I am a HUGE advocator of #ATGATT. My idea of ATGATT is a jacket with armor, Kevlar pants with armor, motorcycle specific gloves and boots, and most importantly a full face helmet.
Sometimes I feel tempted to purchase a 3/4 or half helmet like these:
These style helmets are popular among cruiser riders, especially in high heat areas, but I don’t see the appeal at all. Aside from safety (which we’ll discuss further below), the constant wind and debris in your face doesn’t seem too appealing.
If you take a look at this helmet design created by Icon Motorsports (no longer available as a graphic), the main impact zone on a helmet in a crash is in your chin, followed by your temples.
To further illustrate my point, here is a visualization on a mock-Gringo helmet by Zongshen:
And another graphic by a German study:
If the main impact zone on a helmet is in your chin area, why would you continue to wear anything other than a full face helmet? Is it worth it to substitute style for safety?
I don’t mean to sound condescending and I understand that everyone has a certain preference, but I think above all else, when you’re riding a motorcycle – safety comes first.
Here is where I draw the line: the retro helmets.
While these are DOT certified full face helmets, I don’t think they offer much protection in the chin area. The Bullitt’s chin bar is among the thinnest I’ve ever seen, making the field of view great, but with as much vulnerability as a 3/4 helmet. Looking at the Gringo, the chin bar is weak as well. Sure it will survive a few scratches if you’re sliding, but probably will not hold up well in a hard impact crash. That chin bar is practically useless. I’ve looked at these two helmets specifically for many years and I can never make the purchase because I value my safety too much.
In conclusion, if you’re going to buy a full face helmet, pay attention to the sturdiness of the chin bar! Even a full face can be as weak as a 3/4 helmet. My rule of thumb is to get a helmet that is not only DOT certified, but a combination of ECE or Snell as well. ECE and Snell do more in depth testing on helmets, where as DOT is the bare minimum.
If you’re interested in modular helmets, there are a variety that are now better reinforced in the chin and are DOT and a combination of Snell and ECE rated!
Protect ya dome!
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