Your motorcycle helmet is the most important item of your protective gear, therefore making sure it is in top condition and adheres to safety standards is paramount. Read on to make sure your helmet is looked after and complies with safety standards.
You must wear a safety helmet that meets British safety standards when riding a motorcycle or moped on the road.
What the law says
Safety helmet standards
All helmets worn on UK roads must meet one of the following:
The Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) shows you approved helmets and how much protection they offer.
Visors and goggles
If you ride with a visor or goggles they must either:
Protective motorcycle clothing
There’s no law about wearing other protective clothing, but specialised motorcycle gear is highly recommended – it could save your life.
Getting the right fit
We recommend you invest time trying on as many helmets as possible. Once you’ve found those that fit you best, you can then choose the helmet with the highest SHARP rating for the best possible protection. Every head shape is different, so we’ve pulled together some tips to help you choose the right fit.
|Get measured||Your safety is too important to simply guess your size. Before trying on any helmets you need to make sure you know your exact head size. Measure around your head just above the ears and take a measurement at the forehead. This measurement is a good starting point and will correspond with a particular brand’s size (always bear in mind a medium in one brand may be different to a medium in another). Getting the right fit is paramount, so don’t be tempted to go for another size if your dream helmet is out of stock.|
|Try it on||Ok, so you’ve chosen a helmet to try. Now place it firmly on your head, securing the chin strap so you can fit two fingers between the helmet and your jaw. If the helmet has a quick release buckle then take your time adjusting the strap. Once on, you should be able to feel the helmet against the whole of your head – without feeling ‘pressure points’ or the helmet leaving red marks. Once you’re happy, keep it on for a few minutes to make sure it’s comfortable.|
|Check the fit||Secure the strap and try rotating the helmet from side to side. If you’re wearing a full-face helmet your cheeks should follow the helmet’s movement, while remaining in contact with the cheek pads firmly and comfortably. If the helmet moves or slips on your head it’s probably the wrong size. Next, try tilting the helmet forwards and backwards. Again, if it moves or slips it’s probably the wrong size.|
|Will it stay on?||You want to know the helmet you buy will stay firmly on your head in a crash. Make sure the chinstrap is done up and tilt your head forward. Ask someone to try and roll the helmet off your head by carefully pushing up from the rear of the helmet at its base. If you can roll it off in the showroom, then it’s sure to come off in a crash.|
You never know when your motorcycle helmet may be called upon. So it makes sense to look after it. A motorcycle helmet generally has a life of around five years; three years if used regularly. To get the most out of the protection your motorcycle helmet offers, you need to keep it in the best possible condition. We recommend you always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for the specific helmet you’ve purchased. If you only occasionally use your helmet we recommend you store it safely in a helmet bag, somewhere where it won’t be dropped or knocked. You should never store a helmet lying on its crown or near to a source of heat. Once you’ve found your motorcycle helmet, the temptation is often there to personalise it with paint and stickers. This is a job best left to the professionals, who will use specialist paint and adhesive to ensure your new look doesn’t weaken the shell.
Your motorcycle helmet is the most important piece of kit you’ll ever own. So we’ve pulled together some tips to help kick-start your cleaning regime.
|Every day||It may sound like a chore, but cleaning your motorcycle helmet every day is hugely important – especially your visor. A clean, good quality visor is essential equipment for the motorcyclist. If it becomes soiled with dead flies or dirt, then like getting something caught in your eye your vision will become impaired. After every ride, wet some paper towels and leave them on your visor for a few minutes, then simply wipe off. If your visor becomes scratched you should replace it immediately, as a scratched visor can cause dazzle from vehicle headlights.|
|Every week||Modern motorcycle helmets come packed with vents and intakes, which will only work if kept open and clean. Spend a few minutes each week cleaning the vents, using a toothbrush or cotton bud to ensure they’re free of obstructions.|
|Every month||Most motorcycle helmets have removable linings or cheek pads. These pads often have different washing instructions, so check the manufacturer’s guidelines before cleaning.|
|Every six months||Over the months your motorcycle helmet can collect sweat, skin and other human debris. Twice a year you should thoroughly clean the helmet interior, including wiping any non-removable pads with a damp cloth, before leaving to dry naturally.|
A good quality visor is essential equipment for the motorcyclist. It is important that you look after it so as to maintain good vision in all weather and lighting conditions. Your visor will often become soiled with dead flies, bugs and road debris even after short distances, and as a result will need regular cleaning. It is important that this should be done with care so you avoid damaging the front surface of the visor. A scratched visor can cause dazzle from oncoming vehicle headlights. If yours becomes scratched, get it replaced! You should also make sure that when you go out to ride, you have the correct visor fitted for the conditions. Visors with heavy tints can be dangerous, both for you and other road users. Visors that transmit less than 50% of visible light do not fully comply with any of the standards and cannot legally be used on the road.
My helmet has been dropped, should I replace it?
If a helmet has been subjected to an impact it is likely that the energy absorption properties of the helmet would have been damaged. If this is the case, it is likely that the helmet would offer a reduced level of protection to the wearer’s head if it should be subjected to a further impact in another accident. You may wish to note that the damage sustained in the original impact may not be visible. Therefore, we would always advise that if a helmet has been subjected to an impact, it should be replaced to ensure the wearer is suitably protected in the event of an accident. You may also wish to consider seeking advice from the helmet manufacturer.
How long do helmets last and when should I replace it?
This is difficult to answer as it depends greatly on the amount of use and storage. In the first instance, guidance from the manufacturer should be followed but in the absence of this information, riders should be looking to replace a helmet that has been subject to regular use after 3 to 5 years. We have consulted with our industry experts and they are in agreement that this is appropriate generic advice.
Is the safety rating the only I should look for in a helmet?
No. It is important that a helmet fits well if it is to provide its best protection – studies estimate that between 10 and 14% of fatal injuries occur when the helmet comes off in an accident. Comfort is also important and should be considered when making a purchase. An uncomfortable helmet can distract you when riding and a poor fitting helmet may offer reduced protection in the event of an accident. The safety rating is a third criterion that can help make this important purchasing decision.
For more information and to see how your helmet, or a helmet you are looking to buy fairs in safety tests, visit https://sharp.dft.gov.uk/