I've had a few parents and kids ask questions about various bits of gear, so I thought I'd start going through some of this stuff here. There's always going to be various points of view to everything, so take this with a grain of salt, I'm just sharing some of what I've learnt over the last decade and a bit...
"Do I need a Fullface Helmet”
You see that enduro rider out there kitted up in a RAD looking fullface, and start wondering if that’s something you should have. You’d get one just to find out, but damn, they’re expensive!
Short answer – ride in what makes you feel comfortable, and its usually money well spent when you’re talking about protecting your head (I’ve got a helmet that probably saved my life).
Long answer – there’s a few distinct helmet options out there, and a lot of brands doing them, and they’re all a good option depending on what you want out of a helmet. I’ll run through the main types and what benefit each has, it’ll probably make decisions harder to make but at least they’ll be slightly more informed decisions.
Generally very light with great ventilation, covering the bare minimum of head area
Provided they have the Australian standards sticker on it, they meet all protection standards and will generally hold up to most direct impacts. They’re designed for where keeping cool is important due to heavy pedalling, and less protection is needed due to generally less technical trails.
A little heavier duty than a cross country helmet
Less ventilation, and starts covering more of your head going down to the base of your skull at the back and sometimes even over your ears. These still feel reasonably cool and do provide a bit more protection than an XC helmet due to extra coverage. The extra weight and loss of a few vents doesn’t bother most people, but its always a personal preference thing.
Fullface with removable chinbar
Fairly similar in build to a Trail helmet with the addition of a removable chinbar
The additional removable chinbar allows conversion to a fullface. These are a great option for versatility, providing more protection and confidence while being able to take off the chinbar for less gnarly riding. They’ll usually be fairly expensive though, and if you have aspirations to race in gravity enduro or downhill events, you may get knocked back if the chinbar is removable.
Have an always on chinbar
Permanent chinbar and usually cover more of your head than a detachable chinbar helmet does. They are stronger, bulkier and heavier, with stronger chinbars, but have excellent ventilation still and use lightweight materials to keep them as comfortable for all day riding as possible. They lose some of the versatility of a removable chinbar, but gain extra protection as a result.
Prioritise protection at the expense of ventilation and weight
They’re still bicycle helmets so they’re not excessively heavy, but you’ll definitely feel the difference if you try to pedal around much in one. They’re designed for belting down a hill and not much else, protection is without comparison.