Dirt Bike Helmets Buying Guide What Other Won’t Tell

Having a nice dirt bike helmet on your head is necessary for a dirt biker to make your head safe and secure even if you have an accident. Without a good dirt bike helmet, you are more likely to get an injury in case of an accident. If you are an extreme dirt biker, you already know its importance as your family is waiting for you to get back home!

Honestly, several helmets are being made on some or no safety standards at all. To get the most out of your helmet, it should be top-notch as much as you could afford as premium helmets ain’t cheap as well. In any case, you should always try to opt for the best possible dirt bike helmet under your budget whether that never compromises on the safety too!

For your ease, we’ve covered some important and a couple of bonus things that you should focus on in this dirt bike helmet buying guide. So, let’s get started.

Dirt Bike Helmets Buying Guide | The Must-have Checklist

Safety First:

Exactly, the main theme of a helmet is to provide safety to your head and a helmet missing safety standards and checks isn’t a helmet at all. Generally, some extreme newbies take the helmet’s body as the only thing on the safety checklist, but this is just one part of it. In actuality, the safety concept is far beyond.

You’ve got your legs, eyes, lungs, ears and arms in a set of pairs. So, you can still be able to work in case you miss one out of those. But you’ve got only one brain under your head and damaging it will lead to two options. Either the funeral or the neurosurgeon on a hospital bed that you can’t even imagine. So, you need to take safety standards sort of things seriously.

Although there isn’t an officially renowned law in the Federal, there are around 22 US States (including Idaho, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Ohio) that have state laws that help in protecting the lives of riders. They do have a quality check as well but you know there are always loopholes. However, a couple of standards are still strictly followed and monitored. We’ll let you know so you can ensure that in your helmets.


An organization founded back in 1957 to ensure high quality build and safety for bike helmets. History begins with a tragedy. This was formed in the name of William Snell, a Car racer who died during a crash in which he was wearing a helmet too. But, that couldn’t protect his head so a group of researchers put this idea forward in order to design better and improved helmets to save lives.

They feature a series of standards under their umbrella because every sport has its own kind of safety requirements from bicycling to ATV and extreme sports. RS98 is oriented toward snowboarders, SA2015 & 20 are formed for competitive automobile racing and M2015 is meant for motorbikes and riders.

Along with many other standards (yet to come ahead*), Snell outranks almost all of them in terms of safety. Some may call it the best on the earth due to a good impact analysis report but it’s definitely better in most cases. From what we can tell, Snell is the premium-most safety standard that excels even DOT and ECE as well.

These guys feature a minimal shock to the head compared to DOT hence they’re used at many championships. Of course, Snell helmets aren’t like the custom helmets with 3D design to resist strict shocks on heads that we see in formula racing, but they’re meant for domestic championships. Due to premium safety, most of the Snell helmets are pretty expensive and used by advanced riders only.


You may already have heard this name. It is actually USDOT but commonly known as D.O.T which stands for United States Department of Transportation. It is a department of the Federal government initiated back in the 1960s and it has been operational since then.

D.O.T is a safety monitoring body that has set minimum criteria for helmet manufacturers to follow in order to bring them on the roads. Compared to ECCE and Snell, it is considered a low standard but it is still enough for beginners to regular riders. DOT helmets are officially set to be a mandatory measure of safety in Mississippi and Minnesota.

For someone who’s quite concerned for safety but can’t afford a Snell or ECE helmet, he should try to at least get a D.O.T approved helmet as it’s better to have something than have nothing. D.O.T helmets don’t include Chinbar testing in their analysis but they do feature a resilient helmet shell in most cases.


While DOT and Snell are mostly available for US riders, ECE is getting a step ahead to provide safety to international riders, especially in Europe and Australia. The criteria are set by the UN European Economic Commission to fulfil and ensure all the helmets meet these criteria. ECE was originally initiated for Europe but it has now been used in around 50 countries. Each sport carries its criteria and standard. Currently, it is ECE 22.05 and they keep updating it gradually.

Compared to Snell, these helmets are less expensive and less safe but they surpass the DOT criteria. If you are a beginner rider, you should consider buying DOT helmets. ECE approved helmets are good for a person who’s been riding for quite a time. Snell helmets are for advanced and near to expert dirt bike riders.  There are a lot more safety standards too both locally and internationally, but these three stay top on the list and the rest technically comes near to these.

Helmet Size & Fit

Now, Safety is passed, you should now focus on its size to check whether it fits your head or not. Just imagine, you’ve got the Snell approved helmet that’s fully encrypted in all regards, but it just runs short… what would you do then if it doesn’t fit your head or you feel too tight when getting in or coming out of it.

There’s no universal head size on the earth so there aren’t helmets. For that, Brands categorize their helmets in up to 06 sizes as they can’t make a helmet for every single sort of head out there. A nice and fit helmet not only looks and feels good, but it also enhances safety as well. If you wear a loose helmet and you meet an accident, that shell can’t do anything even if it’s a Snell. So yes, size matters!

Now, in order to do that, you need to first measure your head size and match that to a helmet’s sizing so it can fit well. Now, How to measure for a dirt bike helmet? This too isn’t a big deal. Get a flexible measuring tape and wrap it around your head from your forehead to the back. Now, compare that with the size chart given by the manufacturer and pick the matching one. Make sure it snugly fits.

The helmet ports should be just above your eyebrows. It shouldn’t be too above or below the ports. This is a nice and easy way to determine size. A snug fit helmet is always comfortable to put on and off. You can also determine the shape and size of its shell. A long oval shell is generally longer from head to back and slightly narrow from ear to ear. In contrast, a round oval helmet is long ear to ear and slightly shorter in length making it ideal for round heads.

Construction & Build:

Yet another very important factor to consider in a helmet. Even if you opt for the safest helmet on the earth in terms of safety standards, if it doesn’t have good durability, it is just a piece of junk then. The durability of your helmet is equally important as safety standards and these two different things should never be mixed. And, the durability of your helmet depends on the construction of its shell.

The carbon fibre and polycarbonate shells are lightweight and expensive respectively, but they both are amazing in quality. ABS material shells are generally harder and inexpensive, but they aren’t high quality as they may not necessarily be impactful in case of a serious accident.

Again, pricing also plays a key role. A $100 helmet featuring an encrypted ABS shell is a good deal as you can’t expect fibreglass or Carbon fibre shell in this range. The durability also depends on the building technology too. A seamless built shell is more durable than a casted or moulded shell.

Features & Weight

Now, All these things are secondary and they necessarily don’t have to do with the quality. However, these things may improve safety even more or enhance your riding experience. Yet, the weight is technically a different thing as it may reflect the build quality. Helmets with Carbon fibre shells are generally expensive, why? Because (first) they have extended durability and secondly they are lightweight.

A helmet weighs around 4 pounds. If you want to keep your shoulders lightweight, you need to opt for carbon fibre helmets that are always less than 03 pounds. If you ride for an hour or two, you might not need to get a lightweight helmet. But, if you ride more than 4 hours a day, just imagine the stress on your neck and shoulders with a bulky helmet. Sp, A lightweight helmet makes your life easier.

  • Ventilation

Your head and face stay closed in a shell so sweating is a must. Although, you will get air with the eye ports but what if you are riding in hot weather with no air and your face is loaded with sweat? You’ll feel irritated with that. So, you can now realize the importance of having a ventilated helmet. Helmets with nice ventilation feature vents on the front, chin and on your head to ensure a nice airflow to calm down the temperature inside. Yet, adding this would cost you some extra bucks. Oftentimes, you may not need a ventilated helmet.

  • Comfort

By default, all helmets feature a certain level of comfort in their cabin to provide a good riding experience. That comfort is enough to pass you on up to 2-3 hours rides but no more than that. Now, if you are a busy rider, you need to add Liners and Pads alongside your cheeks and chin so you can stay comfortable inside. Such helmets also cost a bit more but they are worth it in the end.

  • Visor & Sunscreen

Another great feature that you must get if you want to get the best performance and protection out of your helmet. I personally, ride in the morning but when it’s midday, the riding sometimes becomes uncomfortable due to the sun as it keeps passing the rays on the roads and tracks that sometimes blinds you. So, having sunscreen on your helmet is a nice addition.

Although you can wear sunglasses that eliminate the need for sunscreen, not all helmets are designed to wear glasses under them. If you push them hard, they’ll eventually become uncomfortable until you put them back in your pockets.

Similarly, a visor protects your eyes and face from any flying sand or dirt. Now, a visor sometimes affects your bike’s speed as it can put a load of pressure on your helmet making it difficult to accelerate. But, a nice visor would never be like that.

Maintenance & Graphics

Admit it or not, dirt bike helmets need maintenance too! Yes, but that’s only in a case when you meet an accident and the maintenance depends on the impact of that accident too. Sometimes, the shock isn’t very destructive and it can be fixed by repairing it. While, if a shock is seriously impactful, maintenance doesn’t work and it’s better to dispose of that risky helmet and get another one.

“The Graphics’ ‘ is the very last thing that I barely take a look at whenever I purchase a helmet for a dirt bike. It doesn’t have anything to do with safety or performance as it is only a symbol of design. I personally prefer simple helmets with fewer graphics as they’re more attractive. But, if you are a fan of blazing fires and speeds, you can choose any type of graphic. The sky is the limit.

Top Dirt Bike Helmet Brands & Pricing

Alright, we’ve covered all the important and notable things that a rider must follow when choosing a dirt bike helmet. Some of you may ask if you can tell me what are the best dirt bike helmet brands and which helmets are best. So, let’s take a short look. Although there are countless brands in this segment, we’ll discuss the best brands performing well and the helmets that I’ve used myself.


The best brand for dirt bike helmets and I am a big fan of their helmets, quality and support. They’ve been in the market since the 1950s and launched more than 40 helmets by far. The QC department ensures the safety and promising support for every unit and their helmets are based on polycarbonate shells. Amongst their fleet, I’ve tested, used and reviewed the MX-9 helmet.


O’Neal helmets are the second best on my list although I have used them more than I used Bell’s helmets. Since their launch in 1970, they have marketed at least a hundred different models but the O’Neal 2 Series Spyde has won my heart and a lot of others’ trust. The shell is outstanding and the support is so kind in it.

Troy Lee

Another great progressing helmet brand making delightful and gorgeous helmets since 1980. Their fleet features several helmets but I have only tried their SE4 helmet which is based on a Polyacrylate shell. The support and comfort are outstanding and it features amazing ventilation too.

Dirt Bike Helmet VS  Motorcycle Helmet

This is a popular and important debate amongst riders and bikers across the globe of which I have been a part! Yes, they both are different.

A dirt bike helmet is designed to provide better airflow and nice ventilation as riders may have to wear them all day too. Motorcycle helmets do have good ventilation too but they are more focused on providing a good vision on the road. Also, a motorcyclist tends to travel long distances hence there’s no need for exceptional ventilation. A dirt bike doesn’t ride that long so a fair airflow is a must.

Other than that, there are much more differences. For example, dirt bike helmets feature amazing safety (or DOT at least) along with MIPS technology to prevent any rotational impact on your head while this may not be necessarily designed in a motorcycle helmet but a regular DOT. Also, a dirt bike helmet is generally bulky yet durable compared to a motorcycle or a street helmet.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What to look for in a Dirt Bike Helmet for Beginners?

A beginner looking for a dirt bike helmet can have a compromised budget but one should not compromise on its safety. At least opt for the DOT approved helmet if not an ECE one and get a comfortable helmet even if it doesn’t come with any cheek pads. Similarly, you can skip sun protectors but having good ventilation should be on your checklist too. You can find such helmets here.

  • Should I buy a used dirt bike helmet?

Unlike a chain sprocket set or any other dirt bike part or accessories, you can’t always pick a used helmet. Because it is a matter of your life. Generally, a dirt bike helmet is sold when it was met in a minor crash or if the seller just wanted to change. In both cases, the safety and overall quality might be compromised. Also, used helmets are full of bacteria formed due to sweat and it will not be a good choice at least for me. If safety and build aren’t affected, you can get that.

  • How to clean dirt bike helmets?

To clean the dirt bike helmets, just wipe them with a soft class with very little pressure to remove dust particles. Don’t push that cloth a lot otherwise it would leave scratches on it. Then, you can wash it with water. Just make sure the water doesn’t go inside. Better get a spray bottle to sprinkle water on its body.

  • How to clean dirt bike helmet pads?

You can clean your dirt bike helmet pads in a washing machine or even manually. Just don’t use extreme detergents and keep them under the sun to let them dry completely before you can reuse them. A mild soap would be a good deal for washing your helmet pads. Don’t put them in a dryer.

  • Do dirt bike helmets expire? When to replace a dirt bike helmet?

Yes, they do expire and they also need to be replaced but the replacement time varies. In case you never got into any accident (thankfully), you may still need to replace them after 5 to 7 years. Now, it doesn’t mean a helmet lasts just this short. It would last even for decades but it’s always a wise move to opt for the new technology and be safer than before. Other than technology, your helmet might lose its shine if you ride in mud or rain and it’ll eventually degrade the foam.

  • Are dirt bike helmets street legal?

If your dirt bike helmet meets all above mentioned criteria for safety, your dirt bike helmet would be street legal. You can use your dirt bike helmet in the streets then.

  • Can you use a dirt bike helmet for snowmobiling?

Yes and No! Safety and build wise, you can wear your dirt bike helmet for snowmobiling, but they can’t always be usable, especially if your helmet is not designed for cold weather conditions. The screen may cause fogging and it can even get stuck if it’s cold out there. Similarly, you can use a dirt bike helmet for mountain biking as well as they’re almost similar in terms of build quality. The same goes for using a dirt bike helmet on a motorcycle.

  • How much does a dirt bike helmet cost?

A dirt bike helmet can cost $50 to even $800. From this price variation, you can get an idea of what you need and what you don’t. Of course, if you are looking for at least DOT safety, durable shells and good ventilation, that helmet would cost you at least $100. If you need a highly durable and safest helmet, the price may exceed $800 even. You may not need such a High Quality helmet unless you are a professional and an advanced dirt biker.

  • How should a dirt bike helmet fit?

Your helmet would fit if it sits overhead in a way that its eye port comes right in the centre and your eyebrows right on top of it. In simple words, the eye port of your helmet should come exactly just above your eyebrows. Other than that, it should fit your head in a snug fit so it would be easy to wear and a little tight when taking off. Also, it should not have any pressure points upon wearing.

  • Why do dirt bike helmets have a visor?

Almost all dirt bike helmets do have a visor which is meant to protect your eyes and the helmet cabin from capturing dust particles, sand and any kind of debris which may cause any uneasiness or trouble. If you are not wearing glasses or your screen is broken, it can splash off the rainwater so it won’t get into your eyes.

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