How to Choose a Full-Face BMX Helmet
There are two basic types of BMX bike helmets: open-face BMX helmets or full-face BMX helmets. The type you choose depends on the type of riding you plan on doing. In general, how aggressively you ride and where you ride will determine the amount of protection you need. Check out this page for information on choosing an open-face BMX helmet.
Full-face BMX Helmets: The right choice for racing, vert, and serious jumping
The risk of injury is inherent in all types of BMX riding but it goes up when you get into dirt jumping, BMX racing, or any type of riding in which you’re going to be airborne (or trying to get air). Choose a BMX full-face helmet if you plan on doing any riding with a high probability of crashing (even the best riders can and will crash). You can also choose a full-face BMX helmet because you like the styling, level of protection, or other features. If you're thinking of getting into BMX racing, note that USA BMX "highly recommends" a full-face helmet for competitors.
A Full-face BMX helmet differs from other bicycle helmets in a few distinctive ways:
- First off is the obvious — your chin, jaw, and mouth are covered. This protects the lower half of your face and jaw in the event of a crash or fall.
- Constructed with an impact-absorbing EPS liner and thin polycarbonate, fiberglass composite, or carbon fiber exterior shell
- Full-face BMX helmets also typically cover more of the back of your head than other BMX helmets, which is helpful in the event of a backward fall.
- Of necessity, full-face BMX helmets are heavier than other bicycle helmets, although advances in materials technology has brought down their weight (and cost).
- Full-face BMX helmets rely on passive as-you-go venting to circulate air through the helmet, which differs from a multi-vented open-face BMX helmet
- Full-face BMX helmets have moveable visors to help shield your eyes and the upper portion of your face
- Thick and dense interior cheek and head pads give a BMX full-face helmet a snug and comfortable fit
- Full-face helmets tend to be more expensive than open face helmets, but come in a wide range of prices starting at about $80
Should My BMX Helmet Meet Any Certifications?
By federal law, all helmets sold as "bicycle helmets" in the United States, including helmets for BMX, must meet the requirements of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) bike helmet standard. Look for the CPSC sticker on the inside of the helmet, and do not buy a helmet for biking that does not meet the CPSC safety standard.
Full-face BMX helmets will sometimes go further and meet additional standards, such as the:
- ASTM F-2032 BMX Helmet Standard
- ASTM F-1952 Downhill Mountain Bike Helmet Standard
- DOT standard for motorized, wheeled sports
- Snell Helmet Standards (which requires the most aggressive testing, although some believe it is too extreme to produce a cost-effective and comfortable helmet that bikers will enjoy wearing.)
Note that most full-face bicycle helmets are not tested to the ASTM F-2032 standard for BMX helmets or to the ASTM F-1952 standard for downhill mountain bike helmets due to the additional cost to the manufacturer. Both of these standards test performance criteria on the chin bar of the helmet. Lack of this certification does not mean the helmet is unsafe. Our product pages clearly state which safety standards each helmet meets. For whatever reason, helmet manufacturers seem to have gravitated toward the ASTM F-1952 standard. This may be due to cost or the relative number of helmets they sell for specific sports. If you want a full-face BMX helmet that has undergone some sort of compression testing on the chin bar, you can also look at helmets that meet ASTM F-1952 safety standards for mountain biking.
How to Measure Your Head for a BMX Helmet
For helmets to protect you from a serious head injury, they must fit properly and remain in place during a crash. Below, we go over some features that help ensure a proper fit for this vital piece of BMX protective gear. Measure your head and select a helmet that fits your size. Be careful not to assume sizing; age, height, and weight have little to do with how big your head is! Measure, measure, measure, and then pick the right size for you.
If you're looking for a child's BMX helmet or youth BMX helmet, check out our Kids BMX Helmet page. Not sure how to measure your child's head for a helmet? Be sure to visit our Kids' Helmet Sizing Page.
How should a full-face BMX helmet fit?
The way a helmet rests on your head is critical to how it will perform for its intended use. If you've only worn open-face helmets before, a full-face BMX helmet is going to feel quite different. It should feel snug, maybe even a little tight if it isn't properly in place. Like any helmet, a full-face BMX helmet should sit squarely on your head, not tilted back.
How can you tell if your full-face BMX helmet fits properly?
- The cheek pads should rest comfortably against your cheeks; not push against your cheeks
- There should not be a gap between your temple and the brow pads
- If your helmet has a neck roll, it should not push the helmet away from the back of your neck
- If you press on the chin piece, the helmet should not touch your nose or chin
- The helmet should not wiggle if you shake or nod your head
- You should not be able to roll the helmet forward off your head; if you can, it is too big
- When you take off the helmet, it should not leave any red marks or sore spots on your head
BMX helmets are usually sold with a different exterior shell size to accommodate the size of the wearer’s head, along with sometimes interchangeable fit pads or a rotating dial to further customize the fit and snugness. Every BMX helmet has a sizing table in its description that shows the head size (usually in centimeters for more accuracy) and corresponding helmet size (Small, Medium, Large, etc.).
What Should I Expect to Pay for a BMX Helmet?
Prices for BMX helmets can range from $30 to over $350. All of them meet the CPSC standards, so why is there such a huge variation in price? It depends on the extra features.