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A lot of cyclists are concerned about safety and having the proper equipment, but I have never seen a cyclist riding in the city with a full-face helmet, nor have I seen a full-face helmet marketed for city/road riding. Is there a reason for this?

I have a friend who broke several teeth after a tire got caught in some trolly tracks resulting in many thousands of $'s of dental bills, and know of another young woman who died in a similar incident after hitting her head on the curb. Both were wearing standard bike helmets.

If the full-face helmet offers more protection to more of your head, why wouldn't some people want that, even if they're not doing some ridiculous jump on a downhill or BMX bike?

Full Face Helmet

vs.

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  • Same question goes for neck braces, padding, and crash armour. The road is not a combat zone - in most of the world, well designed cycling infrastructure keeps bikes and cars apart. Its only when there is contention for space that conflict arises. At this point, it can be physical conflict. Better planning reduces the need for protection. – Criggie May 9 '18 at 1:03
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I think there will be a significant subjective element to answering this question, but pressing on:

  • Full face helmets are relatively heavy
  • Full face helmets offer less ventilation that standard helmets
  • Full face helmets are less aerodynamic that standard helmets
  • Riders don't want to look silly or weird
  • Full face helmets are not marketed to cross country MTB, road or casual cyclists.

However, given that a few decades ago cycle helmets were rarely worn, but are now common; it seems plausible that in the future lighter, more ventilated helmets will be developed and become generally acceptable for less extreme forms of riding.

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    May full face designs also offer reduced visibility on the sides, not a ton, but it is noticeable, which is not ideal for city use on busy streets. Side note i wear one when i ride MTB trails. The trails are not downhill by any means but i like my teeth. – Nate W May 8 '18 at 23:32
  • I've seen a couple of nasty over-the-handlebar crashes onto pavement. Riders wearing helmets but hit face first and were knocked out, as well as sustaining trauma to the face. I have wondered if some kind of side of head and face protection could be built in to helmets. – Argenti Apparatus May 8 '18 at 23:49
  • I had my first crash in January after a brush-by pass from a dualie pick-up truck (four wheels across the back) when he squeezed by me with on-coming traffic. I went off the road, but then came back on the road over a six-inch lip at the edge of the pavement, lost control and crashed. My head didn't impact the pavement but it did make me think how much of my face isn't protected and whether a full-face helmet might be a good idea. (AC joint damage, off the bike for three months, now feeling stronger than ever after the resting.) – compton May 9 '18 at 6:06
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    Another reason: Downhill mountain bikers are much more likely to crash. For the relatively unlikely case that a normal cyclist crashes it’s much more acceptable that you are not protected against face injuries, which are probably not fatal in any case. – Michael May 9 '18 at 11:22
  • I just want to add something here. Most riders are commuters, wich means slower speeds, better roads and silly falls. This means at most that people will get bruises near the jaw. Which is a good trade off for ventilation and weight. On the other hand, Downhill is all about speed and technique, on bad terrain. So if you fall is going to hurt because you are gonna get hit by something fast and probably in some weird position, like face first. – dmb May 10 '18 at 13:09

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