You may have heard about the dangers of choosing a motorcycle helmet based on its looks alone. In recent years, mandatory helmet laws have brought a flood of new headgear onto the market, spoiling bikers for choice. However, not all of these helmets will offer the same protection—or any protection—if you are thrown from your bike.
The first thing bikers should look for on a helmet is a sticker bearing the letters DOT. This means that the helmet has met the minimum safety requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation. If there is no sticker present, you can also inspect four elements of the helmet to see if it offers the proper amount of protection in a crash.
When choosing a motorcycle helmet, be sure to consider its:
- Inner liners. Take a close look at the padding on the inside of the helmet. Unsafe helmets may have no padding at all, or a thin layer of foam padding between the shell and the rider’s head. On the other hand, DOT-approved helmets will have an inner liner of one inch or more, commonly made out of hard polystyrene.
- Chin straps. Check the chin straps on your helmet. They should be made of leather, canvas, or another sturdy material, and they should attach to the helmet with solid rivets.
- Weight. Heavier helmets are generally safer, as they offer more protection in a crash. Novelty helmets typically weigh around one pound, but helmets that meet federal safety standards weigh up to three pounds. You should also examine the materials used, as unsafe helmets will be smaller in dimension and have thinner outer shells, both of which will make the helmet considerably lighter.
- Design and style. A full-face helmet offers more protection than an open-face design. In addition, anything that sticks out from the surface of the helmet, such as horns or rubber spikes, violate the DOT safety standard. Stay away from any protruding decorations that extend farther than two-tenths of an inch from the surface of the helmet.
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As an avid motorcyclist, attorney James Roswold knows firsthand how hard it is for bikers to get the respect they deserve on the roads. That is why he compiled all of the best tips and tricks into a single guide to keep fellow bikers in top gear and riding high. Download a free copy of The KC Biker Bible today to get the latest news on dealers, mechanics, and retailers in Kansas City and beyond!