The 2018 Guide To Finding The Best Dirt Bike Helmet
When it comes to finding a dirt bike helmet, the reason you need one would be stating the obvious, however working out which one to buy can be a lot more difficult.
I have written this guide to make this job as easy as possible.
Hopefully, after reading this guide, you end up with a helmet that not only looks and feels awesome it will do the most important job it was designed to do, protect your head in an accident!
For a dirt bike helmet that provides good value for money but also excellent safety properties, I really like the
Bell MX-9 (See Amazon for pricing) . This helmet has really good safety standards which meet the DOT and ECE requirements.
In addition to the basic standards, the helmet also comes with the MIPS system (see below for safety standards)
The first thing to consider in a dirt bike helmet is how safe the helmet is going to be in a crash.
When purchasing a helmet the minimum you want to consider is the minimum standard certification that each country adheres to.
In America, there are three standards to consider when purchasing a helmet.
DOT, SNELL and ECE 220.05:
- DOT certification is the minimum standard a helmet should have which is managed by the Department of Transport. For more information see the Department of Transportation website here.
- SNELL certification is an independent non-profit organisation founded in 1957 and provides certification of helmets that are voluntarily submitted by manufacturers. It has higher standards than the DOT and is updated every five years. For more information see SNELL website here.
- UNECE or United Nations Economic Commision for Europe certification (22.05) is the most widely recognized helmet standard, adopted by more than 5o countries. ECE has similar standards to DOT although ECE requires all helmets to be tested prior to release as opposed to DOT which relies on manufacturers integrity. For more information visit website here
Australia has their own standard for helmet certification and the code for this is AS/NZS 1698-2006. The ECE Europe certification ECE 22.05 has also been recognised in all states of Australia. Therefore all helmets sold in Australia must have the AS/NZ standard code or the ECE.
In the UK all helmets must meet the British Standard BS 6658:1985 or UNECE Regulation 22.05 click here for more information.
In addition to the British standard, the UK government has a website that is designed to help buyers make an informed choice regarding helmet selection called SHARP. It utilises a star rating system to compare safety features. Click here to visit the website.
The MIPS helmet safety system
In addition to the main standards adopted by each country, the MIPS system is also entering the dirt bike helmet arena. MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. Basically, this system works by redirecting energies and forces away from the brain.
A number of dirt bike helmet manufacturers are now using this technology which adds another layer of safety on top of the existing helmet standards. For more information regarding MIPS click here.
Pro tip: Take your goggles into the shop when purchasing a helmet, you can then make sure the goggles fit well with the helmet. For a full guide on goggle selection click here
Dirt bike helmet shells typically come in a range of construction materials. These are usually, polycarbonate, carbon fibre, kevlar and a fibreglass composite.
Most of the lower to intermediate helmets are made of polycarbonate and the higher end models have exotic materials such as carbon fibre and kevlar. In general, the higher end models have more features and tend to be lighter.
It is important to remember that ensuring your helmet fits well is just as important as buying a quality helmet. An expensive helmet is not going to do its job properly if it’s not fitting your head properly.
What Is The Safest Dirt Bike Helmet On The Market?
Arguably, the safest dirt bike helmet on the market is built by a company called 6D Helmets. The 6D ATR-1 Edge (see the price at Amazon) is a good example of a well-made helmet that has a range of technology working to protect the user from injury resulting from an accident.
The helmet uses 6D’s own patented technology called OMNI-DIRECTIONAL SUSPENSION which basically reduces energy transfer to the brain.
The helmets from 6D not only utilise their own technology for improved safety but meet or exceed nearly all other worldwide standards.
Interestingly the only standard that they don’t meet is SNELL which is contradictory to 6D’s own design standard. See here for more information regarding this issue.
How To Get The Right Fit When Purchasing A Dirt Bike Helmet
There are two ways to shop for a new dirt bike helmet, at a physical shop or online. Fitting a helmet is really important in getting the right sizing which can impact on your safety and riding comfort. Obviously shopping online can be problematic in this regard so if you have a bike shop that you like then no problem, go in and spend as long as you need until you get the right lid.
If you don’t have a particular affiliation with a store you could get your fitting done at a store then buy online. (My local store is ridiculously expensive so I buy online whenever I need to).
Finally, you can use the information below to carefully work out your head size and then use this data to work out the right size helmet from the manufacturer’s website to be able to purchase online.
- Measure your head first. Measure around the largest part of your head just above the ears, taking the measurement at the forehead. Check this size with the manufacturer you are considering. Each manufacturer has their own sizing chart so you need to check each one. Below is a link to dirt bike helmet sizing charts for some of the main manufacturers.
- Try on as many helmets as you can. Make sure you adjust the chin strap firmly without being too comfortable. Your head should be evenly touching the inside of the helmet.
- Check movement. If you can move the helmet from side to side while the chin strap is on the helmet is too loose. Similarly, the helmet should not fall off your head if you lean forward.
- Accident check. The final test is to get someone to stand behind you and try and flick the helmet off as you lean forward with the chin strap on, if the helmet comes off then it will probably also come off in a crash.
What’s The Best Dirt Bike Helmet For Women?
So, to the best of my ability, I can’t find a manufacturer that has built a dirt bike helmet specifically designed for women (please email if this is not the case). The closest I can find in this category are manufacturers aiming their existing products to the female market by offering colours that may be more interesting to a female market. This is not necessarily a bad thing as there isn’t a lot of difference between a male and female head!
With this in mind, the same considerations for selecting a helmet apply to female buyers as they do the males. Make sure you measure your head (see above) and try on as many helmets as you can in your price bracket.
I like the Fox Racing V1 (See Amazon for pricing) as a solid entry level helmet and more importantly, they have a good range of colours that also tie in with the Fox clothing range.
The helmet also has good safety standards exceeding DOT and ECE helmet certifications.
The helmet weighs in at approximately 4pounds or 1.8kg. If weight is an issue then you may have to go for a more premium product which tends to be lighter. I have read posts regarding the Shoei VFX-W being a light helmet but have been unable to verify the weight because the manufacturer does not put the weight of the helmets on their website? Go figure.
Dirt Bike Helmets For Youth: Whats The Best?
If your child is just starting out or your not sure how long junior will want to ride for, there are plenty of ways to save money when it comes to dirt biking.
Unfortunately cutting costs on a helmet is not one of them!
The good news is most manufacturers provide a good range of helmets to suit kids at all development ages.
When buying a helmet for a child it can be tempting to buy it a little larger for growing into. Unfortunately, this is not safe when it comes to helmets as that extra space in the helmet can be a big issue if your child has an accident. You really want a firm fit just as you would if buying for an adult.
Fox Racing has a good range of helmets for kids and the 2018 Fox Racing Youth V1 Sayak (See price at Amazon) is a good example.
While not the cheapest helmet you will find for your child, it does provide good value for money when comparing the safety aspect.
This helmet exceeds the American DOT and European standard ECE which is a good indicator of the safety aspect.
Dirt Bike Helmet Accessories
So now you have your dirt bike helmet and all the rest of the gear you are ready for action. But wait! There are a few add-on accessories that can make your riding a lot more pleasurable and fun particularly if you ride alone.
Dirt Bike Helmet Bluetooth Audio
There are two things I like doing, riding dirt bikes and listening to music. Why not combine the two? Well, you can with a few different options to achieve this.
- Use your bog standard wired earbuds from your phone.
- this can be a perfectly acceptable way of getting tunes into your helmet. What may impact on this method is how far the buds stick out. A firm fitting helmet can press on the buds and this can be an irritation after a while. There’s also the hassle of making sure the cable makes it way from your pocket up into your helmet.
- Use some Bluetooth wireless buds.
- This alleviates the wire issue but not the helmet fitting problem. Good quality wireless buds can be expensive and their sound quality is not always as good as their wired counterparts.
- There is a new product called Sound Wrap by syphon sound
- This is a really unique and simple product that basically looks like a headband. It just sits comfortably between your head and helmet and is attached to a Bluetooth box via a cord that drives the speakers and allows you to sync your phone or audio source. You can also plug your phone directly into the Bluetooth box. One feature I like about this product is the ability to disconnect the cable just below your chin. For more information regarding this product click here.
Capturing an awesome ride for future reference on video is a great way to share your experience with other people.
The evolution of the GoPro style of cameras makes this job easier with their design built around adventure sports.
The GoPro Helmet Front Mount (See Amazon price here) allows you to mount your camera on your helmet with adjustment allowing front or back shots to really capture the moment.
The Final Word On Helmets
If it wasn’t clear before this article then it should be now! Helmets are the most important safety item when it comes to riding dirt bikes. Getting a good fit is important to your comfort and safety. Do plenty of research and testing to find the right helmet for you and your available budget.
If helmets are the number one safety item then boots come in a close second, check out my article on boots may to help you find the right product and really lift your riding performance and safety.