Is off-road your thing? Nothing better than fresh air, jumps and unexplored trails?
Many consider off-road motorcycle riding an extreme sport. It may be extreme, but it does not have to be unnecessarily dangerous; in fact there are many factors including awareness, riding technique and safety gear which can make motocross riding significantly safer. Our interest is in providing you with all the necessary information to make an informed decision on dirt bike helmets.
Safety Standards (Certification)
Before you fall in love with the ‘sweet’ graphics on the latest mx helmet you’ve spotted, ensure it has been certified as safe by respected parties. DOT (Department of Transportation) set a minimum safety requirement for motorcycle helmets, while the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) set a higher standard. Snell is a not-for-profit organisation which sets voluntary safety standards for motorcycle helmets. Snell certification is achieved when a helmet manufacturer voluntarily submits their helmet to Snell for testing and it passes. You should not use a helmet which does not meet DOT certification. Ideally you should look for dirt bike helmets which have achieved both DOT and Snell safety standards.
Dirt Bike Helmets - Comfort and Fit
The dirt bike helmet you choose should fit snugly on your head, not too tight so that it is difficult to get on/off, but tight enough so that when you shake your head the helmet moves with your head as one and does not wobble around. The helmet should feel ‘snug’ on your head without tightening the safety strap; the strap should be seen as an additional measure to prevent the helmet from coming off your head in an accident.
Dirt Bike Helmets – Helmet Weight
Off-road riding is a lot more physically intensive than on-road. Riders should expect to stand up on their motorcycle pegs more frequently, and the rider movements to maintain the bikes balance can be a lot faster and more reactive than the predictable cornering movements of road riding. Fortunately for riders dirt bike helmets tend to be lighter than road helmets, so physical movements are easier to perform. Generally in choosing a dirt bike helmet we recommend the lightest you can afford, provided it offers a satisfactory (high) level of safety protection. At the top of the prince range you will tend to find carbon fiber helmets which provide unmatched low weight.
Dirt Bike Helmets – Airflow
Due to the physical nature of mx riding you should ensure that a helmet you are considering has sufficient vents for letting air in the helmet and exhaust vents to allow it to escape. Vents should be designed to circulate air around the helmet – to keep you head cool. One of the common distinquishing factors on dirt bike helmets is an extended chin section. This elongated chin section provides greater breathing room and airflow to accommodate the sports greater physical nature.
Dirt Bike Helmets – Color and Graphics
With off-road riding the helmet color is less important for providing visibility to other road users and more of a personal choice. You will find a multitude of colors graphics and designs. However if you are planning on doing any endurance racing, or mixed on-road / off-road riding we still recommend a white helmet which provides the greatest visibility for other road users. A white helmet can significantly reduce the risk of an accident occurring due to another road user not spotting you.
Dirt Bike Helmets – Ongoing Care
You should always check the ‘care’ instructions for the specific helmet you purchase. Most helmets are designed to absorb energy during impact; this absorption of energy protects you by preventing energy from being transferred to your head. However in absorbing the energy the inside of the helmet is normally permanently damaged. As such you should always be very careful with your helmet, never drop it as this impact can damage the interior of the helmet while the exterior appears undamaged. It is for this reason that you should not purchase second hand as you cannot determine whether the safety protection that the dirt bike helmets were designed with is still offered. For information on how the safety technology utilized in helmets work, visit our page on motorcycle crash helmets.