In most countries around the world, helmets are mandatory for motorcycle riders. Failure to abide by the laws about the usage of the same could result in stiff monetary penalties, confiscation of the motorcycle and, in some regions, even imprisonment.
The stringency in the laws is not without reason. In fact, a large majority of motorcycling accidents happen due to improper or non-usage of helmets.
There are different laws for the usage of helmets in different places - in some countries, using a shorty (the construction-worker type helmet that covers only the head) would suffice, but, in some countries you need nothing less than a closeout helmet.
Closeout helmets fulfill legal norms universally, thus, making it wiser to invest in them rather than in any other kind of helmet. Keeping the matter of laws and regulations aside for a moment, a closeout helmet would, most importantly, save your life better than the rest.
They have a transparent face shield, often made from plastics, which covers the eyes and the nose. They also incorporate a protective strap for the chin. Open-face or half-face helmets don't have chin protection, while motocross helmets leave the face partially open to allow better ventilation.
There are many regulations and restrictions defining a closeout motorcycle helmet and which ones should be used. These are laid down by standardizing bodies that govern traffic rules.
In the US, the DOT (Department of Transportation) and the Snell Foundation lay down these rules. Snell Foundation's rules are more focused towards helmet usage in motorcycle competitions, while the DOT concerns itself with normal road use of helmets. Both their websites have detailed information on what kind of helmet specification must be adhered to.
How Do They Work
The Outer Shell
The outer shell of the helmet is, obviously, the visible, outermost layer of the helmet. It is made from a very hard material, generally a polycarbonate. It is a major factor contributing to the protective capabilities of the helmet.
It is also flexible to some degree, which allows the helmet to bend inwards upon impact without breaking. The outer shell also decides the visual appeal of the helmet.
The Inner Lining
The inner lining is made from polystyrene or polypropylene foam. It can be 1 to 2 inches thick, depending on the overall size of the helmet. It has very little resistance to penetration or abrasion, and thus, depends upon the outer shell to maintain its frame.
Its main purpose is to absorb the shock of the impact and prevent the rider's head from decelerating rapidly. Theoretically, it is best to have a thicker layer of the inner lining, but that is not always feasible. In some helmets, the inner lining can be removed for cleaning.
The Comfort Padding
This is the innermost layer of the closeout motorcycle helmets. This is the layer that comes in contact with the rider's face. It provides a snug, comfortable fit for the rider's head, thus, reducing chances of weariness from the usage of the helmet.
The Chin Strap
Full-face helmets have a strap covering the front of the chin. Since the rider lands on his/her face in most cases of accidents, protecting the chin is a possibly life-saving, but often overlooked, component of a closeout helmet.
Choosing the Best Helmet
Selecting the best helmet is a matter of paramount importance. An unsuitable, unsafe helmet can prove fatal. Buying the first closeout helmet you come across or buying the most attractive one is not the way to go about it. A loose helmet can come off and a tight one can play havoc with your circulation and make you feel dizzy.
When buying a helmet, take a measurement of the circumference of your head. Measure several times, and take the largest measurement to the store. Most stores have a chart which will tell you what size you need.
The right size is the one that encases the whole of your head closely and comfortably. Try it on and shake your head several times. If your head feels sore after removing the helmet, try a larger size.
After choosing the right fit, you are free to choose the design you want. Remember that a helmet is a protective gear, but that does not mean you cannot turn it into a fashion accessory as well!