Full Face vs Open Face Helmets: A Motorcyclist’s Safety Guide

Last Updated on November 25, 2021 by Stephen Paul Robertson

Motorcycle helmets decrease the chances of getting head injuries and traumatic brain injuries by 69%. Therefore, while shopping for them, you need to know what type will serve you most efficiently.

Two very popular types of helmets are full face helmets and open face helmets.

Which is better though? Full face vs open face helmet–which will protect you more? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each type?

It is always good to get all the answers before purchasing. You should invest some money in buying yourself the best. That way, when facing unlucky incidents on the road, you will at least have the odds in your favor!

Full Face VS Open Face Helmet

Full face vs open face helmet

Full-Face Helmet

LS2 Helmets Full Face Stream Street HelmetFull face helmets cover the entire head. Your face, brain, jaws, nose, etc. are all kept away from large impacts. It is thus suitable for all riders. People will equally wear them on roads and race tracks.

As the chins are likely to face 50% of the force of impacts, they must be protected at all costs. Full face helmets do just that with their chin bars–a glorified feature. The only portion that can be moved in such helmets is the helmet visor. They can be flipped up or kept closed shut according to the rider’s preference.

Experts are often heard to be singing praises about full face helmets. Statistics have proven them to be the most protective type, as they are the reason for the huge decrease in fatality rates. This has also led several states to alter laws and only legalize full face helmets.

Usually, motorcycle helmets will cost somewhere between $100 to $3000 or above. Prices will vary based on the material used to make them and the features they offer. If you are looking for a full-face helmet whose price is under 500 dollars, check this out.

Advantages of Full-Face Helmet

Protection

One cannot rave enough about the protection that full face helmets provide. They grant full coverage and maximum protection, which ends up decreasing the risk of head injuries. Such helmets always meet the DOT standard and also manage to pass tests set by ECE or Snell Foundation.

Versatile usage

Due to the amazing protection service that full face helmets offer, they can be worn nearly everywhere. They are also legally approved for most tasks, making them a versatile piece of attire.

Noise-free

Full face helmets have no parts that wobble around during the ride. As the front part is completely closed (unless you have your visor lifted), no wind is let in. Hearing damage is cut down with the reduction of wind noise.

Weather protection

Wearing the full face helmet on hot summer days will protect your face from scalding sunburns. On cold windy days, it will keep the wind away from your cheeks and on rainy days your head will not be drenched.

Full face helmets not only protect your head from accidents but also disturbing weather. Your physical health is thus made better.

Eye protection

Visors of full face helmets protect eyes from UV rays. Many also have tinted visors that stop reflections from creating hindrance in vision.

Aerodynamic

Full face helmets tend to have attention-grabbing aerodynamic styles. These look amazing and also decrease the drag acting on wearers. The riding experience is made smoother and more convenient.

No strain

Although full face helmets have chin bars, they tend to be very lightweight. This is because they are commonly made of thermoplastic, a material that is not heavy but is very resilient. The wearer’s neck faces no strain.

Disadvantages of Full Face Helmet

Claustrophobic Feel

As the entire head is covered, the rider might feel claustrophobic. Breathing in and out will create a stuffy feeling and fog up the visors. Full-face helmet manufacturers try hard to increase the number of vents to lessen discomfort.

Hot

On summer days, full face helmets are extremely uncomfortable to wear. They cause the rider’s head and face to sweat a lot.

No Communication

One cannot engage in conversations while wearing a full-face helmet. They have to remove it to talk to fellow riders and to gas stations. Recently manufactured full face helmets come with systems that allow you to connect headsets by Bluetooth to avoid any communication problems.

Open Face Helmet

Motorcycle Open Face HelmetOpen face helmets are commonly known as ¾ helmets. This is because, unlike full face helmets, they only cover 3/4th of your head. The face, along with the bottom, is left exposed.

Open face helmets are known to provide good protection to the top, back, and sides of your head. A chin strap holds the helmet into position and prevents it from slipping out involuntarily. Chin bars are absent and thus, jaws are not kept safe. Some open face helmets come with a face shield or visors. These are intended to protect your eyes or face from dirt and debris.

Such helmets are usually sported by people on cruises or on tours. Scooter owners are also commonly spotted wearing open face helmets. Their prices range from about $50 to $600.

Expensive open face helmets feature lightweight yet durable materials. They also come with comfortable paddings on the inside that increases the satisfaction of users.

Advantages of Open Face Helmets

Protection

There is no doubt that open face helmets are built with the safety of users kept in mind. Several of them are certified by DOT and even manage to pass other rigorous tests.

According to experts, they protect the covered parts of the head as the way full face helmets do. If visors and face shields are present, they protect the eyes from dust and debris.

Comfort

A big reason behind the open face helmet’s popularity is the comfort it provides. These helmets allow plenty of air to make it easy for the rider to breathe. Inhaling and exhaling cause no fogginess or increase of sweat.

Weight

The absence of a chin bar decreases the weight of an open face motorcycle helmet. Users can enjoy long rides without causing any strain on their necks. Wearer’s satisfaction increases.

View

As the face is uncovered, users are given a wide view of the road, which increases the rider’s focus. Riding experience is also enhanced due to zero hindrances.

Wind

Open face helmets are said to increase the feeling of freedom on the road. The wind completely hits the rider’s face and allows them to enjoy every second of the ride.

Communication

Due to bare face, riders wearing open-face helmets can easily communicate with others on the road. They can also grab a drink or bite at rest stops while keeping the helmet on.

Disadvantages of Open Face Helmets

Zero Chin Protection

Chins are most likely to crash into pavements or roads during crashes. There is a 19.4% chance of the rider falling on their chin. However, open face helmets offer no protection to your chin. They are hence, not considered being very safe. Jaws can easily get fractured and you can break your teeth.

No Face Protection

Frontal smashes can cause severe and permanent damages. You can break your nose, skull, and teeth. As open face helmets do not protect the front of your face, your chances of getting injured are pretty high.

Open face helmets also do not cover your face from dirt or weather factors properly. Riders get sunburns on their face and inhale a lot of dust particles.

Wind Noise

A ride with an open face helmet is bound to get extremely noisy. Although the ears are covered, as wind is always flowing in, its noise causes damage to the ear. When riding at high speeds, this noise increases gravely and starts causing hearing loss.

If you use open face helmets for many years, due to long-term exposure to noises over 80 decibels, you will suffer from hearing damage in your older days.

Which Is Safer–Full Face or Half Face Helmet?

As you could have guessed from its name, half face helmets provide coverage for only half of your head. The rest is left exposed and unprotected. This makes it less safe than both–full face helmets and open face helmets.

Half face helmets are generally worn by motorcyclists who wish to enjoy long rides on empty roads. They feel the wind on their face and engage in conversation with a passenger. Riders can also and enjoy full ventilation and stand out amongst the crowd due to its cool look. Other than these minor conveniences, half face helmets bring no benefits to the plate.

Since motorcyclists fall on the top of their head rarely, half face helmets do not decrease any risk. As the rider’s chin, face, and neck are left completely exposed during crashes, they are prone to receiving permanent injuries.

Half face helmets are extremely agonizing to wear on dusty roads. With no shielding on the front, dirt and smoke can get into the rider’s eyes and make it tough for the rider to see. It also gets into their nose and throat, causing disturbances to the wearer’s health.

Motorcyclists who sport half face helmets also have a hard time enjoying a comfortable ride. On sunny days, their barren face and neck are exposed to dangerous UV rays. This causes painful sunburns and constant sweating. Winter and rainy days are no better. Cold snow and rain droplets make the upper body sore and cause excruciating pain. These factors often make the riders lose focus, causing an increase in the chances of getting into an accident.

All of these points sum up to show that half face helmets are not safe. Experts have expressed their concerns regarding this, which has made lawmakers change standards. Half face helmets are not allowed in most states that have helmet laws.

In contrast, full face helmets are a must in nearly all places. They are known to decrease the chances of injury by half or more, making them the ideal choice for the road and tracks.

Open Face Helmet Injuries

In Brazil, researchers analyzed helmet statistics to identify their usefulness. 156 patients were looked into, amongst whom 51 were wearing open face helmets during the crash. Amongst these individuals, 39 had suffered from traumatic brain injury and 35 got facial fractures. In short, there is a 76.5% chance of getting TBI and a 68.83% chance of suffering facial fractures.  These huge numbers immediately brought to light the incompetence of open face helmet injuries.

The study conducted and published by The Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery also consisted 46 motorcyclists who were wearing full face helmets. Only 16 of them got facial fractures and 24 of them head to suffer from traumatic brain injury.

The little difference in percentages between those wearing open face helmets and those not wearing anything has alarmed professionals. They encourage people to wear full face helmets instead of open faced ones.

FAQs

Is a full face helmet safer than a modular?

Yes, a full face helmet is safer than a modular helmet. The hinge systems in modular helmets can come off, causing the helmet to flip off mid-ride.

Can your ride with flip-up helmet open?

Yes, you can but it is not advisable to do so. If your helmet is flipped open during an accident, your frontal face and eyes will receive no protection.

Can you wear sunglasses with a full-face helmet?

Most full face helmets are not compatible with sunglasses. This is because they have built-in visors and face shields that will clash with any eyewear. However, some full face helmets are built to be worn with sunglasses.

How do I reduce wind noise on my motorcycle helmet?

You can reduce wind noise on your motorcycle helmet by installing extra paddings. This will help in blocking out wind. You can also stuff fleece or foam into the cheek pads.

Conclusion

Pros, cons, expert advice, and statistics–all have been mentioned extensively throughout the article. Full face vs open face helmet–which do you think is the one for you?

Hopefully, our article has managed to help you decide. Before you purchase any helmets, though, make sure they meet the DOT safety standards. Have a safe ride! And never forget to share your experience!

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