A basic open-face helmet is...
A basic open-face helmet is available in an SA-2005 rating. The open face is a good idea for driving schools where verbal interaction between the driver and instructor is paramount. For open-cockpit vehicles, an open-face helmet is discouraged due to dust and debris entry into the vehicle. Some still like this style helmet and simply use goggles for eye protection.
Again, we urge you to purchase the SA-2005 helmet over the motorcycle "M" rating. The M-rated helmet is tested mostly on sliding forces, whereas the SA-rated helmet is tested for impact forces as well as fire-retardant capabilities. If you have facial hair (goatee, beard, and so on), many sanctioning bodies require a balaclava with your helmet, so pick one up when you're helmet shopping.
Some helmets are "shorter"...
Some helmets are "shorter" than others and will not protect your chin simply because the fiberglass shell doesn't come down far enough. You want the helmet's shell to fully protect the face and chin, as shown here. This is a properly fitted helmet.
Buying a helmet is similar to buying a driving suit. Try it on before purchasing. It should fit snugly, pressing in the cheeks of your face just enough to feel, but not so much that it's distracting. If the helmet liner is pressing too hard, the helmet is too small and you should move up to the next size. Also of importance is how far the helmet comes down to protect your chin. Different brands sit differently, so be sure to try more than one brand.
A helmet bag is a wise purchase,...
A helmet bag is a wise purchase, as it will keep your helmet from getting banged around or scratched and is an easy way to transport your helmet to your driving events. Better yet, get yourself a gear bag for all of your safety gear.
Lastly, protect your helmet so it can protect you. Buy a helmet bag to carry it, preferably something with a liner and/or padding, not just a simple draw-string sack. If you drop your helmet, send it back to the manufacturer for inspection.
Kentucky Fried Helmet
Time from introduction of...
Time from introduction of flame to interior burn: 6 seconds, fully engulfed in 19 seconds
We mentioned earlier that Snell has an SA-2005 rating for motorsports and an M-2005 rating for motorcycle use. They are tested and certified to different levels of protection from impact and sliding forces to fire retardancy.
While it is legal at some tracks to use an M-2005 helmet, it may possibly be the worst safety-equipment purchase you can make. Most motorcycle helmets are not made with fire-retardant materials. They don't have to be-they are designed to absorb the impact of your head bouncing off the ground going 55 mph, not protect you from fire. "On these things (motorcycles), you slide away from the fire. In a car, you're trapped in the fire," says AMA motorcycle racer Glen Castle. Any helmet manufacturer worth its weight in padding will say the same.
The guys at our sister magazine, Circle Track, decided to find out just what happens when you have a motorcycle helmet near a little heat. Think about these pics the next time you go helmet shopping and buy the right helmet. There are plenty of value-priced SA-2005 helmets.
The moral of this exercise? Don't wear a motorcycle helmet-it can melt to your head.