Helmets - Why are they the most important part of your kit?

Helmets - Why are they the most important part of your kit?

Let’s face it, your head is pretty much the most important part of your body.


All the important [stuff] goes on up there. Seeing, hearing, smelling, thinking and talking just for starters. Even those of us with not much upstairs to begin with, would miss it.


So it stands to reason that choosing the right helmet is perhaps the second most important decision after choosing which Harley-Davidson to buy. Let’s not take this decision lightly.


Even the famous daredevil, Evel Knievel, who broke almost every bone in his body, was adamant about wearing a helmet. Remember in some states in the USA, it is not mandatory to wear a helmet. But let’s not start that discussion here, just know that Mr Knievel was quoted as saying:


“Anytime you see anybody riding a motorcycle without a helmet on, you’re looking at a goddamned fool.”


A US study found a properly certified helmet can reduce your risk of death by approximately 37 per cent and reduce your risk of sustaining a brain injury by nearly 67 per cent, so that argument is settled.


Choosing a helmet style


The hand-wringers will tell you that maximum protection comes with the full-face helmet. Look at all the elite motorcycle racers. Whether its dirt or tarmac, everyone wears full-face even though the style and design may differ. That will tell you something.


Therefore, to achieve optimum head protection, full-face is the way to go. Period.


Because you’re buying a Harley-Davidson road bike, for this article we can dismiss the motocross-style helmets with their big chins and open face visor area where the goggles go.


Almost all Harley-Davidson brand helmets are made by the famous US-based Bell company who started making superior quality helmets back in the 1950s when there really was a need to improve design and safety. Look at some of the old soup bowls riders were wearing back then. Yeah.


Half-face, jet, modular or half-shell are all compromise helmets that provide some degree of lesser protection. Other factors to consider are wind and weatherproofing and full-face are better here too. A bug in your mouth or eye is no fun either, especially if it’s a stinging one.


Regardless of what style you choose, any helmet you see on the wall at your Harley-Heaven dealer is fully certified and 100 per cent legal


How much should I spend?


The old rule is “don’t put a cheap helmet on a cheap head” and to some degree that still applies. Nowadays with all helmets required to meet minimum design and safety test requirements, it is less relevant today and more about comfort, features and convenience.


The biggest factor governing cost is the shell material. The least expensive ones are polycarbonate, a tough, industrial-strength plastic used in everything from drink bottles to fighter aircraft. Don’t be put off by low price necessarily.


Next, we move up to fibreglass which is lightweight with good impact-absorbing qualities. Then we have the most expensive carbon-fibre models which also provide excellent impact resistance with the added benefit of being really light.


The most expensive helmets will have added ‘tech’ features like built-in audio and Bluetooth connectivity.


Make sure it fits


There are only a few things more annoying (and dangerous) than riding all day in a helmet that doesn’t fit comfortably. Measure the size of your head with a tape wrapped around your skull about 1cm above your eyebrow. Try on a range of helmets for comfort while considering weight and field of view. Some full-face helmets might not give you adequate room around the visor and will irritate your face. It may end up that if you have a bit of a dinosaur head, a full-face just may not be comfortable at all.


Look cool


We all want to cool on our new Harley-Davidson, but don’t shortcut safety for glamour.


Other tips


  • Always replace your helmet every five years or so to make sure it is in tip-top condition.
  • Always replace your helmet after any sort of accident. Helmets are designed to absorb impact - once! Even dropping your helmet can compromise its integrity
  • Store your helmet in a cool dry place. Moisture will degrade the lining.


Your Harley-Heaven dealer will have a full range of helmets for you to try on and make sure you are good to go with your new Harley-Davidson.


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