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I’ll give you a hint – it’s not just your head. There’s a lot of things inside a regular helmet that protects your head from taking a beating.

Tune in to discover:

  • The 6 parts of a motorcycle helmet – and what they do


Hello, and welcome to 30-minute motorcycling, a podcast for new, aspiring, and returning riders, where you’ll learn something about motorcycles or other two-wheelers in 30 minutes or less.


A while ago, I made a podcast episode about motorcycle helmets, which covered aspects like the types of helmets, safety ratings, and how to make sure you found the one that fits you. 


But what is actually inside that helmet that protects your head? After all, there’s a specific science that goes into making a helmet – it’s not made from a magic potion straight out of a Harry Potter novel. 


That’s what this episode is all about – for the 20th episode of 30 Minute Motorcycling, we’re about to take a closer look at what’s inside a motorcycle helmet. 


One little caveat though – I’m going to use a full-face helmet as a reference point, but many other helmets will have these features as well.


Generally, a motorcycle helmet consists of 6 main parts:

  1. The Outer Shell
  2. The Impact-Absorbing Line or “Crumple Zone”
  3. Comfort padding
  4. A visor 
  5. Ventilation
  6. And a retention system 


The Outer shell keeps away objects from breaking through the helmet. Typically, it’s made from polycarbonate, kevlar, or glass fiber.


Polycarbonate is light, but has a short lifespan, and can’t be cleaned with any kind of solvent.


Kevlar is strong and durable, but also expensive – something which the price tag of a kevlar helmet reflects.


And finally, glass fiber is heavier compared to polycarbonate, but has a longer lifespan, and is easier to clean than a helmet made from polycarbonate. 


The impact-Absorbing line or the “Crumple Zone” of a helmet is designed from a material known as Expanded Polystyrene (or “EPS”) and is designed to absorb the energy from the impact and “crumple“ and cushion your head from the remaining force. 


The comfort padding is made from a soft foam that not only gives you a sense of comfort but also provides a snug fit around your head. 


And if you’ve listened to the 30 Minute Motorcycling Podcast episode about helmets, you’ll know that the comfort padding will mould itself to your head over time – which is why you should never buy a used helmet. 


The visor is designed from polycarbonate and is designed to keep dirt, debris, and wind away from your eyes. 


Visors come in two forms: clear and tinted. Tinted visors are great for daytime riding, but not so much during nighttime, while a clear visor is most suitable for riding during the night or during times of the day when there’s little sunlight. 


The ventilation removes excess heat from the helmet through a series of small vents.


And finally, the retention system is used to fasten the helmet. There are many types of retention systems – one of which is through a chin-strap and what’s known as a “D-ring.” 


The D-ring goes back all the way to Roman times, and it is by far the most effective retention system. If you’d like to know more why I’ve put a link in the show notes to a video from the YouTube channel FortNine that talks about the D-ring: 


As a final note about the helmet’s retention system – some helmets have a tab made from Velcro to fasten the strap – don’t rely on this to fasten your helmet. 


Not only is it unsafe, but in some countries (like the United Kingdom, for example) it’s illegal to wear a helmet that’s not fastened properly. 


And that’s the anatomy of a motorcycle helmet. By now, you should know just what is in your helmet that protects your head from a nasty injury. 


I hope you enjoyed listening and that you learned something new. 


So, until next time, keep your helmet on, including the soft padding and the retention system, and your eyes on the road! Bye!