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PHOTOS | KATE DISHER-QUILL

First full-face racing helmet from Bell Helmets

First full-face racing helmet from Bell Helmets

Although safety gear isn’t always sexy, when it comes to riding a motorcycle it’s a non negotiable. Australia’s regulations mean not only must you wear a helmet, but it needs to be approved by the Australia Standards Board. Thankfully, helmet safety has come a loooong way since the first racing helmet was constructed back in the 1960’s (pictured right).

When it comes to buying a helmet, there are a few things to consider.

Comfort is a biggie. When you are riding for longer than an hour, a helmet that is too tight can give you a cracking headache, or arguably worse ‘helmet head’ marks on your forehead. Conversely, if it is too loose, it will rattle around on your noggin and not provide the adequate protection. Fit wise, it’s best for it to be snug but not overly restrictive as over time, the helmet lining will mould to the shape of your head.

Before even thinking about colour, it’s best to give serious thought as to what kind of protection level you are after. There are two main options to choose from – Full Face or Open Face. 

Full face

A full face offers the highest level of protection as it covers your whole head and chin, plus it features a moveable face shield that protects the eyes when the shield is in the down position. And luckily these days the fashion side has evolved. Currently, the helmet de jour is the stylish Bell Bullitt with a vintage feel and multiple colours to choose from.

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* Australians be aware the Simpson Bandit (the storm trooper looking helmet above) is currently not recognised by Australian Standards requirements despite being a professional racing helmet (and looking super cool). While it offers full face protection you run the risk of fines if caught by the fun police.

Open face

The open faced look is favoured by the café racer community. Make sure that you couple this with a snap-on face shied or a pair of goggles that can withstand the impact of a rock, gross bugs or general road debris.  Unfortunately, although they look really cool, sunglasses are not overly suitable as eye protection while riding as they do not cover the side of your eyes. Be aware that although the open face does provide you with a medium level of protection, it does not cover your chin or face should you ever find yourself in a situation where you kind of wish it would.

Buying a helmet is one occasion when you should NEVER go for vintage or second hand. It’s too much of a risk, you have to expect the helmet has been dropped and damaged and therefore practically useless. Often there are no outward signs of damage that would tip you off.

Look for this sticker on the back base of the helmet

Look for this sticker on the back base of the helmet

In Europe and the US there are more options for helmets that comply with safety standards, however in Australia we have our own standards of which the former mostly don’t comply, (with the exception of Queensland now accepting Euro standards). Although it’s tempting to buy an overseas model, be aware that if it does not have an Australian approved sticker on it, technically it is illegal and you could be fined and even be hit with demerit points. In my experience the easiest way to find your new helmet is to go into store and try a bunch on to see what feels comfortable and looks good, and then either buy there or price compare with online shopping.

Your style & personalisation

Almost every colour of the rainbow is now available, and often in both matt or gloss options so you can really pick one that reflects your style But  if you would like to really create a statement, why not consider helmet art? Usually best left to the professionals, this is one guaranteed way of looking great on the road.

Erica is everyone’s support crew and personal cheerleading squad. A lover of all things moto and vintage, she is a red-lipped founder of the Throttle Dolls, splitting her time between her custom Sportster and her convertible BMW ‘Brenda’. As a regular IVV contributor, Erica shines a light on Petrolette road style, and standing on your own two feet when it comes to selecting vehicles, mechanics and gear.