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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.

enter image description here

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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 statistically speaking, car occupants should be wearing helmets as they have more and more severe crashes but I think if it was suggested, it would be laughed at.
    – Chris
    Apr 20 '19 at 6:45
  • @Chris: Don’t they use airbags instead of helmets to avoid blunt head trauma?
    – Michael
    Apr 21 '19 at 5:29
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    @Michael a 2006 study found 280,000 people suffered a motor vehicle induced traumatic brain injury in the US annually. That’s quite a large number wouldn’t you say.
    – Chris
    Apr 21 '19 at 6:47
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    FWIW, there has been some exploration of full-face helmets specifically for road bikes.
    – Adam Rice
    Aug 24 at 16:43
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I often wear a regular cycling helmet as it may slightly reduce the severity of traumatic brain injury in certain crashes. The probability of such a crash is very low. The probability of a crash where the helmet is sufficient to mitigate brain injury in a significant way is even slimmer. However, since the reward for the rare cases where it helps is high (so i hope), I do wear it.

Wearing a helmet comes a a price though. A cycling helmet is inconvenient, often unbearably hot, and rarely comfortable. Oh, and they also do cost money.

On balance, considering risk, reward, and costs, it is oftentimes worth for me to wear a regular helmet.

The balance looks different for a full face helmet:

  • The probability of jaw injuries from survivable accidents while road biking is even lower than that for traumatic brain injury (people rarely face plant from their road bike).

  • I consider facial injuries to be much less debilitating and severe than brain injuries.

  • Full face helmets are much hotter and heavier than regular helmets. Further disadvantages are discussed in other's answers.

To sum it up, I shall certainly not wear a full face helmet.

The balance may be different for me if I were riding steep inclines down off-road, as it were. However, considering the draw-backs of full face helmets while getting to the mountain and up the mountain. I doubt, I should use a full face helmet either.

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    Probably most use of full face helmets is lift or shuttle assisted down hills. AM/Enduro etc where there are significant uphill sections are often/usually done using a helmet with a removable jaw or by removing the helmet altogether.
    – mattnz
    Aug 24 at 1:46
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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. May 8 '18 at 23:49
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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
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    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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    A full face helmet has to be pushed to the back of the head to drink. During that time there is even less protection offered then by a regular helmet. I suppose for road cycling the marginally increased risk due to that offsets the benefit of protecting against another type of unlikely injury.
    – gschenk
    Apr 19 '19 at 21:02
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A point made in a previous comment suggests full face helmets affect peripheral vision. This is a safety downside.

A bigger safety downside is this: They must also affect hearing (well-ventilated helmets that don't block too much sound will be prone to wind noise). Hearing is a valuable tool for telling what's coming up behind.

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Because full face helmets are way heavier, less aerodynamic and much less ventilated.

Wearing it on a road bike most probably wouldn't take you very far. The same applies for XC or any discipline where you're making long and steady efforts for one hour or more. A DH race consists of interval-type efforts, and there is rest in between; a DH racer will not be overheated between runs.

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  • Hello Daniel and welcome to Stack-Exchange! Judging from your good answer you might not need the tour, but please have a look nonetheless. A remark: I cannot follow the argument of your final paragraph. If you find it difficult to improve, consider to drop it? There is no need to address the answers of others directly, and the first part of your question sums the answer up quite neatly.
    – gschenk
    Apr 19 '19 at 21:51
  • Thank you G. Good advice. Apr 21 '19 at 16:09
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I wear a full face BMX helmet all the time and always have when on my outdoor cycling journeys for three reasons

  1. it protects my entire head from any trauma and bashing on the floor, it protects my entire face not just head, prevents injury to my chin or mouth.
  2. it is mainly because of my BMX history but I always ride a full sized 26 inch wheel, 18 inch frame fully rigid mountain bike and have always found full face helmets more logical, functional and comfortable because I'm used of them. I hate the typical road cycling helmets that protect absolutely nothing. Full face BMX and mountain bike helmets protect everything and are safer.
  3. If you ever have anyone try to punch or kick you in head while you're wearing your helmet it absorbs most impact and I barely feel any strike. It prevents any palm strikes or uppercuts to chin or jaw because I've got a big guard in front of my jaw. Actually happened a few times and it should always be left on if you ever get into a fist fight with any aggressive driver who gets out to attack after he gets aggressive with you or random little shit who tries to attack you while you are on your bike and if he attempts to hit your head and manages to hit you before you can block his strike and grab his arm and push him away and he does hit to head or cheek or jaw then your not gonna feel it. I've had one or two fights with a gang of two or more attackers trying to get my bike from me and I've had to defend my self with martial arts having the full face helmet protecting every part of my face helped a lot and because I thoroughly tested this out with my students and I even head butted one little shit with the beak of the helmet was really effective it caused his nose to bleed. Sorry to go into a fighting I'm a trained martial arts instructor but its effective for a rare fight situation if you have to resort to self defence if you couldn't just ride away before they approach you and make an attempt to hit. A lot of people stop the bike with their hands which you can use to grab and bend the wrist back or bend the arm in a lock and hit them and then just ride off.
    The full face helmet has many many advantages over just a normal road cycling helmet. It has the protection of a motorcycle helmet, makes you feel safer and is actually more comfortable than people think you just have to get the right helmet and actually get the right most comfortable padding that works for you and makes you feel comfortable and the right adjustments and size.

Also you can wear proper mountain bike goggles that look like ski goggles to protect eyes better from high winds and any mud or flies god damn annoying flies, glasses do nothing. then can just move the goggles up when you don't want to wear them and still have them strapped around the helmet.

Also I strongly advise sap(?) gloves with the padded metal knuckles and metal pad back of hands that motor cyclist and mountain bikers and BMX wear much much more protection than any road cycling gloves and stops your knuckles from been scraped and even great for fights but that's the best advice for why you should get and wear a full face helmet for cycling but hey I am mainly cycling mountain bike trails, around parks and BMX tracks and use side roads to get every where don't really cycle down main highways with traffic lights unless I really have to, most of time on a super busy high way I'll just get off my bike and walk with it or cycle on grass. Can't be stopped for cycling on grass not on the path you just ride slower and use your brakes to slow down when pedestrians are near by and in my experience police have never had an issue with me cycling on the patches of grass on the side of the pathways. I really wish in UK they'd invest in a lot more cycling lanes they are getting there but there is still a lot of improvements to be made to path cycle ways and road cycle ways and they need to do something about pedestrians walking in cycle ways nothing more annoying than having to ring your bell excessively and shout at them to get out the way and also I've never had a road bicycle I don't like them think the wheel and tyre is far to thin, the frame is weird and the curved back handle bars and the way you are so bent over. I hate it personally and hate the form fitting cycling wear but hey I'm mainly a mountain biker and BMXer and mainly entirely use side roads to get to parks and grassy parts or cycle ways on highways, parks and bike trails is where I mainly cycle so what do I know about road cycling I'll never get a road bike always mountain bikes for me so completely different bicycles and its just my person preference and I'm not a road bicycle fan. Prefer the raw hardcore mountain biking experience and the option to go off road trails whenever I want which is always the preference.

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  • also to add the it is less aerodynamic for road and xc percivic cycling yes but if its massive advantages in protection is always a win win if its full protection your looking for and your more of mountain biker or bmxer. if they can somehow create a more aerodynamic and more road percivic full face helmet that has the jaw guard but still has the aerodynamic design that satifys roadies then problem solved but no one has come up with a desgin yet. also it dont look stupid at all i actually get loads of people complimenting it saying it looks cool and even how much more safer it is. Aug 24 at 1:29
  • also the hearing disadvantage is an issue for some helmets that dont have good ventelation. doesnt effect line of sight or peripheral vision at all its a little less than a roadie or xc is used to but prevents you from for risk of knocked out or jaw or nose or face bust up when you go swinging over handle bars, or smacking face of the handle bars or if you fall off. but again ive always worn them since i was in bmx competitions as a kid so im used of them and have learned to over come any disadvantage. its honnestly worth just trying it out for your self and seeing what you prefer. Aug 24 at 1:45
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    Hi, welcome to bicycles. You should probably remove the part about getting into fights with drivers since that's not a normal use-case, not a good look for cyclists, and not relevant to the question.
    – DavidW
    Aug 24 at 4:07
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    You make a good point to wear a full have helmet all the time! So far I solved the "not getting punched in the face" thing by not getting into flights. But with a helmet I may be as aggressive as I please. Next time I buy red herrings at the fishmonger I bring a full face helmet.
    – gschenk
    Aug 24 at 8:09

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