Do you need a full face helmet?

A question I get asked a lot is; “Do I need a full face helmet?” My answer is pretty simple. If you are thinking about it, then you probably need one. And if you haven’t thought about it yet, you probably need one.

Full face helmets are not just for Downhill & Enduro riders!

With the Enduro Helmets featuring removable chin bars, its so easy to go from open face helmet to full face in seconds just before you head down the trails.

Here are a few reasons I feel you need a full face helmet:

– Our trails have become more technical. 
– Our bikes have become more capable.
– We now understand the impact of concussions and head injuries a lot more than we used to.
-Ladies have more head injuries and concussions from crashes than men do.  
-If you ride an E-bike, get a full face helmet.

There are so many great helmet options. You can go Enduro with a removable chin bar or get a full face that is light enough to wear all day!

Over the past few years  we have seen a massive growth in the number of trails as well an increase in the technical level of the trails.  Most of the trails feature obstacles like roots, rocks, drops, jumps, etc. While these are fun, they do present more opportunities for rider error which result in crashes. It is human nature to push our limits and a mountain bike pointed downward on a trail is the perfect vehicle to do so.  Mountain biking is an extreme sport. Crashes are inevitable and you never know when or how you will crash, or what part of your body will take the impact. An open face helmet will protect you to a certain extent, but one bad crash can leave you with awful injuries and permanent damage to your face. 

Mountain Bikes have developed a lot over the years. If I compare my current bike to my  first full rigid 1991 Nishiki, its just amazing how much bikes have improved. I would never have dreamed of hitting a 5 meter gap jump a few years ago, but now I know my bike can handle it.  Most of us are not going to be riding a bike that can get us down the Utah Cliffs at Red Bull Rampage, but even the average XC bike of today is capable of negotiating technical terrain and obstacles more effectively, making us faster and more confident on the trails. The bikes are safer, but as we push our limits, the injuries become can become more severe. 

In recent years we have begun to understand concussion and brain injury a lot better than we used to. Experts are still trying to understand how repeated head traumas — including how many head injuries and the severity of those injuries — and other factors might contribute to the changes in the brain that result in Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (CTE) is the term used to describe brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head trauma. What we do know is that wearing a helmet that minimizes the risk of head and brain injury by reducing both rotational acceleration and impact energy forces at concussion level is vital. 

If you have an E-bike you should be wearing a full face. E-bikes are heavier and faster than normal bikes. They also allow for easier climbing, which could mean that you are going to be riding down steeper trails than you are used to. Before E-bikes your bike skills developed along with your fitness, so by the time you could climb to that double black trail, you had ridden enough to have acquired the necessary skills to safely negotiate the trail. Now with E-bikes, beginners are able to easily access any trails and this can lead to serious injuries. For experienced riders who are already fast,  E-bikes do not necessarily make you faster on downhills due the speed limitations, but it certainly allows you to do more runs. On an e-bike I do more downhill runs than I do on my Enduro bike. (two to three times more) Fatigue can set in without really noticing and this can lead to crashes. A full face helmet and good body protection are definitely something to consider seriously for all E-bikers. 

I have met ladies who are embarrassed to wear a full face in case people will judge them for wanting to look like a "Downhiller"

The EWS (Enduro World Series) recently released their 2 year crash and injury report. In this report we can see that there are more injuries in XC events than Enduro events and that women suffer more head injuries than men. In my personal experience I have had the most injuries while XC riding, but I put this down to the fact that while riding and racing DH and Enduro I am wearing protective gear. I might have the same number or more crashes while riding DH and Enduro, but the injuries are reduced due to the the protective gear, which highlights how important this protection is. I have also found that most of the lady MTB riders I know have had a head or facial injury from a MTB crash. Us women do not have the upper body strength that men do. Most of the women I asked cannot do a push up, so in a case where we go over the bars, our lack of arm strength is going to cause us to have a greater risk of head/facial injuries. I have met ladies who are embarrassed to wear a full face in case people will judge them for wanting to look like a “downhiller” We need to change this perception and start protecting ourselves from injuries. 

I personally use the Leatt Protectives range of helmets. Their 360° Turbine Technology reduces peak brain acceleration by up to 30% at impact speeds associated with concussion and reduces peak brain rotational acceleration by up to 40% I also love the Fidlock magnetic closure system, which makes the helmets easy to clip on and off with one hand. They have various models available depending on the style of riding you do. 

Leatt MTB 3.0 Enduro

This is a great helmet if you are looking for a comfortable helmet with a high level of protection, featuring their 360° Turbine Technology. 

Without the chin bar it weighs just 375g and has 23 vents that are effective even at low speeds. Clip on the chin bar and you have full face protection at just 750g

Leatt MTB 4.0 Enduro

This is a great helmet if you are looking for a fully ASTM DH Certified helmet with a removable chin bar featuring their 360° Turbine Technology. 

It also has awesome features, like a removable mouthpiece in the chin bar for extra ventilation or to protect you in bad weather. It has an  adjustable visor and  Sunglasses dock port for easy, secure storage. 

Do you need a full face helmet?