How to Choose an ATV Helmet

How to Choose an ATV Helmet

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I am a strong believer in helmets. With few exceptions I always ride with my helmet on.  I guess I have ridden enough to know that it’s the most important piece of equipment you can have while riding.  I have crashed during hard rides and just screwing off in the yard.  Believe it or not sooner or later you will crash.  I promise you it will happen.  Be prepared with a good atv helmet.

The bottom-line is that a helmet can and will save your life.  The choice isn’t simply the color so you should put in great deal of thought and research into your decision of which motorcross/atv helmet to choose. You should make your final selection carefully.

Here is my advice on how to choose a atv/motocross helmet.

RULE #1 Do NOT buy a second hand/used helmet!  You may not be able to tell if its damaged


Price:
by being dropped or by being in an accident not to mention do you want to stick your face and head into some one else’s sweat soaked pudding bucket?  I didn’t think so.

When it comes to helmets prices start around $90 and can go as high as $700. The good news is that safety isn’t determined by price alone. That said, I would set a strict budget for the purchase price of the your new he

 

lmet. Dealers know that most people want to be safe and will purchase a helmet at the same time as they purchase an atv. This means that they might not be best place to find a bargain at the beginning of the riding season.  Most atv helmets are affordable.. However, some motocross helmets can also be very expensive, and it is easy to get over your head in terms of the helmet prices. Usually you will pay a higher price for a lighter helmet.

ATV helmets are constructed from plastics. Premium price helmets are made with fiberglass reinforced with Kevlar or carbon fiber. They generally have fabric and foam interiors for both comfort and protection. Motorcycle helmets are generally designed to break in a crash (thus expending the energy otherwise destined for the wearer’s skull), so they provide little or no protection after their first impact*.

You should have no problem finding an adequate helmet in any price range. Your local atv dealer will have many to choose from or you can order online from reputable dealers like RockyMountainATV or MotoSport. I strongly recommend trying the model on before purchasing it.

Safety

After you have set your price point, you can begin to look at helmets in your price range. The first thing to check is that the helmet meets DOT Safety Standards. There should be a sticker on the back of the motocross helmet to identify the helmet as being safe. You may also see a safety sticker from Snell, which is the industry authority when it comes to safety standards for off-road motocross helmets. Helmets may have both a DOT and Snell sticker. If there is no such sticker, then move on to the next helmet as it is pointless to buy a non-safety rated helmet. These type of helmets are often classified as novelty helmets popular with street bike riders to comply with helmet laws. Read more about helmet safety standards.

Fit

Fit is also very important.  An ill fitting helmet can be very dangerous. Try the helmet on to see how it fits. Most helmets come in men women and child with generic sizes ( S, M, L, XL), so it should be easy to find a atv helmet that has the right fit. If the helmet fits a little tight, it’s ok because the padding inside will eventually pack down as its used. The main point is to make sure it is not a loose fitting helmet, but without being so tight that you have to struggle to get it on or off.  You don’t want any rattle room in the helmet. It should fit your head especially around the forehead.  No sloppiness.

Buckle the chin strap on the motocross helmet. Consider how difficult it is for you to buckle. Also slip your fingers under the strap and give it a quick tug to see if it remains strapped. Upon impact you want the helmet to stay on.

When trying on any dirt bike helmet, it must feel comfortable – This won’t necessarily be the most expensive one on the shelf. We humans come with different shaped and sized craniums – Once you’ve got it on with the straps firmly fastened, rotate the helmet from side to side. You know it’s the right fit when your face skin movement and helmet movement are nearly the same. Try lifting the rear of the helmet in an effort to roll it off your head in a forward direction. You should not be able to do this.  Source: Dirt Bike Tips and Pics

Features

Is the helmet lining removable?  This used to be a luxury feature, but I believe having a removable lining is a must have, since you are likely to get very dirty while riding your atv. Having a removable liner in your motocross helmet will make it easier to clean and will probably extend the life of your head gear. It will also make it a better experience wearing it.

Ventilation is another consideration. Is there a way to change air flow through the helmet?  Hot days you will want air coming through. In Utah during the colder edge seasons you will want the ability to close the ventilation.  Again the more expensive helmets will give you more options.

Consider what type of atving you like to do. If you mostly do racing, jumps or short runs, then you can go with the standard motocross helmet. Standard helmets are usually cheaper and are actually more durable and provides better protection. If you tend to ride mostly in long endurance races, then you should give some thought to buying a lighter weight motocross helmet. It will cost more money and have a small reduction in durability, but it is still a safe helmet and will be much more comfortable at the end of a long ride especially if you are older than 30.

Final Thoughts:

I would NEVER recommend an open face helmet. In my mind what’s the point. The first time you smack the handle bars while riding you will understand clearly what I mean.  From personal experience I have smacked every side of the helmet.  You will want the protection from impact as well as the protection from road rash.  Open face helmets are for 70’s motorcycle movies.

Motocross style helmets do not usually come with eye protection or a visor.  You will need to pick up goggles as well.  Try on goggles on when you are trying on helmets. Try on lots of different ones. Helmet manufacturers vary in their methods.

If you helmet receives a decent blow like dropping it on the concrete – replace it. It is also suggested that you replace it every three years regardless of condition.

Lastly a helmet will do you no good if you don’t wear it.

*Note that impacts may, of course, come from things other than crashing, such as dropping a helmet, and may not cause any externally visible damage. For the best protection, helmets should be replaced after any impact, and every three or so years even if no impact is known to have occurred.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Great tips on helmets.I can honestly say that without one I would not be here today. I have been through three helmets and each one of them served its purpose by allowing me to ride another day.

  2. Great Advice!  A helmet is a must and these tips really help me choose the right one.

  3. My daughter has a very small head and no one makes a DOT helmet that is small enough. Does anyone know if it’s safe to add extra padding to make it fit? She wants to ride so bad but I hesitate letting her take the wheel if she isn’t safe. Please don’t tell me no 5 year old should be on a quad or side by side that won’t be helpful 🙂 We are very safe on our property and there is always an adult riding the trails with the kids.

  4. I had this same problem. I went shopping for youth helmets for my 4 year old. We often went camping where a ride on the ATV was required to reach the porta potty. I went to the local dealership who gave me the company line of we can’t help you. When I was leaving a employee came out to my car and told me to purchase the smallest helmet size of a quality manufacturer and line the helmet myself with foam. He advised me of where and how to add foam to make it fit properly. It worked like a charm. She wore it for 2 years before I removed the foam. She is now 8 and the helmet fits great.

    Basically I took out the washable liner and glued in soft foam. It was about 1/4 inch think and I manipulated it to fit as close to a normal helmet as possible. It took a few tries and it was successful. My personal thought was that this type of helmet was far superior to no helmet.

    I did try out ski helmets and bike helmets but I am huge believer in a full face helmet.

    I don’t understand why manufacturers don’t make smaller helmets.

  5. We have been using a ski helmet that fits well when she rides with an adult, but if she wants to drive her own quad she needs a full facer. I don’t understand why they don’t make the helmets smaller either. Thank you for the foam advice! I’ll check out how the foam in the liner is positioned and go from there to make it thicker.

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