There are a number of important factors to consider when choosing a dirt bike helmet to protect your scone, so before you rush for the best looking lid on the shelf how about you mull over the following first.. You’ve only got one head and one brain to go with it and if you ruin ’em you’ll be trading your dirt bike hobby for eating Play-Doh with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell in Neverland. So you better make sure the helmet you buy is good quality, up to the correct safety standards and is kept in excellent condition.
Old school MX helmet glory —>
Many countries have their own set of laws and standards in place that define the minimum safety requirements for motocross helmets. For example, here in New Zealandit is the NZ 5430. Europe – ECE 22.05.Australia – AS1698. UK – BS (British Standard). USA – DOT (Department of Transportation). The DOT rating is considered to be of a lower standard than the others.
If you really want to feel reassured by your next helmet choose one that has a SNELL rating. The Snell Memorial Foundation was created to provide strict and stringent testing to achieve a high level of helmet safety. This foundation came about in 1957 after William Peter Snell died in a sports car accident when his helmet failed to protect him. If a helmet has the SNELL approval – you know it’s of the highest safety standard.
Before I go any further – Do NOT buy a second hand/used helmet! Not only will you be dunking your noggin in some other guy’s stinkin, sweat-soaked hand-me-down.. but far more importantly, you have no idea if the structural integrity has already been weakened or not.
A helmets outer shell is usually made of polycarbonate plastic, kevlar or fiberglass. The core is generally constructed of polystyrene or polypropylene foam which upon impact crushes. This process absorbs the energy that would otherwise have been forced upon your skull. So, after an impact (which can also occur if your helmet is dropped onto the pavement) it won’t be able to provide the expected level of protection even though the outer shell may still look in good condition.
Thank your lucky stars you live in an age where dirt bike helmets not only look the business, but they come packed with features to make for a much more comfortable experience.
What your dirt bike helmet probably has that your Grandad’s didn’t..
- Extremely low weight – and the lighter the better!
- Adjustable cheek pads – for customized comfort.
- Goggle grabbers – to keep your goggles firmly in place.
- Large mouth vents that not only provide more air-flow but offer better roost protection to save you from chewing on unwanted dirt sandwiches.
- Excellent venting – Most helmets these days have front air intakes that lead into, through and out the back to help keep your brain-bag cooler.
- Removable liners – A big plus, the inners can be removed and washed (by your girlfriend.. ah just kidding. by your Mum). After hours of sweating like a basted suckling pig, your helmet lining generally ends up smelling worse than John Candy’s Y-fronts used to after a hard day on the set.
Fitting And Maintenance
When selecting the right dirt bike helmet it’s important it fits properly and feels comfortable as we humans come with different shaped craniums. And the most comfortable helmet might not necessarily be the most expensive one. Once you’ve got it on with the straps firmly fastened, rotate the helmet from side to side. You know it’s the right fit when your face skin movement and helmet movement are nearly the same. Try lifting the rear of the helmet in an effort to roll it off your head in a forward direction. You should not be able to do this.
Maintenance: As with all your motocross gear.. look after your dirt bike helmet. If it cops a decent blow, replace it and get rid of it so no one else uses it – seriously! It is also suggested that you replace helmets every three years regardless of condition.
When shopping around keep in mind you can find wickedly priced helmets and motocross gear online, however I’d encourage you to try them on first if possible for the reasons mentioned above.