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FEATURE: What to look for in a new motorbike helmet

There is a raft of rules around motorbike helmets - do you know them all?
There is a raft of rules around motorbike helmets - do you know them all?
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Tuesday, 22, Jan 2013 05:17

by Ben Wilby

Helmets are the only part of motorbike kit that is a legal requirement in the UK and it is clear why, with helmets reducing the risk of fatal head injuries by around 50%.

It is not as simple as just buying and wearing one however; a variety of different legislation also exists to make sure you get one that is manufactured properly.

All helmets sold in the UK have to have a BS6658 sticker or UNECE Regulation 22.05 stitched on the inside - without these the helmet you purchase will not be road-legal. It is important to note that helmets without this can still be worn just not sold.

Visors also have to have a sticker - the BS4110 mark or the same UNECE approval mark as the whole helmet, and cannot be above a certain tint. A 50% tint is the darkest allowed by law - and even then it depends on the time of day.

However for those who want to ride and avoid sunlight - sunglasses are allowed to be worn underneath. This is a way of getting around the tinting issue and remaining safe while riding.

Different types of helmet

There are a few types of helmets allowed in the UK with touring helmets probably the best for somebody just starting out. Designed for longer travel, the touring style is the most comfortable and has a large visor area for greater visibility.

Things to look for with these helmets are balance and a low sound-level due to the fact that they will often be used for long-distance riding.

As well as this, ensuring that the helmet offers a good level of ventilation is an important factor in picking the right one. Vents should be found at the top of the head, which will allow air to circulate best in the normal riding position.

Within this range a variety of different styles exist including the modular or "flip-up" style, which can be opened so you can eat or have a conversation without taking the helmet off.

Meanwhile, open-face helmets are a good compromise -but are obviously offer less protection. If you are riding a lower-speed vehicle such as a moped they can be a good idea but aren't really suitable for high-speed riding.

Off-road (or sport) helmets are a more extreme version, designed mainly for motorsport events but are road-legal and offer an extensive amount of protection, along with an unmatched amount of customisation; however they may not be suitable for long rides.

Technology and pricing

Technology can also be incorporated into some helmets with built-in Bluetooth becoming a more popular feature.

This technology allows riders to communicate with others while riding together, or simply receive calls on their mobiles.

As well as this they allow you to play music from your phone without the need for wires, and many helmets offering a variety of different ways of connecting with audio devices.

Prices differ greatly, from £30 to as much as £500. For a decent branded helmet expect to pay around £150 to £200, but this is an investment that is well worth making if you want a helmet with the high levels of comfort and build quality.

And considering it could save your life, it may be the most important piece of kit you ever buy.

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