There are varying degrees of protection incorporated into every motocross helmet on the market, the materials used to make a helmet influence how much protection the helmet provides. Different materials for the external shell dramatically change the level of overall protection the helmet offers, the four materials helmet shells are made from are:
- Composite carbon fibre, Kevlar and fibreglass (Tri Composite)
- Carbon Fibre
Polycarbonate: Is a high grade injected mould plastic similar to what Air Force fighter jet windscreens all over the world are made from. It is strong and light and in Australia passes all of the DOT and Snell safety ratings, the only downfall of polycarbonate is the penetration resistance levels are lower than any of the other shell types on the market making it more prone to crack or shatter under a heavy impact.
Fiberglass: Is the next step up from a polycarbonate shell as the nature of fibreglass is a much stronger finish with a higher impact attenuation level than a polycarbonate shell. Its downfall being in some cases fibreglass can be slightly heavier than some of the other shell types and for some people a lightweight helmet is the key thing they are chasing so keep this in mind, try a few on if possible.
Tri Composite: Is a mixture of 3 key materials being carbon fibre, kevlar and fibreglass. The addition of the other materials aids in giving the helmet extra strength but also reducing the weight of the outer shell, the only downfall of this is a tri composite shell is more costly to make so the price for the end user is slightly higher, but at the end of the day you are spending money on protection for your brain so it comes back to how much you think your head is worth!
Carbon Fibre: Undoubtedly the best material a modern day helmet shell can be made from, carbon fibre is used on a variety of performance parts from the drive shafts in Formula 1 cars and the complete frames of MotoGP bikes. The material is super strong but extremely light weight creating a perfect combination for a motocross helmet being light and safe. Again its only downfall is the cost is higher but if you are a serious rider and want to stay safe then you will save your beer money for a few extra weeks to be able to afford one of these masterpieces!