How to choose… an adventure helmet
How to choose... an adventure helmet
Adventure helmets are what you get when you combine a road helmet with an off-road helmet, making them incredibly versatile and suitable for many riding situations and conditions. They might all look pretty similar, but there can be a lot to consider when choosing the right adventure helmet for you.
Fit and comfort
Fit and comfort are most important when it comes to choosing the right adventure helmet. With the helmet fastened, hold the helmet still and try moving your head up and down and from side to side − your head shouldn’t move independently of the helmet. You want a helmet that is snug, not tight or it could become uncomfortable during long rides − but bear in mind the lining may soften slightly with use. The extended chinbar means an adventure helmet can feel slightly less snug than a regular full-face lid. If you plan to use your helmet with an intercom, check for space around the ears for the speakers. For a more in-depth guide, check out our guide to fitting your helmet correctly.
The materials that make up the shell of the helmet don’t only matter when it comes to protecting your head in the event of a fall, they also matter when it comes to ride comfort. Less advanced materials such as plastic will be slightly heavier, which means fatigue may kick in sooner on longer rides. Helmet shells constructed from fibres, especially composites of different fibres, are generally lighter and better at dissipating energy from impacts.
Because adventure helmets are designed to be used in all conditions and scenarios, some are more adaptable than other types of helmets. You might be able to remove the peak, to turn the helmet into more of a standard road helmet, while the ability to remove the visor and use goggles instead is useful for riders planning to ride off-road. With some you can also remove the chinbar, revealing an open-face helmet for when the mercury rises.
Helmets can either be secured with a double D-ring fastening system or a quick-release ratchet. Double D-rings are preferred by many as they’re easier to adjust, but they take longer to fasten and undo. Quick-release ratchet systems are much quicker and easier to use, but they lack the instant adjustability of a D-ring system. Some riders feel the traditional double D-ring system is more secure, but both are tested to the same safety standards.
Drop down or not?
The peak will only partially shield your eyes from the sun, and if you want to keep more of the light out you’ll have to fit a tinted visor or opt for an adventure helmet with an internal sun visor. Internal drop down visors are practical, easy to use, and mean you won’t have to spend more money on an extra visor, but they don’t work for everyone. If you wear glasses while riding they can cause them to fog up much quicker, and in some adventure helmets there’s not enough room for an internal visor to give the right amount of coverage.
Many visors come with some form of anti-mist or anti-fog coating on the inside of the visor as standard, but this isn’t always sufficient, especially in inclement weather. Check to see if the visor can support a Pinlock insert as these are the most effective way to prevent your visor fogging up. Ideally a helmet will come with a Pinlock supplied in the box, though on some lids they need to be purchased separately. Pinlocks aren’t as common on adventure helmets because the visor curvature is more pronounced and it’s trickier to make a Pinlock fit correctly.
On a long adventure the chances are you’ll be riding through a wide range of weather and temperatures so you’ll need plenty of adjustable ventilation. Adventure helmets are generally better ventilated than standard road helmets due to the extended chinbar, but most still offer plenty of ventilation options. As well as intake vents on the chin bar and brow of the helmet, look out for exhaust vents at the rear of the helmet. These will keep the air flowing over your head, and will help reduce sweating in hot weather. For more intense off-road riding, some offer the option to remove a panel and reveal a high-flow chin vent.
If you’re going to be wearing your adventure helmet all day then the lining of the helmet will get dirty, especially if riding off-road. A removable and washable lining will stop the helmet from smelling, keep away bacteria, and stop your head getting too dirty whenever you wear the helmet. The linings of some helmets are also made of quick drying and sweat-wicking materials.
While the peak provides protection from the sun and dirt roosted from bikes in front, it can be impractical at higher speeds. Peaks can, depending on the motorcycle and seating position, get caught in the windblast, making riding at high speeds for any length of time tiresome. Many peaks are adjustable, so you can position it as such that the turbulence is reduced. Companies with bigger research and development budgets are able to use wind tunnels to optimise their design to reduce drag so some helmets higher up the price range are less susceptible to this issue.