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I do trail riding with some technical elements, and I have decided to upgrade my normal helmet to some sort of a full-face helmet.

I have seen some sturdy-looking helmets, which resemble the motorcycle ones (example). However, their ventilation looks bad, so I don't want these. I am interested in the lighter variant, which looks like a normal helmet with a chin guard attached to it (example) - chin guard may or may not actually be removable.

So, if I get the latter type of helmet, do I get significantly better protection, comparing to non-full-face helmets?

Specifically, will it protect me from a direct face-plant?

Is there a significant risk of the chin guard snapping and hurting me?

Does it matter if the chin guard is made of metal or plastic?

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Define "some technical elements". Use of that phrase suggests inexperience to me. I found my inexperience provided me with enough caution to prevent face plants... Until I got to a certain level and then bam, two in six months. The 2nd resulted in a broken front tooth from sheer stupidity and complacency in my approach to riding down steps. I still don't have a full face helmet because I don't do downhill. Most severe for me are black runs in North Wales. –  James Morris Mar 30 at 21:19
    
Google search suggests the chin guard on the Met Parachite offers some limited protection. –  James Morris Mar 30 at 21:20
    
This seems like an excellent question to ask riders in your area who ride similar things to you. –  Batman Mar 31 at 3:18
    
The Met Parachute has, as far as I know, basically been the only non-downhill helmet with a chin guard. There might have been good reasons for that because there are tales of riders getting their face stabbed by chin guards that have broken off. –  user1049697 Mar 31 at 6:48
    
And there was also the Giro Switchblade. dirtmountainbike.com/featured/… The new Met Parachutes does however look promising, so it might have had the bugs finally sorted out. –  user1049697 Mar 31 at 6:59

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I wish they had them 20 years ago when I was much younger and rode much more difficult terrain, with much less respect (aka fear) than I now have. (I ride mostly technical XC, not downhill).

As far a protection goes, if the choice is a traditional light weight helmet or one like this, you will be better off with this. It is not an alternate to a down hill helmet.

Negative internet commentary on these tends to come from Downhill riders who do not believe they offer any real protection. As far as down hill riding, they are correct. They also tend to be good enough not to fall off on easy ground, and know how to fall if they do, so see no benefit over a light weight helmet.

However, I have seen some pretty horrendous injuries (google "Bicycle face plant") from riders face planting on paved and easy gravel roads. Most times its inexperienced riders doing silly things, rarely an experienced rider getting taken out by someone/something. These helmets are ideal for a XC rider who wants to keep his teeth and pretty looks, but is not prepared to spend hours suffocating under a heavy downhill helmet.

Will it protect you from a face plant - For XC and road riding, face plants injure the face, its messy, painful and scars last a lifetime, as does the loss of teeth. Your face will be protected.

Risk of chin guard snapping - at that point it would have been your jaw.... if you expect to fall off that hard, get a down hill helmet. If it does snap off, it has certainly done its job.

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