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Finding the right motorcycle helmet

If you're in the market to buy a motorcycle helmet, we've got a few tips to help you select the perfect and safest helmet for your riding needs.

We understand that motorcycling is all about freedom. For some, that freedom means feeling the wind in their hair; for others, wearing a helmet is as essential to riding as tires. We respect your right to choose. Should you be in the pro-helmet camp, we’ve got a few tips to help you select a helmet that is comfortable and provides the best protection for you.


To get the proper measurement for a helmet, place a fabric tape measure at the region just above your eyebrows and wrap around your head. (Rigid tape measures just aren't as accurate.) It is important to note that helmet models are all different and the same size in one model might not fit you in another model, so you will need to try on your helmet before assuming that your size is standard across the board. A good helmet will fit snugly so that it isn't loose or too tight. If it stays in place and moves with your skin when you shake your head back and forth and side-to-side, chances are it's a good fit. If the helmet is too easy to put on and doesn't provide resistance from the padding, it might not fit snug enough and could be too noisy.


Take the time to try on many different helmets and visit a variety of stores. There will be helmets you will find more comfortable than others. When you find a helmet you like, you will want to keep it on for at least fifteen minutes so that you can see if there are any places in the helmet that are producing unnecessary pressure. The pressure should be evenly distributed throughout the helmet and not uncomfortable around the forehead or ears. Also be aware that over time the padding will mold to your head. Ask if you can test the helmet or what the return policy is, just in case wearing it on the road proves to be a much different fit than in the store. Testing it on a short ride can allow you to hear the magnitude of the wind and engine noise and reveal visibility issues. It is recommended that there be a minimum visibility of 105 degrees on each side. Oftentimes, the popular brands are the most comfortable and have features such as a good seal around the ear, foam padding for your head and a neck roll. Consider researching brands and reviews online or asking your trusted rider friends which ones they prefer.


There are four main coverage options for street riding: full-face, modular (flip-up), open face and half. The full-face offers the most complete protection for the head, face and chin. The eye area is covered with a see-through shield. Modular helmets are full-coverage helmets that have a hinged section that flips open to be like an open face helmet, making it more versatile. The flip-up face makes it easier to talk, eat or drink rather than taking off the helmet. Open face helmets cover your skull and the top of your head, but leaves your face and chin exposed. Some open face helmets have eye protection. A half-helmet typically covers just the top of your head and has no chin or face guards. The half helmet provides the least protection of the four styles. As a general rule, a helmet that meets the Department of Transportation standards is going to offer you the best protection.


Convenient features and add ons:

  • Air vents: Vents help keep you cool and provide the flow of fresh air. These are usually located on the top and on the front of the helmet.
  • Brightly colored: A brightly colored helmet makes you more visible to other motorists.
  • Removable padding: Padding that can be removed to wash is a nice feature, especially in the humidity where the pads can soak up your sweat.
  • Scratch-resistant finish: Helps keep your helmet looking newer longer.
  • Storage bag: Consider purchasing a storage bag to keep your helmet in good shape when not in use.
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth allows you to use your mobile phone hands-free while you are riding so you can talk or listen to music.
  • Breath guard: Keeps your shield from fogging up.
  • Helmet cam: A helmet camera is a fun way to record your scenic rides to look back on for years to come.
  • Helmet lights: Lights can help other motorists see you at night and also provide a cool effect.

Markel offers a different way to buy motorcycle insurance through our collaboration with Voom. Voom's pay-per-mile motorcycle insurance solution includes a low monthly base rate determined by driving history, age and motorcycle type plus a few cents for each mile driven. Find out more and get a free online quote in minutes by visiting Voom today.