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Open-face or full-face helmet?


It’s one of the age-old questions of motorcycling: open-face or full-face helmet?

For open-face “brain-bucket” proponents, it’s a matter of fashion, choice and freedom. There is also a look-at-me factor and, for some, the ability to smoke!

For full-face helmet wearers, it’s also about fashion, but mainly safety. They also like the anonymity a full-face helmet provides.

Apparently Valentino Rossi likes to ride around London in a black full-face helmet with a dark visor so no one knows who is lane filtering next to them.

Crash stats

There is little doubt a full-face lid is safer in a crash. The Icon Airframe helmet even includes crash statistics printed on the shell to show the likelihood of that part of your head hitting the tar in a crash. The chin bar area hits the ground in 19.4% of crashes!

Icon Airframe Statistic motorcycle helmet
Icon Airframe Statistic motorcycle helmet

I have a friend who T-boned a car that drove out in front of him and he now has massive facial scars because he was wearing an open-face helmet.

Even so, I still feel more secure riding in traffic with an open-face helmet because there are fewer blind spots and I am more aware of noise and movement around me.

Smart helmets

Technology is coming to the aid of riders with full-face helmets that include cameras, mirrors, head-up displays and SOS beacons.

There are many “smart helmets” with integrated technology such as head-up display units in the offing, but they are slow to come to market.

Guardian Helmet
Guardian Helmet

This hi-tech full-face Guardian helmet by FUSAR Technologies even has black-box recording technologies so you can prove fault in a crash.

While I welcome the improved safety of helmets, my concern is that governments or insurance companies could step in and force our choices.

In some American states, you can choose to not wear a helmet, but you must be 21 or over and have more than $10,000 medical insurance. It wouldn’t take much for the nanny state to enforce similar rules for wearers of open-face helmets.

  • Do you wear an open-face or full-face helmet and why? Leave your comments below.

  1. I wear both open and full face but it depend on the type of riding I am doing. For cruising around town on my bobber I usually wear an open face lid but if I am out in the country in higher speed limit areas I always wear a fullface lid.
    After having had a major crash earlier this year I am very glad I was wearing a full face helmet.

  2. Back in the 70s I always wore open face. Bell Magnum were my helmet of choice. Now I wear a Nolan convertible style as I love being able to open it up when stopped at lights etc.. no air flow so open up and stay cool. Actually I would really prefer to wear an open face .. but age has made me more cautious. Still tempted though to buy one for around town commutes. Have an old mate in his 8th decade.. used to live in the bush on the then outskirts of western Sydney. He told me that after he knocked off at Saturday noon he would put on a pair of speedos, wrap a towel around his bare shoulders, put on his thongs and then ride his Norton to Bondi for swim. No ATGATT, no helmet. Luckily for him nothing ever happened to him going out and back!

  3. Open face with a visor , sometimes without a visor for shorter trips . For me , if you are wearing a full face you may as well be in a car behind a windscreen .

  4. The word “Fashion” should never be applied to anything motorcycle related. We wear lids because we have to, some would choose to if they had the option. Few people I know buy lids to be Fashionable. And those that do should stick to their Latte’s, Men’s Facial and Hair Products, leaving motorcycle riding to those who don’t care what other people think of how they are dressed.

    I always wear an open face lid because I like the wind in my face, I like to feel the sting of rain, I like to save money by eating bugs. Why ? Because they have always been part of the adventure that is living motorcycle riding. I find full faced lids to be too constrictive so that I feel like I am stuffed into a fishbowl and not in contact at all with my environment.. might as well drive a car then. lol

  5. In some American states, you can choose to not wear a helmet, but you must be 21 or over and have more than $10,000 medical insurance. It wouldn’t take much for the nanny state to enforce similar rules for wearers of open-face helmets.


    great idea. riders should also be made to sign a document to say if they cant afford the medical expences then their hopistal treament is cut. love to see that happen in australia. why should the already over burdend health system treat poeple who are “too cool” to do the smart thing and wear a full face helmet. same should be done to the morons who wear singlets, shorts and thongs/flip flops on their feet as well cos they are “too tough” to wear right gear in the first place. the hospitals should be able to say to the “tough guys” that if you so tough not to wear the right gear, then tough tities for you cos we a full up with others who need caring like cancer patients & the rest. that could make the “tought guys” wake up a little, but i somehow doubt it

    1. So Dez , according to your logic , there is a cut off point in society where some activities are deemed to have a socially acceptable level of risk and some should suffer a premium penalty , so where do you suppose we start and where to you suggest we finish ???? How about we refuse to treat melanoma patients who have never ‘ covered up ‘ and put on an appropriate level of sun protection cream ? What about a premium for everyone who smokes or drinks ? Rides horses ?? Plays football or any other hard contact sport ?? I have a friend who is in a wheelchair for the rest of his life due to a jetski accident , should jetski users face the same premiums as open face helmet wearers ? Sanctimonious clowns like you really makes me scared for the future of society , where some people consider themselves elite enough to be able to cast judgement on the social acceptability of everyone else’s pastimes . If we all spent our lives wrapped in cotton wool and died of boredom at 100 years old and hospitals only ever had to deal with births and old age related organ failure would that be an appropriate society to bring our children into ?

      1. im far from a fool, everytime i ride my motorcycle be it to the end of the street or the end of the map, its called ATGATT , all the gear all the time. hospitals do an awesome job of looking after many poeple, but i fail to see why society should have to feel sorry for the “tough guys” who can spend a fortune on their bike/image/ego & yet lack the “toughness” to buy some decent riding gear in the first place. maybe the “tough guys” arent really all that tough after all

  6. Never for ‘fashion’ always for visibility, either white with colour stripes or red with white stripes. Its crazy to think ’round town’ won’t leave you in a mess in a crash, but I’m guilty too of preferring the all round view you get with an open face, so use one to ride ‘local’. My full face gets used anywhere out of town but I really feel closed-in with a lesser view of the world. Open face makes a contribution to primary ‘safety’, full face is way better ‘protection’ in a crash.
    Ride on. TvR

  7. Do you actually ride a bike des?
    or are you just passing time between calling alan jones
    or that other hero of the geriatric wingers john laws?

    1. paul,

      also, when was the last time you visited your local ED (emergency department) at your local hopsital & saw the results of a “tough guy” rider who wasnt wearing full riding gear and they had an accident on the street?
      maybe after you have seen this just once in your life, you might rethink your riding attire. dress for the crash, not the ride

    2. here Paul, heres a photo of a “tough guy” rider with the half face helmet, no gloves, no proper riding attire

      so paul, at the end of the day, its your ego/ride & how you want to portay yourself. remember the “tough guy” image is just that, an image i our own imagination, nothing more, nothing less.

      here Paul, have a read thru this

      theres a number of publications like this that bring riders up to speed. its called “education” Paul. as a general rule of thumb education of riders works and makes them think twice about what kind of rider they want to be. the “tough guys” fail to forget its them who make the rest of the riders who do the right thing look bad, but the “tough guys” dont think of that cos they are to worried about their image instead

      1. Dez , I’m far from a tough guy but like I said previously , where should the cut off point about who should be treated and who shouldn’t be set ? You haven’t specified your logic behind that & why just single out motorcyclists for special treatment ? Send me your list of all the ‘ tough guys ‘ in other sports who shouldn’t be treated either ….. I suspect you are one of these cotton wool parents who has their 3 year old kid wearing a helmet while they push a scooter along the footpath ( all the gear all the time , right ? ) . FYI , I rode halfway across the USA years ago wearing no helmet at all and I rode far more cautiously than I ever did wearing a full face , it made me appreciate the freedoms we used to have in this country before the nanny state bred nanny citizens who had never known any other way of life .

      2. Hey Dez , do you really thing all your AGGATT gear would have saved that guy in the photo ?? Really ??
        He looks to me like he has copped both barrels of a shotgun , not fallen of a scoot !!!!!

  8. Lets see dez you’ve been riding over 25 years and you think people who you
    consider not to be wearing proper safety gear, should not be treated in hospitals.
    Does that mean if anyone riding with you has an accident you will follow through
    with you’re convictions and not call an ambulance?
    I have now been riding for 45 years 35 of those on the same harley davidson
    the bike is 46 years old and has over half a million km on it.
    it has shared garage space with other bikes i have owned ,indians2, bsa2 honda3
    suzuki 3 kawasaki2 yamaha1. Oh yes i don’t own a car so i ride day/night rain
    hail or shine. And i wear whatever i please be it a T shirt or leather jacket
    Where do you get off suggesting i should be refused hospital treatment?
    And whats with the “tough guy” bit, did you get your lunch money
    stolen at pre school or something ,or has the local club been making fun
    of you? [rotarians can be so cruel] you seem really over the top about
    something that is really none of your business

    1. if you want to ride with out the correct riding attire in the first place, then thats your issue in the first place. why should the tax payers feel sorry for you if you can afford to buy a motorcycle, but too tough not to wear the right gear in the first place. i feel sorry for the paramedics who have to scrape you off the floor cos theres not much left of you cos you were not wearing proper gear in the first place. i also feel sorry for the friends/partners of the tough guys they leave behind cos they were too tough to use a ounce of common sence & wear appropriate riding gear in the first place. tough guy image is just that, an image, mind you there is also the sport bike riders known as “squids” who are just as bad as the though guys who seem to have the notion stuck in thieir head of “it will never happen to me” and cant be bothered to buy decent riding gear. they seem to think that accessories galore will save their skin when the rubber slides out underneath them.

      im glad my comments made some of you think about your riding attire. & your attitude in general. Ride Safe

    2. also Pual, with regards to this comment

      did you get your lunch money
      stolen at pre school or something ,or has the local club been making fun
      of you?

      perhaps you shoul fireup google & search on

      no bully

      & see where todays society is at when it comes to bullying and harssement in general. the year is now 2014 AD, not 2014 BC

      1. Dez , you are not making sense , bullying still in rampant in today’s society .
        I’m unsure if you are a troll or have just forgotten to take your meds today .

        1. far from a troll & my mental health is jut fine also, thanks for asking. very clearly you guys missed the point. anyhow, your life, your ride. i will stick to riding with my sidi vertigo boots, draggin jeans/jacket, alpine stars gloves, and full face helmet.

          i notice that when i asked if you have been to ED (emergency department) and actualy seen with your own eyes what happens to motorcycle riders who dont have full gear on was ignored. funny about that.

          remember, surgeons can only do so much for you now days when skns gets ripped off your fingers and bones are exposed.

          ride safe

          1. Thanks , I’ll remember to wear a full face on my fingers .

            Yes , I have been in an emergency E D several times , both as a patient and a visitor , but never because someone was wearing an open face instead of a full face .

            That’s what the thread was initially about before it was hijacked ….

  9. actually i just looked at the photo of the poor guy who des thinks could
    have been saved by wearing the correct safety gear, I no longer think its the meds
    its either
    1 he comes from a strange parallel alternate dimension and came here accidentally through
    a wormhole in the space time continuum .
    2 he works for the dept motor transport

    1. paul, now thats some funny comments to write. i notice you have turned it in to a persoal attack against me as you seem to have nothing to back you up when it comes to supporting the idea of not riding with correct gear. you avoided the question about going to ED & you seem to think that having a squllion kilometers under your belt gives you some kind of authority on the topic. Pual,just so your aware, when you fall off no matter if you ride a HD, Honda, Indian, or what ever, the road beneath you wont magiclly change form and become a marshmellow depending on what you ride. it will still be the same hard surface. and coming off at 60 kmph on a scooter is the same as coming off at 60 kmph on your HD. the road is still hard none the less.

      thanks so much for avoiding all the facts and starting to just turn it in to an insult match for which i wont particiapite in.

      also just for the record, your not the only one to have ridden many hundreds of thousands of kilometers either Paul, so have i paul, even in the early year 2000 circumnavigated Australia and covered almost 18,000 kilometers along the way.

      all those kilometers means zip when you hit the deck Pual, thats my point and has been all along, but your far more intererested in trying to start a verbal warfare rather then look at the facts and then once presented with facts let your imagination run wild again.

      enjoy living your fantasy Paul, i will enjoy putting on my full riding gear everytime i ride, along with you Paul I also ride in the rain etc too Paul, your not the only one who is an all season rider and again it means “ZIP” when you hit the road Paul.

  10. I have had major accidents with both a full and Open face and minor traffic hits, Only once in 20+ years of Riding has my face ever been in danger and even then I was lucky to be living with everything else I hit and sholuda hit.

    So personally now I wear open face just because I feel less enclosed and free. I also think a open face makes on ride slower as a bug hitting at 120km hurts and the draw blood at the higher speeds.

    I would also be more than glad to pay a “insurance” fee to ride with no helmet if I could but do agree you should be 21+ to make that choice.

    As a Father my Daughter has a full face just in case and my wife who has her L’s also wears full face. I think it is a individual choice and if the NEO NAZI’s want to get involved in this they need to way up the damage a full face can cause as well.

  11. open face for me –if you think your going to fall off don’t go out–and im qualified-48+ years of riding

  12. dez point number one that photo you put up was nothing better than a bit of “gore porn”
    god knows what the poor blokes relatives think about having it put all over the internet.
    number two How do you know he is only wearing a half face helmet his head appears
    to have been rotated 180 degrees, Also his internal organs appear to have been squeezed
    from his stomach cavity .obviously by something very large and heavy ,probably a truck.
    he could have been driving a car, riding a pushbike or walking his dog he would still be DEAD
    In the vast majority of two vehicle accidents it is not the motorcyclist at fault.
    It is bad enough that we have the insurance companies, gov departments and
    other drivers telling us that it OUR fault that they run into us.
    All we get is more and more repressive legislation. fueled in part by idiots like you
    I will get personal, because this sanctimonious crap can effect the lifestyle i have
    enjoyed over the last 4 decades.
    Motorcycling is a big church , i have always found a common ground of mutual respect
    and communication from a broad spectrum of individuals and a diverse range of
    motorcycling interests from trail bike riders to outlaw club members and everything in between
    With you i am happy to make an exception

    1. Dear Paul,
      i again notice you failed to respond to my question about visiting a local hospital & visiting an ED (emergency department) and seeing first hand the consequences of riding with out proper riding gear on, let alone visitng the ICU (intensive care unit) at your hospital as well. it may come as a surprise to you Paul , but any half decent insurance company will acutaly cover your riding attire for a very modest fee. myself im insured thru Swann and i have a $600 helmet cover plus an additional $1500 for riding gear as well.
      I must confess it has been fasicnating reading your comments and being completely igonrant of the facts & reality of life.

      Also Paul, have you ever seen what happens to you in the ED deaprtment at your local hospital when the nurses are trying to ge the gravel ras out from under your skin??

      somehow i very much doubt it.

      i can assure you after you have seen it once & heard the blood curdling cry from the patient as they remove the gravel from their body. i have heard the sounds many times over the years Paul and it sticks in my mind everytime i ride & its the best reason why i stick my full riding gear on everytime before i ride, be it the end of the street or the end of the map.

      have a good life & good ride Paul & hope you never end up in ED needing gravel remvoed from your skin or reconstructive surgery.

      im done

  13. dez yes dez i did go down to the local ed . and asked to watch road rash being
    pulled out, they said they didn’t have any at the moment, but if i wanted
    there was some brain surgery going in theater 3, it was really good ,they
    brought me a plastic chair and cup of coffee from the tea room, and
    said if i got bored i could go and fiddle with the life support machines
    in the intensive care unit.
    I really think we have gone a bit off track here it was about open face vs full face
    right wearing an open face i slide down the road hit the kerb bang i’m dead
    after my funeral attended by thousands of mourners and much wailing and gnashing of teeth
    not to mention the piss up afterwards. i am no longer a burden to anyone
    You slide down the road hit the kerb with your $600 helmet, your brain swells and turns
    to mush. your sphincter lodges itself in your cerebellum .you lie in icu tubes hanging
    out of you ,drooling and muttering gibberish ,but the real tragedy is when people
    come in to visit you and say “gee dez you haven’t changed a bit”

    1. Paul you couldn’t have said it better , i wonder why Dez rides at all , given its so dangerous ,
      I still think he is a plant from the Nanny State to ready us for the next round of discriminatory legislation .

  14. I don’t know were he came from chris I think my alternate dimension theory might just hold up.
    Unfortunately it only takes a few of these idiots .For those in power to hold them up as expressing
    the views of the majority, you only have to look at those clowns in ullysses in victoria and the hi vis vests
    there was only a few of them but it gave the subject way more traction than it should have had.
    And you can bet the state moniters sites like this ,the best thing when some fool puts this kind of
    idea forward .is to howl it down, and make absolutely clear its unacceptable to the rest of us

  15. I think its all a matter of regional environment. I live and ride in a part of the country that is 85-95% humidity all year round with days 35-42 degrees. I wear an open-faced helmet with a good pair of shades and a light head sock that I use as a face mask. If I were to wear a closed helmet I would be on the road for 10 minutes before I have to pull over and puke. Jeans, leather jacket with vest and having my head slowly poach is not my idea of enjoying the ride. Open face now and always.

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