Choosing a HELMET for motorcycles etc.
KNOW THIS or buy a DUD and get a POLICE FINE, and waste your money! Or worse,
you or your kid might be seriously hurt or worse due to an unsafe helmet !
I've been a rider since I was a kid on the back of my Dad's, I've been in the industry for years
and I'm qualified... BUT you shouldn't trust some guy off the internet just because I say I'm good,
so if you aren't sure about anything below, also ask your local motorcycle club or ask your State
Roads Authority, they have helpful pamphlets, or your local Learn-To-Ride school.
****1. YOU MUST GET PROOF OF SAFETY APPROVAL, but that's tricky.
Federal law requires that a helmet sold in Australia must have standards approval, but not just any standard, it must be AS/NZS1698 with a sticker saying that on the outside, AND a marking on the inside (usually on the fabric tag).
This GUARANTEES the helmet type has passed Australian safety and quality tests which are among the toughest in the world. The sticker and fabric tag MUST be left on so a cop can see it.
They usually show the logo below along with serial numbers etc BUT recently, more companies have been approved to issue the sticker and use a different logo. Check each company's credentials if you don't trust their approval sticker. You can find this on Australian Standards website.
Any visor/screen fitted to the helmet at the time of sale, must also have safety approval (AS1609 sticker) because if you're travelling at 100kmh, and a car coming the other way throws up a rock at you, thats a _big_ impact. If the helmet doesn't have eye protection built in, you MUST wear some other kind of eye protection, e.g. goggles/safety glasses/etc.
It is AGAINST the LAW to advertise or sell a helmet for motor vehicle use in Australia if it does not have the safety approval, so if you don't get the sticker, you ARE entitled to a
(Trade Practices Act, suitability for purpose).
HOWEVER - the rules in each state for what you are allowed to ride with, are a real mess! They're dramatically different to what is allowed to be sold by stores or ebay sellers. Each state is different, for example at the time of writing, Queensland will soon accept some overseas standards (even though the helmets can't be sold here), NSW accepts Australian/New Zealand Standards, and Victorian riders are screwed because their state government only accepts an old standard that doesn't exist any more. You can find more information in this article by the Victorian Motorcycle Council:
Motorcycle Helmet Standards: A National Appraisal
CLUBS, RACETRACKS etc usually demand AS/NZS1698, a few accept similar international standards also (check with your club AND your racetrack, as your helmet will need to be acceptable to both).
*****2. SPARE PARTS SUPPLY
Can you get replacement screens? Tinted screens for sunny days? How much $?
What about fragile parts like vents, side covers, that might break easily?
Have a think about these issues before you purchase... premium brands usually offer full support for many years after you buy, a cheaper brand helmet may not supply parts if you need them.
For as little as $100 you can get an approved helmet, with spare parts supply, warranty, and features like:
- removable washable interior
- cooling vents
- clear screen for eye protection (road) OR good access for wearing goggles (offroad)
- A chinbar will help prevent serious facial injury, even at moderate speeds they are highly recommended.
- What is the wind noise like? A better helmet will be quieter, and given that most helmets at 100kmh are
_nearly_ noisy enough to cause temporary or permanent hearing loss after a couple of hours... (105-120db!)
I always wear earplugs for road riding, but you may not want to. Dirt riding is slower and less noisy, but wearing
a dirt-style helmet at road speeds can be VERY noisy.
I wear a size Medium. You'd think I could fit every brand in the world. But no... every brand has a different idea of how big a "medium" or "large" should be. Also, shape of your head makes a huge difference to comfort and safety.
The wrong helmet will give you a blinding headache, or not even go on! Or worse, fall over your eyes blocking
your vision while you ride. It must fit secure, but not so tight it hurts.
Some people have a long, narrow head. Some have a wide head. Different brands suit different shapes. If the brand doesn't suit your head, can you exchange it? If it's the wrong size, can you exchange it? How much postage will that cost? Is there anywhere you can try it on (e.g. can you do personal pickup and just take whatever size suits you?) Will an experienced person help you choose fit?
******5. SECONDHAND OR NEW?
Every authority says don't buy secondhand because you can't see internal damage to helmets.
The danger is that the material of the outer shell will weaken over time, exposure to UV/Sun,
or over a series of small impacts (e.g. dropped off the handlebars). Racing and road traffic organisations
suggest to throw away any helmet over 10 years old OR more than 3-5 years usage OR with any damage
OR if it has been dropped. A helmet must always have its standards laebelling attached.
Also, the interior impact-absorbing liner will squash over several uses, loosening the fit, reducing
the impact absorption, and shaping itself to fit someone else's head, not yours.
However, a secondhand never-used helmet in perfect condition, that hasn't been stored for a decade,
in your size and shape of head, can save you some $ (I only ever did this once, because I knew
the guy and he had his bike stolen before he had worn his helmet)!
Riding is heaps of fun, and the fact that it's cheap and practical is a great excuse.
It's more fun if you have gear that fits comfortably, is safe and legal.
Happy riding, and happy E-Bay-ing.
Helmets for Motorcycle/ATV/etc - Don't get POLICE FINED
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21 December 2014
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