Mountain Bike Helmet Vs Motocross Helmet: In-depth Guide For 2023

The question of mountain bike helmet vs motocross helmet stems from varied questions such as:

  • Can I use an MTB helmet for motocross bikes?
  • Can I use a motocross helmet for mountain biking?
  • Do I need different helmets for MTB and MX?

And so on…

Even though both mountain biking helmets and motocross helmets are made to offer protection to the rider, the nature of both sports lead to differences in the way the helmets are designed.

Don’t be fooled if someone tells you that the differences are just there for marketing the products.

Both the helmets serve many different purposes, and here I will try to demystify them for you.

Mountain Bike Helmet Vs Motocross Helmet: 3 Key Differences

Difference Between Enduro and Downhill Suspension Travel

1. Made For Different Speeds

There is a drastic difference in the speed at which both motocross and mountain bikes are ridden.

However, motocross bikes, which work with the help of an engine, is rode much faster than a mountain bike.

Therefore, the motocross helmets are made to resist impacts that could take place while riding at a much higher speed.

In contrast, mountain bike helmets are made to withstand the effects that result from crashes that are typically not as detrimental as the motocross crashes.

2. Difference In Weight of Helmets

The motocross helmets are made to prevent injuries during highly impactful crashes that might take place during a motocross race event.

Motocross helmets have padding which is primarily used for protection.

This padding is usually much thicker. Moreover, other components of a motocross helmet are more robust, thus adding up the to its weight.

3. Difference In Ventilation of the Helmets

The helmet’s ventilation is also typically designed in relation to the speed at which the bikes are expected to go.

For example, mountain bike helmets usually have more vents. Mountain biking is an activity that  requires more airflow in order to reduce sweating and heat.

On the other hand, since motocross bikes go at higher speeds, the need for ventilation is less.

Hence you won’t find a lot of holes on a motocross helmet as you would find on MTB helmets.

Mountain Bike Helmet Vs Motocross Helmet: Safety Precautions

Mountain Bike Helmet Vs Motocross Helmet Safety Precautions

Precautions For Mountain Biking:

Wearing a full-face MTB helmet can protect your head, face, and neck region from impact to a large extent.

But there are some other essential things to consider too, while you are planning to ride a mountain bike.

Following are six safety precautions to be aware of while mountain biking:

  • Wear gear that is designed specifically for mountain biking.

  • Know your skill level before you hit the trails.

  • Make sure that your bike is compatible with riding on the terrain that you want to explore.

  • Learn to slow down at blind corners.

  • Get acquainted with the trail before hitting the trail for a race or a long ride.

  • Know that every rider would crash and ride with necessary precautions.

Precautions For Motocross Biking:

The life of a motocross rider is quite an adventurous one, with frequent crashes, injuries, and collisions.

It is essential for every rider to be fully aware of the potential dangers and take necessary precautions.

Below are four safety precautions to have knowledge on while motocross riding:

  • Improve your protection with gears such as helmet, braces, chest protector, and  other paddings.

  • Wear gloves for better grip and to prevent your fingers from getting hurt.

  • Invest in good quality motocross boots.

  • Make sure that you wear sunglasses to prevent blinding sunlight from entering your eyes.

Mountain Bike Helmet Vs Motocross Helmet: 6 Common FAQs

1. What happens if you use motocross helmets for mountain biking?

The ventilation is lesser in motocross bike helmets, it would not be a good idea to substitute it for your mountain bike helmet when you are riding in the sun or are heading out for a long ride.

Without sufficient ventilation, you may feel suffocated, which could affect your experience and performance.

Most notably, a mountain bike helmet is designed to protect you from flying objects such as rocks, mud, etc., also with features that resist impact.

A motocross helmet may not provide such elaborate protection, as the riding environments of both the bikes are primarily different.

A motocross helmet is much heavier than a regular mountain bike helmet, and hence, when used for a more extended period of time, you could experience neck strain and pain.

A typical mountain bike helmet weighs 12 ounces, which is much lesser when compared to the average weight of 3.5 pounds of a motocross helmet.

This is around 20-22% higher weight.

The weight of a motocross helmet comes from the thick foam padding, which is aimed at providing better protection for the neck and head in case of a crash while riding at higher speeds.

Mountain biking is a sport that requires the rider to be at maximum ease, and when wearing a motocross helmet, it would not be easy to enjoy the riding experience.

Moreover, riding on uneven terrains and performing jumps off cliffs require the rider to go lighter with their gear in order to react quickly to the demands of the terrain.

In order to achieve this lightness, MTB helmets typically have thinner outer shells, even though the padding may be sufficiently thick.

2. Can you use a mountain bike helmet for motocross riding?

I wouldn’t suggest using an MTB helmet for motocross riding, as the impact would be higher on a motocross bike due to the higher speed at which it travels.

For motocross biking, it is recommended to use a helmet that is adept at resisting that kind of impact in order to prevent injuries.

However, if you only have an MTB helmet, that would be definitely better than not wearing one.

3. Can motocross helmet be used for downhill biking?

This is a commonly asked question and a very important one.

Downhill mountain biking is one of the most adventurous biking disciplines, which requires one to have mastery over techniques as well the best of gears.

Therefore, it is quite natural for one to wonder whether a motocross helmet would be compatible with downhill biking due to the better protection that it could seemingly offer.

But the fact is, a heavy motocross helmet may do more harm than good when you are on a downhill bike.

Apart from the chances of affecting your performance, the motocross helmet may also lead to neck injury during a crash.

However, some riders suggest that a motocross helmet would be just fine if you are riding a Fest or Rampage series bike.

Otherwise, go for a full-face helmet that is made specifically for downhill biking to protect yourself better.

Even though they may resemble motorcycle helmets, a full-face MTB helmet covers the mouth and chin areas for better protection.

4. Why is there a visor on motocross helmets?

A visor provides extra protection to the rider.

Also known as peaks, the visors fit snug to the sunglasses, helping in preventing fogging and protecting the eyes from flying objects, dirt, and mud.

While it is a personal choice to have a helmet with a visor or not, I can tell you; that you would never regret having a visor on.

5. Can you use a street helmet for motocross riding?

While it’s perfectly fine to use your street bike helmet for motocross riding on your short leisure rides, it definitely can’t be substituted for your motocross helmet in the long run.

A street helmet or motorcycle helmet may not be suitable for rugged riding and off-road adventures.

Moreover, it could get difficult to see through clearly when your helmet is smeared with mud and dirt in the front.

The ventilation system of a street helmet is also not suitable for motocross riding, another reason why you should not consider making it your everyday companion.

6. Can you ride a mountain bike without a helmet?

Most riders strictly wear helmets while riding a mountain bike, simply due to the fact that most deaths from bike crashes happen due to head injury.

Wearing a helmet gives about 50% protection from this and around 33% protection from neck, shoulder, and head injury.

A head injury can lead to the worst consequences when coupled with brain damage.

So, while it is possible to ride a mountain bike without a helmet, it should be avoided at any cost.

Let safety be your first priority, always.

Best Choice For Mountain Bike Helmet

A sturdy helmet made using progressive layering technology and a polycarbonate outer shell.

In order to efficiently manage the transfer of energies, EPS foam of various densities is used in the making of the helmet.

In addition, actual woven silver fibers are used to provide a quick-drying feature to the MTB helmet.

The chin guard provides some protection against injuries in the chin area in the event of a crash.

The helmet’s brows have provision for good ventilation, which is sufficient to let in cool air which can exit through the air-channel matrix. This provides ventilation for the head.

The visor system on the goggles is compatible with prescription glasses as well as sunglasses.

It also incorporates a camera mount which is easy to use and requires no ties or tape to fix. However, this is not durable by design, as it breaks off easily during high impact in order to prevent any injury that it could cause.

Available in sizes ranging from small to large, these helmets are made for different head sizes.

Best Choice For Motocross Helmet

Troy Lee Designs, born in California, is a brand with 40 years of legacy in delivering quality products to the biking world.

This helmet weighs around 1500 grams, it is the lightest weighing motocross helmets available.

Even though the vents are designed quite differently from the MTB helmet, it still incorporates intake and exit ports for maximum cooling effect while riding the motocross bike.

The helmet consists of a pair of visor screws with brass inserts that are bound to break away in the event of a heavy impact.

The screws also help in the seamless adjustment of the visor while you are up to speed on a motocross bike.

The chin guard is made of Expanded Polypropylene, which is lightweight and offers long-lasting coverage.

The cheek pads are contoured and are designed to help the rider to remove the helmet quickly.

The cheek pads and liners are removable, and the package consists of an extra visor.

The helmet is available in six sizes, catering to different size needs.

Final Verdict:

A motocross helmet and MTB helmet are made for different riding styles.

Even though it is perfectly alright to swap your helmets once in a while if the need arises, it should not be the norm if you are looking for a hassle-free riding experience.

I hope you found my resource on mountain bike helmet vs motocross helmet to be very valuable.

P.S. Do consider checking out our in-depth guide about how to choose an affordable mountain bike helmet which is Full Face, with chin guards and peaks.

We also have done a deep dive comparison between MTB helmets vs Road Biking helmets, Enduro helmets vs XC helmets and Open-Face vs Full-Face MTB helmet, so definitely  check that out as well.