Full face helmets feature a one-piece shell to cover the wearer’s whole head including the chin area, plus a wrap around visor to protect the wearer’s vision. Compared to other types, full face helmets repeatedly demonstrate the highest possible levels of safety in crash simulations and real life incidents. A good quality full face helmet that fits well should therefore offer the best protection for any motorcyclist.
The four important design elements are the outer shell, impact-absorbing liner, comfort padding and retention system.
The shell disperses energy throughout the helmet to reduce the force felt during an impact. It’s typically made from polycarbonate or similar, but some high-end models make use of fibre glass or carbon fibre instead. These complex fibre composites don’t necessarily increase protection but can reduce weight without affecting strength. At the opposite end of the price scale, our entry level helmets still have very good shells.
The impact-absorbing liner is generally made from expanded polystyrene. Its job is to further absorb shock. The comfort padding plays a very important role - it helps to ensure a snug fit so that the helmet doesn’t wobble and twist on the wearer’s head. Some helmets feature removable padding, which is handy for washing and cleaning purposes.
The retention system comprises of the chin strap and fastener. There are two main types: ratchet fasteners and D-ring fasteners. Neither is necessarily better than the other but the ratchet fasteners can be quicker to undo.
Prices start from around £54.99 for a good quality, basic full face helmet. As the price increases, so do the features on offer. For example, weight reduces, ventilation gets better, integrated sun visors may be included, comfort padding may be removable and visors may feature improved clip systems.
Another great feature to look out for on mid-priced helmets and upwards is the Pinlock visor system. This is an anti-misting solution that uses a special film on the inside of the visor to absorb moisture and provide insulation.
All of the full face helmets we sell at JTS Biker Clothing are ‘E’ marked to comply with legislation. Two other optional standards to look out for are the SHARP (Safety Helmet Assessment & Rating Programme) score and the ACU (Auto Cycle Union) gold approval sticker. The SHARP tests are very thorough and scores range from 1 to 5 stars. Most helmets currently on sale in the UK score at least 4, with a handful achieving the perfect 5 stars. The ACU gold sticker is required of any helmet to be used on UK racing circuits.
When choosing the best fit, it’s important to remember that a new helmet should be as snug as possible without causing pressure against the forehead or any other discomfort. The check pads should be snug, as these are likely to bed in and compress very slightly with a little use.