Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of a death by 42%. They are required by law in many countries & in many US States.
Motorcycle helmets are constructed of a polystyrene foam inner shell, designed to absorb the shock of impact, and a protective plastic outer layer - it can also be constructed of other lighter more expensive material.
Your helmet of choice may have other features such as more comfort, a shape that fits your head better, ventilation, face shields, sun visors, tinted visors, ear protection and an intercom communication system.
The origins of the motorcycle helmet dates back to 1914 at the Brooklands race track where a medical doctor by the name of Dr. Eric Gardner noticed that he was seeing motorcycle accident head injuries on a regular basis and decided to take action.
He presented a design to the Auto Cycle Union where it was initially rejected and condemned. Later it would be accepted and made compulsory for the 1914 Isle of Man TT races. There was much resistance from riders and racers who considered the requirement to be uncomfortable & draconian. They preferred the free riding nature of wind-in-hair riding.
Dr. Eric Gardner would be proud and vindicated in due time with reports of no concussions or deaths during the 1914 race. He would receive a letter from the Isle of Man medical officer confirming the merits of the motorcycle helmet.
A study in 2008 would confirm that motorcycle helmets reduced the risk of head injuries by 69% and the risk of death by 42%.
It was speculated at one time that wearing a helmet increased the risk of neck and spinal injuries during a crash. Many motorcycle enthusiasts resisted wearing a helmet due to restricted visibility and comfort. Recent evidence has shown that wearing a helmet materially protects the rider against cervical spine injury.
There are five basic types of Motorcycle Helmets.
Full face Motorcycle Helmet
A full face motorcycle helmet covers the entire head. There's a rear that covers the base of the skull, and a protective section over the front of the chin. Most accidents have shown to affect the chin.
Research has proven that the full face motorcycle helmet is the most protective. 35% of all crashes showed major impact on the chin-bar area.
Shoei X-Fourteen Marquez Motegi 3 Adult Street Helmets
Off-road / Motocross Motorcycle Helmet
Bell Moto-9 MIPS Fasthouse Signia Adult Off-Road Helmets
A motocross helmet features an elongated sun visor and chin bar for protection.
Motocross & off road helmets feature a signature elongated chin bar & visor, open face for strapping on a goggle. Airflow is important for this sport.
Modular or Flip Up Motorcycle Helmet
LS2 Valiant II Revo Modular Adult Street Helmets
The modular or flip up helmet allows the rider to flip the helmet open for an open air feel. It's a hybrid between the full face helmet & the open face helmet. Some also call it the CONVERTIBLE helmet, or flip face helmet.
When closed, the modular helmet looks exactly like a full face helmet.
Open Face or 3/4 Motorcycle Helmet
Bell Custom 500 Rally Adult Cruiser Helmets
Open faced helmets or ¾ helmets have an attached face shield. The Three-Quarter helmet covers the ear, cheeks, back of the head but lacks the critical lower chin bar of a full face helmet or modular helmet. Remember that chin collisions are common in an accident.
Bell Recon Camo Adult Cruiser Helmets
A Half Helmet was also known as the Pudding Basin Helmet from the 1960's.
It's also called the shorty helmet in the US, and the Pudding Basin or TT Helmet in the United Kingdom. It was popular with Rockers and Road Racers in the 1960's.
A half helmet's design is an open face helmet but without a lowered rear in the shape of a bowl.
Novelty helmets offer little protection and usually do not meet government safety laws. They are worn primarily for aesthetics & comfort. Novelty helmets are also referred to as "beanies", and "brain buckets".
Novelty helmets are for decoration only and are not safety certified. They lack minimum crash protection to pass local safety laws.
The Factor of Motorcycle Helmet Colors
Black helmets are the most common, but white helmets, red helmet or other bright colors are considered to be more visible for other vehicles to recognize. Some research has shown that non-black helmets have a 24% lower risk of getting into an accident. The research is controversial.
Construction of Motorcycle Helmets
Modern helmets are constructed of high tech plastics. Premium price helmets are made with fiberglass reinforced with Kevlar or carbon fiber. Manufacturers are constantly improving helmets to offer the best combination of lightness & protection.
Helmets are made with an inner EPS (expanded polystyrene foam) shell and an outer shell to protect the EPS. The density and the thickness of the EPS is designed to cushion or crush on impact. The "crushing" effect of the cushion is what takes the impact and protects the human head.
Accident examinations show that the chin & face shields act as critical protective elements.
The motorcycle helmet has two principal protective components: a thin, hard, outer shell and a soft, thick, inner liner usually made of expanded polystyrene or polypropylene "EPS" foam.
The outer shell is usually made of polycarbonate plastic, fiberglass, or Kevlar.
The purpose of the foam liner is to crush during an impact, protecting the human head, increasing the distance and period of time over which the head stops and reducing its deceleration, protecting the brain.
North American standards include:
United States Department of Transportation (DOT) FMVSS 21
Snell M2005 & M2010 (United States)
Helmet testing is usually done at 9-6MPH, although most accidents happen at 45MPH.
The actual impact of the head during a real crash is dependent on many factors including the angle of the impact, direction of impact, angle of impact, and the surface type of the impact.
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