Here’s my two cents: You need a full faced helmet in NY. If you ride anywhere along the path of fast moving trucks, or at highway speeds, the kinds of road debris that get kicked up will do a number to your pores, and possible your health if you’re wearing an open faced helmet. But…if you’re mainly riding around town, cruising with traffic and enjoying the nice weather, an open faced helmet is more comfortable, looks nicer, and is easier for newbie passengers to fit.
But before you take the plunge into open helmet territory, you should be informed of the risks. Nearly a quarter of accidents where helmets are involved resulted in impact to the front of the helmet. That means that even though you may have a strong reflexive instinct to protect your face – at the speeds in which you will be travelling, your reflexes won’t be enough to protect your face…
But open helmets excel where full faced helmets fall short. Full helmets are great at keeping your head warm in the winter, and cool in the summer as long as you’re moving at a decent pace. But slow down to Manhattan traffic speeds and the full face helmet starts to get stuffy. Also a full faced helmet is great when there’s lots of road debris… I remember once a truck in front of me grazed the top of its load on a metal structure overhead raining down glowing bits of shrapnel onto my face…lucky for me I wear a full faced helmet. But riding a through a park or Riverside Drive on a nice spring day, you get a fuller experience with an open helmet.
So if you ride in a war zone, you need a full face – and much of NY is like a war zone, so you need to own and wear one here… But if you know you’re just making quick trips in town, to the park, somewhere local, at speeds that you won’t have bugs smushed on your face – then by all means, wear the open faced helmet.