What do you look for in a motorcycle helmet? For many riders, a number of factors come into play: Which type of helmet looks better? Which provides the best protection? Which feels better to wear? In the ongoing debate about modular motorcycle helmets vs full face ones, these concerns are frequently weighed against one another. Full face helmets offer the highest level of protection, but is the reduced protection afforded by modular helmets offset by their increased style and comfort? Analyzing the variables should provide the answer:
A helmet's most vital purpose is to shield the head from harm in the event of an accident. Flip up motorcycle helmets and full face helmets are both made from the same materials, so why is it that full faced helmets are considered safer?
For starters, full face helmets are constructed as one piece of gear, meaning there are no moving parts that could potentially break off. Furthermore, full faced helmets cover the jaw and chin, completely enveloping the head of a rider to keep them safe.
Contrast that with a modular helmet, like the GLX, which is designed to flip up. They aren't intended to be used for riding in that state, the hinge creates a weak point that can break upon impact. In addition, if you forget to completely latch your helmet, it could come undone during a crash.
If you're the type of rider who frequents the tracks, rides in high-traffic areas, or is just primarily concerned about safety, the full face helmet is the clear choice. For riders who value other attributes, however, there is still more to consider.
Another essential feature. An uncomfortable helmet is a hassle to wear, as it can create pressure on the head that can lead to headaches. Poor-fitting, uncomfortable helmets also reduce safety as you are less able to wear them correctly. How do flip up and full face helmets compare in this regard?
One of the biggest knocks on full faced helmets is how cumbersome they are. This criticism isn't unwarranted, as you do have to completely remove a full face helmet in order to get a bit of fresh air or hold a conversation without sounding muffled.
It is worth noting, however, that full face helmets have come a long way in improving their comfort level. Modern helmet designs, such as the DK-120 by Duke Helmets, include ventilation points to allow the circulation of fresh air into the helmet.
To top it off, many full face helmets come standard with removable liners and cheek pads, and are being constructed out of lighter weight materials so they don't put undue stress on the head and neck.
Even with all that, if comfort is the arena, then modular helmets are the victor. In addition to having all of the modern comfort features that full face helmets do, their ability to be easily flipped up and down gives modular helmets a comparatively greater level of convenience.
If you're inclined to want a little extra air when you're at a stoplight, or ride in a group and want to chat with your buddies while parked, the flip up helmet is going to offer greater reign to do so.
You should certainly like the way your helmet looks. Which is going to give you a more stylish appearance? That will depend a lot on your personal preferences, but there are inherent features of each helmet style that come into play.
Full faced helmets have a commanding appearance that is accentuated by their simplified design. Again, take a look at the Duke DK-120 to get an idea of what I mean. It looks solid.
That isn't to say that modular helmets don't also look powerful, but their appearance, because of the moving parts, is rounder and a bit more futuristic, especially when they have a retractable second visor like the GLX.
Both flip up motorcycle helmets and full face helmets can come in an expansive range of colors and designs, so in regards to looks, neither beats the other out. Though when choosing your helmet you might want to factor in recent research that suggests lower crash risks while wearing white helmets!
The Bottom Line
In the duel of flip up motorcycle helmet vs full face, it comes down to a choice of how much safety you desire and what level of comfort you are after.
Thanks to its basic design, a full face helmet offers a superior level of protection. If staying protected is your only concern, an option similar to the DK-120 will be right up your alley.
Modular helmets, however, are designed to be used with the visor down while riding, and so offer close to the same level of protection as a full face helmet, with an added benefit of being able to convert to open face when desired.
If you prefer a little extra comfort, you aren't sacrificing that much in safety to ride with a flip up helmet, and something like the GLX would be a great choice for balancing protection with convenience.
Have any questions? Have any opinions on what helmets are best for everyday riding? Let us know in the comments below!