How To Choose Your Adv Bike Helmet – Ultimate Guide
Choosing a motorcycle helmet is the most important decision you will ever make in your motorcycle safety gear kit. A good helmet is always a big investment, but also a good one. One in that you spend hoping not to need it. But believe me, in that split second that you need it, there’s no turning back on the decision made. Don’t pull a Scrooge on this one. Better to save money on something else. After all the head is a hugely important part of the body.
I know… You’ve read it again and again, and yet again everywhere. This particular mantra is repeated till exhaustion by motorcycle-related websites with good reason.
Yet, choosing motorcycle gear is a strenuous task. With the rise in popularity of the “big adventure bike” and the increasing number of adventure motorcycle touring and riding enthusiasts in both developed and emerging economies all over the world, a wider array of choices exists now for both touring and adventure motorcycle riders.
If you are like us at 2WheelsOnRoad, you want to find the best gear for your particular case. And that’s not as straightforward as buying the most expensive lid out there.
Most people end up either spending a ridiculous amount of hours searching for the most accurate information or giving up the endeavor altogether and buying something because they like the looks of it or they heard that it was a good choice. Either way, unless you have deep enough pockets to buy different types of helmets for diverse types of riding, the sound choice is the one that fits you but doesn’t break the bank altogether.
Let’s face it. Motorcycle gear is expensive. Good gear in particular reaches insane prices. And although I know of no riders that like to be unprotected, I also know of no one that enjoys spending a few thousand and make choices that are not adequate.
Do you need an Adv Bike Helmet?
So you got your adventure motorcycle, plan to do some traveling, got all these dreams about exploring all around, lined up in your mind. Now you’re going for the motorcycle gear kit to go along with it. A helmet is the utmost important item on that list.
Unless you have the budget to buy different helmets for each riding type, the first and most pressing question when considering buying an adv bike helmet is: What am I going to do with it?
Why this question? Because while we all have dreams of making that big motorcycle trip through unexplored terrains, not all of us do it regularly. If the majority of the time we ride is not that off-road oriented, there is no point in gearing up like a Dakar rider for that one or two-time adventure. It looks great in the pictures, but being miserably uncomfortable most of the time is not worth it.
There are countless lid options in the market but the style of rides that you go on can influence directly the helmet type choice on your hands, for it affects one of the most important factors to take into consideration. Comfort.
In fact, you don’t have to wear an adventure helmet to travel on an adv bike, or going on an adventure motorcycle travel. It’s your riding, your helmet, and above all your comfort and protection.
When it comes down to choosing there are 4 types to consider: Road, Off-Road, Modular, and Adventure Helmets.
Take a look at a comprehensive step-by-step guide that we made to help you figure out if you need an adventure motorcycle helmet, how to choose your adv bike helmet, what to look for in one, and the best options in that helmet category, and others that can prove to be best for you.
Full Face Helmets or Road Helmets
These helmets are the way to go if your riding takes you more on the touring traveling style. This type of helmet offers the highest protection of them all, having an integral surface to protect the rider’s head.
Quiet, aerodynamically shaped, and providing a lot of comfort both to the neck area and the head, meaning that you can cover longer distances at higher speeds when traveling. The fact that there is no peak strongly contributes to the medium/high-speed comfort like the ones achieved on the freeway. Sound insulation is also the best.
As for cons when compared to the other types, they don’t have as much ventilation, leaving you gasping for air if you go off-road and do more riding effort. The peak protection for sunlight and debris from the bikes ahead is inexistent. And the dust accumulates on the visor with no way deteriorating vision as there is no way to deflect sunlight. Also regarding vision, the opening on the full-face helmets is much smaller than say a dirt-bike helmet, thus reducing visibility.
The internal linings are not well adapted to take on the sweatiness of the extra effort.
That being said, full-face helmets are the sound choice if you don’t plan to go off-road as much, or are thinking only of taking easy gravel roads at times.
Off-road/ Dirt-Bike Helmets
These are the lightest motorcycle helmets out there. Extended chin bar, lots of ventilation, fully prepared for off-road low-speed riding. Great visibility with the frontal opening being the widest, wide enough to accommodate the goggles you will need to protect the eyes from the debris. Long Peaks protect from stray rocks and sunlight. Maintenance-wise, they are very easy to clean.
There are also downsides to these helmets. Their peak size makes it extremely uncomfortable at highway speeds. That lack of stability results in neck pain and consequentially difficulty to ride long distances at higher speeds.
The ventilation comes at a price and the sound insulation is poor.
These are motocross helmets and some might not be legal for on-road use, so you should always check the DOT or the ECE approval.
If your motorcycle travel adventures take place mainly off-road a dirt-bike helmet paired up with a good set of goggles might be the right call.
Adventure Helmets/Dual-Sport Helmets
Adventure Helmets are a mix between the two types above and evolved from the adv bike riders need to include some of the positive elements of full face and dirt bike lids. Of course, this is a compromise, and no compromise is flawless.
With longer chin bars and better ventilation than the full-face brothers, the adv helmets allow for a more “sweaty” off-road ride. Removable peaks, designed to diminish the airflow turbulence at highway speeds are there to do the same job as an off-road helmet peak. However, it’s up to the rider to keep them or remove them if the ride ahead is done mainly on road.
Most models also come with removable visors, thus quickly transforming the lid into a dirt-bike helmet and improving ventilation in harsher conditions. Removable linings are the norm for easy cleaning, and as for soundproofing, they don’t quite reach the full-face helmets level, but compared to the dirt-bike lids they are way above.
If you plan to go both on and off-road, the adventure helmet is the right choice for you.
Flip-up helmets come in two versions. Regular and adventure modular helmets. Needless to say that the above pros and cons of full-face and adventure lids equally apply to flip-up helmets in their respective version.
The chin bar of these helmets can, as the name indicates, flip up, transforming it into a temporary open-face helmet. That brings out a functional aspect that eases touring life and allows riders to perform tasks that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do without taking the helmet off. From drinking a quick coffee at a roadside gas station to talking to a border official during a border crossing, from asking directions to grabbing a quick bite to eat.
Of course, they sacrifice a bit of the rigidity of the chin bar, and some of the ventilation (some models don’t have a chin bar as big as the adventure helmets, or the off-road lids) but still have high protection ratings.
Questions That Will Help You Define The Best Adventure Motorcycle Helmet For You
Now that we’ve got the types of helmets sorted out, it’s time to get into the details. The questions that will set you on the right track, that will help you find the right lid for your motorcycle travel adventure gear, and that of course, should be helpful to value the helmets on the market according to what is best for you and your needs.
- Is the helmet shape the right one for me?
- What’s the shell material, how resistant and shock absorbing is it?
- What is its safety rating? Is it DOT or ECE rated?
- If it’s a Flip-up is it double homologated?
- Is it lightweight?
- How good is the ventilation?
- Does it have a visor?
- Does it have a sun visor?
- How easy is it to lift the visor and can I do it with gloves?
- How easy is it to remove the visor for cleaning or substitution?
- Does it come with a pin lock and fog-free visor?
- Does it have a peak?
- How long is the peak and what is its upward lift?
- Is the peak removable?
- What’s the ratchet type used? Double D or clip strap?
- Does it have any reflective surfaces that allow you to be seen better on the road?
- Is it really waterproof?
- Is the interior lining/padding easily removable and washable?
- Is the linning adjustable for summer/winter?
- Does it have removable comfort cheek and headband pads?
- Does it integrates or is it compatible with bluetooth wireless communications systems?
- Does it come in more affordable solid colors?
Helmet Fitment is of the utmost importance. And it doesn’t matter how much it costs, how high are its safety ratings, and how many seals of approval it has. A helmet that doesn’t fit is a helmet that does not absorb shock as intended and doesn’t protect you properly.
First, you will need to measure the circumference of your head. With a measuring tape and starting about 2cm above your eyebrows, check your head measure.
Then, compare it to one of the size charts that all major motorcycle helmet manufacturers provide. This will tell you what size helmet you need.
Now for the head shape. Head shapes can be split into three distinct categories:
- long oval
- intermediate oval
- round oval.
The best way to find out the shape of your head is to ask a friend to take a photo from above.
Trying On The Helmet
Determining the type of helmet, head shape, and head measurements are not enough to ensure that the helmet you choose, actually fits.
Trying the helmet on is essential. Do it for at least 30 to 45m. Do it at the local helmet retailer or take advantage of an online store that has free returns if the helmet does not fit you properly. Nowadays, major online motorcycle stores not only have that policy but also have customer support that can guide you through the process.
Put the helmet on. There should be some resistance when you do it.
If you feel severe discomfort, it is too tight.
Remember the helmet liners break in after some hours of use.
In a proper helmet fit, you should feel the cushions against your cheeks.
Grab your chin bar and move it around. The helmet shouldn’t move. Only the cheeks. If the helmet moves then it is too big.
Do the same thing but with an upwards/downwards movement. If the helmet slides past your eyes it’s too big.
Finally, if you wear prescription glasses don’t forget to try the helmet with the glasses on.