Open face helmets – what’s the risk?

Face it, on a retro-custom brat or scrambler, there is only one helmet to wear: Open face helmets, preferably lined with some luxurious suede by the geniuses at Hedon.

You might think the only danger is in going with a mushroom top that makes your head look massive. But there is another issue and it’s all to do with looks too.

Don’t get us wrong – we love the looks of open face helmets, especially with the right eyewear – but there can, unfortunately, be a price to pay and as ultimately the thing we most care about is our biker’s health and wealth, we have to bring the subject up.


Open face helmets can be seriously dangerous in the event of a face-frontal smash. The same goes for flip-lids when the lid is flipped (you listening, pizza delivery boy?).

I know this because I once had a deeply depressing chat with a reconstructive dental surgeon and some of the stories were simply horrific.

Badly damaged crash helmet

There’s no need to go into details, but let’s just say the damage was way more than a scratched chin. One search of Google Images for ‘open face helmet injury’ and you’ll see all you need to know.

It’s not just the last of protection from the lid. Those cool Ray Bans or Oakley’s you’re wearing, they are not designed for 50mph falls…

If you are looking for the correct amount of protection for the speed you are looking to ride, and I’m guessing that by identifying yourself as a biker you don’t like to hang around, the safest option is a properly looked after [link to A – Checking your lid for damage] full face helmet with manufacturer-approved visor.

You can still look cool. Bell, with it’s Bullitt and Biltwell’s Gringo are really great looking retro helmets. But we checked the UK Government’s bloody useful SHARP helmet safety site for their ratings and these models don’t appear… So just like with fully open face helmets, you are taking a risk that only you can decide is worth it.


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The Author

Paul Vennard

Paul Vennard

Paul is actually a chartered accountant so he knows a thing or two about saving money - and that's one of his roles at Biker and Bike: how to save bikers money.

Like everyone else here he's a full-on biker. He's a year-round rider and never happier than when he's on a track, screaming the nuts of his 675 Daytona.

Paul also loves a trip. Just don't share a tent with him. He snores like a bastard.