There are many reasons why people get into motorcycle riding to begin with. Of course, most people do start off with a genuine love for the bike, or at least the idea of one, but another major reason people get involved with the sport is for the look and feel of it. Let’s face it: there’s definitely a bad-boy image associated with motorcycling.
If you are reading this article for advice on dual sport helmets, you may be wondering why we are referencing the traditional greaser motorcycle image. This is because adventure motorcycles also come with their own pointed imagery surrounding them. It’s natural that we want to purchase bikes that align with our riding ideals. So just like a first-time street rider may gravitate toward a Harley that is far too large for them to handle, a person more drawn to adventure biking may end up with a bike that looks like it could take off down Baja California, when in reality they spend much more time on their local highway.
Basically, if you are wondering if dual sport motorcycle helmets are worth it, the answer to it is, “probably not.” However, it depends on how you use your motorcycle the majority of the time.
So, How Do You Use Your Motorcycle?
The problem with a dual sport helmet is that it tries to fulfill the needs of both off-roading and street riding. To a certain extent most dual sport helmets do this relatively well, but the problem with a compromise (in general) is that, well, you make compromises on both ends of it.
For instance, a dual sport helmet is never going to be as aerodynamic as compared to a dedicated street helmet. Street helmets are made to max out aerodynamic qualities as it is assumed you’ll be riding on the highway with one. Obviously, you’ll be going much faster on a paved highway as compared to a dirt road out in the woods, so a street helmet ensures that wind is split around the curves of the helmet so that you do not end up with a lot of pressure on your neck and shoulders.
Additionally, dual sport helmets and dirt helmets are outfitted with a dedicated peak at the chin to protect the rider against roost. On the highway or other paved roads, roost is considerably less of a concern. This means that the peak on a dual sport helmet becomes a liability at high speeds on paved roads. This is because if you are doing a lane check by turning your head to look behind you, if your helmet has the peak attached the wind can catch it and potentially jerk your neck.
Obviously, with dual sport helmets you can remove the peak if necessary most of the time. However, this puts you at increased risk of losing the screws or even the peak itself. Plus, it’s a bit annoying to have to grab your toolkit or jimmy your helmet around like a Rubik’s Cube every single time you want to hit the road.
Dedicated street helmets also have better noise-blocking abilities as compared to dual sport helmets.
Basically, if you sit down and are honest with yourself about your riding habits, most people who own adventure sports bikes are going to spend most of the time on their pavement. If this is the case, it’s advisable to have a dedicated street helmet for this variety of riding. Otherwise, you risk stress headaches and more.
On the other hand, if you plan to spend most of your time out in the dirt, a dedicated dirt helmet is much preferred. First of all, dirt bike helmets tend to be lighter than dual sport helmets, and when you are spending hours out in the sun with your bike you’ll appreciate this. Additionally, dedicated dirt bike helmets also have far better ventilation. Remember that a dual sport helmet is also going to try and play the role of a street helmet, where noise-blocking is important at top speeds. However, this quality is detrimental when you are traveling at a much slower pace out on a dirt path.
Who Should Get a Dual Sport Helmet?
To be honest, dual sport helmets are only really recommended for a small number of riders. This is because most riders either tend to use their bikes primarily for street riding or dirt riding. If you are in the minority of riders who honestly does split their time equally between these two types of riding, you may be a great candidate for a dual sport helmet.
But, just like most people who don leather jackets and ride down the road are not exactly a Rebel Without a Cause, and just like people who wear racing gear are not exactly Evel Knievel, most people do not split their time evenly between dirt biking and street biking evenly enough to really make a dual sport helmet worth it for most people.
In order to make the best helmet choice for you, we recommend sitting down and making a true appraisal of how you use your bike most often. Again, most people, even if you have a dual sport bike, you are going to be spending most of your time either on pavement or in the dirt. You should purchase a helmet that suits your needs best for the majority of the time that you are on the bike, rather than the minority.
Once you have settled on a helmet that suits your needs for the majority of the time that you are on the bike, then go ahead and purchase a secondary helmet for the minority of the time. For the vast majority of riders, this means that you’ll be wearing a street helmet at least 80- to 85% of the time and then for the other 20- to 15% you’ll have a dedicated dirt bike helmet. This may end up costing a bit more than simply purchasing a dual sport helmet, but you’ll be much more comfortable and far safer. Trust us: it’s worth the extra couple hundred dollars.
But if you are one of the minority of riders who is truly in the running for a dual sport helmet, make sure to do research on dual-sport helmets online before making a final purchase.