Best Motorcycle Helmets & Pro Tips For Riders With Claustrophobia
Let me start off by saying that I do not suffer from the feeling of claustrophobia when I wear a helmet of any kind, although I’ve spoken to a few people that are including one of my best friends. What I’ve come to realize is that there are different “types” of claustrophobia.
Some people decide to get in the world of two wheels, go do a little window shopping for the appropriate riding gear – slip on a cool looking helmet and freak the f*ck out. The freaking out happens for a few different reasons. To name a few, the helmet makes your head feel heavy and less mobile which naturally makes you feel less coordinated and potentially a bit more useless at functioning at a normal level of efficiency. But, here’s what you have to realize, trying anything for the first time is going to feel strange, this doesn’t necessarily mean that helmets make you claustrophobic.
Other people genuinely do suffer from claustrophobia, like my buddy, who unfortunately also suffers from acrophobia – this pretty much rules out any kind of theme park or buildings with glass elevators.
To try and overcome the feeling of being trapped in your head, you could try out different helmet styles. The most popular types of helmets are full face helmets, half face helmets, modular helmets and off road or dirt bike helmets. The feature of a helmet that most commonly causes the feeling of claustrophobia is the chin bar. A half face helmet does not have a chin bar, while a modular helmet has a flip up face, which essentially converts a full face helmet into a half face helmet on the go.
There’s just one point you really need to consider before opting for a helmet with lesser protection. Safety. Look at the image below (supplied by the Hurt Report) You’ll see that in the event of an accident, the majority of impacts are taken to the chin and forehead regions.
For this reason, I would not recommend wearing a modular helmet or an open face helmet, despite these styles being the best helmets for people that suffer from claustrophobia. I’m against using a modular helmet, particularly for people with claustrophobia because it’s very likely that you will find yourself in the habit of never using the face shield. In which case you may as well be wearing a half face helmet. In which case, you as well not be wearing a helmet at all. A full face helmet with enough breathing room and fully functional visor should be your preferred choice.
Check out this post for some interesting motorcycle helmet safety statistics
The visor can play an important role in soothing your condition. While you’re sitting at home in your new helmet, keep the visor open. Do this repeatedly until you start feeling comfortable with the general feel of wearing a helmet, at which point you can lower the visor to the position it would be in when you ride until you adapt to that. Soon you’ll be ready to test out your next level of self control on the open roads with your throttle wide open.
Tips For Riders With Helmet Claustrophobia
- Tip: Try wearing your helmet around the house in your comfort zone. Sit on the couch and watch a movie. If it gets too much, try lifting the visor instead of taking the helmet off. You don’t want to get into a bad habit of having to remove your helmet everytime the feeling of claustrophobia begins to take over.
- Tip: When riding, open all the air vents as wide as possibly. The feeling of airflow against your face will help alleviate the awkward feeling by giving a sense of open and airy space. Even try lifting the visor a tiny amount for extra air flow (not so much as to dry or damage your eyes)
- Tip: Try out different color visor lenses. A clear lense will make it easier to see. Sometimes this helps, other times it makes things worse, in which case, try a darker tinted lens which can have the same confidence boosting effect as wearing a pair of sunglasses
- Tip: Try helmets with larger eye ports. The more you can see directly out of the helmet (and the less of the helmet you can see) the better you’re going to feel.
- Tip: You might consider buying a quick release chin strap if your helmet doesn’t have one. Easy in, easy out.
- Tip: Your claustrophobia might not be caused by the confined space, but rather from breathing in your own warm air. Try wearing your helmet while sucking on a strong mint.
- Tip: When wearing a helmet with a wide view port, you might actually be surprised by how little the helmet obstructs your view. Put your helmet on with the visor open, turn your head left and right and take note of your peripherals.
- Tip: Hold your hands out in front for a few seconds, look at them and slowly bring them towards your face. Touch your face through the visor. Consciously realize that your body is not trapped
- Tip: While wearing your helmet with the visor open, sit in front of a fan, air conditioner or even your car’s air vents. Direct the airflow directly into your face. Eventually your eyes will start to water and feel uncomfortable. Now you can close the visor so that you will feel more comfortable. Adjust the vents of your helmet to direct the air in the right places to cool your head and face – avoiding direct airflow into your eyes.
- Tip: Try a helmet that has either built in bluetooth or space to insert bluetooth speakers. Listening to your favorite music could ease the feeling of claustrophobia.
If the above tips have helped you in anyway, please let me know in the comments which of them made the biggest difference.
Best Motorcycle Helmets For Claustrophobia
Here are my top recommended helmets for motorcycle riders who struggle with claustrophobia.
Now, I mentioned that I don’t highly recommend a modular helmet, but if you can resist the urge to ride with the helmet in the face up position, the Nolan N70-GT2 is a great option. This is the upgraded version of the very popular Nolan N44 It’s both ECE and Snell certified (good for the US and EU) so safety is going to be just fine. What I really like about this option is the super large,Pinlock ready eye port. This will really help with the feeling of claustrophobia by increasing your field of vision.
The airflow throughout the helmet is also great thanks to the Airbooster Airflow System which makes use of large rear air exhausts and intake vents around the visor.
There are also 6 different configuration options when it comes to changing the chin bar, face shield and the peak. This allows you to really play around and find what feels most comfortable.
A completely different take on helmet design compared to the Nolan is the Bell Bullitt helmet. It might not look like much, but that’s exactly the purpose. Bell released their first helmet called the Star back in the 1960’s. That helmet resembled somewhat more of a welding helmet than a motorcycle helmet. But due to its popularity, Bell revolutionized it’s look, design, comfort, and protection to create what is one of the most iconic looking helmets on the market – the Bullitt.
The Bullitt helmet is constructed out of a lightweight and low profile fiber composite shell and meets the DOT safety regulations. There are a few reasons why I suggest this helmet for riders with claustrophobia. Firstly, which is similar with the Nolan above, is the extra large view port. The more you can see out of the helmet, the less you will feel like you’re stuck inside the helmet.
The second reason for suggesting this helmet is to meet the saying “look good, feel good” – and I’m not talking about the outer aesthetics (although they do look damn sexy). I’m referring to the interior of the Bell Bullitt helmet which is luxurious and extra comfortable.
Inside you’ll find a super soft micro-suede lining with a fashionable leather trim. The chin bar has a nice long wide metal mesh vent for increased airflow coupled with a large rear exhaust for soothing ventilation inside the helmet when riding. The cheek pads have 3D cutouts – allowing you to fit your bluetooth speakers. How about listening to your favorite relaxing music while you get used to your new lid?
The next type of helmet you could try as a true dual sport helmet. It looks very similar to the modular Nolan helmet above, except the chin bar is fixed in place. You won’t be able to completely lift the face of the helmet, but you’ll still be able to raise the visor all the up to the top of the helmet. One reason for choosing this helmet is for the added safety of the fixed chin bar. The other reason is that these dual sport helmets offer some advantages to people who suffer from claustrophobia.
These advantages come in the form of the extra large view port and ultra wide peripheral vision you get. In addition, you’re actually able to remove the visor completely, and ride with a pair of goggles over your eyes – kamikaze style. This will expose your face to free flowing air as you ride.
The dual sport Klim Krios Pro helmet also has an extended chin bar when compared to your typical full face helmets, allowing more space upfront for easier breathing. The redesign of the Krios to the Krios Pro helmet included massive improvements to the ventilation. The Krios Pro probably has some of the best ventilation technology of all the helmets I’ve suggested, including fully adjustable chin and forehead vents.
The helmet is also compatible with bluetooth music devices like the Sena 10U while meeting both DOT and ECE safety standards.
Good alternatives to the Klim Krios Pro helmet would be something like the Arai XD-4 which also has excellent vision and ventilation, although slightly more premium. At a lower price point you could consider trying on the AGV AX9.
Schuberth C4 & C4 Pro Helmet
Schuberth is a German brand so rest assured that the full extent of german engineering has taken place. The C4 Pro is one of the quietest modular helmets on the market measuring at under 68 decibels. What I like about the C4 and the C4 Pro is the extended chin bar. This helps to provide more room upfront which should alleviate some of that claustrophobic feeling. The Pro version is at the top of the range of the full face modular helmets.
Both helmets feature extra wide viewing ports and anti fog lenses. Some other cool features include the built in antenna for enhanced radio and bluetooth reception and pre pre-installed speakers. These helmets are highly functionally in the flip up face design which is quick and easy to change on the go in case a sudden burst of claustrophobia takes over.
The last helmet I’m going to suggest is the AGV Sport Modular helmet. This is a direct rival of the Schuberth helmet. If neither of these styles feel comfortable for you, try out the other 3 styles I’ve suggested above.
The reasons I like the AGV Sport Modular are similar to the C4 helmet. While this is one of the coolest and most technologically advanced helmets on the market, it also comes in at a premium price.
The helmet is super lightweight compared to the C4, nearly 1lb lighter, and this is the first helmet to ever have the chin bar also constructed in full 3K carbon fiber. So this helmet is really designed to be versatile and super lightweight.
The inner liner is customizable to find your own perfect fit. It even has a reversible padding with different feeling on either side, warmer Shalimar fabric on the one side and a softer, cooler Ritmo fabric on the other.
The flip up face is done really quickly with a single push of the button on the chin guard. While the face shield is in the fixed position, you have unchallend horizontal views at 190 degrees. If that doesn’t quite do it for you, you can make use of the rapid release system which requires no tools and allows the face shield to be removed and replaced in seconds.
I really hope this article has helped you overcome your struggle with feeling claustrophobic while wearing a helmet. At the end of the day, your safety is more important than anything else. Please ride responsibly and wear the appropriate helmet.
Please let me know in the comments below which of the tips I mentioned or which of the helmets I’ve suggested have helped you with your helmet claustrophobia.