the main reason for motocross helmets being different from regular street helmets is they are designed for vastly different riding conditions and lower speeds. therefore, a motocross helmet should possess the following qualities:
- lower weight and better mobility
- wider range of vision (extended eye port, pointed lower chinbar)
- increased ventilation
- lack of face shield
- protection from dust, dirt, and rocks (goggles, peak)
- greater sun protection
- better cleanability
if you want to find out more about these factors, you are in the right place.
we at powersportsguide have compiled the seven key factors as to why motocross helmets are different than street bike helmets!
why are motocross helmets different?
motocross helmets are different from regular street bike helmets because they are designed for different purposes. let’s face it, dirt bikes are much slower and riding them is very exhausting. that’s why motocross helmets are always lighter, less padded, and more ventilated. they also come with a peak and goggles that offer better protection from dust, dirt, rocks and even the sun.
in contrast, street motorcycle helmets come with a more aerodynamic design.
they are also much tighter and feature more padding, which results in better airflow and noise reduction.
many street helmets come with a face shield, which offers better face protection, especially at higher speeds.
on top of that, street bike helmets are always stronger due to their massive design.
this is because they have to be able to absorb a higher impact as street bikes generally go much faster.
therefore, full-face helmets do a better job on street bikes, while motocross helmets are more comfortable on the trails.
let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about these differences in detail!
what is the difference between a motocross helmet and a street bike helmet?
it’s safe to say that motocross helmets are always noticeably lighter, and for good reason.
when you ride a dirt bike you are much more physically involved. therefore, you need a lightweight helmet for greater mobility!
riding on the trail in a heavy street helmet would be exhausting, as these helmets are typically much heavier.
it would result in more fatigue, neck pain, and finally less enjoyable rides.
the increased mobility and design of a motocross helmet also offer better vision, which is another key point on a dirt bike.
this is because when you ride a dirt bike you’re switching between the outside and inside lines. therefore, you need a wider peripheral vision!
some riders prefer to ride in the woods or in extreme places, where greater sight is desired.
in contrast, on a street bike, you have to primarily focus on your route and the traffic. this means slightly lower mobility and vision are acceptable on these bikes.
besides, don’t forget that, unlike dirt bikes, street-legal motorcycles usually come with mirrors.
mirrors help you see what’s going on behind you!
what’s more, a few modern street helmets come equipped with a rearview camera, which gives you 360-degree vision.
it seems the future is already here, isn’t it?
another key difference between a street and a motocross helmet is that the latter features much better ventilation.
to achieve this, motocross helmets have larger vents, an extended eye port, and a lower pointed chinbar.
what’s more, they also come with less padding and are not equipped with a face shield.
thanks to these features, motocross helmets allow much more air in.
but why is this increased airflow so important?
as we’ve discussed, riding a dirt bike is like exercising, which causes you to breathe harder and faster.
your higher pulse rate and blood pressure also increase the temperature in the helmet, which results in sweating.
besides, dirt bikes are typically ridden at much lower speeds, so increased helmet ventilation on these bikes is a must.
this is where the larger vents and the more open helmet design come into play.
a lot of fresh air can flow through the helmet to cool your head down!
if you are looking for the best-ventilated motocross helmets, don’t miss this video.
lack of a face shield
another obvious difference on motocross helmets is that they don’t feature a face shield.
this open design not only helps keep your head cool, but also allows you to breathe easier.
riding on the trails is hard like running or doing exercise. as you might assume, this wouldn’t be pleasant in a full-face helmet!
because of the shield, you could hardly breathe. but even if you could, you would have to literally face the fog on the shield.
so finally, the three main advantages of the lack of a face shield are as follows:
- better cooling
- less sweating
- no fogging
on the other hand, this helmet design doesn’t provide much protection at all in cold weather or rain.
in such weather conditions, best practice is to protect your face with an extra face mask.
protection from dirt and rocks
although motocross helmets don’t feature a face shield, you still need some eye protection. that’s why motocross helmets and goggles go hand-in-hand.
the extended eye port of these helmets allows you to wear goggles, which is a key point on dirt bikes.
besides the fogging and breathing issues, the other reason why motocross helmets don’t feature a shield is that it can’t effectively keep dust away from your eyes.
even if you were to close the shield completely, dust would still reach your eyes through the vents and below the chinbar. this would be not only be uncomfortable but dangerous as well in many ways.
this is why you need a pair of mx goggles!
since they fit perfectly on your face these goggles can keep dust and sweat out of your eyes.
another useful and distinctive feature on a motocross helmet is a peak (or visor).
the main advantage of this peak is that it can block spraying water, mud, and rocks from the tires of other machines riding in front of you.
these helmets typically feature a raised mouth guard, which is designed to protect your face even more.
street motorcycle helmets offer several options for sun protection.
some helmets come with an extra built-in sun shield, but you can also install a sun blocker strip on a regular shield.
what’s more, you can even replace the entire shield with a smoked, tinted, or mirrored shield, or choose among many helmet-friendly sunglasses.
since motocross helmets are used with goggles instead of a face shield, those solutions sadly don’t work on them.
but thanks to its peak, motocross helmets still provide some sun protection!
Read more: How to Tell If a Helmet Is DOT Approved
it’s safe to say that the majority of riders use clear mx goggles, but if you want something more ‘shady’ you can choose from many smoked or mirrored lenses.
since motocross helmets usually get very dirty, they also have to be easy to clean.
to this end, the liner is typically completely or partially removable.
you can clean it by hand or even toss it in your washing machine depending on your manufacturer’s recommendation.
street motorcycle helmet vs. motocross helmet [chart]
for better comparison, we’ve compiled the key differences between motocross and full-face motorcycle helmets into one chart:
|lower pointed chinbar||no||yes|
|built-in sun shield||optional||no|
|dust protection||limited||mx goggles|
|wind protection||much better||limited|
|cleanability||non-removable liner||removable liner|
|safety||safer on street bikes||safer on dirt bikes|
faqs about motocross helmets
why are motocross helmets shaped differently?
there are two main reasons why motocross helmets are shaped differently. first, these helmets require better ventilation, which is why they have a lower chinbar and larger vents. besides, they also feature a larger eye port to accommodate mx goggles.
since dirt bikes are significantly slower than street bikes, motocross helmets can be slightly less aerodynamic.
why do motocross helmets have a pointed chin?
the main idea behind the pointed chin on motocross helmets is better ventilation and easier breathing.
on regular full-face helmets the chinbar is placed much closer to your face, but it’s not a problem on a street-bike. but on a dirt bike, the increased bodywork causes you to breathe harder.
therefore, some extra space in front of your face is desired to get enough air to breathe!
why do motocross helmets use goggles?
motocross helmets always use goggles and with good reason. goggles can effectively keep dirt away from your eyes, and don’t restrict airflow like regular face shields. what’s more, goggles can also prevent fogging issues while their foam absorbs sweat, so it can’t flow into your eyes.
if a motocross helmet featured a face shield, it would become extremely hot and lead to hard breathing.
besides, the dust would scratch and wear the shield out much faster.
why is there a visor on motocross helmets?
the use of the visor (or peak) on a motocross helmet is to keep flying debris away from your face.
where does this flying stuff coming from? if other bikes are riding in front of you, their rear tire can pick up and throw mud, rocks, or water straight into your face.
fortunately, the visor can block the greatest part of these, and also offer some sun protection.
can you wear a motorcycle helmet on a dirt bike?
wearing a regular motorcycle helmet on a dirt bike is certainly not recommended.
street helmets offer much less ventilation, so they would become extremely hot on the trails.
besides, your increased breathing would also cause the face shield to fog.
on top of that, a street helmet wouldn’t be able to keep dirt away from your eyes. this can result in less safety and a lot of headaches.
there are many noticeable differences between street and motocross helmets. generally speaking, the latter typically comes with the following features:
- lighter weight
- better mobility and vision
- larger eye port
- lower pointed chinbar
- raised mouth guard
- bigger and more effective vents (increased airflow)
- lack of face shield (uses goggles instead)
- features a peak (for sun and dirt protection)
- worse aerodynamics and noise protection
- better cleanability (removable liner)
as a final word, keep in mind that a full-face helmet is a perfect choice for the streets while a motocross helmet does a good job on a dirt bike. switching them is never a good idea!
this is our short motorcycle helmet vs. motocross helmet comparison.
we hope you find it useful!