Why do we love open face helmets?

Open face helmet

Why do I come home with a big grin on my face after a ride wearing an open face helmet?

Open face helmetI know all the reasons I shouldn’t wear one – safety, bugs, sunburn, rain, etc – but there is something about the exposure to the elements and dangers that make it so much more fun.

I don’t always wear an open face helmet, but when I do there are certain aspects that always cross my mind:


I don’t know anyone who chooses a bike over a car for safety. Statistics show that in a crash, 19.4% of the time your chin will hit the ground.


I used to think I rode a little more cautiously when I wore an open face helmet, but maybe I just ride slower because the helmet tries to strangle me at high speeds.


Open face helmetThey hurt. No doubt about it. So do stones and even fine dust. But that’s part of the visceral thrill. If you don’t like it, grow a beard or grow a pair. Otherwise, take the car.


People can see you grinning like a moron and they can see when you start to sing along to a song in your head or your earphones. I’ve had a whole school bus full of kids pointing and laughing at me when they caught me singing. I just sang louder!


If you think rain feels like pins being stuck in your face, try hail! It hurts. But light rain tingles and excites. I also love the fine spray you get when you’re behind a car that is washing its windscreen or the overspray from a farmer’s irrigation.


Open face helmetNot just sunburn, but windburn. You come home with your face glowing and slightly stinging. At least you know you’ve been for a ride. A bit of sunblock, a light mask or a beard can solve the problem, though.


Yes, it’s noisier, which means you can hear a lot more clearly the crackle on the overrun as your exhaust bounces back off canyon walls and in tunnels. And that lingering ringing in the ears is another indicator of a great ride. Of course, you can also wear earplugs.


Celebrities like David Beckham say they love riding because of the anonymity you get when you put on a full face helmet. You lose all anonymity when you ride around with an open face helmet. People can see your ugly/handsome face.

Do you wear an open-face helmet? Why, or why not?


  1. There is no doubt that if you do fall off, a full face helmet will give you more protection,but on the other hand,an open face helmet dramatically increases your field of vision and makes you more aware of your speed, making you less likely to have an accident. Add to that the claustrophobic feeling that full face helments have and the wonderful openess to your surroundings that open face helmets give you,which is one of the main reasons why you ride a bike anyway, my preference is a good qulaity open face helmet. I have a Shoei JO carburettor which matches my bike and has a built in flip down visor. I couldnt stand wearing goggles. A pair of Ray Ban aviator sunglasses will fit underneath and allow you to use the supplied clear visor at the same time. Fantastic.

  2. There are two distinct forms of safety which is why opposite sides can claim the safest. primary safety ( avoiding an accident )
    favours the open face with increased awareness and vision. you are also more speed aware so will probably ride a little slower. Secondary safety ( preventing injury during an accident ) on the surface favours the full lid as long as the chinpeice doesn’t catch and break your neck. the choice is yours the only other thing to consider is if you are a human being or a goldfish and prefer to live in a bowl. live is better if you can feel it

  3. Open face – never. It’s funny how cruiser riders seem to all have to copy each other and wear open face, like it’s some sort of uniform. I did have a Kawasaki 1500 V-twin some years ago and found that because of the stupid position of the speedometer on the fuel tank, I couldn’t actually read it without lowering my head, as it was blocked by the helmet chin-piece. So, now I just don’t ride bikes with the speedo on the fuel tank. Mind you, that Kawasaki was probably the most uncomfortable bike I’ve ever ridden. Having my short legs stuck out in front was very painful on the thighs and I felt like a damn windsock.

  4. Great article Mark on the open face helmet … I totally agree with you and prolly more with the comment from Boyd Dunford.. Spot is Boyd.. I only wear a Bell custom 500 😉

  5. Just swapped over from an Arai RX-Q to a Shoei J-Cruise and I absolutely love the open face helmet and I said I’d never wear an open face. I really like the extended vision you get and with the J-Cruise the flip down sun visor is just awesome, it also has a full face clear shield so I feel quiet protected but I don’t kid myself in the advent of a fall that it will stand up to the safety of the Arai, but I doubt I’ll wear the Arai again.

  6. If I’m on my Sprint I wear a full face, probably because I hook in more and increase my chances of headbutting the black stuff!
    If I’m on my Harley I wear the half face and just cruise, I guess it all a choice of what your willing to slide down the road wearing and with all the tincan numpties out there this is a real possibility every day!
    A bit of fashion may come into it as well, a full face on the Hog just feels heavy and wrong for some reason?

  7. I never really felt comfortable with an open face but I did really enjoy the fact that I could have a smoke while cruising through town back in the 80’s alas I no longer smoke.

  8. Why I love Open face……

    I should wear a full face as a major smash in 1995 completely shattered my Lazer full face even straightening the RBS system built in.

    So why did I 10 years ago switch to a open face? I never used my visor unless it rained. My full face was getting old and Open face was cheaper. I was riding a GPZ 900 turned street fighter and the feeling of being exposed not only by riding a naked but feeling the wind on my face I was realizing the sense of speed was coming a lot earlier. Riding at 160KMH + was now tearing at my skin. I didn’t need to travel faster than that to feel speed. I felt fast at 80 in the rain I began judging speed by feel and not a needle on a gauge. I felt more in tune with the ride not just part of it.

    Do I still own a full face? Yes I have a R-Jay RSS tour flip up. Last time I wore it was a year ago. I feel trapped in a full face now. Yes bugs hurt at 100KMH, yes cattle trucks are not nice to be stuck behind when the cows do their thing. Yes rain feels like bullets at excessive speed. But on the nice days when the sun is shinning, the curves are flowing, the smells are of the sweet Australian fauna I can enjoy it all and feel part of it and not just someone riding through it.

    So the questions I ask of everyone is. When it rains do you not ride? When the birds sing outside and the creek babbles do you crank up the stereo. Do you ride to go fast to get somewhere or do you ride to feel part of something intimate between you, machine and nature?

    Try an open face. We don’t ride because it’s safe. We ride because we are alive and want to feel it everyday we are on the bike.

    1. Well said. I especially like your reference to judging your speed by feel rather than the speedo! All speed is relative, anyway.
      Do I love to speed? Yes! But the speed I’m actually doing is more “sensible” when I’m wearing an open-face helmet. But the feeling is just as good!

  9. agree 100%. That’s why I can’t understand guys wearing open face helmets with full face rubber masks. Defeats the purpose.cheers

  10. Miss my Bell Magnum from the 70s… would love another but always worry that the day I wear it will be the day I need the protection of a full face!

    I do love the wind in the hair feel though of an open face.

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