PRESS RELEASE: DaineseHere's our guide on merits and features of full-face vs. open-face helmets
Since this sport’s very beginnings, mountain bike helmets have always been open-face, with the sole exception of downhill helmets. Cross-country, trail and all-mountain biking are all disciplines for which lightness and ventilation have always been key characteristics. No one would have ever dreamed of pedaling for hours with a full-face helmet on their head.
Until a few years ago, when technical development underwent an exponential growth and gave rise to bikes capable of climbing and then descending at speeds once reserved only for downhill bikes. Technical apparel had to be adapted to the new style of mountain biking – effective protectors became necessary in case of a fall, yet had to be comfortable for all-day wear, even during ascents. This new trend led to the creation of the first full-face helmets specifically designed for pedaling, nearly as ventilated as open-face helmets and nearly as safe as downhill helmets.
This leads to our current dilemma: Which helmet is best for modern mountain bikes, from trail to the most advanced levels of all-mountain riding? Let's see the pros and cons for each solution
.Lightness and ventilation: Open-face helmets
Open-face helmets, as we said above, were historically the most common solution, but in recent years the balance has definitely shifted in favor of full-face helmets, increasingly used even outside competitions. However, open-face helmets retain some inherent advantages.
They don’t have a chinguard, and as such they will always be lighter than full-face helmets. The weight of a helmet is a factor to be taken into consideration, especially when you plan to spend many hours in the saddle. Although full-face helmets have now reached excellent standards in terms of weight, they are nonetheless a few hundred grams heavier than open-face helmets, something that can make a little difference on neck muscles when worn the whole day long. The Dainese's Linea 03 MIPS + barely reaches 340 grams in size M
Moreover, due to the lack of a chinguard, open-face helmets clearly offer better ventilation. This is essential during the summer, when – especially while riding uphill – feeling some fresh air on your face is a real pleasure. Still, front ventilation is not all that matters – rear ventilation from back and top openings is also important, and the Linea 03 MIPS + features 17 openings.
Another technical feature distinguishing open-face from full-face helmets is that the former have a ring nut on the back to adjust the fit’s width, so that you can customize it at any time or when, on a particularly cold day, you want to wear a cap underneath.Protection: Full-face helmets
Full-face helmets are, clearly, the most protective solution. The chinguard protects the face from all those potential shocks that the hands alone are not able to cushion. They also shield from stones or branches that can’t be dodged while riding.
Inevitably, their weight will be higher than that of open-face helmets, but the latest full-face helmets – such as the Dainese Linea 01 MIPS – have reached levels that were inconceivable only a few years ago, with a record weight of only 570 grams for a size M
In terms of ventilation, too, the most advanced full-face helmets are now very comparable to open-face helmets. The Linea 01 MIPS features 29 air vents – 21 on the central core, of which some very wide on the chinguard, and 8 in the rear area. The airflow is noticeable even at low speeds and allows for maximum comfort and coolness during climbs.
Development of full-face helmets also focuses on the width of the field of vision and their integration with goggles, the preferred solution when using this type of protection. The chinguard is similarly designed so as not to restrict visibility at any time.
The peak is also important for full-face helmets, a more compact and less crucial feature for open-face helmets. It has to be adjustable, so that you can tailor it to your own needs: Down for maximum protection against the elements – especially when it rains – or up for maximum visibility. The ability to move the peak up also allows for the goggles to be placed below it when riding uphill. The peak of the Linea 01 MIPS visor is easily adjusted with one hand, even on the go.
Linea 01 in different colors.Safety aside, what you need to look out for
Having explained the major differences between the two solutions, there are some other features to look out for in a helmet, whether open-face or full-face. The main ones concern safety in the strictest sense.
Inner shells are all made of EPS (expanded polystyrene), a material that compresses in the event of an impact, absorbing part of the impact force. The most advanced and safest helmet models feature EPS shells with differentiated densities, placed according to the areas of the skull most susceptible and exposed to impact.MIPS® – protection from oblique impacts
Inclusion of the MIPS® - Multi-directional Impact Protection System should also be considered. It’s the quintessential system for protection from oblique impacts, shocks that cause rotational accelerations of the head and that, according to the most recent sector studies, are among the main causes of serious brain damage.
MIPS® technology works in a very simple way: This system allows to rotate the head inside the helmet, helping it to slide in relation to the outer shell through a sliding insert. This sliding movement dissipates some of the force of the impact, so that the overall intensity transmitted to the head is drastically reduced. Helmets that incorporate this solution can be distinguished immediately through the yellow color of the insert, quickly noticeable when looking inside the helmet.TwiceMe®, faster rescue in case of need
Owing to the latest technology, the TwiceMe® NFC system has been integrated into the most advanced bike helmets. This is a chip, integrated both in Line 01 MIPS and in Line 03 MIPS +, that doesn’t require any battery and allows you to upload all your personal and health information, which can then easily be accessed by rescuers through standard rescue devices. This permits them to immediately learn all essential information about the rider and drastically reduce first-aid response times. Recco®, technology at the service of safety
Recco® is a device integrated in the Linea 03 MIPS + and it allows riders to always be traced when lost or in an emergency situation. It consists of a reflector that is immediately detectable by standard rescue devices even in difficult conditions. The fastening system
Last but not least, the fastening system. An increasingly popular solution on all types of helmets is the Fidlock® system
, a magnet that allows the strap to be closed and opened with just one hand. To close it, you simply bring the two ends of the strap closer together and the magnet fastens it. To open it, you just slide the two ends in the opposite direction.
Open-face or full-face helmets – both solutions are equally valid within the wide range of modern mountain bike disciplines, it really mostly depends on inclination and taste. Regardless of your choice, the important thing is to fully be aware of the peculiarities and advantages offered by each option. Aside from personal preferences, it’s above all essential to pay attention to all the elements that determine the level of safety provided by a helmet, whether an open-face or a full-face one.For more information on Dainese Linea 01 and Linea 03 click here