and forehead. It’s important to also try different sizes to help you choose the best fit. If the padding is too loose, the helmet will not stay in the right place on impact.
When do I need to replace my helmet?
If it hasn’t undergone the relevant safety testing, rather replace it to ensure that the helmet you are wearing passed the minimum safety requirements.
Keeping a helmet that is more than 10 years old is also not recommended. There have been a lot of advancements made in helmet safety technology – stay up to date if your budget allows.
If you dropped your helmet, you can always get it tested. But if it’s cracked, you should rather replace it. In the case of an accident, you will most definitely need to buy a new one.
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