Full-Face Bicycle Helmets
Summary: Some bike helmets offer limited protection for the face. Most lack the fully-padded chinbar that makes motorcycle helmets more protective by far. Downhill mountain bike racing helmets have the best protection in vented styles.
Our inquires about bike helmets with full facial protection come from two sources: parents of boys and riders who have smushed something.
Helmets for kids
In 2016 we found this Bell Sports Black Shield Child Helmet for sale at ToysRUs for $36 plus shipping. It has a foam lined face guard and is dual-certified to the CPSC bike helmet standard and the ASTM F1492 skate helmet standard.
If you can still find them, there have been full face helmets produced in the past by Razor and PTI's Mongoose brand, retailing for about $25.
In 2008 we found a Bell X-Games Full Throttle at Wal-Mart for $40. It meets the CPSC standard for bike helmets, but nothing more stringent. The chinbar does not have energy management padding. It has a strong and reliable D-ring buckle. We don't know what sizes it may be available in. It could be considered a BMX helmet.
Also in 2008 we found the Mace Hornet, a full face helmet for kids ages 6 to 10 (two sizes fit 51-57cm heads) with a fiberglass shell and a chinbar padded inside with thick foam. It is being discontinued on some Web sites, so we don't know about its future.
Kids also use BMX full face helmets for their "Bicycle Motor Cross" events. They are usually made with a hard fiberglass shell and minimal vents. Most of them do not have crushable foam in the chinbar. Adults generally find them too heavy and hot for bicycle use, leaving the rider with a wet head even in winter. But the kids ignore the sweat and use them for short BMX events in the heat of summer, so they are not out of the question for some riders in some circumstances.
For the adult
For adult riders, there are many more choices. The helmets are known as downhill mountain bike racing helmets. We don't know how much protection you get from a chinbar that lacks crushable foam, but at least these are bicycle helmets, with ventilation. You can find them in our latest helmet article for this season.
Motorcycle helmets are another possibility, but like the BMX helmet they are heavy and too hot for bike riders. They do have fully padded chinbars, and will meet one of the motorcycle helmet standards like DOT or Snell, far surpassing the impact protection and coverage of bike helmets.
We can't recommend lacrosse helmets like these, even though some have chinbars and facial protection in the form of facemasks. They are not certified for bicycle level impacts.
We also do not recommend hockey helmets for bicycle use, despite the face protection some of them have. Hockey helmets are not designed for bicycle-type impacts and do not meet the impact protection requirements of bike helmet standards. The same applies to football helmets or helmets for most other sports. Unlike a bicycle helmet, many of them are multi-impact helmets, but they are not designed for a single hard hit on pavement.
This page was updated or partially revised on: September 2, 2016.