Technology has done a great many things for our safety and comfort. The motorcycle helmet is one of these things. Nowadays, helmets are specially designed to provide comfort and protection to the skull against the impact of the collision. People usually ask this question what are motorcycle helmets made of? In this regard, the properties of the helmet vary from one model to another. But it must reduce the impact of collision in the form of kinetic energy from reaching the user’s skull as much as possible. It is difficult to rely on the single material of construction as the accident occurs at various speeds and in different situations.
Under these scenarios, people also asked another typical question which is what materials are motorcycle helmets made of? We are going to answer these questions in a much detailed and comprehensive manner in this article. You must read it fully for a good overview of the helmet construction.
First of all, we will discuss some primary or typical materials used for the construction of the helmet. Gradually, you will know what are motorcycle helmets made of.
Primary Materials For Helmets
- Carbon fiber
At the outer shell of the helmet, extremely hard but not overly dense plastic is used to bear the brunt of the trauma. It must be strong and lightweight at the same time. Beneath the outer shell, the helmets have a thick layer of padded foam. Foam is quite sturdy and it must be the same as we use in the crunch zones of modern vehicles. It is specially designed to reduce the impact of crush.
Kevlar and carbon fiber
For executive or racing type helmets, we use some exotic materials like woven Kevlar, carbon fiber, etc. These materials might be good for the racing type helmets but not for regularly used helmets. It provides extra protection as these are used for the most dangerous kind of scenarios. These helmets are also quite expensive. Carbon fiber is also known for its high tensile strength, stiffness, low thermal expansion, high chemical resistance and low weight properties. still, it is most famous for being lightweight material.
There might be many benefits for using carbon fiber in the helmet industry but there might be some challenges like de-lamination in which composite materials slowly separate from each other due to repeated stresses. It may also wrinkle when in the fabrication phase which makes it less stiff or make it weaker. Research and development have been done to overcome these challenges.
Helmets of some premium categories are usually made using fiberglass as they offer greater flexibility and sock up as much impact as possible. These are much more resistant to cracks and shatters than their counterparts. These kinds of helmets might be slightly brittle as this property is good for absorbing shocks. These are the best mixture of strength and flexibility. Moreover, the helmets from these kinds of materials are extremely lightweight and it is quite easy to wear them for a longer period.
There are some properties of fiberglass which makes it a good candidate for helmet manufacturing. First of all, it is less expensive but more flexible than carbon fiber. Moreover, it is lightweight and malleable, which means you can mould it into various shapes easily. The mechanical strength is greater than steel which makes it good reinforcement material. It doesn’t have much impact on temperature. The thermal conductivity is much lower which makes it highly eligible for the automobile industry. It is highly durable which makes it good integrity and longevity of the helmet.
What Are Motorcycle Helmets Made of, Helmet Construction, Step-By-Step Guide
In this guide, we will provide you with all the information about what are motorcycle helmets made of. Let’s have a look at all the materials of construction one by one.
We have discussed the above as a primary component but now we would discuss it in detail. The outer layer is the most exposed part of the helmet. Being an outermost part of the helmet, it must have such strength and shape that it must slide along the road, spread impact throughout the area, resist abrasion and improve the overall visibility of the road. The paint and design must be closely examined from the safety point of view.
The outer shell mostly has a round shape with no edges that can deflect you from the road and compound your injuries. Some helmets might come with spoilers or vents but these are usually made from soft plastic. The material of the shell must be such that it must break slowly and gradually rather than immediately. That is why it is made from the materials like polycarbonate or layers of fiberglass. These things are quite hard to break. The shell destructs slowly and takes a much longer time to reach the impact to your head.
The visibility of the helmet also depends upon the outer colour of the helmet. Normally, the white and reflective are more visible in every kind of situation rather than a dark or matte color. However, you can also make your dark helmet more reflective with the help of retroreflective tape. You can also try these tapes on your regular helmets as it improves the visibility to a much higher level.
Don’t apply stickers to the outer shell and these are not good for most of the helmets. If you want to apply stickers, then use them at the sides or the rubber beadings rather than on the outer shell.
As far as taking care is concerned, it is quite easy to be careful about the outer shell of the helmet. Always clean them with the help of mild-cleaners without using any solvent. You can also try a warm but wet towel on the outer shell of the helmet ten minutes before cleaning it. It softens the grime on the helmet and you can easily uproot it by gently moving the towel on it. If you like to apply the soapy solution, then make it in a highly diluted form before applying it to the helmet. Always use a soft toothbrush for cleaning vents or visor ports.
The outer shell comes of various materials like thermoplastic shells, fiberglass shells, carbon fiber shells, and Kevlar shells. These are things about the outer shell. In the end, I would say you must keep it safe from casual damage like bash off walls.
The most crucial element of the helmet is its middle layer. The middle layer is normally made of polystyrene or EPS material. In the premium helmets, multiple layers of the EPS are used for its strengthening. In the accident, it is the first after outer layer which has to resist the impact of crush from reaching to your brain.
Thermocol is also used in this layer which is not a very robust material. So, you must not store any material in the helmet or hang it around the handle as it could damage the middle layer of the helmet if not the outer layer. Mostly, it is painted in black. If it is in white, then it means it is in damaged form.
The comfort layer usually touches your head or skin. It usually comes in a long but rectangular form and covers the head from the hairline to the back of the neck. The two cheek pads on either side of the helmet also come under this layer category.
These layers give you comfort and good fitness with the help of padded foams in it. The foam used on the helmet must be strong enough to combat the strong wind pressure. The foam has wicking properties as it absorbs moisture very fast by spreading it quickly throughout the area. In the premium helmets, high-quality foams are used which could also absorb skin oil, sweat and other road pollutants.
You can easily clean the helmet by stripping off the material from the helmet. It is also possible to replace the comfort layer after a year or two. In this way, you can make your old helmet brand new.
The helmet must be on your head whenever any crash occurs. It doesn’t matter how expensive but it is useless if it could not stay on your head at the time of the crash. Therefore, all motorcycle helmets must come with a good retention system. It is such an important part of the helmet that special tests are done for checking the retention in the form of its strength and stability.
The retention is made more endurable with the help of two webbing straps attached to it. You can easily connect these straps and have a safe journey without any irritation. In this regard, you can also adopt some quick-release mechanisms as you adopt for the car seat belts.
The Double-D ring is the by-default solution of the helmet. You can easily adjust the helmet in terms of its tightness or fitness. It might be difficult to use when you have gloves on your hands. But after a certain time, you get used to it.
It is like a face shield or the most transparent part of the helmet right in front of your face. It is a highly important component as it is quite difficult to keep your eyes open when the air is blowing at the speed of 80 to 85mph.
The visor is made from various kinds of materials. Normally, it is made from an acrylic material which is quite cheap material. Some scratches might appear on it after a certain time or you might experience a shade of yellow or hazy color. In this regard, you can replace it after a certain time for a good view of the road.
Moreover, some visors are also made from polycarbonate material as we use in the car headlamps. These are much better than acrylic and don’t get scratches or any shade of color.
You must keep the visor neat and clean for a crystal clear view. You can adopt the same procedure in its cleaning as you have adopted for the cleaning of your outer shell. Keep the warm and wet towel on the visor for ten minutes until the cruft or bugs soften up so that you can remove them easily. Use only mild or dilute soap for its cleaning and soft cloth at the end for drying purposes.
Visor also comes in both the tinted and clear form. Dark-tinted visors are good as you don’t have to wear sunglasses after setting them on the helmet.
The helmet usually has a closed space and there must be some venting system inside the helmet for the good flow of the air and to make yourself more comfortable. Therefore, all the helmets have some form of vents inside them. Cheap helmets only give way to the air for the inside but the premium helmets also come with a proper extraction system. Normally., the air is provided through a small hole and it is linked with the channel and at the end moulded into the EPS liner.
When you ride these channels are filled with atmospheric air and keep you well ventilated. Some helmets have been specially designed for this purpose and they have been categorized as the best ventilated motorcycle helmets. It is much easier to wear these helmets in oppressive weather conditions.
Chinstraps of the helmet are normally made of nylon material which is highly resistant to various tough conditions. The buckle closure or the metal D-ring closures are also attached with these straps. It is extremely good for safety purposes. Modular helmets have one of the toughest chinstraps in the categories of the helmet.
Latest Innovations In The Motorcycle Helmets
Companies are investing a lot of money in making helmets safe for riding purposes and several innovations have been made in this regard. Now, they are fitting a movable thermoplastic mechanism inside the helmet which works in the same way as our head protects our brain in real life. It is called the MIPS system. Bell motorcycles have the first time introduced these innovations in the industry.
Much research has been done on making a stronger outer shell. In this regard, the Arai has introduced a Peripheral belting and structural net composite outer shell. This shell has been made from fiberglass with a strengthening belt attached to the outside of the helmet. It makes the helmet tougher and it is positioned right above the visor opening. It was created for the formula racing helmet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are motorcycle helmets made of ?
You can divide the helmet material into two categories. The basic material of construction might be some thermoplastics like ABS, polycarbonate, or the blend of both. The other is some composite materials like fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber or the blend of these. People have a large range of choices of materials in the case of full-face helmets as they are specially designed for high-speed riding or racing. On the other hand, half-shell helmets offer fewer choices because they have been designed for lower speed rides.
What should motorcycle helmets be made out of ?
Fiberglass is the best material for the motorcycle helmet because it gives much more strength without adding any more weight. Nowadays, some carbon fiber helmets are also becoming common due to their lightweight properties. So, it all depends upon your requirement, or for the purpose, you are going to use the helmet.
How do helmet materials protect your heads ?
The outer hard shell is specially designed to spread the impact overall without being cracked. Then the impact travels across the layers of the helmet and the layer of Styrofoam inside the helmet will collapse at areas where the shocks are absorbed. These are expandable polystyrene foam which is tough but still crushable.