In continuing on my safety series, tonight we will discuss helmets, what kind to get, what brand would work for you and what your looking for.
one giant discussing to have is Open face Vs Closed face. I'll state my opinion right now and have NO problem saying it. OPEN FACE IS 50 YEAR OLD OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY, and I Know I will have people that will produce screaming dissents to that, but its okay. Most people that come in my shop asking about open face helmets are worried about the vision. From my personal experience, (and this is my 15th year in motorsport) I look out about 1.5"-2" of my visor max.
I also recommend driving on track with the visor down, as it does not take alot to break a windshield at 150 mph and glass shards will do nasty things to your eyes. To justify my point, Here is a rabbit hitting the windshield on a track (WARNING RABBIT VIOLENCE) HERE, just thing of all that lovely glass in your face.
Now onto the bread and butter of the discussion, what brand should you buy? and how much should you spend? The direct answer depends on quite a few factors:
A) Shape of your head. I find that MOST people can fit comfortably into a Bell, however not everyone. I find simpson sizing to be more big all the way around, HJC to be similar to Bell with a different forehead, and arai to be oval shaped.
B) What kind of car are you driving, dear consumer? Ah yes, Open wheel or closed top makes all the difference. A Bell Sport is perfectly acceptable for autocrosses in my mini Cooper, but in my laydown enduro kart, it would rip off my head at 120 on the daytona banks. Also, would you be driving a racecar with a forced air port for the helmet?
C) how much do you want to spend? The sky is truly the limit, but a good entry level helmet can be had for 300-500 USD. How much is your head worth to you? as you only get one.
D) Weight. honestly most of the helmets we sell are within a pound of each other. but the lighter is probably a little easier on your neck.
E) Does the organization you are planning to run with have a rating requirement? SNELL SA is the general accepted one, but some places want FIA 8858 or FIA 8860
I firmly suggest if you have the chance to go into a shop and try some helmets on do it. Its easier to gauge what brand/size works for you.
When trying on a helmet, you want to buckle the chin strap (do you try on shoes without lacing them?) a good fit is SNUG all the way around, not tight to the point where you will get a headache. Another thing to know is that helmets do break in some, they will get looser as they age and will never tighten up (unless your head is still growing). grab the front of your helmet and try and turn your head side to side in it, if you get a serious amount of motion, its probably to big or an improper fit. grab the back of the helmet and try and pull it forward off your head with the strap buckled, it it can come off, its too big. Yes, your cheeks can be pressed in a little bit. its not a bad thing.
As always, I am glad to help with anything safety related that I can, feel free to comment here or ask me for my email.