Choosing the Right Motocross Helmet


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“Hey Jackie, check out this cool helmet. Its got horns on the top and its shaped like a skull. I think I just found my new motocross helmet. What do you think?”
“Yeah, Zane, that is pretty cool and it fits you pretty well. I can see you doing some pretty sweet tricks with that on your melon. Mel, what do you think?”
countryside motocross“Pretty cool, let me see it… wait, where is the DOT or Snell certification sticker? I don’t think this helmet is certified by Snell, or at least tested to meet DOT standards. There is no way you should be riding with this helmet, especially as a motocross helmet?
“Why not?”
“Snell is the world leader in testing motocross and motorcycle helmets with a rigorous testing and certification program. Only helmets with Snell certification meet the standards that require the highest levels of head protection. Snell actually tests the helmets that they certify. Zane, not only is the helmet not certified by Snell, but look at the design. Do you really want to be doing all the tricks and jumps in motocross without a chin bar? That just doesn’t make sense to me.”
“But Mel, did you know that off-road and motocross helmets did not originally include a chin bar? Riders actually used to use more of an open-faced helmet with a facemask to keep dirt and debris out of the mouth and nose.”
“I did know that, but with the changes in materials and manufacturing techniques, most riders don’t use anything but a motocross helmet with a chin bar. A facemask isn’t going to protect your mouth, nose, and face if you face plant into the dirt. Here take a look at this one, do you see that it has an angular chin bar.  It is much different than the chin bar on a full-face motorcycle helmet which is more of a rounded style.”
“Yeah that is pretty sweet and I like the visor on the top to keep out the sun and to help deflect dirt and debris.”
“Hey, Mel and Zane, check out this motocross helmet. It doesn’t have the Snell certification sticker, but it does have a DOT sticker. I assume that means that the motocross helmet has to pass some sort of standards in order to have the DOT rating. And it looks just about the same as the Snell certified helmet, but it is much less expensive.”
“Good find Jackie, but your still have to be careful with those ones. Just because it has a DOT rating, doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been tested. Nearly any manufacturer can get a DOT sticker on their motocross helmets. It doesn’t mean that the helmet has been tested and certified. It might just means that the manufacturer believes that the helmet meets DOT standards. It is definitely better than the first helmet you looked at, but there is a possibility that it might not provide the highest level of protection.”
motocross sky high“Okay, got it. Snell certified is the top of line. Check this one out. Look how big it is. With all this padding and space between my melon and the outer shell, there is plenty of protection, right Mel?”
“Not necessarily, just because the helmet is bigger than the others that doesn’t mean it will provide more protection. A motocross helmet should be snug, not too loose or too tight. Here try this one on. See how it doesn’t shift around when you shake your head side to side? And it gives a bit of resistance when you try to take it off or put it on. This is important because you don’t want the helmet moving around when you are riding, that gets tiring really quickly. Also, motocross helmets are designed to reduce noise and wind resistance. So a snug motocross helmet really helps you concentrate more on what you are doing.”
“Wow Mel! That’s a lot of information to keep in mind just to pick out a motocross helmet. Is there anything else that I should consider?”
“Oh yeah, definitely. You have to make sure the retention system works well for you. You shouldn’t be able to take the helmet off or have it shift around on your head when the system is done up. The helmet should rest snuggly just above your eyebrows. And make sure to check on the small things, like removable and washable inner linings, compatibility with your goggles, wrap around neck roll, and of course, cool graphics and coloring. That’s about it.”
“Well, thanks Mel. I really do appreciate you giving me some advice on choosing the right motocross helmet. I think I am going to go with this Snell certified motocross helmet that was really comfortable and has all the things you mentioned before. It might be a little more expensive, but it is worth it.”
“Good choice Zane. Now, LET RIDE!”