Aside from being a legal requirement, motorbike helmets are essential for safety. Learn the law surrounding motorbike helmets, plus tips for choosing the right one.
Motorcycling is an exhilarating and liberating experience, but it also comes with risks. No matter your bike of choice, one essential piece of safety gear that every motorcyclist should prioritise is a helmet. Wearing a motorbike helmet can make a significant difference in protecting riders from head injuries and even saving lives. When you have invested time and money in a bike through motorbike finance, it’s essential you take the correct safety precautions when hitting the roads.
In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons why a helmet is essential for motorcyclists, the legal aspects of wearing a helmet in the UK, and important considerations when choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet.
The importance of motorcycle helmets
1. Protection from injuries
Motorcyclists can be vulnerable if an accident happens, particularly when it comes to head injuries. A helmet acts as the first line of defence, absorbing and dispersing any impact. On top of this head protection, motorcycle helmets often include a visor or face shield. These prevent injuries to your face from wind gusts and bugs, allowing you to enjoy your ride with no distractions.
As mentioned above, most motorcycle helmets feature a visor of sorts. These are important for ensuring visibility for riders. As well as protecting your face from injuries, visors keep debris, rain and wind out of your eyes for a more pleasant ride. They also help to reduce glare, meaning you can cruise around on even the sunniest of days.
3. Noise reduction
Too much exposure to wind noise at high speeds can be incredibly damaging to your hearing. A good quality helmet will include padding and insulation to protect riders’ ears. This is essential for preventing damage to your hearing.
UK legal requirements for motorcycle helmets
Wearing a motorcycle helmet is not optional – it is mandatory by law. This is to ensure the safety of you and your passengers in the event of an accident. Learn more about UK legal requirements for motorcycle helmets below.
The penalty for riding a motorcycle without a helmet
According to the Road Traffic Act 1988, the penalty for not wearing a helmet can vary, but it usually includes a substantial fine and penalty points on the rider's driving licence. In more severe cases, it can result in disqualification from driving and prosecution.
When did it become law to wear a motorcycle helmet in the UK?
The UK law requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet came into effect many years ago, back in 1973. This was a significant step in improving the safety of motorcycle riders and reducing the risks of head injuries. Since then, wearing an approved helmet has been a legal requirement for both motorcyclists and their passengers on public roads in the UK. It is important for all riders to comply with this law to ensure their own safety and adhere to legal regulations.
Approved motorcycle helmets
So, you may be wondering, what motorcycle helmets are legal in the UK? There are specific safety standards that motorcycle helmets must meet in order to be legally safe. The current standard for safe helmets, ECE 22.05, is pretty easy to identify from a label inside the helmet. Make sure you are checking for this label when you choose your motorcycle helmet, amongst the other aspects we outline below.
Choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet
Finding the perfect motorcycle helmet is paramount for keeping you safe on the roads. Below, we explain some of the most important questions that riders may have about choosing a motorcycle helmet.
1. Choosing the type of motorcycle helmet
When choosing a motorcycle helmet, you should consider the type of riding you do, your personal preferences, and the level of protection you desire. There are three main types of motorcycle helmets, each offering different features and levels of protection:
These helmets provide the most comprehensive protection as they cover the entire head, face, and chin. They offer excellent impact resistance, superior aerodynamics, and effective noise reduction.
Open-face helmets cover the head and sides but leave the face exposed. They provide good visibility and a sense of freedom, but they offer less face protection than full-face helmets.
Modular helmets combine features of full-face and open-face helmets. They have a movable chin bar that can be lifted, allowing riders to enjoy the benefits of both types. However, it's important to note that modular helmets may not offer the same level of impact protection as full-face helmets.
2. How to measure a motorcycle helmet
To determine the correct helmet size, measure the circumference of your head using a flexible measuring tape. Place the tape just above your eyebrows and around the widest part of your head. Then, refer to the manufacturer's sizing chart to find the corresponding helmet size. If you find you are in-between sizes, try the smaller size first.
How tight should a motorcycle helmet be?
Your motorcycle helmet should feel snug, but with no discomfort or pressure on your head and face. The motorcycle helmet should not feel loose or slip around when you are wearing it. Test out a few different helmets to get a feel for how different helmets fit you, and ask a store assistant for help if you’re not sure.
3. Checking for comfort
If you plan to embark on long journeys, it is crucial that your helmet is comfortable. Even for smaller trips, an irritating or uncomfortable helmet can make your ride so much less enjoyable.
1. Pressure points
Ensure that there are no pressure points on your helmet, as this will become extremely uncomfortable over time. Pay attention to your forehead, temples and the crown of your head.
2. Cheek pads and jawline
The helmet’s cheek pads should fit comfortably against your face, providing a snug fit. Ensure that there is no pinching or discomfort where the helmet meets your jawline, too.
3. Chin straps
Make sure that you are comfortable with the helmet’s chin straps, and that these are easy to adjust.
4. Test the stability of the helmet
Finally, check the stability of the motorcycle helmet. Do so by gently moving your head around and noticing whether the helmet slips or falls. If it does, you will need to adjust. Additionally, you should test the chin strap by fastening it and then opening your mouth wide. There shouldn’t be any pain or excessive discomfort when you do this.
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