I received the following question via email
“Can you give me any advice on full-faced helmets? How much should I spend on it? This is my first bike and I do not know if I’m going to like this new experience. It’s used and I got it from a family member. However, the helmet is questionable and old.< I've researched Snell and DOT. Shoei and HJC were recommended by my local bike shop. Which motorcycle helmet should I buy?"
Here’s my response
That’s a great question, I should make a podcast on how to select a helmet.
But, here’s the short answer to your specific question.
If you’re not sure motorcycles will be your thing, I think you are correct making price a factor.
Any DOT full faced helmet will work fine. Some say the additional SNELL rating matters, but I think it’s far more critical to find a helmet that fits your head. Sure, the more expensive helmets will be lighter, provide better ventilation and have extra features like removable pads (for washing)… but even cheaper ($80 DOT) helmets will do their most important job just fine.
You are on the right track… buying your helmet locally so you can try them on! It’s difficult and time consuming to find a helmet that fits. I always recommend buying locally so you can try several manufactures and models on for size.
Here’s the most important question: What shape is your head?
Sounds crazy, but certain manufactures make helmets more for people with either a long oval shape, an intermediate oval shape, or a round oval shape. Even if I wanted a Shoei helmet my head just doesn’t work inside of one. A good helmet dealer will tell you this. If they don’t, you’ll have to figure out which companies you ‘fit best’ inside.
My head is more round, so HJC helmets fit better. Shoei helmets hurt me, but my riding friend ONLY buys Shoei helmets. It all depends on the shape of your head.
The secret is to try on as many helmets as you can. I know, boring… but it won’t take long to find one that feels SO much better than other ones. And don’t let a low priced helmet scare you away from selecting one that fits. I selected a mid-level HJC because if felt better. I wanted a more expensive one that was quieter, but that particular HJC just fit my head. So that’s the one I still have.
Another thing, the cheek pads can be changed out to fit your face, but they generally start rather snug around your cheeks. No worries, they will relax some over time. The pads on top aren’t as easy to change, if at all. So focus your attention on getting one that fits right up there. That’s why getting one that is made for your head shape is so important.
Hope this helps.