Modular Motorcycle Helmets vs. Full Face Helmets
If you are in the market for a new helmet you might have heard about modular helmets. This article will shed some light on these products and how they compare to their full faced brethren.
Modular helmets have the ability to raise the chinbar and face shield to expose the rider’s face. This is accomplished by a hinge mechanism around the rider’s temple which is activated by a latch usually located on the chin bar. This feature is meant purely for convenience and the helmet is not to be worn this way when riding the motorcycle. With the faceshield and chinbar lowered, the rider’s face is completely enclosed, much like a full face helmet.
These type of helmets have become more and more popular in recent years, especially with touring riders or city commuters. They allow the rider to pop the helmet open during red lights to grab some fresh air. When the light turns green, it only takes a split second to drop the chin bar and be on your way. You can raise the shield on a full face helmet to get some air but the fact that the chin bar is out of the way exposes much more of your face to quickly vent hot air trapped inside the helmet.
Have you ever heard someone trying to talk while wearing a full face helmet? They almost have to yell for someone to hear what they are trying to say. If the person they are trying to talk to is also wearing a similar helmet, a regular conversation sounds like a yelling match. Again, raising the face shield on a full face can let more of your voice get through but that chin bar in front of your mouth still muffles the sound.
If you are a rider that needs prescription glasses to operate safely on the road, then you might want to try a modular helmet. When the chin bar and face shield are up, you won’t need to remove your glasses to get in and out of your helmet. You can also do the same thing if you’re wearing regular sunglasses.
Another convenient thing about flip up helmets becomes apparent if you’ve ever been asked to present your driver’s license or some form of ID while stopped on your motorcycle. You can keep your helmet on your head while the other person makes sure that the picture on the card matches the person underneath the helmet.
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to wearing a modular helmet. But you should also know that in order to allow the flip up features, there are obviously going to be some engineering differences in the helmet. To make room for the hinges and latch mechanisms, the internal padding has to be thinner, which might make it more uncomfortable for some. Since the front part of the helmet has to move freely, this also creates an area that allows for more wind and road noise to get through.
The chin bar on a modular helmet also has a hinge that makes it susceptible to impact damage in the event of a crash. Modular helmets are also significantly heavier because of the added components. Keep in mind that modular helmets are DOT approved and that brands with the European ECE certification are tested to some very high industry specifications. ECE certified helmets are the standard in MotoGP racing.
Because of their one piece structure, full face helmets don’t suffer from any weak points like hinge attachments. They are generally considered the best piece of head gear a safety conscious rider can use. Comfort is a subjective thing but the internal padding of a full face is more generous than a modular because there are no additional pieces to fit inside.
Full face helmets are also manufactured in larger quantities than modular helmets. What this means for the rider is that there are a lot more options if they go with this route. It is easier to find replacement shields, interior padding, and customized components like communicators or internal speakers. For riders who have a hard time finding a helmet that fits correctly, they are more likely to find a fully enclosed helmet that will work for them.
Hopefully this article has given you an idea as to the type of helmet you’d like to get. Before making that purchase, make sure that you try the helmet on and check to make sure it fits properly and comfortably. Don’t be afraid to wander around the store with that helmet. It’s the only way to make sure that you won’t run into any fit problems after some time. There’s a huge difference between putting the helmet on for a few seconds in a store and wearing it for an hour long (or more) ride.