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How To Shop For A New ATV Helmet

What To Look For In An Offroad Helmet

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Depending on the state you live in, odds are a helmet is a required piece of equipment for all ATV riders and passengers.

Helmets are the single most effective means of preventing head injuries that result in death or permanent disability. The helmet you put on your head may be only thing responsible for saving your life when your own judgment, skill and luck have failed to keep you from harm. That is why choosing the right helmet is so important.

Safety Aside, Here Are The Best Reasons To Wear A Helmet

  • By cutting down ambient wind noise, helmets can actually help you hear other sounds better.
  • A full-face helmet can keep you from being distracted when a large insect hits your face.
  • By reducing fatigue from the wind, they keep you more alert.
  • By protecting your eyes from the wind, they allow you to see better.
  • And if you wear a bright-colored one, it will be easier for other offroaders (including bigger 4x4 trucks!) to see and avoid you.

What To Look For In An Offroad Helmet

  1. If possible, opt for an "off-road" or "Motocross" helmet, over a standard motorcycle helmet. Motorcycle helmets will serve the purpose just fine, but you might enjoy some of the unique features that come with helmets made specifically for off road riding. To help you determine whether you want a "full-face", "open-face", or an "Offroad/Motocross" helmet, consider this:

    • Full Face - provides excellent protection. This helmet comes with a built-in face shield and the moulding extends over your chin and mouth for added protection.

    • Open Face - provides the least protection. This helmet does not protect your chin and mouth area, though it comes with a chin strap - primarily as a means of keeping the helmet securely on your head.

    • Offroad/Motocross - the recommended helmet choice for those who ride ATVs aggressively. This helmet covers most of your face and has a solid piece of moulding jutting out over your chin and jaw. Off-road helmets are different from the typical full face helmets in that they provide optimum ventilation (nose/mouth/sides/top), as well as a flip up visor that also serves as a face shield, and many other unique features beneficial for rigorous off road riding.

  2. Make sure it's comfortable. These things will have the most notable effect on a helmet's comfort level:

    • Plenty of comfort padding (the soft foam-rubber padding that touches your skin)
    • A good seal around the ear (but not touching the ear itself)
    • A neck roll that nestles against the back of your head and neck
    • An absence of protruding components inside (from the face shield attachments or strap fasteners)

  3. Make sure that it's DOT and/or Snell certified.

  4. The more EPS the better, because it's the EPS liner inside the helmet (the hard Styrofoam-type cushion) that actually absorbs the force of an impact. Some helmets just cover the minimum mandated area with EPS; others line the entire shell with it. If your helmet has a chinbar, then the EPS should extend there as well.

  5. If your helmet has a face shield, it should be certified to meet the standards of VESC-8 or ANSI Z-87. (Snell-certified helmets even meet stricter standards.) While face shields today come with many options, these are the most important:
    • The face shield should be easy to open
    • It should stay in position when raised
    • The shield should not distort your view (make straight lines appear curvy or block your peripheral vision)
Is An "Old" Helmet Okay?
There are three things to keep in mind, regarding the shelf life of a helmet:

  • Since helmets are made of materials which deteriorate with age, they have a limited life span and must be replaced after five years (less if the manufacturer recommends).

  • Glues, resins and other materials used to make the helmet eventually break down, affecting the interior liner. The inside liner will also start to deteriorate when it comes in contact with hair oils, body fluids and/or cosmetics over time. All this is, in addition to normal wear and tear, leads to helmet degradation.

  • A helmet is good for only one impact. If you should ever dent or crack your helmet, you must get a replacement helmet right away. All of the safety features become obsolete once a helmet has become distressed in some way. Helmets are constructed so that the energy of a blow is managed by the helmet, causing its partial destruction (which may not necessarily be visible to the eye).

    Here are some very important facts regarding ATV helmets. Bet you'll never place your helmet near a paint can, next to your quad's exhaust, or over your handlebars again!

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