Hire, new or second hand crash helmet?

Hi all,

I don’t own a crash helmet and am going to Japfest at Silverstone where I get to drive around the track.
I doubt it’ll be anything too sexy and will probably have an imposed speed limit (at least I’m expecting one).
In these Post COVID times, would you recommend me hiring a crash helmet, or buying one?
If I opted to buy one (as learning how to drive on a track - as opposed to on an urban road and then attending some track days is on my bucket list), is there a downside to a second hand one?

Total newbie to this element of motorsport, so please don’t assume I’ll have too much background info/understanding of regs or requirements.
Any help gratefully received.

The downside is that you don’t know if it has been in a crash, dropped or the straps are damaged where you can’t see.
Helmets do sometimes fracture after a knock and it’s not visible to the naked eye.
I always bought new, as I reasoned that it had been through the stringent safety checks and packed.
You only have one life👍

Here endeth todays sermon!:grin:


Check requirements - if you have a convertible, they may insist on a full face helmet.

I have an open face I used on trackdays, but not in the MX5.

used helmats can not be 100% trusted.
personally the only time i would consider wearing a used helmat is if it was comming from an extreamly close family member ie father or brother. that i had compleat trust in! and then only if the activity needed a helmat just for the look of the thing and not really for safety.

best to buy a new one!
its not worth the risk and second hand helmets never quite fit right anyway!

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You will need a full-face helmet in the MX, if you hire, I’d buy a helmet liner, you never know what nasty hair/skin condition the previous occupant had!

If you’re going to do this regularly, buy your own new helmet, never second-hand.


All helmets sold in the UK have to meet certain standards, and have a manufacturing date, often under the lining or on the strap somewhere, so if buying new (which needn’t be too expensive and is what I’d do) and retailers often discount those that are a few months old or not the current colour scheme.
The most important thing is that it fits your head correctly, and isn’t too tight, or worse from a safety perspective, too loose.
A new helmet will ‘bed in’ after a few hours use, so it should feel slightly tight when new.
Also worth keeping an eye on the weight, as a heavy helmet can be surprisingly hard on the neck muscles after a while. For example my carbon fibre ff helmet weighs 1100grms, my aramid composite ff weighs 1400, which makes a difference after an hour or so.
Check the aperture size is ok for you, some helmets can restrict peripheral vision with a small visor opening.
Above is said from a bikers perspective, hope it helps.


My opinion, speaking as a former biker who’s life was saved by a NEW helmet in a head-on crash (my fault for being in a stupid hurry), and I’d bought it only a week earlier because my old open-face Everoak Racemaster (no bangs) was beginning to feel a bit flexy.

I would always go for a NEW helmet that fits perfectly, and without any adjusters (ie compromises), and allows EXCELLENT peripheral vision. Take time trying lots of them to find the correct fit, it’s your life at stake.

I applied this logic to buying a ski helmet, and I was horrified by how bad most of them are - neck breakers because of an adjuster knob’s hard edge putting pressure on the spine at the base of the skull when the head is bent back. If the helmet has the correct fit to the skull it does not bear on the neck, and the killer/adjuster is superfluous.

I replaced the ski helmet a couple of years before Covid after a bang (taken out by a snowboarder going backwards) and spent a whole afternoon going round shops in Tignes trying to find one as good as that original Giro, and eventually found another at Nevada Sport thanks to Georgio there. (He was the boot mechanic for the French ski teams, top man.)

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Don’t cheap out on safety equipment by buying second hand (I’m not sure if that even legal tbh)
Renting one… yuck. You do sweat a lot wearing a helmet in a car (even while riding bikes)

Go to a bike shop and ask for help with test fit helmets to find your size. There are half decent ones (AGV, Nolan etc) that don’t cost the earth. You can buy all sorts of helmets online but the cheaper stuff will be ■■■■. Its your head at the end of the day.

track day regs say you can use an open face if there’s a roof on the car but not a soft top. You could get away with if you have the top on a PRHT but personally I’d suggest buying a full face helmet. Obviously if top is down you are required to use a full face helmet

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Check out the sportsbikeshop.co.uk.
They have a vast selection of helmets all at very competitive prices (very fast and efficient deliveries too). Just go for a quality make and you can’t go wrong.

Going to swim against the flow here… A good second hand helmet is as good as a new helmet. Just making sure it is a good one is tricky. Age and condition are easy, but internal condition and UV exposure are tricky.

So pick your seller well.

Buying a helmet to wear on an occasional trackday while driving a car is not the same safety issue as buying a biker helmet for racing round the Alps.

For those who say, never skimp on safety. Do you wear your helmet everytime you drive your car? If not, why not? Crashing on the A272 into a tree is probably going to hurt more than spinning off onto 100 yards of run off area at Silverstone.

On a motorbike, most catastrophic injuries are to heads and chests. I understand (not fact checked!) that most life changing (not ending) start at the feet and work upwards with crushed feet, lost legs and such. How many people do you see with £400 helmets riding in training shoes?

If someone is anxious on safety, then you can have fitted a roll cage, wear a fireproof set of undercrackers and replace the fuel cell with a suitable racing one - all probably more important than the difference between an average and a good helmet.

My point is; safety is about the weakest link in the chain, and spending a fortune on a new helmet for an occasional car trackday is probably not best use of cash.

At the other end of the economics scale, renting a helmet sounds a really manky solution to me… but the fact that you can rent one shows that the organisers and their insurance don’t think wearing something brand new and specific to you is a safety requirement, any old flea infested bag of sweat will do.

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Thanks everyone.
Really appreciate all the comments and advice.
Agree strongly it’s worth buying new to mitigate risk of unseen damage to the helmet.
Similar advice was given while we were investigating purchasing a baby car seat. I had a hunch the same rule might be advisable for crash helmets but wasn’t sure.
Best regards

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Absolutely no way would I use a second-hand helmet if I was unaware of its life up to that point.

Without question I would buy a new one and look after it.


The best price of advise I was given when I started riding bikes was, you only get one head and if you are unlucky enough to hurt it you’d happily spend every penny you have to make it better. I did “road test” a few and was never upset that I’d “scratch” an expensive one.

Buy new and buy good.


This is a no-brainer BUY A NEW ONE!

There doesn’t need to be any visible cracks on a helmet for it to be defective, also some stickers can destroy the integrity of them. This is the same for helmets worn in construction etc. and they only have a 2-year life.

The most important and valuable organ in your body is inside your skull - always protect it and don’t take a chance.
/rant :slight_smile:


I’ve bought 2nd hand helmets before - pretty easy to see of they have been damaged (cue the responses…). Buy a new used one - if that makes sense.

HOWEVER - size is the single most important aspect. And different manufacturers fit very differently.

For a first time user. then i would strognly suggest you go to a shop an try some on. You will also be surprised in the quality of fit as you go up the pay range. Comfort is also very important to prevent headaches.

in your case, i would say just hire one if that option is available and see how you get on. If you decide it is your thing, then go buy one. Otherwise you will be listing a brand new helmet for sale and it will only be me in the whole world that would buy it :rofl:

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Thanks @kzg1969
I’ve given it a lot of thought and came to the same conclusion - RE: hire one first and see if I enjoy the track, given it’s my first time behind the wheel on a track.
And thanks also for the suggestion of testing different quality helmets for size, fit and comfort.
As a glasses wearer, I’m keen to know if I have to wear contacts or if my glasses are comfortable under the helmet.
Good advice :smiley:

As a glasses wearer (and crash helmet when on the bikes) myself, I appreciate the difficulties sometime encountered, and if you have contacts as well I would definitely recommend using them instead of glasses.
Most helmets these days have channels in the lining for glasses arms, which helps, but contacts are just far easier, plus no steaming up or vibration problems.
Hope you enjoy the day.

If you do hire first then make a few checks on the helmet, look for scratches, scuffs, damage and dull appearance, fraying to straps, condition of padding, cleanliness of lining. Also I would purchase a cheap motorbike balaclava to wear to protect your hair and scalp it can always be washed and used when you do finally make a purchase for a new helmet.

Most decent helmet retailers have thin helmet liners/balaclavas for customers to wear when trying on helmets which you get to keep.

Japfest is only 20 min stints though and imho im expecting to see more novices on the track compared to a normal trackday (but i may be wrong)

I’m not sure how many people will be on the track at a session but if I’m honest you really need to book a proper trackday to experience whether you like it or not

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