come along for the ride
One of the most important purchases you will make when you start riding motorcycles is your helmet. This task might seem daunting at first with the numerous choices and price levels that are available on the market, but hopefully what I write will help that journey along.
When you start looking at helmets you will find that there are three certifications for helmets. Below I have given short explanations of each of these. Unfortunately there is no definitive answer as which of these certifications is the best, but at least you will be armed with basic knowledge of each.
The DOT testing was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety administration in 1972 in order to come up with a standard for helmet safety. Basically this is an honors system classification, meaning that the company who produces the helmet does the testing not the government. Occasionally the government does do spot checks on companies helmets.
Snell is non profit organization that rates helmet safety for helmet companies. This is a voluntary certification that is more stringent than the DOT testing.
ECE standard is used in over 50 European countries and is the standard that Moto GP uses for their helmets. All companies that have the ECE have to undergo batch testing before they release any helmets to the public. This means that every run of production of a helmet undergoes some sort of testing. Many feel that the best safety standard that one can buy is a helmet that has both the ECE and DOT standards.
Helmet fit is the most important thing in purchasing a helmet. This means you need to head out to the numerous motorcycle stores and start trying them on. A helmet needs to fit properly in order for it to protect you head properly. Proper fit allows the helmet to manage sound and energy from impact correctly.
-Measure the largest circumference around your head to determine size
-Snug but not tight
-Even pressure around the head
You may think that this just has to do with what you like and not your safety, but on the street it does. The more visible you are to other motorists the safer you will be. On the track you will be more visible to photographers, not just another person in a black suit and helmet going around the track. So remember an obnoxiously colored helmet may save your life.
Also read Motoress‘s article on purchasing a helmet.