What Is the Difference Between an ATV Helmet and A Motorcycle Helmet?

Helmets come in different types, sizes, designs, and for different purposes or to protect the head in different circumstances. The only objective or the sole purpose of a helmet is to protect your head and brain from injuries especially in accidents. As per the US Department of Transportation-National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-NHTSA 80% of motorcycle accident victims either die or get seriously injured in comparison to 20% in bus, truck, or car accidents. And a maximum of them are victims of head and brain injuries. A study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) claims that motorcycle helmets have the potentiality of reducing head and brain injuries up to 70% that are caused by accidents.  

In fact, the concept of motorcycle helmets emerged around protecting the head and brain in crashes and not for any other purpose or reason. When motorcycles emerged in the form of a mere motorized bicycle nobody heard or even thought of head injury or felt the need of protecting the head. It was in 1914 the British physician Dr. Eric Gardner thought about the need for appropriate protection of the head especially for the riders in racing. However, nobody took it seriously until the tragic death of T. E Lawrence popularly known as “Lawrence of Arabia”, the then eminent National Hero of Britain. 

The impact-absorbing helmet that we use today is the outcome of the development initiated by Professor C F Lombard in the year 1955. In the process, manufacturers have been trying to develop different types and designs of helmets as per the requirements of the riders. As the technology advanced, various new features have been incorporated to make the helmets more efficient and reliable. You can find a wide variety of helmets in the contemporary market made to suit the different purposes and personal preferences of the riders. Following are some of the trending motorcycle helmets in the contemporary market that are popular among riders.

  • Full-face helmets. 
  • Fill-up or modular helmets.
  • Motocross or off-road helmets.
  • Open-face helmets.
  • Pudding basin or half helmets.
  • Dual-sport or adventure helmets.
  • Smart helmets.

What is an ATV Helmet?

ATV stands for All-Terrain Vehicle and the helmets that are most suitable during an ATV ride are called ATV helmets. In fact, there is nothing specially manufactured as “ATV helmets”. Retailers often sell motocross helmets as ATV helmets saying motocross as the ATV helmets. Eventually, an off-road helmet or motocross helmet that is used for riding an ATV can be termed an ATV helmet. ATVs or All-Terrain Vehicles are used for off-road recreational activities especially by teens and older kids with or without driving licenses. However, the thrills of riding the ATVs often result in disasters when at high speed and without a helmet. 

ATV Helmet

ATV riding usually leads to collisions and rollovers that are often life-threatening. This is why the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) discourages teens and kids below 16 years of age not to riding ATVs. An authentic source (Saskatchewan All-Terrain Vehicle Association-SATVA) claims that 8 people were killed and 47 severely injured in ATV accidents in 2013. This is the highest number of ATV-related deaths and injuries in a year since 2000. Therefore, riding ATVs without appropriate helmets is extremely dangerous and everybody in an ATV ride should use an ATV helmet.

The all-terrain vehicles are meant to be used on off-road and dirt roads and are not meant for highways or paved roads. Earlier (prior to 1988), there used to be 3-wheeler ATVs but they were stopped due to their instability and lack of safety. The present ATVs constitute four large tires that are balloon-type and a seat in the middle. An ATV usually weighs around 600 pounds and can reach more than 65 mph speed. These vehicles do not have safety cages, roll bars, and seat belts and are potentially dangerous for the riders. They can anytime throw the passengers and the rider off or can roll over them. An ATV accident can result in death or serious injuries like head and brain injuries, broken collarbones, broken legs, and arms, etc.   

Laws and Restrictions – ATV Helmets and Riding ATVs

As mentioned above, off-road or motocross helmets are usually used to ride ATVs and are considered ATV helmets. As far as the federal laws are concerned there are no regulations or age limits or who all are permitted and restricted to ride an ATV. However, each State in the US has its own rules and guidelines in this regard. Some states restrict ATV ride for kids below the age of 15 years whereas some states allow as young as 10 years kids to ride. Nevertheless, the kids need to be strictly under the supervision of adults who have valid driving licenses. Below are the safety guidelines for riding ATVs as well as for ATV helmets.

  • The rider must use an appropriate safety-certified helmet while riding an ATV. The helmet must be incorporated with adequate eye protection features. Many states have made it mandatory not to use helmets that do not have adequate eye protection, especially for kids.
  • The kids who are of the age permitted by your state must take a safety training course to ride an ATV. They also should only ride an ATV that is safe for their age and size. You can get the detailed guidelines in this regard from the ATV safety institute if you are planning an ATV ride for your kid. 
  • The kids should wear long sleeves, long pants, boots that are over the ankle to protect themselves from cuts and scrapes. They also should ride only in the daylight hours.
  • Your kids must ride the ATV on a designated trail of ATV and must not exceed the safe speed limit. Your kid or you should know how to use first aid and be able to treat minor injuries. You or your kid should know how to get emergency help when needed.
  • You must ensure that your kid never rides three-wheel ATVs, and must not be under the intoxication of drugs or alcohol while riding an ATV. Ensure that they do not ride ATVs on public roads or paved roads. However, they can cross these roads with care.
  • You must never exceed the passenger capacity in the ATV as per the recommendation of the manufacturer. In fact, your kid should never allow a passenger while riding an ATV.

Different Types of ATV Helmets

Riding an ATV can be tiring especially for the kids and a suitable type of ATV helmet can ward off fatigue. An appropriate ATV helmet can also make the ride comfortable and amusing by significantly reducing the wind noise. The off-road helmets that are usually used for riding ATVs are highly protective and strong. Following are different types of ATV helmets popularly used for riding ATVs.

  • Full-Face ATV Helmets: A full-face ATV helmet is the best in terms of safety for riding ATVs. These helmets cover both the head and face and provide maximum protection. Other types like half helmets or open-face helmets expose a certain area of your face and even the head. This is potentially dangerous in the case of accidents and your face can hit the ground getting serious injuries. On the other hand, a full-face helmet is rather heavy in comparison to other types of helmets.
  • Open-Face ATV Helmets: Open-face helmets popularly known as the three-quarter helmets come with in-built visors that prevent debris. The visors are also good for protecting you from weather conditions. The open-face helmets come in two different types of visors. The first type is featured with half visors that flip down for the protection of your eyes. The second type of visor is the full shield that covers the entire face and provides full protection to the face. You can also find removable visors in open-face ATV helmets that allow the riders to use goggles or sunglasses to protect their eyes. 
  • Modular ATV Helmets: Modular ATV helmets come with more versatility in comparison to full-face helmets. These helmets have options of making them an open-face helmet to get fresh air when you have paused riding the ATV for a while. You can just use the hinge that allows the helmet to become an open-face helmet. However, you must never use this option and make it an open-face helmet while riding the ATV. 
  • Half ATV Helmets: The half helmets that are used for riding the ATVs cover only half of your head which means it only covers the back of the head and top of the head. They are lightweight and strongly built. But half helmets are not considered safe in comparison to full-face and modular helmets. However, these helmets are not as expensive and unaffordable as other types of helmets.

Different Sizes of ATV Helmets

An appropriate size of an ATV helmet is extremely important while riding an ATV to protect yourself from injuries especially the head and brain. Your helmet must not be too loose or too tight. A too-tight helmet is considered too small for your head whereas a too loose helmet is too big. An ATV helmet must fit snugly and must not be too small or too big. 

A too-small helmet creates several problems like pain and fatigue, blurred vision, red marks on the forehead, etc. These problems caused by a small helmet can result in the uncomfortable and unpleasant riding of an ATV and can lead to accidents. Similarly, a big ATV helmet can move around the head and blind the rider while riding and result in accidents. A too loose helmet can come off the head before the crash and cannot protect the head as intended. Therefore, you must choose an ATV helmet that fits your head perfectly to provide maximum protection in accidents. Below is the list chart of different sizes of ATV helmets to choose the right size for your head.

  • X-Small size of ATV helmets for 20.87 to 21.26 inches or 53 to 54 cm of head circumference.
  • Small size of ATV helmets for 21.65 to 22.05 inches or 55 to 56 cm of head circumference.
  • Medium size of ATV helmets for 22.44 to 22.83 inches or 57 to 58 cm of head circumference.
  • Large size of ATV helmets for 23.23 to 23.62 inches or 59 to 60 cm of head circumference.
  • X-Large size of ATV helmets for 24.02 to 24.41 inches or 61.62 cm of head circumference.
  • 2X Large size of ATV helmets for 24.8 to 25.2 inches or 63 to 64 cm of head circumference.
  • 3X Large size of ATV helmets for 25.6 to 26 inches or 65 to 66 cm of head circumference.
  • 4X Large size of ATV helmets for 26.4 to 26.8 inches or 67 to 68 of cm head circumference
  • 5X Large size of ATV helmets for 27 to 27.5 inches or 69 to 70 cm of head circumference.

Difference Between a Motorcycle Helmet and an ATV Helmet

Motorcycle Helmet

As explained above, one of the certain types of motorcycle helmets i.e., motocross or off-road motorcycle helmets are usually used in riding ATVs and are called ATV helmets. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and motorcycles are not the same, but riders ride both ATVs as well as motorcycles in off-roads and hilly terrains. Motocross or an off-road motorcycle helmet with features like a large face opening, strong chin guard, and enhanced ventilation is just fine for riding an ATV. But other features that are incorporated in other types of motorcycle helmets usually make the motorcycle helmets different from an ATV helmet. Below are a few significant differences between a motorcycle helmet and an ATV helmet in terms of features and purposes.

  • Jaw and Chin Guard: An exclusive ATV helmet usually features a rigid, strong, and extended chin and jaw guard. This feature protects the chin and jaw in any circumstances from injuries. This in fact works better in the case of your chin hitting with the handle when you jump off the ATV or your face dashes in the dirt when you are thrown off the ATV. All motorcycle helmets also have chin guards but they are not as rigid and extended as an ATV jaw and chin guard. Similarly, this structure of an ATV helmet ensures enhanced ventilation for the ATV riders than a motorcycle helmet.
  • Sweat and Fog Prevention: ATV helmets are better in terms of sweat and fog prevention due to adequate airflow in comparison to motorcycle helmets. ATV riding involves a full-body workout resulting in a lot of sweat. A motorcycle helmet is usually not designed for that much ventilation to tackle the sweat produced by an ATV riding. An ATV helmet usually features large vents for a lot of cool air to enter and ensure maximum ventilation in the helmet. Similarly, you can keep an ATV helmet fog-free if you keep the visor halfway while riding an ATV.
  • Dust and Mud Protection: Both ATV riders, as well as motorcycle riders, face dirt and dust in their trips and this is one of the reasons they wear helmets. But the flip-up style shield in full-face motorcycle helmets does not give adequate protection against dust and mud to the motorcycle riders. Dust gets inside the motorcycle helmets from various openings and there are no adequate features to prevent mud and dirt in motorcycle helmets. On the other hand, ATV helmets have large openings for accommodating the goggles that can comparatively prevent the dust more effectively than motorcycle helmets. Similarly, goggles in an ATV helmet provide a tight fit not to allow dust and dirt.
  • Aerodynamics: Motorcycle speed can go up to 200mph cutting across high-speed winds and vibrations. It is the mechanism of aerodynamics in motorcycle helmets that keeps the head of a motorcycle rider stable amidst high speed. Similarly, aerodynamics is also responsible to minimize neck strain during a motorcycle trip. The ATV helmets do not incorporate aerodynamic mechanisms and thus riding ATV at the maximum of 70mph is comparatively challenging and dangerous.
  • Noise and Sun Protection: Motorcycle helmets are designed to provide maximum comfort including protecting the riders from noise and sunlight. On the other hand, ATV helmets are designed with special vents to the noise to reach the ears of the riders so that they know where their opponents are located. Similarly, ATV helmets also do not provide sun protection except an adjustable beak for eye protection.
  • Weight and Impact Protection: Motorcycle helmets are designed with impact-absorbing capacity at the highest speed which is not in the case of an ATV helmet. Similarly, if you are passionate about low-weight helmets then motorcycle helmets are for you as ATV helmets are heavier. It is often daunting to wear an ATV helmet on a long trip because of its weight.

Above all, helmets are for protecting the head and brain no doubt, but riders also choose helmets based on their design and style or look. You can never compare a motorcycle helmet with an ATV helmet because motorcycle helmets with enormous varieties are simply gorgeous.

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