Help Picking a helmet
Full face helmet VS Open face helmet
Modular (Flip-Up, Flip-Face, Convertible): Similar to a full-face but the chin bar is hinged so it can be flipped up over the top of the helmet. Pros: more interior space than full-face, usually fits with eyeglasses, provides face protection when chin bar is down. Cons: may not provide equal protection as full face, often expensive, noisier and often heavier than full-face.
3/4: Provides coverage to the top, forehead and back of head, leaving face and chin exposed. Some come with (or can be fitted with) a face shield. Pros: more wind to the face, easier to hear external noises, better visibility. Cons: face and chin exposed.
Half: Provides coverage to forehead, top and part of the rear of the head. Pros: some coverage is better than none. Cons: little protection, leaves most vulnerable areas (face, chin, base of skull) uncovered.
Beanie: Less than half-sized helmet favored by motorcycle cruiser enthusiasts (Harley dudes); smallest DOT-certified (see below) lid. Pros: If you're legally required to wear a helmet, this will fulfill that. Cons: According to a Harley dealer website, "this price is typically that they provide absolutely no protection whatsoever in the event of an accident."
Consider this: Studies have shown that the most frequently impacted area of a helmet in a crash is the chin (see diagram below). The front of the face is by far the most vulnerable area.
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Snell certification requires that a helmet be submitted to the Snell Memorial Foundation for testing. The tests are more rigorous than the basic standards set by the DOT, but the accuracy and benefit of Snell testing has recently been the subject of a lot of controversy. The harshest critics claim that Snell certified helmets may be more dangerous in some crashes than those with just DOT certification. This is a complicated and heated topic that's been argued and discussed ad nauseam here and in many other forums. You can read up on this and decide for yourself. (The new Snell 2010 standard seeks to address many of these criticisms.)
ECE is the European testing standard used in 51 countries. This is more stringent than the DOT standards and some believe it's superior to Snell. Technically, ECE-certified helmets (which aren't also DOT certified) aren't legal for use in the US-you can be ticketed for wearing them. This rarely-if ever-happens. (More likely, the rider with the non-DOT skullcap-sized helmet purchased on the Internet will get pulled over.) Many European helmet companies also make models for the U.S., but the selection and variety of styles overseas is far greater than what's available here. The downsides? You're skirting the law, and probably paying a lot for a helmet you haven't tried on and which might be costly to return or exchange.
Ask forum members for their helmet recommendations and you'll likely get responses all over the map. It's probably best to narrow your choices down by deciding what type of helmet you want before asking. Even then, our best advice is usually this: Try some on and get the one in your price range which fits best. Proper fit is essential to providing good impact protection. Don't hesitate to ask salespeople to provide guidance with fit and to recommend alternates if a helmet does not fit. There are several different common helmet shapes but many more head shapes-be aware that some may just not work for your bean. This isn't a pair of shoes; there's more to it than that. There are some good pointers for getting a good fit in the links at the end.
The best place to buy your helmet is, of course, your scooter dealer. Unfortunately, many scooter dealers-and even many large motorcycle dealerships-don't have large selections. Finding the right helmet may require a lot of driving around to various retailers. Take the time required to do this into account before you buy your scooter.
Buying online is another option that many riders choose. You may save money this way, but you're not supporting local business (especially scooter business!) and you don't have the benefit of trying something on. If you buy online, make sure it's from a reputable retailer with a good exchange/return policy. There are a lot of helmets for sale on eBay (often by dealers), but you won't necessarily get the best price there. Take the time to shop around (Google is your friend).
Stay away from the cool-looking but non-DOT-certified "retro" helmets from Asia-they're basically junk. And again, never buy a used helmet. Once a helmet's been crashed, the interior protection's been compromised and it needs to be replaced even if the exterior shows little damage.
Good all-around guides to helmet types and proper fit:
(Also check out motorcycle magazines)
MSF helmet Guide: