Top 4 Tips for Buying a Motorcycle Helmet

Motorcycle helmet resting on handlebar

Protecting your head is extremely important while on two or three wheels. United States statistics show that when motorcycle riders wear helmets, the risk of dying in a crash decreases by 37 percent. And with a plethora of options today, choosing a motorcycle helmet can seem overwhelming.

Figuring out what style to pick, how it is supposed to fit and how much to spend can be intimidating for first-time shoppers. Returning riders who have not bought a helmet in some time may also find the amount of new options jarring.

We’re here to help. Continue on for our top motorcycle helmet buying tips!

Choose Helmet Style 

An ideal place to start in this shopping experience is choosing a motorcycle helmet style. There are five main types, and no universal perfect match for everyone. 

Full-face helmets give you the maximum amount of protection. Not only against a potential collision, but against bugs, wind and road debris. It’s not as open or easy to get on and off as others, but it will also help reduce noise levels.

Modular helmets offer many of the same features as a full-face helmet, but can be flipped up to open the face area. However, they aren’t quite as safe and are often more expensive than a comparable full-face helmet.

Dual-sport helmets are great options for riders that spend some time off-road. They are often light, and many have removable visors if you wish to wear goggles instead.

Open-face helmets offer great airflow and are often more affordable than those we have mentioned. Many come with visors, but are even less protective than modular helmets.

Half helmets are the least protective helmets out of the options we’ve mentioned. They are great for “feeling free.” They are also light and offer maximum airflow. However, your face and the sides of your head are all essentially unprotected.

You may not know precisely the type of helmet you want at this juncture. That’s okay. Hopefully you have a few ideas to consider moving forward with. The next steps will help narrow your decision more.

Determine Your Budget

Prices of motorcycle helmets can vary wildly, so it’s important to know your budget early on. You won’t want the cheapest helmet that exists, but you probably don’t need a lid that costs four figures.

If you haven’t picked out your style yet, think about the main type of riding you’ll be doing and how often you’ll ride. 

Are you a new rider? It may not be wise to spend more than $300-400 at this time. You will need other gear if you do not have it, and not all riders stick with motorcycles. Some lose interest, and the helmet will lose massive value once it has been used.

If you’re a more experienced rider, think about some helmet features you’d like. Do you ride in a group who uses communication systems in their helmets? How important are air flow and ventilation to you? Do you want a GPS or camera installed on the helmet?

Higher-end helmets are also made of more advanced materials and can be handmade with limited edition paint schemes. If you’re a dedicated rider and want the best, these options exist. However, good helmets at fair price points are out there to be had.

Pay Attention to Safety Ratings

Safety ratings are extremely important to consider when motorcycle helmet shopping. You are buying a helmet to keep your head safe, after all.

Safety standards can vary by location. It’s important to check what your region requires. No matter where you are, a safe helmet must pass local regulations.

In the United States, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is the regulating body. The DOT sends helmets through tests and also ensures that they are in line with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Some retailers may sell novelty helmets that are not DOT approved, so pay attention to the label. If it is not DOT approved, do NOT purchase it for motorcycle riding.

If you are into racing motorcycles or simply want a helmet that offers an unmatched level of protection, check out third-party organizational standards. The Snell Foundation, established in honor of late race car driver William “Pete” Snell, sends helmets through even more aggressive and intense collisions than the DOT.

Ensure Helmet Fits Correctly

Lastly, you will want to make sure your motorcycle helmet fits as it is intended to. This may mean it won’t be ultra comfortable. Don’t worry; that’s common.

Your helmet should be tight and snug. Not uncomfortable, but almost walking that fine line. You want the helmet liner and padding to feel comfortable against your head, but make sure the helmet doesn’t move around. If it moves around and/or you can fit your fingers in between your face and the helmet, it is too loose.

When trying on an appropriately sized helmet, you may struggle to get it on and off at first. If you think it is too tight but aren’t sure, leave it on for a few minutes. If you start to feel pressure points anywhere on your head, it may be too tight.

The difference between a very tight and somewhat tight helmet may seem negligible, but it’s important to get it right. A helmet one size too big may reduce head protection level by 30 percent. A looser helmet will also do a worse job of reducing noise levels, potentially affecting both your hearing and concentration.

If you have to buy a helmet online without trying it on first, that is an option. You can use a tape measure to get your head dimensions and compare with helmet specifications. However, you should make sure the retailer has a favorable return policy in case the helmet doesn’t fit correctly.


Finding the best helmet for you may take some time, and that’s okay. Ensuring that the helmet is tight enough and passes local safety regulations are of the utmost importance. Your helmet is an investment in your personal safety. Take the time to make a truly informed decision.

What do you think is the most helpful tip we mentioned? Did we miss any tips that you think are important? Let us know below!

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