Open Face Vs. Full Face MTB Helmets: Which is safer?

It is known that helmets are mandatory for the cyclist’s safety. Riding a mountain bike means you deal with different terrains and situations; a well-designed bike helmet saves you from direct impact on your most vulnerable areas. An MTB mostly deals with roots, rocks, steeps, rough trails, concrete streets, and several other unpredicted situations, any of these can be subject to accident. Helmets reduce the chances of injury to the head area from any unannounced incidents.

Mostly there are two types of mountain bike helmets commonly used worldwide, with several other variants abundant in the market. This guide will explore the usage, adaptability, pros, and cons of both open face and full face helmets. Greenspeed strives to deliver the best recommendations and guidance related to MTBs and their elements.

Selection of Helmets according to your MTB & Riding Style

Although finding the specifications of the helmets is important, you will also need to know yourself better. Your riding preferences, conditions, habits, and everything should be considered prime elements when choosing the perfect helmet. Defining what kind of cyclist you are is of utmost importance before choosing the right type of helmet. For example, if you mostly ride on flat or rocky trails, prefer fast or moderate speed, or have heavier or light mountain bikes, many variables play a part in what level of protection you require.

What are Full-face MTB Helmets?

Among the several types of helmets abundant in the market, full-face helmets are famously known for the protection they provide. These helmets protect the cyclist’s entire head, face, chin, and neck area, saving the most sensitive part of your body, i.e., the brain, from heavy impacts. Although the motive of this helmet is maximum protection, it might feel unwieldy on longer rides due to its weight. 

Cyclists can wear full-face helmets while speeding or going downhill at high speed; accidents during such circumstances mostly result in injury to the frontal area and head.

Full-face MTB Helmets

Advantages of Full-face MTB Helmets

The most celebrated advantage of a full-face MTB helmet is the quality of protection it provides. This type of helmet boasts the highest protection level compared to other market variants. It is equipped with a hard shell and is designed to secure most of the head area, including the chin, teeth, cheeks, ears, entire face, neck area, and brain. It further protects cyclists from direct contact with smoke, dust, toxins, sunlight, debris, flies, and bugs.

Disadvantages of Full-face MTB Helmets

Despite the maximum protection it provides, full-face MTB helmets have their drawbacks. The foremost thing is its price; full-face helmets are relatively expensive and seen as an investment. Due to their optimisation for a high level of protection, these full-face helmets lose the capability of proper ventilation. This lack of ventilation makes it extremely hard to ride in hot climates and longer rides; the helmet easily gets hot and sweaty. Everything adding up to its extremely heavy and bulky size decreases its accessibility.

When to choose Full-face MTB Helmets?

Cyclists can choose full-face MTB helmets during sporty events, rough trails, speedy situations, riding downhill, etc. One can equip a full-face helmet when the situation demands maximum protection and involves high risk. A full-face MTB helmet guarantees the highest level of safety and refuses the risk of major head or brain injuries.

What are Open-face MTB Helmets?

Open-face MTB helmets only cover the cyclist’s head, exposing the face and other vulnerable areas. It is also known as a half-shell helmet and is mainly used by cyclists that prefer subtle riding conditions. The open-face MTB helmets are bulkier in the back; it is to protect the head from backward falls and impact. These helmets are light compared to the full-face ones and more aerodynamic. 

Open-face MTB Helmets

Advantages of Open-face MTB Helmets

An open-face MTB helmet is known for its adequate protective capability and lightweight. It combines both worlds, along with proper ventilation and comfort. Especially for cyclists in warm climates and who do not prefer risky riding environments, it is a go-to product. Open-face helmets are also extremely easy to carry, put on or take off. They are notoriously budget-friendly and an easily accessible option for casual or beginner cyclists.

Disadvantages of Open-face MTB Helmets

The most notable drawback of open-face MTB helmets is their lack of protective range; it makes them unsuitable for a rough and hardcore cycling style. They do not save the cyclist’s face, teeth, and chin but can easily break apart in heavier impacts. Even though the open-face helmets have a visor, the cyclist is not entirely safe from smoke, dust, toxins, sunlight, debris, flies, and bugs while cycling.

When to choose Open-face MTB Helmets?

Cyclists can wear an open-face MTB helmet during casual rides, hot weather, easier trails, etc. When the situation demands comfort and involves less risk, one can equip themselves with an open-face helmet.

Which is safer, Open or Full-face MTB Helmets?

While both open and full-face MTB helmets have their specific area of usage, in terms of safety and protection, full-face helmets are the ace. Open-face MTB helmets greatly lack safety as they expose the majority of the facial area. In comparison, a full-face helmet secures the head and the entire face, chin, teeth, etc.

Convertible Helmets with Removable Chin Guards

While there are Open Face and Full Face MTB Helmets in the market, there is also an option that provides the best of both worlds. Convertible helmets have both the qualities of an open-face and full-face helmet. This type of helmet allows cyclists to take off or equip the chin bar when required. This customisation option allows cyclists to tackle any situation involving risks or enjoy just a casual ride. 


One should prioritise protection and safety while riding a mountain bike, especially in riskier situations. Overconfidence, false sense of security, and difficult terrains and riding conditions can easily increase the risk of retaining injuries. A helmet will drastically reduce the chances of fatal injury or heavy impact.

Helmets save lives and decrease the probability of major or minor injuries; one can aim for the Full Face variant for maximum protection or Open Face for subtle riding conditions. Choosing one of them depends on the cyclist’s needs and preferences. We at Greenspeed are committed to providing accurate and helpful information for fellow cyclists. Contact us if you have any questions or inquiries regarding mountain bikes.

FAQ about Open Face Vs. Full Face MTB Helmets.

Yes, you can use a full-face mountain bike helmet for maximum protection.

Yes, an enduro cyclist requires a full-face helmet.

Casual cyclists can wear a half-face/open-face helmet while riding on easier terrains.

While a full-face helmet has reduced mobility and ventilation, there are several sizes of full-face helmets available. You can choose another one if one gets too tight.

Yes, helmets try their best to absorb heavy impact and prevent brain injury.

Helmets work by safeguarding the cyclist’s head and facial area.

Countries like Argentina, Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand, etc., have compulsory helmet laws. And, Yes, they work.

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