The modular helmet vs full face helmet debate is one that can never have a standard answer as each rider has personal preferences that take priority. But whether you’re a beginner rider or a more experienced one, you still need to learn if a modular or full face motorcycle helmet is best for you.
Full face motorcycle helmets are normally safer than modular helmets. Other considerations that are unique to every rider also need to be factored in alongside the issue of safety before you make a decision, as there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both types of helmet.
Below, we take a deep look at the merits and demerits of both types of helmets and how they affect each individual. So, join us as we continue to evaluate what is best for different types of riders.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Modular Helmets
Advantages Of Modular Helmets
The biggest advantage a modular helmet has is that the visor and chin bar can be swiveled up to get some breathing space. For claustrophobic people, this may be the only reason required to buy one. The chin bar never blocks your mouth, so if you need to drink or eat, there’s no need to take the helmet off. In cold weather, if the visor fogs up, it can be wiped easily.
Riders who wear glasses may find that a modular helmet allows for easy spectacle-wearing because there is a little more space inside it. If communication with other riders is needed, then it is possible to wear a mini headset under the helmet fairly comfortably.
Disadvantages Of Modular Helmets
The main disadvantage of a modular helmet is its reduced protection to the rider’s chin and nose. Unless the chin bar locking mechanism is strong enough to withstand a fall, there is every risk of the chin bar moving up to expose the rider’s chin to the road. Modular helmets with strong locking mechanisms do exist but cannot compare in strength to a single piece full face helmet.
The visor with chin bar swivel mechanism adds a lot of unwanted weight to the helmet as well. Even though the modular helmet doesn’t provide the same amount of protection as a full face helmet, it can be much more expensive in comparison to it.
KEY POINTS• Modular helmets make eating and drinking convenient
• The visor can be easily cleaned
• They offer less protection to the nose and chin than full face helmets
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Full Face Helmets
Advantages Of Full Face Helmets
The trump card that the full face helmet holds over modular helmets is its inherent safety for the rider’s head and face. The chin bar on full face helmets offers unrivaled chin protection, and this increased protection means these kinds of helmets are usually a requirement for track racing.
In cold weather, full face helmets are also warmer than modular helmets and are lighter as well. Full face helmets are often cheaper too, which makes them a no-brainer for many riders as the lower price and increased safety is a tough combination to beat.
Disadvantages Of Full Face Helmets
The full face helmet does have some disadvantages that need to be considered before buying one. If you are going from an open helmet to a full face helmet, then the chin bar may take some getting used to. In hot weather, the inside of the helmet can get quite warm, making your forehead and face sweat a lot.
The visor can be swiveled up for some cool air, but the area below your nostrils is still covered by the chin bar. This also means that to drink water or to eat, you need to remove a full face helmet. Another problem that some riders will face is that a full face helmet cannot be put over glasses particularly easily, although you can still wear them.
On some full face helmets, the visor cannot be swiveled down completely after the rider puts on spectacles. There are design differences between different brands of helmets, so the rider needs to physically check if the helmet has enough space to wear glasses before buying it.
KEY POINTS• Full face helmets are much safer than most modular helmets
• They offer superior chin and nose protection
• Full face helmets are less convenient and sometimes less comfortable than modular helmets
Are Full Face Motorcycle Helmets Safer Than Modular Helmets?
Full face motorcycle helmets are safer than modular helmets because they have a molded chin bar. This better protects the rider’s head from injury in the event of any falls. They’re also often made from fiberglass, which is one of the most secure materials out there for building a helmet.
Full face helmets are the preferable form of head protection compared to open face helmets and modular helmets because they have a molded chin bar. The chin bar protects the rider’s chin, which is one of the most injury-prone areas, along with the nose, and better protects the rider from any other injury to the head than other forms of helmet.
What Are They Made Of?
Motorcycle helmets are made from carbon fiber, kevlar, fiberglass, or thermoplastic. The strongest of all these materials is carbon fiber, which is the lightest and also the most expensive. Most riders do not need the strength of carbon fiber since fiberglass helmet protection is adequate for most, as long as it is not going to be used when riding at a very high speed.
Thermoplastics are lighter than fiberglass and are similar in many ways, but they do not have the same strength and rigidity. For racetrack riders who ride at very high speeds, a full face helmet made from carbon fiber is the only choice because it is the only material with extreme strength that can provide sufficient head protection.
Fiberglass helmets have been around for decades and are reasonably priced to suit any pocket. Most riders do not need the strength of a carbon fiber helmet, and fiber glass is usually good enough.
Making Helmets Out Of Fiberglass
Full face helmets that are made of fiberglass have exceptional strength and can withstand extreme shocks without breaking due to their construction. At a helmet factory, cloth strips soaked in resin are put on a helmet mold or frame in layers. Each layer is applied after the resin in the previous layer has dried.
The number of layers varies with the thickness of the fiberglass required and gives the helmet extreme strength with a little flexibility. Once all the layers have been applied and the helmet is dry, then any rough edges are cut, and the surface is polished. It is then painted and rubber or plastic trim is fitted. The last step is to fit the padding and straps to the inside of the helmet.
The flexibility is good because it means that on impact, it will not shatter. At the same time, it has enough rigidness to take most hard hits without breaking, although it is possible to make a hole in a helmet if it is hit hard enough. If a helmet breaks when the rider’s head hits the ground, the fiberglass breaking has absorbed the impact that could have caused a head injury.
Do You Need A Full Face Motorcycle Helmet?
You do need a full face motorcycle helmet. The rigidity of a molded chin bar is far superior to a detachable chin bar, making it essential for any rider who values head and face protection. Of course, there will be other factors that influence the decision, but your priority always should be safety.
All of us like to think that a fall is something that happens only to the other guy who is a rash and reckless rider. The hard truth is that it can still happen because of someone else’s fault, even when you do everything right. Plus, we all make mistakes sometimes!
KEY POINT• When riding a motorcycle, protecting your most important body part has to be your top priority
The Most Common Injuries In A Fall
When a rider falls from a motorcycle, the most common injury points are the knees, elbows, chin and nose. Professional race track riders wear suits with special padding on the elbows and knees and a full face helmet for head protection. It doesn’t need to be a crash. A fall at slow speed from a bike is enough to do a lot of damage, and this is where the full face helmet excels.
The chin bar and visor will have a number of deep scratches from contact with the road, but your chin and nose are completely safe. At high speeds, the benefits are even greater since the chances of head injuries are higher.
What To Look For In A Full Face Helmet
The most important factor that governs your purchase must be safety. Look for a helmet that is sturdy yet light. If you wear glasses, try on the helmet to see if it fits with your glasses on. There are numerous full face designs, so if one helmet doesn’t fit, another will. Try to assess the thickness of the fiberglass at the chin bar by feeling the width between two fingers.
The inside of a helmet is more or less standardized, with little variation between designs. The inside of the helmet will have foam or sponge padding encased in soft cloth or nylon. Most of the thicker padding is around the cheeks and on top of the head. You need to try the helmet on to make sure that it fits snugly without putting pressure on your cheeks or head.
The two straps that extrude from either side of the helmet interlock below the rider’s chin to fasten the helmet are made of thick nylon with different types of fasteners at the end. There is an adjuster to lengthen or shorten the strap length on one side so that the helmet straps fit beneath your chin. Most helmets use hard plastic fasteners in place of metal that can chafe your skin.
On a hot day, the inside of a full face helmet can get very hot and uncomfortable, forcing the rider to stop and take off the helmet to let the heat out. To deal with this, some helmets have air vents, so check if the brand you want has this feature. The air vents are strategically placed holes that allow air to enter and circulate inside the helmet.
The air vents are closable and lead to small air filters inside the helmet to remove dust particles before the air can pass through the helmet. Check the helmet specifications from the manufacturer for details of the number of air vents and air filtration.
Your helmet visor is another important detail of your helmet. Numerous visors are available to suit any type of riding, but the selection can be confusing. Unless you are going to ride a lot in the sun, a tinted visor is not necessary.
Transparent visors are made from optical grade polycarbonate for their impact strength and are optically suitable for use. It is flame-retardant and can withstand repeated small impacts without degradation of its optical properties.
It is used in applications that require high visual quality with low image distortion. The visor is fitted on the helmet with a fastener on either side that allows it to swivel up.
If you are going to ride a lot in cold weather, the inside of the visor is going to fog up, needing to be wiped frequently. The solution to this is to fit a Pinlock lens on the inside of your visor that will eliminate fogging and image distortion. It is relatively cheap, can be fitted at home, and lasts for about a year before it needs to be changed. Some helmet brands come with a Pinlock fitted.
What To Look For In A Modular Helmet
Safety Is Key
A modular helmet is very similar to a full face helmet in that the same priorities need to be maintained. The chin bar is the most important part here and needs to be very securely attached to the helmet to be considered for purchase. The hinge and locking mechanism for the visor and chin bar needs to be thoroughly checked for strength to take the impact.
Try on the modular helmet to check the fit. It needs to fit snugly, but not loosely. Spectacle wearers can check if there is enough space inside to wear glasses, and if not, then look at other designs until you find one that has enough space. If the helmet is going to be used in hot weather a lot, then helmet ventilation is important.
It needs to be mentioned here that a modular helmet can be heavier than a similar full face helmet because of the mechanism used to swivel the chin bar. While this may not make much of a difference on short rides, it will on a longer journey, so check the helmet weight before making a decision. If helmet weight is key for you, then the carbon fiber helmet is the lightest of all.
Modular helmets are generally more expensive compared to full face helmets and are normally heavier as well.
Check the manufacturer’s helmet specifications for the number of air vents on the helmet and details of air filtration. The air vents need to be positioned correctly to allow air to blow in around your face and to be closable when needed. This little detail can make a big difference to your facial comfort on a hot day. Riding at high speed with the visor up is out of the question.
Even though the visor and chin bar can swivel up, it is best not to ride with it in this position since a gust of wind can catch it and pull your head to one side. Helmet manufacturers make special helmets for use in hot climates with air vents on the upper part of the helmet, near the ears, and on the chin bar as well, that allow air to blow in toward your jaw.
If cool air blowing on your face is important, then buying an open face helmet is probably the best choice. The air vents on modular helmets are adequate for airflow inside the helmet while lifting the visor and the chin bar is for when you want to eat, drink, or talk.
The quality of the visor is crucial as it is going to affect your vision and shield your face from the oncoming breeze and rain or snow. If you are going to use your helmet in cold weather a lot, it may be a good choice to buy a Pinlock lens and fit it on the inside of your visor.
The point of fitting a Pinlock lens on the inside of your visor is to prevent it from fogging up. Several manufacturers sell their helmets with Pinlock lenses pre-fitted so that the helmet is ready to use by the customer. When riding in the rain, some helmets leak water around the visor, so check the size of gaps between the helmet and visor before buying.
KEY POINTS• No matter which type of helmet you’re buying, prioritizing safety is key
• You’ll also want to consider air flow, as this will contribute to how comfortable the helmet is to wear
• The visor is an important part of your helmet, so ensure it’s of high quality
The Difference Between A Modular Helmet Chin Bar And A Full Face Helmet Chin Bar
In the end, when it comes down to it, the big difference between a modular helmet and a full face helmet is the chin bar. Apart from the chin bar, the interior of the helmets is almost the same, as are the padding and the chin straps. Since both types of helmets have sturdy chin bars that seem to be capable of taking an impact, what’s the big deal?
A close look at the full face helmet shows that the chin bar is part of the helmet and is joined to the head portion of the helmet on both sides. In contrast, the modular helmet has an equally sturdy chin bar, but the chin bar is mounted on two hinges on either side of the helmet. These hinges allow the visor together with the chin bar to be swiveled up.
Is The Impact To The Chin Bar From The Front Or Below?
If the impact to the helmet is frontal, the visor and chin bar will take the impact, keeping the rider’s chin and face safe. Most visors are strong enough to take the impact and stay intact but would be unusable afterward because of the number of scratches on them. The chin bar will protect the rider’s chin and nose from contact with the road.
In the event of an impact from below the chin bar, as from the road, the chin bar is going to swivel up, exposing the rider’s chin and face to the road, which can cause multiple injuries to the rider’s nose, face, and chin. Some helmets do have swivel locks, but exactly how much impact the swivel lock can take will vary. This is the weakness of the modular helmet and usually why it fails.
This is where the molded one piece full face helmet scores because that chin bar isn’t going to budge no matter how hard you fall, and breaking it from an impact with the ground is almost impossible. This short deconstruction of how the chin bar is attached to the helmet makes all the difference and should be enough to convince you of its efficiency in protecting your face and head.
Full face helmets are usually much safer than modular helmets, due to the sturdy chin bar built into the helmet. The reasons for choosing modular helmets, on the other hand, are that the visor and chin bar can be swiveled up, and there’s more room for those who wear glasses.