Motorcycle Helmets: A Beginner’s Guide to Materials and Styles

When it comes to motorcycle helmet materials and styles, there are endless options to choose from. From full-face to open-face and fiberglass to carbon fiber, how do you know which helmet fits you?

In this guide, we’ll break down the different materials and styles of motorcycle helmets to help you find the perfect fit for your needs and preferences. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or new to motorcycling, this beginner’s guide has you covered.

Motorcycle Helmet Materials

When it comes to motorcycle helmet materials, there are several options to consider:


A popular choice for its balance of strength and weight, fiberglass motorcycle helmet shells are typically made by layering strands of glass fibers into a resin matrix.

Carbon fiber

Known for their strength and lightweight nature, carbon fiber helmet shells are made from thin strands of carbon woven into a fabric and then coated with resin.


A lightweight and impact-resistant material, polycarbonate is often used to construct modular and full-face helmet shells.

Each of these materials has its own set of pros and cons:

  • Fiberglass helmet shells are solid and lightweight but may not be as impact resistant as other materials.
  • Carbon fiber helmet shells are firm and lightweight but can be more expensive than fiberglass or polycarbonate.
  • Polycarbonate helmet shells are lightweight and impact-resistant, but they may not be as strong as fiberglass or carbon fiber.

In addition to these materials, there are also industry standards and certifications to consider when choosing a helmet. For example, the Department of Transportation (DOT) sets minimum safety standards for helmet manufacturing in the United States. 

Helmets manufacturers can also choose to have their helmet models tested and certified by organizations such as the Snell Memorial Foundation or the European Economic Community (EEC). Choose a helmet that meets industry standards and has been approved by a reputable safety organization.

Motorcycle Helmet Styles

When it comes to motorcycle helmet styles, there are several options to choose from:

Full-face helmet

As the name suggests, a full-face helmet covers the entire head, including the chin and face. Full-face helmets offer the most protection of any helmet style, providing coverage to the most vulnerable parts of the head. 

In addition to protection, full-face helmets often also offer features such as ventilation, noise reduction, and a visor to protect the eyes from wind and debris. However, some riders may find full-face helmets to be hot and claustrophobic, as they can limit the rider’s field of vision and ability to communicate with others.

Open-face (three-quarter) helmet

An open-face helmet covers the head and ears but leaves the face exposed, offering less protection than a full-face helmet. But they allow for more ventilation and a greater sense of freedom. 

Open-face helmets are a popular choice for riders who want the protection of a helmet. Still, they prefer a more open and airier feel. They often have a visor to protect the eyes, but they do not cover the lower part of the face like full-face helmets do.

Half-helmet (shorty or brain bucket) 

A half-helmet covers the top of the head and the ears but leaves the back of the head, neck, and face exposed. Half-helmets offer the least protection of any helmet style, leaving much of the head and face uncovered. However, they allow for the most ventilation and freedom of any helmet style.

Half helmets are popular for riders who want a minimalistic and lightweight helmet. They often do not have a visor, and riders may need to wear separate eye protection such as goggles or sunglasses.

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Helmet

When choosing a motorcycle helmet, there are several factors to consider beyond the material and style. They are:


Finding a helmet that fits properly is crucial, as a poorly-fitting helmet can be uncomfortable and potentially unsafe. Try several helmet sizes and styles to find the best fit for your head shape and size.


Consider the helmet’s weight when choosing because a heavy helmet might be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. Lighter helmets are generally more comfortable but balance weight with safety and protection.


Consider a helmet with good ventilation if you live in a hot or humid climate or if you tend to get hot while riding. Look for helmets with multiple vents or a ventilation system to help keep you cool and comfortable.

Noise levels

Some helmets can be loud, especially at high speeds or with earplugs. Consider a helmet’s noise levels when deciding, especially if you plan on wearing the helmet for long rides or in noisy environments.


If you plan on wearing the helmet with a visor, consider the visor’s features and capabilities. Some visors are tinted or have UV protection, while others are clear or have interchangeable lenses.


By considering these factors, you can find a motorcycle helmet that is comfortable, safe, and suitable for your needs and preferences. Don’t be afraid to try on several helmets and ask for advice from store staff or other riders. 

About Nellie Rodriguez 8 Articles
Nellie Rodriguez was a renowned American nutritionist author in the mid-20th century. She championed for better health through nutrition, and this is evident in some of her works. Her first textbook on nutrition was in 1942. This was later followed by some of her best-selling books for consumers that sold more than ten million copies.

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