Do you commute to work by bike? If so, consider using a commuter full-face bike helmet.
Yes, they can look dorky, but they offer a lot of protection in the event of an accident.
This article gives you the pros and cons of wearing a full-face commuter bike helmet.
Reasons Why Full-Face Bike Helmets Are A Good Idea For Your Commute
When you think of motorcycling, it’s easy to understand why a rider needs full-face protection. The speeds involved are higher and the potential for serious injury greater.
Certain situations in cycling can also be hazardous, with worse-case scenarios that most of us prefer not to dwell upon.
Let’s look at what a full-face helmet offers the bike commuter, in terms of real protection and handy side-benefits.
Read more: Are mountain bikes good for commuting?
Protection Against Facial Injury
You can never be quite sure when you fall off a bike exactly how you’ll land. The nightmare accident is probably the “face plant” onto concrete, where you go over your handlebar and land face-first.
In the above situation, there’s no question that a full-face bike helmet could prevent some horrific injuries. Yes, you’ll probably already have your skull covered by an open helmet, but that won’t save your nose, mouth, teeth and jaw.
This kind of disastrous accident will “never happen to me”. That’s what we all think. But it only takes a piece of faulty concrete pavement, an unexpected pothole or some unseen happening for any of us to have this type of accident. It’s not always preventable.
Anyone that rides off-road into work may also benefit from full-face protection. Accidents are always possible on challenging terrain, even if you’ve ridden it a thousand times before.
Naturally, this is the biggest, most serious reason to consider covering your whole face: prevention of injury What other reasons are there?
Video: Full-Face Helmet For Everyday Riding
Protection Against Insects And Debris
Most people that cycle a lot will end up spitting out a few flies or removing them from their eyes. If you’re unlucky, you might have undesirable things happen like a bee or wasp getting caught in your sunglasses (definitely can occur).
Other strange things happen when cycling, like being caught in the flying debris of a combine harvester on rural roads or having stones thrown into your face by passing vehicles. These things aren’t likely to happen often, but they do happen.
Many experienced cyclists already wear wrap-around glasses to protect their eyes when riding, or even oversized visors. It’s not such a big leap, when you think about it, to go the whole hog and protect your entire face in one go.
Full-Face Helmet For Warmth
A full-face bike helmet can help keep you warm in winter by covering more of your face.
Some commuters already wear aero bike helmets in the cold for their less ventilated design. They protect more against rain and cold. A full-face helmet does similar, though not necessarily at the expense of ventilation.
Reasons Why They Aren’t A Good Idea
Of course, there are concerns about wearing a full-face bike helmet that extend far beyond perceived dorkiness. Here are the major ones:
Loss Of Vision
If you’re a bike commuter who weaves through heavy traffic every day, you don’t want to wear anything that impairs your peripheral vision or dulls your senses. Sticking a full-faced biker’s helmet on will do that.
A 1975 study on the “Field of View With and Without Motorcycle Helmets” by S. Gordon and J. Prince found that a full-face helmet could reduce the normal horizontal field of view by up to 21.9%.
Another study concluded that most hazards a motorcyclist faces come from the front, which isn’t necessarily true for cyclists in heavy traffic.
The safety trade-off that makes sense with motorcyclists isn’t so compelling for road cyclists.
A bicycle accident won’t usually send you sprawling for dozens of yards. A cyclist is slow moving, at least as vulnerable (i.e., a sitting duck) as a motorcyclist, and needs the widest field of view possible during urban riding.
Read more: Bike commuting dangers and safety guide
Video: Wearing A Full-Face Helmet On The Road
Remember we said a full-face helmet will keep you warm? If you’re riding with intensity, it could easily be far too hot.
As you become too hot, you’re likely to profusely sweat, which will sting your eyes and potentially impair your vision. Look for good airflow in a full-face helmet.
3 Full-Face Helmets We Love
Below are three of our favorite full-face helmets.
1. Troy Lee Designs Stage MIPS Bike Helmet (best overall)
Loaded with safety features and sporting a snazzy design, the Troy Lee Designs Stage MIPS Bike Helmet is a fine choice of head protection. Not least of its attractions is MIPS technology, which protects against rotational force in the event of a crash.
This is a lightweight helmet made from dual-density EPS and EPP foam. These materials protect against high-speed and low-speed impact, respectively.
For protection against overheating, the Stage MIPS Bike Helmet has 11 intake ports and 14 exhaust vents for airflow. Its lined with a wicking material that contains silver X-Static fibers to prevent bacterial growth and odors.
With an MTB full-face helmet like this, you’d typically add a pair of MTB goggles for eye protection. The extended visor helps protect your face against impact from branches, twigs and leaves on trails. It also helps to cushion impact if you fall.
A high-quality helmet that comes complete with goggles is the Demon United Podium Full Face MTB Helmet. This helmet has a fully adjustable visor, an EPS foam liner for shock absorption and 13 vents for airflow.
The shell of the Podium helmet is constructed from a tough injection-molded thermal alloy polycarbonate resin. This material is both lightweight and strong. The helmet weighs only 2lbs 2oz (just under 1kg).
As well as including goggles, you also get a helmet bag with the Podium for convenient storage. The goggles are available in a choice of colors.
3. Bell Sanction Mountain Bike Helmet (best budget)
Bell is a dependable brand in the world of bike helmets, and the Bell Sanction Mountain Bike Helmet comes in at an appealing price. It’s an extremely lightweight helmet at just 1lb 14oz (850g) and is made with an EPS foam liner and an ABS shell.
This is a helmet with a smaller profile than most full-face helmets, hence the low weight. It’s not designed for aggressive or extreme MTB riding, but if you’re looking for a full-face helmet that won’t make you overheat or weigh you down, this could be it!