motorcycle helmet types: what helmet should i buy?

Just like mapping out a thrilling motorcycle route, there are a number of directions you can go when choosing the best helmet to accompany you. Get a crash course on motorcycle helmet types so you land (gently, of course) on the right one.

helmet basics: full- or open-face?

The first and perhaps most crucial decision you have to make when choosing your helmet is going with either a full- or open-face design. Most motorcycle helmet types come in either form, so no matter the unique bike or riding you enjoy, this is a decision you'll likely be faced with.

Benefits of a full-face helmet

This is considered the safest option, plain and simple. Your face will be protected in a crash, and you can keep out bugs, wind, debris, and other distractions while you're riding.

Benefits of an open-face helmet

While less safe in a crash, open-face helmets (either half or three-quarter shell) have their pluses, including increased visibility, air flow, and freedom of movement without the added weight of a face shield. However, these advantages should be weighed against the risk of exposing your face and jaw in an accident.

6 types of motorcycle helmets you can buy

Once you decide on full- or open-face, you can narrow your choices down to find the best motorcycle helmet for your bike and riding style.

1. Touring

This is the best motorcycle helmet for long-distance riders. Any touring model you choose will ideally offer wide visibility, top ventilation (to match the upright riding style of most touring bikes), plush and ergonomic shell liners to keep you comfy for hours, and optimum sound-proofing to keep out noisy distractions.

2. Modular

Perfect for urban commuters (among others), modular helmets can be used as full-face lids when you're cruising at high-speeds, but have a built-in open-face configuration if you need that blast of cool air as you crawl through city congestion. Depending on your exact helmet, it should have either a chin bar, visor, or entire face shield that can be flipped up and out of the way.

3. Sport/racing

Essentially, if you're not entering racing competitions or regularly hitting the track, you can probably move on. For those who do race their motorcycles, specialized racing helmets can help you maximize performance with their super lightweight and aerodynamic structure suited to the forward-leaning frame of sport bikes.

4. Off-road

These differ most from street-riding helmets in their elongated visor and chin guard, which provide extra protection from the sun's glare and trail hazards like branches and loose debris. On open-face versions, you'll have ample space for goggles so you can keep dirt out of your eyes. Other features should include a scratch-resistant exterior (for that same pesky debris) and superior ventilation to keep pace with trail-riding's physical toll.

5. Dual-sport

For riders who switch between on- and off-road, these helmets combine the aerodynamic benefits of street-riding models with the sturdier elements of an off-road dome. Above all else, dual-sport helmets bring versatility, with removable parts, wide visors, and space for goggles that allow you to prepare for whichever type of riding suits your fancy at any given moment.

6. High visibility

This is a broad category encompassing many types of motorcycle helmets. High visibility lids come in eye-catching neon (often orange or yellow) that makes you more noticeable to other motorists, especially at night.

Keep in mind, whichever motorcycle helmet type you go with, make sure they're compliant with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Look for the DOT label on any helmet you're considering to know whether it's up to snuff.

motorcycle insurance for your ride and your helmet

Pinpointing the best motorcycle helmet for you may take some work, but finding affordable coverage for your chosen lid is a great deal easier.

By getting motorcycle insurance with Esurance or through our partner, you can secure trusted protection for all sorts of motorcycle gear, including helmets.

Start your free motorcycle quote to begin tailoring your perfect policy.

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