What are motorcycle helmet shells made of?
These days, biking and safety go hand in hand, and most of us wouldn't dream of getting on a bike without a helmet. A good helmet will not only keep your head in one piece; if chosen well, it can be a great style accessory, too. We have a whole range of helmets to suit many tastes. This means you can get just the right type, whether you are rocking that sleek modern look or you are going with a classic, retro vibe. From Baseball to beanie style, there is something for you in our range of DOT-approved, lightweight bike helmets.
Back in 1867, when Sylvester Howard Roper strapped a steam engine to his wooden bicycle and effectively invented the motorcycle, he would not have been wearing much more than a cloth cap. This steam-powered invention barely caused a ripple at the time, seeming like little more than a fairground novelty.
It was a few years later, with the development by Daimler of the more reliable and practical internal combustion engine-powered motorcycle, that things really took off. The joy of the open road and the freedom that a bike offered soon became obvious. Shortly after, the iconic brands of Harley, Indian, Triumph, and Norton began producing faster and more sophisticated machines. It soon became clear that while the sheer pleasure of riding was undeniable, when things went wrong at such high speeds, the frail human body was exposed to mortal danger, especially the head.
Early helmets tended to be little more than padded leather, but it was a start and an acknowledgment that safety needed to be addressed. The first mandated use of helmets was for the famous Isle of Man TT Race  in 1914 after campaigning by the British physicist Eric Gardner, who noticed a lot of avoidable deaths and head injuries caused by accidents in this now-legendary bike event. By the time the U.S. Army had mandated the use of helmets in 1941 for all of its motorcycle riders, people were getting used to the idea of strapping some protection on.
It was in the post-war years that things really took off, however. In 1953, the first motorcycle helmet was patented by Charles F. Lombard, a researcher with the U.S. Air Force. He realized the new jet pilot headgear could be adapted for the protection of bike riders, too. His patent consisted of a rigid shell with extensive interior padding. Although it was a far cry from a modern helmet, it undoubtedly showed the way forward.
Into the modern era
Since those days, modern industrial techniques and the development of high-strength, low-weight materials mean that there are a number of new materials available to helmet manufacturers, all of them tough and durable but each with different characteristics. When faced with all these choices, it can be hard to know where to start.
The main thing to look out for is whether the helmet is DOT certified or approved. By law, all helmets sold specifically as motorcycle helmets in the U.S. must be DOT approved. A DOT-approved helmet will greatly reduce the chance of death or life-changing injuries in the event of an accident. All of our helmets, including this Blister Original, meet these requirements, but ours do it with an added dose of style that you don't always get with other helmets.
Materials: The pros and cons
The principal materials that are used in helmet production are fiberglass, carbon fiber, kevlar, polycarbonate, and ABS plastic (or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, to give it its full name). Despite the name, ABS contains no carcinogens or substances that are harmful to human health. ABS has the advantage of strength with a certain degree of flexibility, making it ideal for lightweight, stylish helmets like ours. With its hard, durable surface, it withstands weathering much better than a polycarbonate helmet.
Polycarbonate, while it has strength in depth, also has a softer surface, making it more prone to scuffing and scratching. An ABS helmet will stay looking good for longer. Another ideal material for lightweight helmets is fiberglass, which is the most flexible material here and allows any impact or shockwave to be spread across the helmet. This not only disperses that point of impact but reduces the need for so much bulky internal padding. Early fiberglass helmets suffered from brittleness, but this has long since been addressed by the composite mixing in of materials such as kevlar or carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber is the material chosen by high-speed racers on high-performance bikes. Track racers will mostly be wearing carbon-fiber helmets. The performance comes at a high cost; these are generally the most expensive type of helmets available.
Finally, kevlar, which is produced in much the same way as fiberglass and uses military-developed technology, is another high-strength, durable material. The downside to kevlar is that it does not disperse compression in an impact particularly well, meaning it has to be mixed with other materials such as carbon fiber and padded well inside to ensure safety.
The lightweight choice that makes sense
If you value comfort and style along with safety, a DOT-approved lightweight helmet from us is the way to go. Our lightweight helmets help reduce fatigue. In some cases, you will have 75% less weight than a full-face helmet. That amounts to a lot of saved neck strain, especially on long journeys or rides along winding roads when the neck is doing a lot of work just to stay upright.
The open-face design puts you back in touch with your surroundings for a more connected ride. The smaller, lighter design also means that they are much easier to stow than the full-face bowl type when you are off the bike, slipping easily into bags or storage racks.
We have a full range of sizes, ensuring you can find the perfect fit, which is crucial for comfort and safety. We even have a fun quiz to help you find the perfect helmet. You'll also find a comprehensive guide on how to measure your head in the correct way.
We have come a long way from the early days of motorcycles. Many lessons have been learned, resulting in a great deal of technological progress in the bikes themselves and helmet technology. There is no longer any need to compromise safety to look good and enjoy your ride. You can have it all with a Microdot helmet. Explore our range today.