Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 28th September 2019

There’s nothing like feeling the freedom of the open road on a motorbike. However, in order to really enjoy the experience you always need to ride with the right motorcycle safety gear, and that of course includes a helmet.

The use of motorcycle helmets help to save hundreds of lives every year, and many riders involved in fatal accidents, could have had their lives spared if they had been wearing a helmet. Every motorcyclist should always be wearing a helmet on the roads, regardless of whether it’s the law or not.

We wanted to put together some tips when it comes to choosing the safest motorbike helmet, so that you can stay safe on the roads.

Helmet types

There’s a variety of helmet styles out there, but generally most motorcyclists choose between a few main designs on the roads; the full face helmet, the modular helmets (aka flip-up), the open face helmet (aka ¾), and the half helmet. In terms of safety, the safest choice would be the full face helmet, as of course it offers the most amount of coverage and protection for your head and neck.

The advantage of a full face helmet is that it can completely protect your whole head and face from the environment you’re riding in, whether there’s debris or bugs, or if there’s adverse weather conditions. This type of helmet also comes with a chin bar, which is a great feature considering a large percentage of helmet impacts occur around the chin area during accidents.

No other type of motorbike helmet can offer the protection for your chin and jaw that a full face helmet can.

Things to look out for

It’s important to look out for a shell-built design whenever you’re choosing a new helmet. If the helmet is lacking any kind of thermoplastic or reinforced composite shell, such as polycarbonate, then it won’t have any first line of defence. Therefore your head won’t be adequately protected from direct contact with the road.

You also need to choose a helmet that has an impact absorbing liner, because this is able to absorb the impact in crashes and prevent severe head injuries, while providing comfort to the top of your head.

Lastly, and possibly the most important part to look out for in any helmet is the chin strap that clips below your chin. Of course without this, there’s nothing keeping your helmet in place, and your helmet would effectively be rendered useless in the event of an accident.

What are the safety helmet standards?

There are several safety standards in regards to motorbike helmets, and it’s always going to be helpful to you to know that they are when it comes to choosing one.

Every helmet worn on UK roads must adhere to the following criteria:

  • British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark.
  • UNECE Regulation 22.05.
  • A European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.

A helmets safety rating is of course one of the most important features you need to consider. You can see official ratings on the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) website, which allows you to search helmets to see how much protection they offer.

Also, if you ride with  a visor or goggles they must also adhere to the following criteria:

  • British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark.
  • European standard offering at least the same safety and protection as the British Standard, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark (UNECE Regulation 22.05).

Try out the helmet first

It sounds obvious but you must always try the helmet on before making a decision. Even if you know that it meets all the safety requirements, it still needs to fit you perfectly. Tighten the chin strap so that only two of your fingers fit between the strap and your head.

Check their are no gaps at the top, front, back, or side of your head. Of course make sure that it doesn’t feel painfully tight, but ensure that when you try to rotate it, your cheeks don’t move. If it slips at all when you do this, it’s not the right fit for you.

A good way to test out the chin strap is to look down at your chest, while you attempt to push the back of the helmet upwards, because you shouldn’t be able to. Other factors are also important to consider, such as the feel of the safety liner, how breathable it is, and whether or not it offers good visibility through the eye opening. Also, take sound level into consideration, because things like wind noise can damage your hearing over time.

Get your motorbike insurance quote today from Carole Nash. We’re one of the UK’s leading motorcycle insurance brokers, and provide fully comprehensive policies for riders.