What is a Full Face Helmet?

Dan Cavallari

The full face helmet is common among motorcycle riders as well as bicycle riders and skiers. It is a protective covering that encompasses the head and face, thereby reducing the likelihood of injury or death while participating in dangerous activities. The full face helmet is typically made of a polycarbonate shell over styrene, and some helmets feature a visor made of Lexan or other shatter-proof material. Depending on what sport you are participating in, the features of the full face helmet can vary.

Full-face helmets are commonly used by those who ride motorcycles.
Full-face helmets are commonly used by those who ride motorcycles.

Motorcycle full face helmets must be DOT approved, meaning they have passed crash tests and provide adequate protection should a rider fall or collide with a solid object. Motorcyclists riding on the road will wear a different helmet than those riding dirt bikes or other off-road vehicles. a road full face helmet is usually lined with a soft foam liner and fully covers the mouth and chin. It features a visor that flips up or down depending on the rider's preference. Many full face helmets of this variety feature visors with tints or UV protection as well.

An off-road motorcyclist will wear a different type of full face helmet that does not have a built-in visor. Most off-road motorcyclists wear goggles similar to ski goggles, so the front of the helmet will be an open-air design. However, it is still a full face helmet that features a fixture extending around the jaw and in front of the chin to prevent direct impact with solid objects. These helmets are typically lighter than road full face helmets and allow for better venting and airflow.

Bicyclists may also use a full face helmet similar to the off-road motorcyclist. However, while motorcycle helmets must be crash-tested to become DOT approved, bicycle helmets do not have to meet the DOT criteria. There are separate crash tests for bicycle helmets, but because most bicycles do not attain the speeds of motorcycles, the criteria are different. A bicycle helmet should not be worn while riding a motorcycle. A motorcycle helmet may be worn while riding a bicycle, but a bicyclist may find a bicycle-specific helmet more suited to him because it is much lighter.

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