Know what your helmet is made of: Polycarbonate, Glass Fiber, Carbon Fiber, Kevlar.
Firstly, the thing that protects your head from an impact is mainly the inner Styrofoam lining the white thing that’s between the outer shell and the fabric lining. The outer shell is the one that tries to keep the Styrofoam together in the event of an impact. It also spreads the force of impact.
Although the outer shell is not the thing that protects the head, it is the rider’s major consideration in choosing a helmet; the shape, size, design and graphics. Another reason mainly is the price/weight ratio.
Fundamentally, a polycarbonate lid is the “base”. It is a synthetic resin that can be moulded into any shape. A fiber glass composite means that a certain percentage was added to the polycarbonate to change its structure. And so goes for the carbon fiber and kevlar composite. For simplicity’s sake, we will just use polycarbonate, glass fiber, carbon fiber, and kevlar in this article.
A polycarbonate helmet, is a thermoplastic resin used in many helmets today. It is a polymer containing carbonate group in their chemical composition, thus the name. It is very strong and is the same material used in the manufacturing of lenses.
A glass fiber composite helmet, or fiberglass, means that the helmet is fused with glass fiber in its structure. A glass fiber means that it can lighten and strengthen the helmet at a fraction of a cost. Fiberglass is also used is making car panels, surfboards, electrical and thermal insulation.
A carbon fiber composite helmet means that a mixture of carbon fiber is woven into the helmet. Carbon fiber makes the helmet very light but comes at a cost. The material is used in making planes components because of its lightness. Other products where carbon fiber is used are cars, motorcycle fairings, bicycles.
Kevlar is actually a registered trademark. The material used is para-aramid synthetic fiber. Many would claim that a Kevlar-reinforced helmet is the best protection one’s head can have. As we all know, Kevlar is used to make bullet-proof vests. They also lighten the product they are fused to. But it will also drain your pocket, it’s the most expensive composite material of all.
As they say, we can’t really have it all. Same goes for the motorcycle crash helmets that we use. It would really really be nice if there’s a helmet around that’s cheap, light, and of superior quality. But among the three descriptors, you can only choose two.
If it’s cheap and light, it can’t be quality.
If it’s light and quality, it can’t be cheap.
If it’s quality and cheap, it can’t be light.
Many would say that buying expensive helmet is the sure-fire way to get that protection in the event of a crash. And many would also say that it isn’t actually so. As per a controversial comparison made by motorcyclist where they tested a range of helmets, it turnout out the cheap ones gave the best protection.
The best that we can do is to choose the best degree of compromise. But one thing is for sure, you must choose a helmet that fits you well because it wouldn’t work if it does not conform to your head’s measurement and comfort.