ATV Helmet vs Motorcycle Helmet – Comparison of Features & Purposes

Last Updated on November 18, 2023 by ATVNotes

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Are you often bound to conquer beaten paths – dirty trails, rocky terrain, and muddy tracks- on your ATV? And do you often commute in city streets or go for long highway drives at an opportune time? In both sports, you need a common safety gear – a helmet. Now, you might think that any of the two can do for both, and you can use both helmets interchangeably. That is nothing less than a blunder. Yes, the purposes and roles broadly vary from ATV riding to motorcycle riding, so ATV helmets and motorcycle helmets differ greatly. 

Knowing the differences between ATV helmets and motorcycle helmets will save you time and protect your investment by taking you to the right helmet for your need. We got you covered here as this ATV helmet vs. motorcycle helmet discussion will showcase where and how these two helmets differ. This is more of a buying guide besides an argument or comparison of features and analysis of roles played by each helmet.

ATV helmet vs motorcycle helmet

Can ATV Helmet and Motorcycle Helmet Be Substituted? 

Also known as a motocross helmet, the ATV helmet is ideal for people enthusiastic about off-road ATV riding. Unlike other helmets, this one comes with good ventilation, a prominent face opening, and a robust chin guard, among other incredible features.

Typically, a motorcycle helmet is commonly used for street or highway applications. And the key features of this helmet include a full-face visor, and superb aerodynamics, among other features.

ATV helmets are designed to enjoy complete protection from mud-slinging, rocks, and dust. In contrast, motorcycle helmets are absorbent of strong impact and meant for safeguarding in the event of an accident. An in-depth analysis of both helmets’ design and features will convince you of the apparent difference between a motorcycle helmet and an ATV helmet. Both helmets may share typical shapes, materials, and more but stand apart in terms of purpose and their roles. So, they can never be a substitute for each other and their interchangeable use is a far cry. 

ATV vs. Motorcycle Helmet – Differences of Features, Purposes, and Roles

The main difference is the purpose for which each helmet is used. As is said already, ATV helmets are meant to be used for rugged or off-road riding. Unlike other trails, you are likely to come across many rocks along the way, too much mud, and other hindrances only found in an off-road environment. 

On the other hand, motorcycle helmets are mainly used when riding your motorbike on the streets or highways. Therefore, if you plan to have a casual ride with your friends on the roads, this is the helmet you should wear. 

Here is a run-down of these two helmets’ features, designs, components, and build-up that should help you choose the right helmet for your sports. 

1. Dust and Mud Protection

If you are bound for more aggressive ATV riding, chances are dust and mud will always fly in your direction from the ATV running in your front. At some point, this mud can come directly to your eyes. Therefore, you need a helmet to guard your eyes and other facial body parts.

To keep your eyes safe from dust and mud, the large opening of the ATV helmet allows you to wear riding goggles. As a result, you will not strain your sight even when you are on a muddy or dusty trail. Conversely, the motorcycle helmet hardly allows you to use riding goggles. Therefore, it is not ideal for muddy or dusty trails because the face shield found in motor Cycle helmets will let mud and dust in on top of blocking your sight by getting smeared with mud and dust on the outside. 

difference in ventilation

2. Ventilation

When it comes to ventilation, the ATV helmet does not disappoint. This can be attributed to the fact that the ATV helmet boasts huge ventilation spaces all over, including one in the chin guard. Consequently, your chin guard will allow you to breathe in the much-needed air in emaciated trails – ATV riding is done mainly in summer.

However, the motorcycle helmet is not prominently ventilated because a speedier motor ride in the streets and highway requires cutting through the air, not to scoop in the air. In fact, it cannot scoop large amounts of air in at a go. Therefore, you might have to remove the visor occasionally or push it up halfway to breathe some fresh air.

But that will invite dust, mud, and rocks to hit your eyes and mouth, given that the ATV trails are strewn with those elements. If you do not remove the helmet, you must breathe directly into the inner side of the visor. This leads to fogging when the weather is hot, thereby obstructing your much-needed visibility.

3. Sun protection

The last thing that you would like to experience when riding is glare. However, this phenomenon is very common when the sun shines before you. To ride undisturbed by glare, most helmets come with a visor. For instance, a motorcycle helmet comes with a visor that helps to protect your eyes from the shining sun.

Typically, most motorcycle helmets come with a flip-down visor permanently tinted for better visibility during a sunny day. On the other hand, its counterpart ATV helmet comes with a peak to shade your eyes when riding ATV, but that is neither sufficient nor meant for motorcycle riding.

4. Comfort

ATV helmets tend to be bulkier than motorcycle helmets. Ideally, your helmet of choice should be relatively lightweight to remain comfortable even when riding for several kilometers. The motorcycle helmet is more lightweight and less beefy than an ATV helmet. ATV riding is shorter than a motorcycle ride, but you should still look for a lighter option, as heavier headwear can be disastrous for fall or strenuous when the ride is a bit longer. 

Difference in chin guard

5. Chin and Jaw guard

The ATV and motorcycle helmets come with a chin and jaw guard to remain safe even if you fall victim to accidents during your riding escapades. However, the chin guard of an ATV helmet tends to be beefy, in sharp contrast to a motorcycle helmet. This feature makes the ATV helmet safer than the motorcycle helmet in case of a fall.

6. Aerodynamics

ATV helmet vs. motorcycle helmet comparison will focus on a key difference between the two – aerodynamics. The motorcycle helmet features a smooth surface, so it can cut through high speeds up to 200 MPH or even more with its surface. As a result, you can expect that your head guarded by a motorcycle helmet will remain stable without straining your neck muscles.

On the other hand, the ATV helmet comes with a large face opening and a peak that makes it challenging to cruise at those high speeds. However, ATVing means to be slower than motorcycling. 

difference in aerodynamics

7. Design and Looks

When it comes to design and looks, ATV helmets and motorcycle helmets differ in several elements. For instance, the ATV helmet has a beefier chin guard, while its motorcycle counterpart has a relatively smaller chin guard. Besides this, the motorcycle helmet comes with a smooth aerodynamic design and full face shield, while its counterpart misses some of these components.

Finally, ATV helmets usually have excellent graphics that make them stand out. In fact, it will be very easy to spot an ATV rider in the crowd of riders. On the other hand, the motorcycle helmet could be more visible from a distance.

However, modern-day helmet manufacturers are making them more visible to the public. To make this possible, these manufacturers now make helmets of different colors. Some popular colors you might find in the market include red, yellow, white, green, and so on.

8. Noise Insulation

Comfort is always paramount when you are riding at high speed. One thing that can make you uncomfortable during your riding sessions is noise. Thankfully, most helmets come with an enclosed design to keep this noise down to a tolerable level. Both ATV helmets and motorcycle helmets are designed to prevent noise, but noise cancellation levels vary for an off-road trail rider and highway biker.

For instance, TV riders prefer to hear where their counterparts are when riding on an off-road trail. As a result, their helmets come with vents on the sides to let sound penetrate. 

Although this feature works magic for ATV riders, it can harm those who ride motorbikes on a highway. If your motorcycle helmet has vents on the sides, you will likely experience a lot of wind noise, thus being uncomfortable when riding your bike.

9. Cleaning Convenience

The smart way to maintain your helmet is to clean it regularly. Given that ATV trails are dusty, muddy, rocky, and dirty, ATV helmets will likely gather more dirt than a motorcycle helmet. All these elements and sweat can make your ATV helmet dirtier than ever. Moreover, the vents and multiple components make cleaning time-consuming. 

differ in liner

To be on the safe side, cleaning ATV helmet properly should be a regular ritual, especially cleaning it after a riding session is better made a ritual. The motorcycle helmet, on the other hand, hardly gets dirty to that extent. Therefore, you can ride your bike for several days before cleaning your motorcycle helmet.

10. Face shield

Besides the differences discussed above, these two helmets differ in another feature, a – face shield. In fact, the ATV helmet does not come with a face shield. Without this feature, the rider’s head will remain cool, allowing them to breathe seamlessly. A beak is a common feature with ATV helmets to protect against the direct attack of sun rays, besides full protection against mud, rocks, and dust roosting from the front ATV. 

Apart from allowing the rider to breathe well, be sure they will not grapple with excess sweating. Additionally, the helmet will not experience excess fogging whenever he or she is riding. The motorcycle helmet has a face shield that offers protection against harsh weather conditions and the sun in front. 


What kind of helmet do you need for an ATV?

Well, you need to invest in a full-face helmet if you are an ATV enthusiast. Investing in this helmet can protect the better part of your head. Many parts, from your mouth to your cheeks, will remain safe during your riding session. This property makes a full-face helmet better than an open-face helmet. However, an in-depth analysis on ATV helmet can teach you what helmet you need the most.

How do you size an ATV helmet?

There are helmets for children and adults that require you to determine the exact ATV helmet size. If you want to invest in a helmet for your kid, you should choose one measuring 17.5 to 22 inches. If you want to purchase one for an adult, you can choose one that measures between 21 and 22 inches. However, the circumference of your head will determine the size of your preferred helmet.

What is the greatest advantage of wearing a helmet?

One of the most significant advantages of wearing a helmet is that it offers your head much-needed protection in case you are involved in an accident. Additionally, it offers you some warmth whenever you are riding your ATV. Finally, it protects you from loud noises during your riding sessions.

Can you wear a bicycle helmet on an ATV?

Not really. Since the bicycle helmet offers little ventilation, it is not ideal for wearing it when riding an ATV. Remember that poor ventilation makes you breathe more, making your face shield foggy. Finally, this helmet is less likely to keep debris, dirt, and other unwanted elements at bay when riding your ATV. Instead, you should wear an ATV helmet.

Why is the purpose of a visor on a helmet?

The main purpose of a visor commonly found on a motorcycle helmet is to keep flying objects away from your face while riding your bike. Moreover, you will enjoy good visibility whenever you are riding fast on a casual trail or highway. Besides offering your eyes good protection from those elements, the visor protects you from glare during the day.

Bottom Line

By now, it is clear that ATV helmets differ from motorcycle helmets in many ways and cannot be swapped. From their purpose to their design, an array of differences set the two apart. If you prefer riding on an off-road or muddy trail, consider investing in an ATV helmet. However, if you want to ride on a recreational trail, you can never go wrong with a motorcycle helmet. Since you already know the differences between ATV helmets vs. motorcycle helmets, you can now make a good decision when purchasing a helmet in the future.

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