Getting Ready For Spring Motorcycle Riding-Is Your Helmet Road Worthy?

Spring is finally here! Apart from taking your car to the auto technician for Spring maintenance and perhaps an oil change to increase engine performance over the coming warmer season, how about preparing your motorcycle for some fine riding weather? Sometimes, when the winter drags on, we forget about our motorcycles, ATVs and dirt bikes. Well, almost. Bring your bike in to your auto technician as well as your car! Once your motorcycle is ready to roam, check your helmet.

Safety has become more of a concern, and kids today (as well as adults) have a better grasp on dressing properly for any kind of motorized vehicle riding, as well as the horrible injuries that can be prevented by simply wearing a helmet. Your auto technician will tell you that a good helmet is as vital to good biking as is maintaining your motorcycle.

In Colorado, helmet laws state that:

Helmets: Riders age 18 and over are not required to wear helmets in Colorado. However, if the motorcycle operator or passengers are under age 18, they must wear DOT-approved helmets.

Eye Protection: In Colorado, some form of eye protection is legally required for all riders-drivers and passengers. The best eye protection comes from a visor on a helmet. Goggles or eyeglasses with lenses made from safety glass or plastic are also acceptable. A windshield is not considered adequate eye protection.


Image courtesy of Richard Taylor via Flickr

So, before you hop on that Harley in your new leathers and spit shined boots, or send your children off with their grandparents for a day at the track on dirt bikes, take a look at their safety gear. That gear has probably been sitting around more than being worn by a rider over the winter. Consider a helmet check as much a part of Spring maintenance as an oil change.

If your helmet is over 5 years old, its probably time to replace it. It is advisable to replace your helmet a bit sooner if you use it frequently, and if it has been damaged in any way, particularly an accident, get a new one. If the helmet is for a child, it needs to be updated regularly, as their heads grow, and a helmet needs to fit properly to offer solid protection.The protective foam inside of a helmet molds to the shape of the rider’s head over time, so if someones head shape or size changes, the helmet will no longer fit properly. Buying used or passing along a hand me down helmet, or borrowing one in a pinch can be done, but it’s not advisable to buy any helmet without trying it on. Kind of like getting new ski boots, it’s all about the fit. The only way you can know for sure if a particular helmet is a good fit for you or your child is to actually try it on. Most people recommend buying a new helmet every time one needs to be replaced. This is to insure fit, as well as to control quality. A used helmet online could be compromised if it has been worn in an accident, or it could not fit well, even if it is the right size.

What To Look For In A New Helmet

First, it is highly recommended to purchase A DOT approved helmet. A DOT helmet is one that has been manufactured and tested, and certified in tests to meet the minimum level of performance for protection. DOT approved helmets are tested for Impact (capacity for absorbing shock), penetration (the ability to withstand a blow), retention (the ability of the chin strap to stay securely fastened), and peripheral vision. With peripheral vision, the helmet must allow a minimum visibility of 105 degrees on each side.

With the minimum standards for helmet manufacture met, the rider can be confident that the helmet will protect the head and brain if she or her child in an accident. If you purchase a helmet that is not approved, you have absolutely no certainty that it will protect the rider at all.

If you have concerns about what to look for in a helmet, ask for guidelines at your Fort Collins automotive shop, or check with your local DMV for the specifics on what is required for a helmet to meet DOT approval. In general, look for a helmet that is well built and on the heavy side. It needs a hard outer shell and a firm inner liner, about 1 inch of foam. If you can’t see the thickness, you can probably feel it. And look for proof that the helmet is DOT approved: a sticker on the back of the helmet’s outer shell with either “DOT” or “DOT FMVSS No. 218 Certified.”

For all your Fort Collins automotive needs, including advice on helmets, come in to Fort Collins Foreign Car service and talk to our auto technicians about upkeep of your motorcycle, as well as helmet safety!