motorcycle helmet

Going helmet shopping? In this quick guide, we give you a rundown of the six types of motorcycle helmets you’ll find at Service Honda.


Motorcycle helmets save lives — that’s a fact. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that helmets have prevented the deaths of more than 25,000 motorcycle riders in the USA since 2002. In 2017 alone, helmets saved the lives of 1,872 riders involved in serious motorcycle crashes. The wearing of head protection in the same year could have saved another 802 lives. 

Despite these findings, states like Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire don’t have universal helmet laws. In many states, you can ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, provided you’re over the age of 21. 

Still, we believe that part of being a responsible rider is making a point to wear a motorcycle helmet on the road. So if you’re looking to buy a helmet but feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety of options available, we’ve narrowed things down to six primary types of motorcycle helmets. 


  • Full-Face Helmets

full face helmet

Source: Unsplash

A full-face helmet covers your entire face, as well as the top and back of your head. A chin bar wraps around the lower half of your face, protecting it from impact — useful when the chin sustains half of severe impacts in a crash. A tinted visor (this can be clear in some models) on a full-face helmet can be flipped up and down to protect your eyes from wind and debris. 

  • Pros: Because they provide full coverage of your entire head, full-face helmets are widely considered the safest type of motorcycle helmet. They also protect you from the environment, whether it’s inclement weather, bright days, or bugs that fly straight into your head at high speed. 

Full-face helmets are aerodynamic, allowing riders to travel at fast speeds without worrying about their headgear flying off. 

  • Cons: Ventilation is perhaps the biggest problem with full-face helmets. Even the most well-ventilated helmets will make riding in warm climates feel uncomfortable.

Fogging is also an issue with full-face helmets. You can place a breath deflector, which diverts your breath away from your visor in your helmet to prevent this problem. 


  • Flip-up Helmets

Flip-up or modular helmets are similar to full-face helmets but have the added feature of a chin bar that can be raised and lowered. That particular feature makes wearing a helmet more convenient. 

For instance, when you’re on a ride and want to make a quick stop to answer the phone, talk to a friend, or have a drink, you can simply flip up the chin bar — no more taking off the helmet and laying it down somewhere. 

  • Pros: Flip-up helmets are versatile and popular with touring and adventure riders. Some models even let you remove the chin bar completely, converting it into an open-face or three-quarter helmet. 
  • Cons: Flip-up helmets do not have the same strength and crash rating that full-face helmets do. The flip-up mechanism means that the helmet has two pieces — this completely changes how the helmet reacts to impact.

Some flip-up helmets are also not designed to be worn in the “open” position for safety reasons. 


Explore Service Honda’s range of motorcycle helmets and helmet accessories.


  • Open-Face Helmets

open face helmet

Source: Unsplash

Open-face helmets or three-quarter helmets are favorites of commuters and scooter enthusiasts. As the name suggests, these helmets leave the face exposed and cover only the sides, top, and back of your head. The helmet is secured to your head with an adjustable chin strap. 

  • Pros: Ventilation! Open-face helmets are especially popular in the tropics, where ventilation is as important as safety. Open-face helmets provide a decent amount of protection while letting you enjoy the full breeze on the road. 
  • Cons: Open-air ventilation comes at a cost — your face is exposed to debris, bugs, water, and other hazards. However, open-face helmets with removable visors are available, or you can buy goggles/sunglasses separately. You can also wear an air filter mask to protect yourself from dust and air pollution on the road. 


  • Half Helmets

half helmets

Source: Unsplash

Half helmets offer the least amount of protection — covering only the top of your forehead and halfway down the back of your head (behind the ears). While they are legal on the road, half helmets lack many safety features, and most protect the top of your head — hence why they’re also known by the derogatory term, “brain buckets.”

  • Pros: Half helmets let you see and hear your surroundings better than any other type of helmet. Their minimalist look also goes well with vintage and cruiser bikes. 
  • Cons: Any protection these helmets provide is minimal at best. You’ll also need to wear sunglasses, goggles, and a mask if you want to protect yourself from the elements. 

Related post:
5 More Safety Myths to Let Go on Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month


  • Off-road/Motocross Helmets

off road helmet

Source: Pexels

Off-road or motocross helmets are full-face helmets with distinguishing features, such as a larger sun peak and a more elongated chin bar that sits further away from your face. Off-road helmets are designed to maximize ventilation and reduce weight without compromising protection, because of the demands of dirt riding and warm weather locations.

  • Pros: Off-road helmets are a must-have for motocross. No other type of helmet comes close, period. 
  • Cons: We don’t recommend using off-road helmets for highway riding. These helmets are all about weight reduction, which means anything unnecessary, such as soundproofing and padding, has been stripped off. The traffic and wind noise will probably drive you nuts after half an hour of riding.


  • Dual-Sport Helmets

dual sport helmet

Source: Pexels

If you like the aggressive lines of off-road helmets but also want the sleek look of full-face helmets for street riding, then dual sport helmets may be just what you’re looking for.

These helmets are a hybrid of off-road and full-face styles, featuring a toned-down motocross-style sun peak and outstanding ventilation but with the padding, soundproofing, and built-in visor of street helmets.

  • Pros: When it comes down to it, dual-sport helmets look cool. They’re a favorite of adventure riders, but their versatility also makes them perfectly suitable for daily commutes. 
  • Cons: If you plan on spending most of your time off-road, you’re better off with a full-on off-road helmet. Motocross helmets are lighter, better ventilated, and simply perfect for off-road sports. 


The Best Helmet Is the One that Best Suits Your Needs

When buying a motorcycle helmet, think about the riding you plan on doing, the riding surfaces you’ll spend most of your time on, your average speed, and your desired overall comfort level. These are all essential factors to consider before making a purchase decision. Whatever your choice, always buy your helmet and protective gear from a reliable seller or manufacturer. 


Be sure to follow the Service Honda blog to find more buying guides and insights on motorcycle safety. You can also explore our range of motorcycle helmets and other protective gear. Shop at Service Honda today and get up to 30% off on select items.