If you want the combined features of the open-face and the full-face helmet, a Modular motorcycle helmet is what you want. A modular helmet allows riders to flip-up the chin bar, making it easier to put on and take off. The flip-up feature also allows flexibility when riding. When flipped-up, the visibility improves for manoeuvring the twists and turns of a country road or while riding in low trafficked suburban environments. After an afternoon of fun, when it’s time to jump on the freeway to get home, flip-down the chin bar for an easy cruise back home.
This helmet is a terrific compromise if you can’t stand a fixed chin bar – visibility is improved when the bar is up – you don’t feel quite as confined. Harley-Davidson® Modular helmets come with face shields, too, which are easy to flip-up. The shields have an anti-scratch coating and protect from UV rays. Most come with ventilation designed-in, and with a moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial interior liner that is removable and washable.
If you want maximum protection for the face and the entire head, the full-face helmet is as good as it gets, protecting all of the head and the jaw. Professionals say that they provide the best protection. Not surprisingly, they are the most popular style, too. They can be worn in riding environments where side traffic dangers are reduced, being best suited for higher speed riding on highways and freeways. They are also suitable for lighter suburban traffic environments but not recommended for heavily trafficked city/urban streets because peripheral vision is somewhat limited. It takes a turn of the head to detect peripheral side traffic, so be careful in highly trafficked areas.
Equipped with a chin bar, most full-face motorcycle helmets have flip-up face shields. The face-shields are generally removable and replaceable. Most full-face helmets have on/off flow-through ventilation vents to provide cooling air flow for warm weather riding, when needed.
Compared to the half-helmet, the Open-Face (3/4) motorcycle helmet is a step up in coverage and protection, covering all the major bones of the skull, including the Frontal, Parietal, Temporal and Occipital bones. It offers great visibility with the additional protection you want around the sides and back of the head. For safety, it's probably the best choice for busy urban riding. With a full-face visor, it’s the next best thing to the full-face helmet design.
The half-helmet is the most basic helmet available. It covers the cranium, that part of the skull that houses the brain. Wear this helmet when you need maximum peripheral vision, especially in heavily trafficked urban environments where your head needs to be on the swivel every second you are riding. It offers the least protection available, yet still protects the brain. It’s light, and cool in hot weather. They are popular because they are the least intrusive, yet legal where helmets are required by law.