One of the most important pieces of gear for all riders is their helmet. You can be going slow or fast and have a serious wipe out. Pot holes come out of nowhere at night, so some helmets come with a flashlight. A car can knock you off your bike and hit your head on the pavement, a slippery road can make you lose traction. There are never too many good reasons to wear a helmet and there are no reasons for ever not wearing one. I was hit by a car in downtown Vancouver when I was riding my skateboard at age 18. My helmet was almost hit clean off my head with the chin straps keeping it on the side, saving my life undeniably. I will walk you through the types of helmets most common and go over helmets for the higher speed electric scooters and motorcycles.
Road / Race
This is the original bike helmet. These are the most popular, made for regular cycling and racing. An elongated shape is the standard with vents all around. Mostly made with EPS foam and covered with a plastic outer shell. These are cheap and reliable helmets proven to do the job.
Basically the same as a regular road helmet, with the exception of a round profile instead of an elongated one. With vents and the occasional accessory like a rear view mirror, lights or ear covers for the cold seasons.
With a downward tilt from the back, these helmets are a rockier style of commuter helmet for grinding the trails and rough terrain. I find these to be very comfortable for how it wraps around the back of the head providing better rear coverage. Other helmets except for skate style have this extra protection, and has vents around the helmet’s entire circumference.
A classic style from the early days of skateboarding. Like the trail helmets they have extra rear protection, EPS / EPP foam, lined with ABS plastic. These helmets have fewer vents and more overall helmet coverage. Making these helmets some of the best to hit the ground hard with for their round shape to deflect the impact.
Motorcycle & Scooter
These helmets are rated to withstand higher impacts than a regular bike helmet. While having a helmet is better than none, it is wise to invest in a higher quality helmet if you are going to be going at higher speeds.
Half Helmet aka Brain Bucket
Covering from the forehead to the center rear of you head. Rocks a vintage look that is very popular with cruisers and classic riders. These are DOT approved and offer the best ventilation but offer the least amount of protection. To protect the face a balaclava with sunglasses or bandanna will work.
Off road / Motocross
These helmets focus on lightweight materials and maximum ventilation for exerting oneself while performing tricks and maneuvering in warm or hot weather. On the highway these are not ideal because there is minimal soundproofing and exposure to air.
The sun block on the top of the helmet can catch the wind which would not be a fun time, but if you are on the trail and riding around out of the wind these are optimal. These can fit goggles or sunglasses instead of
a full face mask for maximum comfort and ventilation.
As you can imagine, these helmets cover the entire head front to back, side to side. Usually comes with a flippable visor for blocking wind and debris. Aerodynamically designed vents for a tuck style of position since most who wear these helmets are tilted forward for the best angle. Great for locking out the wind but this can be an issue on a hot day due to the limited ventilation. There are different styles for touring and cruising that provide better venting and moisture wicking. Your visor is also important. If you ride in bright sunlight staring you in the eyes, a bright UV reflective type is suitable. For darker or toned down grey days a simple red or yellow tint defines objects clearly. There are also completely transparent visors for night riding. Anti fogging lenses help with visibility and an added pin lock system which uses a second visor / lens that makes an anti fog layer.
Modular or Flip-up
Ideal for touring and casual cruising. Great for when riding with a passenger so you can talk clearly to each other without yelling into your faces. Sometimes the need to pull over and take a phone call or read a map makes these popular with people that go on adventures. It is recommended to always ride with the visor flipped back down for best aerodynamics and safety.
One of the most popular helmets for scooter riders and street bikes. They can also work with vintage bikes for their classic round shape and wide face clearance. Even though they are comparable to a full face helmet in regard to coverage, the name points to the obvious that there is little coverage in the front. Both goggles and glasses work well for eye protection, and wearing a balaclava or bandanna like with a half helmet will offer better face protection.
A combination of full face with off-road. More warmth and better protection from wind and sound makes this a great option for someone that enjoys both off-road and the required coverage for a blistery day. A balance of better soundproofing and ventilation make this type a viable option for exploring different helmet styles.
The choice is yours.
It now comes down to you – the rider. What is your style? If you get cold easily a full face is best. Those days that are really sunny and you want more venting will have you turning to the off-road type. A classic rider would enjoy a half helmet or modular type. All helmets are not created equal and serve different roles throughout the year. If you are riding a regular electric bike than a regular road or skate style will be perfect for the lightweight and good coverage of the head.
If you require assistance finding your next helmet, leave a comment below!
Rowan – Founder of Radical Electric bikes