Choosing the Right Helmet: Motorcycle Helmet Buyers Guide

Road safety is extremely important while riding, and a huge aspect of road safety is dressing correctly for the occasion. With thousands of motor vehicle accidents affecting motorcyclists each year in BC, one of the most important items you can invest in is a reliable helmet.

Finding the perfect motorcycle helmet can be difficult, and it may take some time, but it’s worth it to find the right one that’s going to protect you when you need it most. We’re here to help you sort through the noise and get you started on choosing the right one for you and your style of riding.

Safety First! 

First, let’s get one thing straight. Helmet’s are extremely important!

Many studies (and some common sense) have proved that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle seriously reduces the chance of death or injury in the event of an accident. It’s something you hope you’ll never NEED to rely on, but you’ll be glad you have if anything ever happens while you’re riding.


Legal Requirements

You might be asking, do I have to wear a helmet? I don’t want to ruin my luscious, flowy locks!

The plain and simple answer is yes, you absolutely do.

In British Columbia, all motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers must wear a motorcycle safety helmet that meets specific requirements and designations.

“all motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers must wear a motorcycle safety helmet…” 

” …[It must] meet one of the following safety standards [and the helmet needs to display the proper certification label]:

  1. DOT: conformance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218; Motorcycle helmets (United States of America), also known as FMVSS 218 (49CFR571.218)
  2. Snell M2005, M2010 or M2015: certification in accordance with the Snell Memorial Foundation 2005, 2010 or 2015 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use with Motorcycles and Other Motorized Vehicles
  3. ECE: approved in accordance with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Regulation No. 22 ” (BC Government, 2018)

Your helmet must clearly show that it meets these requirements, so no peeling off those stickers! For sticker size and exact requirements, you can learn more here.

So don’t worry about the helmet hair and make sure you rock that helmet every time you ride. Safety is the new sexy (or so I’ve been told).


Replacing your Helmet

Just like any other helmet, your motorcycle helmet will need to be replaced occasionally, and there’s a few different reasons why.

Your helmet is older than 5 years

If your helmet is older than 5 years, it’s time to trash the melon protector and get a replacement. Over time, things like sweat, pressure and general usage will cause the materials inside of your helmet that give it protection to wear down and deteriorate.

To prolong your helmets’ effectiveness, store it correctly in a cool, dry place, or keep it in the bag it originally came in when you’re not using it. Additionally, wearing a helmet liner, balaclava or scarf under your helmet can help restrict the amount of sweat that reaches its’ interior foam, preventing the materials from further breaking down.

“to prolong your helmets’ effectiveness, store it correctly in a cool, dry place…” 

Remember, the 5 year rule is just a guideline. If you notice your helmet has started to feel a bit loose or some of the lining is breaking down, then it’s time to get a new helmet, regardless of how long you’ve had it.

You’ve damaged it in a crash or dropped it

If your helmet’s hit the ground or had any kind of considerable impact, you should replace it. The foam in helmets is only meant for one hit and once that’s been compromised it won’t be able to protect your head when you need it most.

If there are cracks in the shell or if the foam is crushed at all, replace it. Helmets only meet safety requirements if they are in peak condition. Anything less and you are compromising your safety!

As a final note of caution, we don’t recommend purchasing a motorcycle helmet second-hand. You can never be certain of exactly how old the helmet is, or if its experienced any trauma such as being dropped or involved in an accident.


Styles of Helmets

Now that we’ve established the importance of helmet safety, let’s take a look at the different motorcycle helmet styles available!

There’s many different styles of helmets, each of which have their own benefits. Depending on the type of riding you’re planning on doing, some styles may be better suited for you than others.

Big Twin J03 Half Helmet (982800-19VX)

Half Helmets

Half helmets offer the least amount of protection. This style of helmet only covers the top and back of the head. Half helmets are quite light and generally the most affordable style. Because they do not offer much protection, half helmets are not recommended for new riders.

If you decide to opt for this style of helmet, definitely invest in a sturdy chin strap.


98177_18VXF_WH_T (1).jpg
Mason’s Yard Sun Shield 3/4 Helmet (98177-18VX)

Open Face

Also known as a three-quarter helmet, open face helmets offer riders greater visibility, but less protection.

Comparative to modular and full-face helmets, the open design gives the rider better peripheral vision. However, this also makes the riders’ face more vulnerable to the elements and injury.

If you choose any type of open face helmet, it’s recommended to also purchase goggles or some type of eye protection to protect your face against wind, rain and other debris.


Skull Lightning 3-in-1 X04 Helmet (98297-19VX)

Modular Helmets

Next up are modular helmets. Their modular design means they’re flexible and can be adjusted to different styles.  This multi-purpose helmet can function as a full face or three-quarter helmet.

While modular helmets can boast the benefits of both full face and three-quarter helmets, their built-in hinges weaken their structure, making them less sturdy than their full face counterparts. For this reason, there is a higher risk of injury if involved in an accident compared to full face helmets.


July New CORE 2018 - Helmets
FXRG® Defiant-X Full-Face Helmet (98257-19VX)

Full Face Helmets

Finally, we have the full face helmets. This style is definitely the safest. With 34.6% of head injuries impacting the front chin area, the full face helmet is literally a life (and a chin) saver.

Although this style of helmet is widely considered the safest, it can also be the heaviest and hottest in warm weather. For most types of riding however, this is still our most recommended style.


If you want a closer look at some of the styles we carry, take a look at our online store. Most of our helmets are stocked in-store however, so come stop in and take a look! Barnes Harley-Davidson® has three locations in British Columbia including Langley, Kamloops and Victoria.


Choosing the Right Helmet Size

So you’ve decided on a style of helmet and you’re heading over to Barnes Harley-Davidson® to try a few on. They all fit on your head, but are they really the right fit for you?

Let’s do some tests and find out!

Start out by referring to a sizing chart to give you an idea of what helmet size you should be trying on. We’ll have some available in our showroom, and one of our friendly MotorClothes® staff will be able to help you with this step!

Once you’ve got your size, start trying on some helmets.


When trying on your helmet it should:

  • Feel slightly tight and snug on your head
  • The inner padding should touch most of your head and the sides of your face
  • While it should be tight, it shouldn’t put too much pressure on any area
  • Never feel loose

Testing Your Helmet

If you think you’ve found the right one, test it out a bit!

  • Move your head from side to side. The helmet should move with it and should not be loose.
  • Try to roll the helmet forward off your head. The helmet should not come loose and you should not be able to pull it off.
  • After wearing the helmet for some time, take it off and see if you feel sore anywhere. If there is any soreness, this would indicate pressure points which could cause problems during long rides.

Remember to try all of these tests with the helmet securely fastened.


Accessorizing Your Helmet 

Once you’ve chosen your helmet, you can think about adding some accessories! Suited for both function and style, we have a number of accessories available for your new helmet including decals, visors, Bluetooth headsets and more.


Protect your face from the elements with a fancy visor! Rain, wind, bugs and other debris won’t stand a chance.

Re-style your helmet with different coloured visors. You can check out some of our stock in our online store.

Communication Headsets

For those long commutes and road trips with friends, you may want to invest in some type of communications headset. While there are some motorcycle helmets with Bluetooth available, you will need to purchase a set separately for most.


Add a little flair to your helmet! We have a large selection of decals to personalize your noggin’ and show off your style.



Finding the right helmet is like trying on a pair of jeans; you’ll know when you’ve found the perfect one that works for you. In this case a helmet can (and will) save your life and is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will purchase.

If you’re looking to complete your riding outfit, check out our other blog posts on motorcycle jackets and finding the right boots.

What’s your favourite helmet style? Let us know in the comments!




3 thoughts on “Choosing the Right Helmet: Motorcycle Helmet Buyers Guide

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: