Different types of helmets

In motorcycle and scooter helmets there are a lot of different kinds of models and types of helmets. You can make roughly the following breakdown: Open Face, Full Face, Flip Up and Cross helmets. We explain the differences.

Different types of helmets explained

What is an Open Face helmet?

open face helmet momo fighter open face helmet shark rsj

Benefits Open Face helmets

  • Good visibility
  • Less hot in summer
  • Fits easy in scooter
  • Many (hip) variants

Disadvantages Open Face helmets

  • Less protection
  • Cold in winter
  • More noise at higher speeds

Open Face helmets are as the name does appear open helmets, which have no fixed chin guard at the front. Open Face helmets may be provided with a visor, but some do not. At a sight you can be sure that this provides your entire face protection or just the eyes. Something like that also applies to the helmet shell; by some Open Face helmets the helmet shell runs down to the jaw line; such type of Open Face helmets offers more protection to the side of the head and has less tendency to tip sideways. Other Open Face helmets fall just up to the ears, this offers less protection, but looks somewhat smoother. At higher speeds, the helmet has the quality to lift a bit from the head.

Within Open Face helmets there are a number of seperate species, such as retro helmets and fashion helmets. Retro helmets are modern helmets with an old-fashioned look. These helmets are especially worn on older engines such as choppers and cafe-racers. Fashion helmets are beautifully designed helmets that much (color-matched) by (motor) scooters are worn. A fashion helmet is often a real fashion accessory.

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What is a Full Face helmet?

Full Face helmet HJC Full Face helmet shark

Benefits Full Face helmets:

  • Best protection
  • Less cold in the winter
  • Quiet
  • Most aerodynamically

Disadvantages Full Face helmets:

  • Less large field of view
  • Hot in summer
  • Does not always fit in scooter

Full Face helmets are closed helmets that provide extra protection to the head by means of a solid chin section.  Because the shell is made from one single area this type of helmet offers the best protection from falls or collisions. Full Face helmets are available in a lot of different price ranges varying from a few tens to thausands of euros. The difference lies in de material of the outer shell, finish, comfort and safety. Many Full Face helmets have a built-in sun visor, removable inner lining and extensive ventilation.

In the more expensive segment are Full Face helmets often wind tunnel tested. Sporting helmets are often provided with aerodynamic slots and various spoilers in order to keep the head stable at higher speeds. For each type of motor the placement of the spoilers is also different. On a naked bike you have after all a different posture than on a racing bike. Touring helmets are primarily focussed to cause as little noise as possible, therefore they are usually provided with almost none protrusions. A Full Face helmet is perfect for the installation of a Bluetooth communication system.

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What is a Flip Up helmet?

Flip Up helmet shark evoline 3 Flip Up helmet schuberth

Benefits Flip Up helmets:

  • Ease
  • More protection then a Open Face helmet
  • 2 helmets in 1

Disadvantages Flip Up helmets:

  • Relatively heavy
  • Less quiet then a Full Face helmet

A Flip Up helmet is an open helmet and Full Face helmet in one. With a Flip Up helmet you are able to flip it open by simply using the chin guard which is attatched to a hinge construction. The handy thing is that you can transform your Full Face helmet into an Open Face helmet with just one simple hand movement. Flip Up helmets are widely used by touring riders who regulary switch between speed and therefore would like to open their helmet. A Flip Up helmet is also ideal for the installation of a Bluetooth headset.

Note that not every Flip Up helmet has a so called double homologation or P/J approval. This double homologation means that a helmet is approved for use as a Open Face helmet as a Full Face helmet. If a helmet doesn't have such approval you can not drive with an unfolded chin guard. 

For most Flip Up helmets you just flip up the chin guard. Disadvantage is that you have a big wind deflector on top of your helmet, which is annoying at higher speeds. A number of Flip Up helmets have a chin guard which completely folds back. An example is the Shark Evoline 3. A modular helmet is also kind of a Flip Up helmet. Of this you can just click the chin guard off the helmet en put in your pocket or purse.

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What is a Cross helmet?

Cross helmet Airoh cross helmet

Benefits Cross helmets:

  • Light
  • Comprehensive ventilation
  • Breathing space

Disadvantages Cross helmets:

  • No visor
  • Less suitable for everyday use
  • Less comfort

Cross helmets are primarely used in motocross. Two outstanding features of a Cross helmet are the protruding chin guard and the so-called peak. A normal Full Face helmet gives too little oxygen during the efforts of motocross. In the past therefore they raced with Open Face helmets. These helmets offered not enough protection against splashing clods and stones. Later they invented a loose chin guard, today this is part of the helmet and provides the right protection but also sufficient oxygen. The valve or peak is designed to protect the face from dirt clods and stones. A Cross helmet is not equipped with a visor but there is an opening large enough to wear cross glasses. A typical Cross helmet is not intended for evereyday use but if it has an ECE approval you are allowed to carry it on public roads.

Between a Cross helmet and a Full Face helmet there is a so called Enduro helmet. This helmet has the appearance of a Cross helmet but is fitted with a visor (sometimes a sun visor) and is more comfortable than a pure cross helmet. Enduro helmets are commonly worn by (semi offroad) motorbikes like the BMW GS (Adventure) or Yamaha XTZ.

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Motorcycle helmets are most of all important for the protection of the rider, but they also offer other advantages such as comfort and convenience. A good helmet will have an aerodynamic shape, which keeps the helmet stable at high speeds and prevents the wind from yanking at your head while riding. Not a single helmet will feel the same, every helmet has its own fit and shape. At FortaMoto you'll find a complete range of motorcycle helmets.

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