There is no alternative to safety. Whether you are at home or on the road, you should take measures to ensure the safety of yourself as well as those with you. Just as seatbelts are a must when it comes to road safety with four-wheelers, helmets are absolutely necessary when riding a motorbike or even a bicycle. Often, on Indian roads, we will see people riding bikes wearing no helmet, without any worry. Worse still, a common sight is a parent driving the motorcycle with a helmet on, but their child, riding pillion or in front has no head protection. And people don’t stop at just this violation. They would be giving a ride to 4-5 people sometimes literally hanging from the bike, and none wearing a helmet.
Even when someone does wear a helmet, they will often not buckle the strap or will be wearing a wrong-sized one that will do them more damage than good. It is extremely important that the helmet, that decides how safe one of the most important and delicate parts of your body is, must be decided with much consideration and only after verifying that it is the ideal one for you.
Types of Helmets
Helmets are of at least 6 types, categorised on the basis of structural differences, safety level and purpose. We will start with the most basic one, moving onto the more heavy duty ones as we go.
Also known as a brain bucket in colloquial terms, this one covers just the top and some way down the back of the head. They are the least safe ones, not only because they do not cover the entire head, but also because they have the greatest chance of slipping. They have no cheek pads, chin bars or face shields, and have been banned from Indian roads.
Open Face Helmet
These are the 3/4 helmets, that is, they provide slightly greater coverage than the half helmets. They cover the entire head and the cheeks, but they still lack the chin bar. Depending on the style, they may or may not have face shields or visors.
As the name suggests, these can be modified. They are the same as the open face helmets, with the exception that they have an attached, movable chin bar and face shield or visor that can be moved up or down. Keep the chin bar down while riding, and if you have to grab a quick bite or check something out like a guide book or map, just move the chin bar up for convenience without having to remove the entire helmet.
Full Face Helmet
These cover your entire face – full head with a fixed chin bar and fully covering face shield that can be fipped up or down. These are the safest for roads, not only in terms of head coverage but also because the padding is maximum here. They are made sound-insulating to make traffic noises less distracting while riding.
Alternatively, these are also called off-road helmets. These are the ones used mostly for mountain and dirt riding. They have a number of features that make them suitable for extreme riding. From the top, the sun peak shades you from the sun and can also protect your face from debris falling from top. The face area is open for maximum ventilation and use of goggles. The chin bar is highly angular too for added protection. They have the least sound-proofing.
Dual Sport Helmet
These are simultaneously called hybrid or crossover helmets, because they are a mix between motorcross and full face ones. These retain both the sun peak and protruding chin bar, albeit both smaller than motorcross ones. Also, visors are added, sound-proofing is better and ventilation is lower, making these usable both for city roads and dirt tracks.
Criteria for a Good Helmet
As we said before, a good helmet is a matter of life and death. Choosing the right one is important to protect you at all times in the future. When buying a product, you must absolutely look for these in your prospective helmet:
Ensure that your helmet has an ISI certification, which proves it has passed all the safety standards that make it fit for Indian roads.
Size and Comfort
These two things go hand in hand. The size of the helmet decides if it will be comfortable for the user or not. If it is too small, it will sit tight on the head and cause a headache, and if it is too large, it will keep slipping back, with the strap moving back and pulling at the neck, thus distracting one from the road.
Helmets can be made of different materials like thermoplastics, polycarbonate, carbon fibres or even kevlar. Whatever is used, it should be made sure that the material is sufficiently shock-resistant.
The shape of the helmet should be aerodynamic, so that it does not produce wind resistance while driving.
The inside of the helmet should be lined well with dense cushioning material so that in case of bumps, the shock does not transmit too much to the head.
The padding should, in turn, be lined with absorbent clothing to soak up sweat to keep the rider comfortable and cool.
Having a visor or face shield not only protects the eyes from oncoming wind, but also shields the face from any accidental debris.
These are often present nowadays in most helmets not just to protect from the sun but also anything that might fall from the top.
Make sure the smallest size the chin strap can form is within the size of your head for proper fitting. Also look for padding material on the inner side of the strap so that you don’t get red marks on your face.
Best Helmets in India
The helmet scene in India is rules by Vega, followed by Studds. Based on the above factors, the safest and most comfortable helmets are:
1. Vega Cliff CLF-LK-M Full Face Helmet
This is probably the most popular model of helmet used across India. It is ISI certified and full face type. The inside of the helmet is lined with a comfortable foam material that adjusts to the shape of your head and gives good cushioning. The outer shell is made of scratch-resistant acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, that provides toughness and durability to the helmet and security to the head.
The scratch-resistant, easy-fitting visor covers the entire face and allows unobstructed view at the road. It is lightweight with a snug fit and compact, aerodynamic design, which keeps wind resistance to the minimum. Its large chin bar gives shock absorbance in case of falls on the face.
Features of Vega Cliff CLF-LK-M Full Face Helmet
- The dimensions of the helmet is 30.3 x 26 x 24.5 cm.
- Its weight is 1.18 kg.
- The outer shell is made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.
- The inner lining is made of multi density EPS liner.
- It is full face type helmet.
2. Vega Crux Flip-up Helmet
This modular helmet is almost as popular as the previous one. The outer shell is again made from impact-resistant acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, and is given a leather touch finish for a stylish look. The helmet has proper ventilation so that the wearer does not feel hot and suffocated. The shape of the helmet has been made to be aerodynamic to allow streamlined air flow around it.
The visor is made from optical polycarbonate and is both scratch -resistant and UV-filtering for the protection of the eye. It fits easily over the face and can be smoothly moved up or down by pressing the button provided. The lining foam is soft and comfortable and adjusts to the shape of the head. But most of all, the helmet is ISI approved.
Features of Vega Crux Flip-up Helmet
- The product dimensions are 63.5 x 63.5 x 27 cm.
- The product weight is 1.5 kg.
- The outer shell material is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.
- The visor is made of optical polycarbonate.
- It is flip-up type helmet.
3. Studds Chrome Economy SUS_CEBFH_BLKL Full Face Helmet
Studds is also a trusted brand among Indian customers when it comes to motorbike helmets. Its outer shell is made from special high impact grade of engineering thermoplastic by injecting method. The unpainted textured finish of the helmet imparts scratch-resistance to it. The visor can be articulating and can be kept at various positions. It is made from optically true injected polycarbonate with silicon hard coating for a scratch resistance surface.
Regulated density EPS padding protects against concussions, and it is lined with specially treated anti-allergic velveteen so that anyone can use it without worry. The chinstrap has a quick release mechanism for safe and easy operation. The helmet also has a number of options when it comes to looks, from the graphics of the outer shell to clear, smoke tint, mirror and rainbow options for the visor.
Features of Studds Chrome Economy SUS_CEBFH_BLKL Full Face Helmet
- Its dimensions are 14 x 12 x 10 inches.
- Product weight is 1.3 kg.
- Outer material is thermoplastic polyurethane.
- Inner lining material is EPS.
- It is full face type helmet.
4. Vega Off Road OR-D/V-DK_M Motocross Helmet
This is a motorcross helmet from Vega that easily works as dual sport too. It is obviously ISI certified since it is meant to be used on dirt tracks. It gives you superior fit and comfort provided using advanced CAD technology. Being off road type, it is highly ventilated, with 2 side vents, 1 mouth vent and 4 back exhaust vent. This ensures easy airflow from the front to the back to flush heat and humidity out and provide comfort to the rider.
It has a long sun peak as well as a well-sized chin bar that makes it suitable for both highways and off roads. It has an especially aerodynamic design to ensure that no matter what sort of wind flow you are facing, there will be no resistance. It has a face shield as well as a visor. This provides UV resistance for the protection of your eyes.
Features of Vega Off Road OR-D/V-DK_M Motocross Helmet
- Its dimensions are 35.8 x 26.2 x 26.2 cm.
- Its weight is 1.2 kg.
- The outer shell is made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.
- The inner lining is made of multi-density EPS.
- It is dual sport type helmet.
5. Autofy O2 Full Close Helmet
This open face helmet from Autofy has a really stylish look that can go with any type of motorcycle. The chrome bordering is one of the reasons it looks so good. The outer shell is made of highly durable and sturdy polycarbonate material to withstand heavy impact and protect the head. It has a retractable visor that can be adjusted as per the weather conditions or the rider’s preferences. The inner lining is made of polypropylene EPS material that not only gives comfort but also superior safety by cushioning the skull and adjacent areas of the face on impact.
Since this is not a full face helmet, leather covering is provided over the ears to gives protection in hostile conditions such as intense cold, rain etc. without impairing hearing while driving. Its quick release buckle lock on chin strap ensures ease of operation and safety. It also has a wide open front for a unimpaired view while driving. It is lightweight and comfortable for the wearer. It has ISI 4151 certification as safety standard.
Features of Autofy O2 Full Close Helmet
- The helmet size is 34 x 24 x 24 cm.
- It is 599 g in weight.
- The outer shell is made of polycarbonate.
- The inner lining is of polypropylene EPS.
- The visor is made of polycarbonate with silicon hard coating.
- It is open face type helmet.
6. Vega Off Road OR-D/V-SKT-DKS_M Sketch Full Face Graphic Helmet
Vega has some wonderful off road helmets in its collection with awesome looks and this one definitely defines that category. It has a beautiful sketched skin that gives you a stylish look without compromising on safety. It is ISI approved and is guaranteed to provide you the protection you are looking for. It has a great fit and is very comfortable owing to the advanced CAD technology used to make this helmet. It has ample ventilation provided via the vents that are especially designed for high capacity intakes.
These vents are so positioned around the helmet that they guide the airflow from the front to the back, flushing out heat and humidity. It has both visors and face shields for selective protection, providing UV filtering to the eyes. Both the outer shell of the helmet as well as the visor are scratch-resistant for durability.
Features of Vega Off Road OR-D/V-SKT-DKS_M Sketch Full Face Graphic Helmet
- The dimensions of the item is 20 x 18 x 18 inches.
- Its weight is 1.2 kg.
- It has a acrylonitrile butadiene styrene outer shell.
- The inner lining is made of multi-density EPS.
- It is motorcross type helmet.
7. Vega Off Road w1 Motorsports Helmet with Single Visor
This is another great dual sport bike from Vega that can be used on any kind of road. The helmet is resistant to scratches and cracks for enhanced durability. It is capable of handling great impact without causing any hurt to the wearer. The wide design provides the rider with a clear view of the road ahead, so that collisions can be avoided.
The visor protects your eyes from the harmful UV radiation of the sun, so that you do not have to squint when riding towards the sun. The chin strap comes with an easy lock mechanism for quick operation. The strap is made of tough fabric and the lock is secure enough to ensure that the helmet stays securely in place even during a fall. The helmet is quite lightweight and has a sun peak for protection from above. It provides sufficient ventilation through vents in the helmet.
Features of Vega Off Road w1 Motorsports Helmet with Single Visor
- Its size is 35.6 x 26.2 x 25 cm,
- Item weight is 1.68 kg.
- The helmet is made of shock-resistant outer material.
- The inner lining is made of soft, absorbent fabric.
- It is dual sport/motorcross type helmet.
8. Habsolite All Purpose Safety Helmet
This is a half helmet, which means you cannot use it on urban roads. But you can use it for short scooter rides within your neighbourhood or in the inlands, or at sites. It comes with 3 layers of protective corrugation that gives the helmet extra sturdiness and strength and protects the head too.
The chin strap has size adjustable strap made of non-allergic fabric to give optimum fit and comfort to the rider. Its clip lock mechanism makes wearing and removing the helmet very easy and quick. The lock mechanism is strong enough to prevent the helmet from falling off in case of impact. Even though it is not ISI certified because it does not protect every part of the head, but that does not mean at all that it is not shock-absorbent. It is made of hard acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic making it tough and able to withstand heavy collision.
Features of Habsolite All Purpose Safety Helmet
- The item dimensions are 26 x 21 x 10 cm.
- Item weight is 159 g.
- The helmet is made of ABS plastic.
- It has no visor.
- It is half helmet type.
9. Steelbird SB-27 Open Face Helmet
This open face helmet from Steelbird has a very vintage look and feel. It combines good looks with safety and comfort for a complete package. The outer shell is made of high impact composite acrylonitrile butadiene styrene for robustness and durability on the outside, while the inner lining is of high density EPS or thermocol for safety cushioning and a comfortable feel. The helmet is ISI approved.
It also has mechanism for odour control, especially in the sweaty summers and humid monsoons. The inner lining adjusts to the shape of your head a few days after use. The visor covers half the face and has a lined lower bridge for enhanced vintage look.
Features of Steelbird SB-27 Open Face Helmet
- Item size is 32.4 x 27 x 24 cm.
- Its weight is 1.22 kg.
- The outer shell is made of ABS.
- The inner lining is high density EPS material.
- It has polycarbonate coated optical visor.
- This is an open face type of helmet.
10. Studds Motocross Plain SUS_MVPFFH_MBLKL Full Face Helmet
The final product in this list is a motorcross helmet from Studds. This helmet is as useful as good-looking. The outer shell of this ISI approved helmet is made by injecting of special high impact grade of engineering thermoplastic for superior safety. The visor is made from optically true injected polycarbonate and sports a mirror finish, finished with silicon hard coat to impart scratch resistance properties to it.
It has a regulated density EPS concussion padding lined with specially treated anti-allergic velveteen so that the helmet can provide both safety and comfort to the user. It also has a quick release chin strap mechanism to allow for ease of operation and safety. It has a sun peak to shield the face from sunlight and rogue debris and the full face visor blocks direct wind from hitting the face. The helmet provides ample ventilation via cleverly placed vents for air circulation and comfort. Spare visors are also available in clear, smoke tint, mirror and rainbow options.
Features of Studds Motocross Plain SUS_MVPFFH_MBLKL Full Face Helmet
- Its dimensions are 10 x 10 x 5 inches.
- Its weight is 1.78 kg.
- Outer shell is made of polyurethane thermoplastic.
- Inner material is regulated density EPS.
- It is full face off-road type helmet.
Although this guide is the most comprehensive in its description of categories, criteria and examples of good helmets, it is advised that in the end, the decision should be entirely yours regarding what type of helmet you should go for. The buyer knows his or her requirements the best and hence is expected to also make the best choice for themselves. But no matter what helmet you buy, always check for what kind of protective measures the helmet provides and if it is comfortable to you or not. These two points are, after all, the be-all and end-all in helmets.