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Can you use Motocross/dirt bike helmets for MTB

If you are wondering if you can use motocross/dirt bike helmets for MTB and vice versa, The simples answer would be

No, motocross/dirt bike helmets are made for extra protection at high speeds meaning they will have extra padding and that adds to their weight while mountain bike helmets are light and still offer the protection needed.

But there’s always a but to a scenario, if it’s the only thing available to you on hand, wear it it’s much better than a naked head that being said if you are looking for more security there are always more options available, for now, let’s take a look at the difference between MTB and motocross/dirt bike helmets and why it’s not recommended.

Difference between DH/Full Face MTB and Motocross/dirt bike helmets :

While both DH MTB and motocross/dirt bikes helmets may look the same to you they are quite different from each other by many views.

Here’s a table so you can quickly overview some of the major differences


MotoCross/dirt Bike helmets DownHill/Full Face MTB Helmets
Visibility Same Same
Airflow LOW HIGH
aerodynamics HIGH due to less airflow LOW-due to higher airflow
smog/fog protection average average
Durability More-suitable for speed riders Average-more than enough for MTB riders
Weight high-1000+ grams,varies with different models Low-600+ grams varies with models
Chin protection High High
Sunlight protection Same Same
Prices Higher Lower
Comfort Extra padding-lower airflow Lower padding higher airflow
Prices Higher Lower
Eatibility with a helmet on none yes

From the table, the tip of the iceberg should be clear to you now I will dive deeper into the topic explaining other aspects as well, Some of the numbers may vary depending on the prices and models of the helmets I tried to summarise and give an average answer for your understanding.

Biggest Pros of dirt bike helmets and why they are irrelevant in MTB :

Mostly you would be looking at the comfort, durability/security, and aerodynamics benefits that the dirt bike helmets offer but in mountain biking, they are irrelevant or something not to be over-concerned about here’s why.

Durability :

While dirt bike helmets do provide more durability/protection than full-face mountain bike helmets it is rather overkilling, dirt bike helmets are made keeping the fact of speed in mind, the higher speed you are on there are more chances you may end up losing control or end up having a major crash that being said the helmets for them are made keeping that in mind beforehand.

Mountain bikes are not so fast they are not slow but they are not as fast as dirt bikes and unless you want to you don’t deliberately push the limits on them so the helmets are made lighter and a little less durable than dirt bikes but in a way that even if you decided to push the limits they should be able to provide the much-needed protection.

Comfort :

The concept of comfort is different for everybody, while dirt biking the added padding may provide more comfort since the airflow at that speed is a given so even if there is added padding they still provide enough airflow and comfort at the same time.

While in mountain biking you are traveling at a lower speed those added paddings are ignored while they are replaced with gaps in the helmets for airflow since you are constantly killing it on the paddles and sweating rivers those extra holes do a lot more than provide comfort that’s a very major difference between the two as well.

Aerodynamics :

dirt bike helmets are a little bit more aerodynamic than DH or full face mountain bike helmets, full-face helmets have holes in them for better airflow dirt bike helmets tend to be closed with a few to no holes it’s due to the protection the companies may not have made them for aerodynamic purpose but still lesser airflow through the helmet improves aerodynamic movement, while full-face helmets have tons of holes to allow better airflow which in turn increases the wind resistance.

which is perfectly fine for mountain biking again more than aerodynamics or anything in mountain biking you need that extra airflow for your muscles to breathe and constantly allow you to push.

Weight-neck comfortability :

dirt bike helmets are heavier than full-face mountain bike helmets weight, those extra grams put a strain on your neck especially when you are going downhill or aggressively riding those constant vibrations from rocks and roots already require much more concentration and that extra weight on your vibrating neck will give you neck pain maybe not right away since your muscles are hot.

But give it a night time and you start feeling it right away, if you are looking at that extra protection I will explain that with some statics/numbers so you easily understand what’s what.

Extra protection Explained :

Well let’s take in the speed factor first

  • Dirt bikes average speed 60-70mph
  • mountain bikes downhill racers average speed 25mph

Now as the speed increases the impact when at the time of crash increases as well but in the case of dirt bikes they are mostly riding on sandy dunes, beaches, and smoother tracks with dirt and mud so the crashes are not that severe due to the sand/dirt mud.

But still, they do ride on rocky trails as well and that is taken into account as well when the manufacturers make their helmets.

On mountain bikes, the trails are filled with everything rocks, roots gravel, jumps, sand everything but the helmets are made so that your brain can have a breather since it’s not the engine running your bike it’s you and your speed is really slow compared to dirt bikes, the helmets are made keeping that in mind and the padding on the dirt bike helmets are not reduced the vents area on the full-face helmets are not covered with extra foam that’s a weight reduction point as well.

another reason for mountain bike full-face helmets reduced weight is lesser layers of the polystyrene layers and the number of vents that are not covered with polystyrene.

Prices :

Price is a big part of all of this as well dirt bike helmets are more expensive than mountain bike full-face helmets that plays a major role in it as well.

Eatibility :

dirt bike helmets do not have any room to enjoy snacks of course if you are going at 60mph you wouldn’t even think about it that’s a downside as well.

full-face mountain bike helmets do generally come with that as well, it may not be the biggest feature to be concerned about but still, you are not always racing or doing some hardcore trails this is a good feature that manufacturers decided to include you don’t have to stop to take off the helmet and enjoy a snicker or a banana.

Some general queries that you might have

Are full-face mountain bike helmets good for beginners :

full-face helmets are not necessary you can ride pretty well even with a half-face helmet and they are much more beginner-friendly than full-face helmets.

The reason is their vision full-face helmets do not provide that much of wider range of vision that you could get with a half-face and that is perfectly suited for the beginners, but still you can use full-face helmets if

  • you are an experienced rider with some kind of cycling experience
  • if half face helmets do not strike you as much safer
  • if you have been riding mild trails but would like to test your limits

If you are the limit pusher type of person then full-face helmets may be a better option for you still I wouldn’t advise you on being too many reckless trails are unpredictable and you can never be too sure.

another question that usually pops up

Are full-face helmets with it :

Yes, they are they absolutely are and above all, they offer extra protection if you have been riding for a while you may be driving reckless lately they are perfect for that kind of riding style.

Of course, there are downsides as well like vision reduction you won’t have that kind of 180 vision like before but if you are an experienced rider you may as well switch to them as they offer you assurity to push a bit harder but still always keep in mind

They are not unbreakable and you are not invincible

Know your limits.

How cheap helmets are no good :

Let’s get it straight cheap means cheap and if it’s cheap it would be made of that cheap material as well there are no hidden gems since the industry won’t make a product that would put them at a loss.

Yes, there are some exceptions but those cheap helmets always say 1-time use on them, and trust me they are only 1-time use only you could be jeopardizing your life to save some bucks so its best that you stay clear of that if it is a little bit expensive save some money then buy it it’s much much better than relying on something that even you know is going to bring you down with it.

Conclusion :

While motocross/dirt bike helmets may not be suitable for MTB still they are better than nothing wear them if you have nothing else on your hands, Mountain bikes full-face helmets provide more than enough protection, and if you had like to go for more buy something that’s MIPs approved that would be much better and longer-lasting as well.

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