Whether you’re a new rider or a grizzled vet, choosing a new helmet can be a challenging task. There are so many choices on the market today – everything from fiberglass skid lids to kevlar modulars. Having all those color, style and decoration choices is great, but it can also be confusing. Choosing the right helmet – one that fits well, is comfortable and matches your riding style is important. It could be a matter of life or death, so don’t let looks alone determine your choice.
A helmet that meets the federal government’s standards will offer significant protection. Make sure any style you look at has the Department of Transportation sticker on it because this government standard requires that a helmet be able to absorb a significant impact, prevent most penetration and have a fastening system that will withstand great force. The SNELL designation is another choice some riders look for, but remember that a SNELL approved helmet alone is insufficient in NY. It must be DOT approved to be legal in NY.
Finally, before you start comparing styles, remember the laws in New York and Pennsylvania. Operators and passengers are required by law to wear helmets in New York State. Protective eyewear is also required if the helmet does not have integrated eye protection.
Pennsylvania law requires operators or riders under 21 to wear helmets. Operators 21 and over who have been riding for at least two years or have completed an approved safety course are not required to wear helmets.
You will notice four basic styles when you shop for helmets:
- Half Helmets: They are cool in hot weather, but they offer only basic protection because they cover the least amount of head area. And don’t forget, you’ll have to wear protective eyewear with a half helmet. Anyone who has ever had a rock kicked up by a car in front of them and bounce of their helmet at highway speeds knows exactly why eye protection is required. Half helmets come made of different materials and in many different styles, but double check for their DOT certification. There are many, many half helmets out there that are considered novelty helmets and are NOT DOT approved.
- Three-Quarter Helmets: The next step up in coverage offers more protection for the back and sides of your head. Most come with a venting system to keep you cool, and some come with face shields or snap-on visors. Different visor systems are available from many motorcycle equipment suppliers, as the 3/4 helmet style has increased in popularity in recent years.
- Full-Face Helmets: This is your best protection for your face and head. It comes with a flip-up shield and offers all-season comfort with a ventilation system. Full face helmets tend to be the quietest, and are a good match for integrated blue tooth devices for that reason. Because they are the safest, full face helmets are very popular, and come in wide range of prices, styles, colors, designs and shapes priced to fit ant head and any budget.
- Modular Helmets: This option gives you a combination of the benefits of the full face and three-quarter helmets. You can flip up the face and chin module to easily remove the helmet or allow full face exposure. The shield also flips up when the chin piece is down, to allow for ventilation or to exchange a few words with fellow bikers at a stop light.
Only you can determine what kind and style of helmet is right for you. But with so many choices available on the market, there is no excuse for wearing one that doesn’t look good and fit you even better!
Thanks for reading, and ride safe!
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
NY and PA Motorcycle Accident Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901
My book, “Would You Ride Your Motorcycle Naked?” is available FREE to New York and Pennsylvania bikers. Follow the link to order your copy today!
COMING NEXT: How to properly fit a new helmet.
SEE ALSO: Is your helmet ready to ride?