The Short Answer is:
It depends on your riding style and preference. Open face helmets are more comfortable and suitable for casual riders, while full face helmets offer more protection and are better for riders who like to push their limits.
Mountain biking is an exhilarating sport that requires the right gear to ensure safety and comfort. One of the most important pieces of equipment is the helmet.
When it comes to choosing a mountain bike helmet, one of the biggest decisions is whether to go for an open or full-face helmet. While open face helmets are more comfortable, full-face helmets offer more protection.
In this article, we’ll explore the topic: Should You Get an Open or Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet, and the pros and cons of each type of helmet to help you decide which one is right for you.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Differences
When it comes to choosing between an open-face and a full-face mountain bike helmet, there are several differences to consider. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Also known as half-shell helmets, they only cover the top and back of the head, leaving the face exposed.
- They are more comfortable and lightweight compared to full-face helmets.
- They offer less protection than full-face helmets, especially to the face, chin, and jaw.
- They are suitable for less aggressive cross-country trail rides, beach rides, and road rides.
- They cover the entire head, including the chin and jaw, offering more protection to the face, skull, and head of the biker.
- They are heavier and less ventilated than open-face helmets, which can make them hot and uncomfortable in warm weather.
- They can make it difficult to hear traffic around you.
- They are critical for maximum protection if you are all about charging downhill or enduro racing.
- They are a perfect option for new riders since they are more prone to accidents on challenging rides.
In summary, open-face helmets are more comfortable and lightweight but offer less protection than full-face helmets. Full-face helmets provide more protection to the face, skull, and head, but can be hot and uncomfortable in warm weather. The choice ultimately depends on your style of riding and personal preference.
Open Face Mountain Bike Helmets
Open-face mountain bike helmets are a popular choice for many riders due to their lightweight and breathable design. Here are some key points to consider when looking for an open-face mountain bike helmet:
- Protection: Open-face helmets provide less protection than full-face helmets, as they do not cover the chin or jaw. However, they still offer protection for the top, back, and sides of the head in the event of a crash.
- Ventilation: Open-face helmets typically have more ventilation than full-face helmets, making them a good choice for hot weather or intense rides.
- Comfort: Open-face helmets are generally more comfortable to wear than full-face helmets, as they are lighter and less restrictive.
- Fit: It is important to choose a helmet that fits properly to ensure maximum protection. Look for a helmet that sits snugly on your head without being too tight or too loose.
- Features: Some open-face helmets come with additional features such as MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), which can help reduce the risk of brain injury in the event of an impact.
When choosing an open-face mountain bike helmet, it is important to consider your individual needs and preferences. If you are a beginner or casual rider, an open-face helmet may be a good choice. However, if you are an experienced rider or plan to ride more aggressively, a full-face helmet may provide better protection.
Full Face Mountain Bike Helmets
Full-face mountain bike helmets are an essential piece of equipment for riders who engage in gravity-oriented mountain biking, downhill racing, and enduro riding. They provide the highest level of safety when riding gnarly terrain. Here are some key points to consider when looking for a full-face mountain bike helmet:
- Protection: Full-face helmets provide the most protection for your head and face in the event of a crash. They are designed to absorb impact and protect your head from rotational forces that can cause brain injuries.
- Versatility: Full-face helmets are now more versatile than ever before. They are viable for aggressive trail riding, e-biking, and pedaly shuttle laps.
- Comfort: Look for a helmet that fits well and is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. A good fit is essential for maximum protection and comfort.
- Ventilation: Full-face helmets can get hot and stuffy, so look for a helmet with good ventilation to keep you cool and comfortable on long rides.
- Brand and Price: There are many brands and price points to choose from when it comes to full-face mountain bike helmets. Some popular brands include Fox, Giro, Smith, and Troy Lee Designs. Prices can range from around $50 to over $500, depending on the features and level of protection you need.
Overall, a full-face mountain bike helmet is an essential piece of equipment for riders who engage in gravity-oriented mountain biking, downhill racing, and enduro riding. When choosing a helmet, consider factors such as protection, versatility, comfort, ventilation, brand, and price to find the best helmet for your needs and budget.
Factors to Consider When Choosing
When choosing between an open or full-face mountain bike helmet, there are several factors to consider. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:
- Protection: Full-face helmets offer more protection than open face helmets, as they cover the entire head and face. If you’re an aggressive rider or participate in high-risk activities, a full-face helmet may be the better choice for you.
- Comfort: Open-face helmets are generally more comfortable than full-face helmets, as they are lighter and allow for more ventilation. If you’re a casual rider or prefer a more lightweight helmet, an open face helmet may be a better option.
- Fit: Above all, make sure you get a helmet that fits properly. A poor fit can compromise protection and comfort, so be sure to measure your head and try on helmets to find the right size.
- Helmet type: There are many different types of mountain bike helmets available, including full-face, half-shell, and convertible helmets. Consider which type of helmet will best suit your needs and riding style.
- Ventilation: If you tend to get hot and sweaty while riding, look for a helmet with good ventilation. Open-face helmets generally offer better ventilation than full-face helmets.
- Weight: The weight of your helmet can impact your comfort and performance while riding. If you’re looking for a lightweight helmet, an open face helmet may be a better choice.
Ultimately, the choice between an open or full-face mountain bike helmet will depend on your personal preferences and riding style. Consider these factors carefully to find the helmet that best suits your needs.
Safety Standards and Certification
When it comes to choosing between an open or full-face mountain bike helmet, safety standards, and certification are crucial factors to consider.
In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) bike helmet standard is required by law, while in Europe, the EN1078 is the only mandatory standard for all bicycle helmets. ASTM F1952 – 15 is an American standard that is relevant to mountain biking, but it is not mandatory.
The Snell Memorial Foundation standards are more difficult to pass, but they are not often used. Other countries such as Australia and Canada also have their own bicycle helmet standards.
To ensure that a helmet is safe, it must pass certain impact tests that measure linear acceleration and rotational velocity of the head resulting from a range of head impacts a cyclist might experience.
The helmet must also absorb impact and stay on the rider’s head during impact, be light, ventilated, easy to remove, and not harm the rider in the event of a crash. The helmet must also permit reasonable visibility when in use.
Every bicycle helmet must have instructions telling riders how to make sure the helmet fits properly and how to wear it properly, and the instructions must include a picture showing the proper way to wear the helmet.
Additionally, every bicycle helmet must be marked with the model number or designation, a warning that no helmet can protect against all possible impacts, and a warning that, for maximum protection, the helmet must fit the rider’s head properly, and that the rider must properly put the helmet on and hook the straps together, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Each bicycle helmet must also have a label certifying that the helmet meets the required safety standards. In conclusion, when choosing between an open or full-face mountain bike helmet, it is important to consider safety standards and certification.
Look for helmets that meet the required safety standards and have passed impact tests, and make sure the helmet fits properly and is comfortable to wear.
Helmet Fit and Adjustment
When choosing a mountain bike helmet, it is important to consider the fit and adjustment of the helmet. A good-fitting helmet should be snug but not annoyingly tight, and it should sit level on your head with the front edge one inch or less above your eyebrows so that your forehead is protected.
The helmet should not be able to rotate in any direction, and it should be snug around all parts of your head. To ensure a proper fit, you can measure the circumference of your head using a cloth tape measure or a piece of string and a ruler.
Be sure to measure horizontally across your brow and over your ears. Use the bike helmet size chart to find the proper helmet size based on your measurement.
When trying on a helmet, adjust the chin strap so that it is positioned snugly against the bottom of your jaw. The chinstrap should be snug enough to only squeeze two fingers. If the helmet features replaceable padding to adjust the fit, you may have to try several iterations to get it right.
For a full-face mountain bike helmet, the cheek pads should be touching your cheeks, and the jaw padding should be snug. A correct-sized full-face helmet should feel snug on your head and shouldn’t move back and forth or side to side when you move your head.
Maintenance and Care Tips
Whether you choose an open or full-face mountain bike helmet, proper maintenance, and care are essential to ensure its longevity and effectiveness. Here are some tips to keep your helmet in top condition:
- Store your helmet in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. Avoid high heat, such as inside a car on a sunny day, as excessive heat can damage the liner or shell or make them come apart. Also, avoid chemicals.
- Clean your helmet regularly using mild soap and water. You can gently hand-wash it with cold water and mild soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s, or wash it the way you would wash your hair using a mild shampoo or a similarly mild soap. Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals or solvents.
- Air dry your helmet out of direct sunlight. Do not put your helmet in a dishwasher.
- Clean the helmet pads separately. Soak them in a bucket/sink of cold water with a bit of washing powder. Wring out each pad and hang to dry. Do NOT put the pads in the dryer.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your mountain bike helmet stays clean, fresh, and in good condition for years to come, regardless of whether you choose an open or full-face design.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to the Topic:
Are full-face helmets only necessary for downhill or extreme mountain biking?
Full-face helmets are not only necessary for downhill or extreme mountain biking. They are generally unnecessary if you plan to be doing mostly cross-country mountain biking where the potential for a major crash is lower.
However, if you plan on tackling more aggressive downhill sections or spending time in a bike park, then a full-face helmet may be a wise choice.
Full-face helmets offer better protection against impacts to the face and jaw, making them a more suitable option when riders want to take on bumpy downhill trails more often.
Can open-face helmets provide adequate protection for trail riding?
While open-face helmets may be more comfortable for trail riding, they offer less protection than full-face helmets. Full-face helmets provide the best protection available for a motorcycle rider’s head.
How do I determine the correct size and fit for a mountain bike helmet?
To determine the correct size and fit for a mountain bike helmet, it’s advisable to measure your head and check it against the brand’s size chart.
Helmets are designed to fit just above your eyebrows and ears, and as such, this is the best place to measure your head to guarantee a proper fit.
Conclusion: Should You Get an Open or Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet?
In conclusion, the choice between an open or full-face mountain bike helmet depends on the rider’s personal preference, the type of terrain they ride on, and the level of protection they desire.
Open-face helmets are more comfortable, lighter, and offer better ventilation, making them ideal for less aggressive cross-country trail rides, beach rides, and road rides.
On the other hand, full-face helmets provide maximum protection against injuries, making them a perfect option for new riders and those who ride on challenging terrains.
However, they are less comfortable, heavier, and lack breathability, which can make rides tiring and uncomfortable.
Ultimately, the decision should be based on the rider’s needs and priorities, and they should always choose a helmet that meets safety standards and fits properly.