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Know Your Motorcycle Helmet’s Anatomy
By Mark Lindemann, Cycle World
Just like your head, a helmet has plenty of parts that need to work together to protect your brain. These are the things to look for.
Protective visor. Shields face/eyes from sun/wind. Provides a mild level of crash protection. Helps reduce noise.
Hard outer shell. Plastic, Kevlar, fiberglass or carbon fiber can all do a good job. The shell helps prevent penetration and presents a smooth, non-snag surface.
Impact-absorbing liner. The one part of your helmet you typically don’t see. Sandwiched between the tough outer shell and the soft inner liner, the expanded polystyrene/polypropylene (EPS) foam deforms and absorbs the energy of a blow. Never reuse a helmet that’s suffered a major blow: the liner is one-time-use only.
Comfort liner. Some helmets feature removable liners you can launder; others let you add or remove padding to fine-tune fit.
Airflow vents. The best designs feature vents in the chin bar, over the brow, and exhaust vents in the back. All of these should open and close.
Chin bar. A chin bar with an inner liner not only stiffens overall helmet construction, it protects this vulnerable area.
Retention system. Usually a tough nylon strap and a pair of “D” rings. Use it every time.
A quality helmet should display a sticker showing it’s been tested. In the United States, DOT is acceptable; Snell is generally viewed as better. In Europe, look for an ECE-certified lid. When in doubt, go with a major brand and avoid buying any used helmet.