Motocross vs On-Road Motorcycle Helmets – What’s the Difference?

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Choosing the perfect motorcycle helmet is one of the hardest, and most important, decisions you’ll have to make. There are all kinds of considerations that have to be made before making that purchasing decision, but what about the opposing merits of motocross versus on-road motorcycle helmets?

J&S Accessories, one of the UK’s leading retailers of motorcycle accessories and clothing, explain the pro’s and con’s associated with each choice.


The most important feature of any motorcycle helmet is the protection that it affords your head in the event of a crash – so isn’t it always the safest model that is the best choice?

Safety is obviously of paramount importance for motorcyclists both off and on-road, however the different riding conditions and speeds means that the risks can be lower for motocross when compared to riding on public roads.

You will be riding at much higher speeds on average when on a public road than compared with off-road, and as a result full face helmets have to offer better protection for speed crashes. What’s more, full face on-road helmets provide more face protection in the event of hard surface contact. As many motocross courses are on dirt/mud tracks, this is a less vital consideration.

From a safety point of view then, it is clear that full face helmets offer the most protection to the rider, but is it at the expense of other factors that are important to motocross riders?


Although the importance of visibility when out on the road cannot be understated, competitive motocross requires the rider to be able to assess the terrain at a glance. Full face helmets are designed to provide a completely unrestricted view of the road ahead, but are more ‘enclosed’ than motocross helmets.

Wearing an open face model makes it much easier to make a quick assessment of the ground directly below you as well as what’s ahead – something that isn’t necessary when on a public road.


It doesn’t matter whether you’re riding on a public road or motocross track – comfort is a major issue for all motorcyclists. Given the physical exertions demanded by motocross rider comfort is even more prescient, and as such these helmets are lighter and much more open to allow for a less restricted air flow. Motocross riders need to be able to breathe easily and their design makes this possible.

Full face helmets have thicker chin bars and a visor that locks down tight, providing the protection required but not so much in terms of air flow.