Full-face helmets are appropriate for downhill, and enduro riders. They encompass the entire head and have the most coverage of all types of bicycle helmets. They are designed for aggressive riding and higher speeds where intense crashes are frequently seen.
In a future post, I will be looking at pre-adolescent children and how they may benefit from full-face helmets during all types of MTB riding because the head of the child is less resistant to impact trauma during development.
Rewind a few years to the early days of MTB full-face helmets and if you had one, you would know that it was like riding the trails with your head in a heavy box and a spill might well involve damaged neck muscles because of the weight. Today, technology has taken giant leaps; protection is better, and the weight has reduced to an average of 750 grams compared to over 900 grams and poor ventilation at the turn of this century.
The latest full-face helmets have adapted technologies from a range of sources that offer practicality and a blend of futurism.
360° Turbine Technology
Helmets made by Leatt for example, use 360° Turbine technology. Simply put, strategically placed discs reduce the energy and rotation typically created by an impact. The material these disks are manufactured from absorbs concussion-level energy and reduces the rotational acceleration to head and brain.
Koroyd is a class leading energy absorber, with a unique structure which reduces trauma levels with innovative energy management properties. During an impact, the Koroyd cores crush evenly, decelerating the energy from the impact and reducing final trauma levels.
It is through the crushing of these cores that the kinetic energy is converted. Traditional energy absorbers convert little energy, and act more like a spring, storing the energy and releasing it as the incident unfolds. This spring like phenomenon is because of materials having hysteresis. Koroyd has minimum hysteresis offering a far superior structure to reduce the risk of injury.
This incredible energy absorption material can be found in helmets by Smith and Endura.
You may have seen MIPS labels on the back of helmets or the packaging. Many helmet manufacturers have incorporated this into their designs, and it means Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS).
Rather than your head rotating during a crash, MIPS helps the helmet to rotate and reduces the amount of shock to the brain. It’s not an entirely new system and was developed in Sweden by Hans von Holst, a Swedish neurosurgeon and professor emeritus who has dedicated his professional life to studying head injuries.
His research recognized that protection against brain injuries was inadequate. In 1996, he began to explore the relationship between brain injuries and helmet construction and together with Peter Halldin, a researcher at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, the duo developed ground-breaking technology in the way helmets were designed and manufactured that proved to significantly increase brain protection.
Magnetic buckles provide security and quick release with systems like ‘Fidlock’. No need to remove your gloves either.
Following advances in materials, helmets with wide vents are common and modern helmets are no longer head saunas, no matter how hard you’re working.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is not something new to helmets but combined with other materials methods of tuning it to manage low or high-speed crashes have been developed.
More Than Just A Helmet
Riders need goggles, sunglasses, helmet cams and manufacturers have responded by building in appropriate mounts and clips.
Who includes what?
At a Glance (An ‘X’ is a YES)
|MIPS brain protection system||Fidlock helmet buckle||EPS liner||Removable chin bar||Adjustable Visor System||Fast Wicking Padding||Goggle Compatible||360° Turbine Disks||Koroyd Technology||Weight|
|MET Parachute MCR||X||X||X||840 gr|
|Troy Lee Designs Stage||X||X||X||690 gr|
|Bell Super DH||X||X||X||X||X||850 gr|
|Endura MT500||X||X||X||640 gr|
|Leatt DBX 4.0||X||X||X||X||880 gr|
If you like a futuristic, military-style design, then the FoxProframe helmet Looks great and has huge ventilation slots and air-guidance slats that produce a cooling helmet with excellent safety credentials.
MIPS brain protection system
Varizorb EPS liner
24 big bore vents
750g (size medium)
The MET Parachute is possibly one of the best lids available.
It has a large, detachable, magnetic chin guard, so you can transform it for downhill or comfortable climbing with the snap of a magnet. It has safety features you should expect, looks good and comfort is premium.
MIPS brain protection
Removable chin bar
Boa-FS1 fit system
840g (size medium)
Troy Lee Designs Stage helmet looks amazing and is packed with so many safety features that it exceeds the most common safety certifications. It has 11 high-flow air intakes and 14 open core exhaust ports to enable air flow around the head to keep you fresh no matter how hard you’re working the trails.
POLYLITE Shell construction with fibre reinforcement
Dual density EPS, co-moulded with EPP for high and low-speed impact
Fidlock magnetic buckle
MIPS brain protection
690g (size medium / large)
This tech-loaded helmet, the Bell Super DH, features a tool-free removable chin bar. An over-brow ventilation system links with the helmet’s carefully spaced ventilation holes to provide cooling airflow and, a goggle-friendly eye-port keeps glasses and goggles secured.
MIPS brain protection
Adjustable visor system
Fusion in-mould polycarbonate shell
850g (size medium)
The Endura MT500 is manufactured with Koroyd technology. Large vents channel air through the matrix of Koroyd tubes, allowing an exceptionally breathable performance – perfect for climbing. This helmet is certified to the highest safety standards and is the lightest in its class.
One-hand micro-adjustment fit
Antibacterial, fast-wicking padding
Extremely lightweight construction
640g (size medium)
The Leatt DBX 4.0 won the 2018 Interbike Innovation Award for Mountain Bike Product of the Year. There’s a lot of tech packed into this. It has 360° Turbine discs that reduce impact shock to the brain, and dual density foam absorbs hard knocks.
Detachable mesh chinguard
22 large ventilation ports
Dri-Lex moisture-wicking system
880g (size small)
If you’re interested in who was awarded last year, here’s the list. Developments in the cycling industry have led to the cancellation of the 2019 event.
- Pivot Firebird 929 (long-travel mountain bike)
- Shimano ME5 Shoe
- Leatt DBX 4.0 Helmet
- Oakley DRT5 Helmet
- Enduro Bearings 12 speed pulley (increases shifting performance, and reduces overall friction)
Comments & Questions
Your comments and questions are always welcome and will receive a quick response. If you would like to add your favorite full-face helmet, please don’t hesitate to do so and I will include it in a future post with a link back to you if you want it, so long as you provide a brief review.
You can order any of the helmets listed in this post at Chain Reaction Cycles by clicking on the banner to the right. They have an excellent 365 day returns policy too. Please understand that if you order from CRC, I may receive a small commission but this in no way affects the price you pay. You can read the details by clicking on “Affiliate Links” on the right of the top menu bar.