In the state of Pennsylvania, we have the freedom to choose whether or not to wear a helmet so long as we are over the age of 21. While I don’t want to get in to the debate over whether or not to wear a helmet, I figured an article on how helmets are made and how they protect your head shouldn’t ruffle the feathers of anyone on either side of the fence.
Helmets have 4 main components in their construction.
• The outer shell. The outside of a helmet can be constructed of fiberglass, polycarbonate or TriComposite material. Either way, it spreads the energy from an impact across a wide area, reducing the chances of head injury in the exact spot where the impact occurred.
• The impact absorbing lining. This is sandwiched between the outer shell and the comfort padding and it is usually made of a dense layer of expanded polystyrene. It crumples to absorb the impact.
• The comfort padding. This inner most layer of soft foam and cloth conforms to your head and is primarily responsive for how comfortable the helmet is.
• The retention system. This consists of the strap—connected to the bottom of the helmet—that goes under your chin and holds it on your head.
Helmets come in a variety of style from small, bowl-shape half-helmets that may protect your brainstem, to sleek fully enclosed helmets that protect everything above your neck. In between are three-quarter or open-face helmets which cover most of your head but leave your face unprotected.
When purchasing a helmet, you want to make sure that you’ll be comfortable riding with it on. You want to make sure that you get a good fit.
A helmet that is too lose will move around in an accident, potentially causing neck injury, and a helmet that is too tight will give you a headache every time you wear it. The best case scenario is finding a helmet that is comfortably tight.
You always can’t go brand-specific, because just like our heads, each helmet is created differently. What you’re looking for is a helmet that won’t slide around your head that is hard to pull off with the strap undone, but one that doesn’t create a pressure spot anywhere on your head.
When you try on a helmet, wear it around the store for a while, and when you take it off, note any soreness or red spots. Some people will pick a helmet they like, even though it may have a pressure point, take it home and pound that pressure point out of the comfort padding. That completely destroys the inner-workings of the helmet and makes it basically useless should you get into an accident.
Never purchase or wear a used motorcycle helmet. Helmets protect your head in an accident by destroying themselves. In a spill, the outer shell will flex and the inner shell will crumple often leaving no visible damage to the exterior. Hitting the damaged area a second time will result in zero head protection