Although motorcycle helmets were in use before the First World War, and are now a legal requirement for motorcycle riding in many countries, full face motorcycle helmets are a relatively recent innovation.
The distinguishing feature of a full face helmet is – as the name suggests – that it covers the entire head and face, offering greater protection and increased impact absorption in the event of a crash.
Once considered the preserve of the professional racer, full face helmets are increasingly seen as the default option for the responsible rider. Below are the best full face motorcycle helmets available on the market.
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|HJC Full Face Helmet||X-Small to 5X-Large||9.6 / 10|
|Arai XD4 Full Face Helmet||X-Small to XX-Large||9.6 / 10|
|LS2 Stream Motorcycle Helmet||X-Small to XX-Large||9.4 / 10|
|Shoei Full Face Helmet||X-Small to XX-Large||9.4 / 10|
|1Storm Street Bike Helmet||X-Small to XX-Large||9.2 / 10|
|Triangle Dual Visor Street Helmet||Small to X-Large||9.2 / 10|
|Triangle Street Helmet||Medium to X-Large||9.2 / 10|
|1Storm Mechanic Helmet||Small to X-Large||9.2 / 10|
|Shoei Neotec Helmet||X-Small to XX-Large||9.2 / 10|
|Bell Qualifier Street Helmet||X-Small to XX-Large||9 / 10|
|GLX Dual Visor Street Helmet||Medium to X-Large||9 / 10|
|ScooterPartsDepot Street Helmet||Small to XX-Large||8.8 / 10|
1. HJC Full Face Helmet
HJC are a well-known name and their standard model full face helmet is a no-nonsense bit of kit with a no-nonsense price tag.
For a price that’s firmly in the middle of the pack, HJC are offering a helmet built with a polycarbonate composite shell, an integrated front-to-back ventilation system, a removable moisture-wicking interior and a pin-lock visor, which greatly simplifies the process of cleaning and replacing the face shield.
It’s available in sizes from X-Small to the unusually huge 5X-Large.
- The integrated ventilation system and moisture-wicking interior lining work together to make this a comfortable helmet to wear, even on longer rides.
- Price: the HJC Full Face Helmet is far from the cheapest option available, but in terms of value for money it’s difficult to fault it. It’s well-designed and well-made, and you’d be forgiven for expecting a higher price tag on what is a quality product. Tellingly, it’s the cheapest helmet listed here that’s obtained the prestigious SNELL seal of approval.
- Sizing: for whatever reason, HJC’s helmets come in a wider range of sizes than those of most other manufacturers. If sizing difficulties are a familiar woe whenever it’s time to buy new gear, then HJC may have the answer for you.
- The HJC Full Face Helmet isn’t modular, which might be an issue if you appreciate fresh air on long journeys.
2. Arai XD4 Full Face Helmet
Arai are a big name in riding, and produce professional-grade full face helmets in a range of styles, as well as the more common street style. The Arai XD4 is a high-end full face helmet built with dirt biking in mind, with a sleek aerodynamic look and the iconic overhanging peak.
It’s not modular, which means you’re trading convenience for enhanced safety, but the ventilation system built into the front of the mask means you won’t be suffering with sweat on long or arduous rides.
The Arai XD4 is also SNELL-approved, which goes same way towards justifying the fact that this is definitely not a budget helmet. It’s available from X-Small to XX-Large and comes in various colours, including black, white, yellow and silver.
- This is a premium helmet that professional dirt bikers wouldn’t be unhappy to wear in a competition, which shows in its design and its SNELL accreditation. If you do a lot of off-road riding, or even if you just appreciate the aerodynamic look of a dirt helmet, the Arai XD4 is one of the best options available.
- With vents built into the front of the helmet, and adjustable vents elsewhere, the Arai XD4 has been praised by riders in hot and cold climates for protecting them from the elements.
- Like most dirt-style helmets, there’s ample space inside, whether for sunglasses or spectacles, or setting up your own sound or Bluetooth system.
- Both the visor and the interior lining are easily removable, making minor adjustments and keeping the helmet clean a breeze.
- Price: as with any top-end product, the key issue with the Aria XD4 is budgetary. If you want one of the best full face dirt helmets money can buy, look no further.
3. LS2 Stream Motorcycle Helmet
The LS2 Stream is accredited by both DOT and ECE, meaning you can ride in relative confidence. Another lightweight polycarbonate helmet, the LS2 Stream features a padded interior designed to match the natural shape of the human face for increased comfort.
With a visor that’s resistant to scratching and ultraviolet light as standard, the LS2 Stream can be purchased direct from the manufacturer with an impressive five-year warranty. It’s available from X-Small to XX-Large, in designs which vary from glossy white to red snake decals.
- LS2’s proprietary Twin Shield and Quick Release systems make the Stream a modular full face helmet that’s incredibly easy to access and use, while retaining the safety of a full face helmet.
- The cheek padding inside the helmet is laser-cut to match the natural contours of the human face, which reduces discomfort and chafing, even on long rides.
- The breathable interior liner is simple to remove and wash.
- The LS2 Stream is glasses-friendly, with ample space for spectacle wearers to use without any modification.
- Aesthetically, the LS2 Stream features some impressive designs: it’s worth a look if you want to make a statement on the road.
- The visor is not as wide as in some other full face helmets, which could result in the restriction of your peripheral vision when riding.
4. Shoei Full Face Helmet
Shoei is a highly reputable name in motorcycle helmets, with a price tag to match. The Shoei Full Face Helmet is accredited not only by DOT but also by SNELL, which holds helmets to significantly higher standards than either the DOT or ECE safety qualifications.
Available in an array of patterns, from patriotic flag decals to serious matte black to glamorous gold, and in sizes from X-Small to XX-Large, Shoei’s full face offering doesn’t skimp on features.
A lightweight multi-ply plastic exterior with a dual density inner lining makes for a safe helmet that’s soft on the head, while a total of eight vents (one of them adjustable) protect from the weather – whatever it happens to be.
- The Shoei Full Face Helmet exceeds SNELL safety standards, the high watermark for quality in road safety.
- The helmet’s eight vents, coupled with the patented Max-Dry interior, provide for an incredibly comfortable helmet which feels plush to wear without compromising on protection.
- Amazingly, despite the eight vents, the Shoei Full Face Helmet cuts out the majority of wind noise without silencing road and peripheral noises. In this way Shoei provide a comfortable and convenient experience for the rider who wants to converse or listen to music, without limiting their awareness of the road around them.
- The visor is resistant to fog, scratching and ultraviolet light.
- The helmet’s release system makes it effectively modular, allowing ease of access when you’re taking a break from riding.
- Price: Shoei is a trusted brand that rightly takes pride in its hard-won accreditations and awards, and when you buy a Shoei product you’re paying for all that. If you’ve got the money, you’re buying a high-quality item that’ll go a long way towards making riding as safe as it can be.
5. 1Storm Street Bike Helmet
The 1Storm Street Bike Helmet is a DOT-approved product from a brand that’s trusted by riders. Its modular design means that it can be worn as a full face helmet while riding, and opened for ease of access when not on the road.
The exterior is made from a thermoplastic alloy, which means that it can withstand serious force while remaining lightweight, and the visor comes with built-in ultraviolet protection.
The 1Storm Street Bike Helmet is available in sizes from X-Small to XX-Large, and in a range of colors from glossy pink to matte black.
- Given the popularity of the 1Storm brand, this helmet can be bought for a very reasonable price.
- The helmet’s modular nature makes it easy to interact with people when you’re not riding – for example, at a gas station or rest stop.
- The helmet has space built into the interior to fit speakers or headphones of the rider’s choice.
- The UV protection built into the visor means you’re protected from the sun, even on long road trips.
- A good ventilation system means this is a comfortable helmet to wear.
- Weather-resistant in hot and cold climates, including being rainproof.
- If you wear prescription glasses, these can be worn inside the helmet without any difficulties.
- This is a fairly basic motorcycle helmet, without speakers or any kind of microphone.
- Some customers have reported that the interior liner is difficult to remove without damaging it.
6. Triangle Dual Visor Street Helmet
DOT approved, the Triangle Dual Visor Street Helmet represents an affordable option for riders who still want some of the features of a more expensive model.
With a high-quality thermoplastic exterior and a multi-density inner liner, the Triangle Dual Visor is set up to protect you in the event of a crash, and top and rear vents can help ease the discomfort of long journeys.
The dual visor itself can offer additional glare protection if you find yourself riding directly at the sun.
The helmet can be purchased in sizes from Small to X-Large, and comes matte black as standard, with patterns available in a small number of colors.
- The helmet’s visor is tinted and scratch-resistant, while the Dual Visor that gives the helmet its name offers additional protection from the sun’s glare.
- Fully removable and washable anti-bacterial liner.
- The helmet’s ventilation system does the job on hot days, keeping the head and neck cool.
- The price: although affordability shouldn’t be the only concern when it comes to rider safety, there’s no denying that the Triangle Dual Visor comes at a very attractive price point.
- Although it comes tinted as standard, and can protect from glare, the visor is neither anti-fog nor UV-resistant.
- The helmet’s chin bar feels weaker than other comparable models.
7. Triangle Street Helmet
The second Triangle product covered here, the Triangle Street Helmet is simply a more basic model than the Triangle Dual Visor, which can be seen above.
Featuring the same thermoplastic body and multi-density inner lining, with the same top and rear vents to improve comfort on long journeys, the main difference between the two models is the visor itself.
As the product names suggest, the Triangle Street Helmet lacks the Dual Visor which is the more expensive option’s namesake, meaning you’re giving up glare protection in favour of a smaller price tag.
Whether that’s worthwhile for you will depend on where you do most of your riding: if you’re in rainy England, it’ll matter a lot less than in Nevada.
The Triangle Street Helmet is available from Medium to X-Large, and comes in a simple but stylish black and red pattern.
- The Dual Visor was an affordable helmet, which means this one is truly price friendly. DOT accreditation is a reassurance that cheapness in price doesn’t have to mean cheapness in quality.
- The helmet’s visor is tinted and scratch-resistant.
- The helmet’s ventilation system is unchanged from the Dual Visor model, and serves to keep the rider cool on warm days.
- Fully removable and washable anti-bacterial liner.
- Although it comes tinted as standard, and can protect from glare, the visor is neither anti-fog nor UV-resistant.
- For the reduction in price compared to the Triangle Dual Visor, you’re giving up glare protection that can be a life-saver, particularly if you usually ride where it’s sunny.
- As with the Triangle Dual Visor, this helmet’s chin bar is a little weak and wobbly.
8. 1Storm Mechanic Helmet
1Storm are a trusted brand for motorcycle helmets, and their Mechanic Helmet is a static full face offering with a thermoplastic exterior and a heavily-cushioned and comfortable padded interior.
With an adjustable ventilation system and all-over ultraviolet protection, the 1Storm Mechanic Helmet is an efficient and stylish option at the budget end of the market.
It doesn’t boast much in the way of features, but what’s included does the job well.
The 1Storm Mechanic Helmet ranges from Small to X-Large, and is available either in plain black or a number of brightly-coloured skull decals.
- Great quality for a great price. 1Storm are a well-known and well-liked brand, and this Mechanic Helmet is worthy of their name. For a low price, you get a lot of helmet.
- The adjustable ventilation system allows you to adapt to the weather outside your helmet, making it cool when it’s hot and keeping you warm when it’s freezing outside.
- The ultraviolet protection built into the helmet and its visor make it a suitable choice for long journeys.
- The padded interior is covered by a lining which is removable and washable, keeping your helmet clean and fragrant.
- This is not a modular helmet, meaning you’ll need to take it off entirely to speak or drink when you’re off the road. This is a good thing in terms of safety, but can be awkward, especially after a long and exhausting ride. If this is a problem for you and you don’t mind paying a higher price, you could look at 1Storm’s modular Street Helmet.
- With its aerodynamic styling and thick foam interior, there’s little room inside the helmet for inserting your own hardware. It doesn’t come with any of its own, either – but that’s hard to complain about at the price.
9. Shoei Neotec Helmet
The Shoei Neotec is the second Shoei helmet featured here, and it comes in at an even higher price point.
This might, however, be a case of getting what you pay for: the Neotec comes with UV-resistant visor that also prevents glare and scratching, an adjustable complex of vents to keep you warm and dry, and a fully removable multi-layer interior liner which makes it a contender for one of the most comfortable on the market.
From the look to the feel to the cutting-edge patented technology in every element of the helmet’s design, the Shoei Neotec Helmet is undeniably a premium item – but one worth considering, if your wallet is heavy enough.
It comes in sizes from X-Small to XX-Large, and is available in a variety of metallic colors.
- As with the standard Shoei Full Face Helmet, the Neotec comes with SNELL accreditation, the gold standard for motorcycle helmet safety.
- The Shoei Neotec features the innovative ventilation and insulation systems that make Shoei a watchword for cool, quiet comfort while riding.
- The Shoei Neotec’s visor is a high-end bit of kit, and the main place where it could be said to justify its higher price tag: it’s not only resistant to UV, fog and scratching, it also helps shield the rider from glare and reflections caused by the sun.
- A smooth but safe release system makes the Shoei Neotec a modular helmet, offering riders easy access to take a drink and get some fresh air when not on the road.
- Glasses-wearers can rest easy: there’s plenty of room inside.
- As you might expect, the price will be the main sticking point for many riders.
10. Bell Qualifier Street Helmet
Bell’s Qualifier Street Helmet is a DOT-certified modular full face motorcycle helmet.
With a lightweight polycarbonate exterior, a padded interior and collar, and five separate vents, the Bell Qualifier boasts a cool and comfortable experience which might be particularly attractive to those who enjoy long distance riding.
Although the helmet’s visor isn’t tinted, it is resistant to UV and fog, giving a fair amount of protection.
The Bell Qualifier Street Helmet is available from X-Small to XX-Large, and is available in a range of colors and patterns, including reflective high-visibility colors for night riding.
- This is a well-ventilated product, with three adjustable vents and two rear vents which cannot be adjusted. Even on a hot day, you’ll be able to enjoy a cool ride.
- Again, this is a modular helmet, which means you can enjoy some of the accessibility of an open face helmet when you’re not riding, without having to give up full face protection when you’re on the road.
- The helmet’s visor is UV-protected, anti-fog and scratch-resistant, making a wide variety of weather conditions a breeze to ride in.
- Although this isn’t a budget helmet, it won’t break the bank – and if ventilation and comfort matter to you, it could be well worth the price. For this reason, the Bell Qualifier would be a great choice for long-distance or touring riders.
- Due to the number of vents, the Bell Qualifier can be noisy at high speeds. Most riders report the chief culprit to be the helmet’s chin vent, which can also let in an excess of cold air when riding in poor weather.
11. GLX Dual Visor Street Helmet
Another Dual Visor setup which lets the rider choose between tinted and clear visors on the move, the GLX Dual Visor Street Helmet is an affordably-priced but serious-looking contender on the full face helmet scene.
Featuring a three-stage patented “Air Flo” ventilation system, and boasting DOT approval, GLX’s offering has an approval offering with riders that outweighs its retail price point.
The GLX Dual Visor is available from Medium to X-Large and comes in three different but equally formidable patterns – Metal, Totem and Blaze.
- The helmet’s visors are fog-protected as well as scratch-resistant, and can be easily replaced should the need arise.
- GLX’s proprietary “Air Flo” ventilation system does its job well, allowing the helmet to keep your head cool when it’s hot outside and warm when it’s cold.
- Soft, comfortable and washable interior liner.
- Price: although it’s not the cheapest helmet on show here, the GLX Dual Visor Street Helmet is a lot closer to the budget end of the scale than it is to premium pieces like the Shoei Full Face Helmet. If ventilation is your chief concern when it comes to helmets, the GLX might seem like a steal.
- Although the “Air Flo” ventilation system is hard to fault when it comes to comfort, it isn’t set up to help with noise pollution, and in fact contributes to what can be a very loud ride at high speeds.
- There’s little to no space for peripherals to be added to the helmet’s interior, which means headphones and Bluetooth setups are out of the question.
- Neither of the visors included with the GLX Dual Visor Street Helmet are UV-resistant.
12. ScooterPartsDepot Street Helmet
This is another budget offering in the field of full face motorcycle helmets.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re getting something unfit for purpose: ScooterPartsDepot have produced a DOT-approved helmet that’s sold with a choice of either a clear or tinted visor (both scratch-resistant).
The helmet is available from Small all the way up to XX-Large, but is only available in the “Red Razor Wire” design, which may be off-putting to the more serious adult rider.
- Price: considering what you’re getting is still DOT-approved, meaning it’s met all the minimum safety standards for road use, ScooterPartsDepot have made a truly inexpensive option for newer riders.
- Although the full inner lining isn’t removable, the cheek pads are, which means you can keep them clean and avoid the accumulated funk of multiple rides.
- The helmet is well-ventilated, which makes riding a lot easier in hot weather.
- Offering a choice of visors is a nice touch, allowing you to wear whatever is more appropriate for the climate you’ll be riding in.
- The helmet is glasses-friendly.
- The helmet’s vents can be more of a hindrance than a help on cold days, as they circulate a lot of air through the helmet.
- The look of the helmet might be a bit too juvenile for some riders’ tastes: razor wire can be a hard look to pull off in your forties.
- The visors might be scratch-resistant, but they won’t help you with fog or mist, and they won’t keep your skin safe from ultraviolet rays, which reduces the usefulness of this helmet if you make a lot of long journeys.
What is a Full Face Motorcycle Helmet?
Motorcycle helmets are worn by motorcycle riders for the primary purpose of safety. They’re meant to protect the rider’s head, face and neck in the event of a collision, preventing or reducing head injury and saving lives.
Some helmets, particularly the more expensive modern models, come with a host of luxury extras, including ventilation and built-in sound systems. It’s important to remember however that these are extras: as comfortable as some helmets might be, their job is still the same.
Although there’s often been tension between the law, concerned with safety, and riders more interested in feeling the wind in their hair, most motorcycle owners today would agree that helmets are there for protection, and that’s a good thing.
Motorcycle riders looking for a new helmet will find themselves weighed down by choice. With all the extras available on some helmets, and the range of styles & colors available, the decision can become overwhelming without even getting to ask the most important question about a helmet: will it keep me alive if I crash? If mere survival isn’t enough, you could add the second most important question: will it protect my face?
Before even thinking about luxuries and color coordination, a rider looking for a new helmet needs to decide between the three basic types available for use on roads. These are the full face (or closed), modular (or flip-up), and open face (or three-quarter) types.
The full face type of helmet covers the entire head, including the base of the skull and the front of the chin, while the open face type covers only the ears, cheeks, and back of the neck.
The modular type is a sort of hybrid between full face and open face helmets: when fully closed, they resemble a full face helmet, but the visor and chin bar can be pivoted to allow access to the face.
All motorcycle helmets are, in theory, designed to protect the rider’s head and face. Most conventional helmets, regardless of type, follow the same basic model of construction: a hard outer shell (of plastic, fiberglass, or even Kevlar) and a thick, soft inner foam lining.
That said, most scientists agree that full face helmets are the way to go. Studies show us that over a third of all motorcycle crashes result in major impact on the chin, in which case anything other than a full face helmet won’t offer protection.
One provocative study even showed open face riders were more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury in a serious collision than riders without helmets. This might be down to the confidence that comes with wearing a helmet, even if it’s not fit for purpose – as was unfortunately the case for the riders in this Brazilian study.
Full face helmet wearers showed a markedly lower rate of traumatic brain injuries. If the purpose of a motorcycle helmet is to keep you alive and keep your face intact, there’s no substitute for full face.
As with the other types of helmets on the market, there are a number of variations and extras available when looking for the right full face helmet. Some models allow the face shield to be pivoted up or down, allowing some access to the face. This won’t give the same degree of access as most modular helmets, but less access means more protection.
With that in mind, it’s worth considering whether any amount of access is necessary: after all, the helmet’s there to protect your face as well as your head.
A lot of full face helmets do include vents, which help with airflow. This can be a big deal for some riders, who dislike the isolation and sticky heat of riding with their head enclosed.
Benefits of Wearing a Full Face Helmet
Wearing a full face motorcycle helmet comes with a number of benefits:
- Your risk of injury in a collision is greatly reduced. As studies have shown time and again, motorcycle crashes tend to involve head trauma, which means traumatic brain injuries if the right protection isn’t worn. Full face motorcycle helmets offer the greatest coverage and are therefore the safest. Even when travelling short distances, and whatever the local law, doctors and scientists recommend wearing a full face helmet on every trip.
- Traumatic brain injuries, which the Brazilian study above showed were 32% less likely to occur with full face helmets, are often permanent. Broken limbs and even broken faces will heal, but brain injuries are for life – and some of the worst brain injuries aren’t caused by impact, but by the force of deceleration, which is made worse when the head bounces around in a helmet with poor support. The chin bar on a full face helmet gives support, and helps keep the head in place even during a crash.
- Full face helmets don’t only reduce the likelihood you’ll be injured in the event you crash, they make it less likely that you’ll crash in the first place. Something as inconspicuous as a bug can be fatal if it hits you in the eye while you’re going full throttle. With a full face helmet on, you can stop worrying about bugs & dust, and concentrate on the road ahead.
- Some of the features that come in modern full face helmets go a long way to removing the concerns some riders have about switching from an open face model. The isolation of riding with your head fully enclosed isn’t as important when you can speak with your riding buddies via a Bluetooth sound system & microphone. And a good ventilation system can at least partly make up for the lost feeling of the wind on your face.
Things to Consider
If you’ve decided a full face motorcycle helmet is right for you, there are still a few things left to consider before making your purchase.
- Safety: the main reason to wear a full face helmet is safety, so buying one without checking its safety accreditations would be like buying a raincoat without checking it was waterproof. There are three key words to look out for: DOT, ECE and SNELL. DOT and ECE are the minimum standard, showing the helmet has passed all the basic safety tests; SNELL holds helmets to a higher standard.
- Style: full face motorcycle helmets come in a few different styles, each being designed with a specific type of riding in mind. The most common style, and most likely the best choice for the average urban rider, is the street helmet. Dirt and touring styles are also available for those who prefer off-roading and long-distance riding.
- Materials and construction: a strong helmet will have an exterior made using carbon, Kevlar or composite fiber. Inside, you want to see a softer foam layer, and ideally a removable lining, which makes cleaning and maintaining the helmet a lot easier. Try the helmet on and see what effect it has on your field of vision, which is a safety issue in itself. Just remember that when it comes to motorcycle helmets, increased visibility or access means increased exposure, and that means less safety.
- Features: full face motorcycle helmets come with a wide range of features, depending on your price range. Built-in speakers and microphones let you speak to your fellow riders without compromising your safety. Good ventilation systems make wearing a full face helmet a breeze, even on a hot day. Some high-end models even come with anti-fog visors, which can make a big difference if you’re riding in the winter or live somewhere with difficult weather.
- Price: like most products, full face motorcycle helmets range widely in cost, depending on the features available and the brand behind the product. Buying a trusted brand will always be a safe option: for helmets, some of the trusted names include Shoei, Triangle, LS2, Bell, 1Storm and GMX. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better however; there are safe and accredited full face options available to riders on a budget.
How to Wear a Full Face Helmet
The process of putting on a full face helmet should quickly become second nature, even if you’re only used to open face helmets or new to motorcycle riding altogether.
Even if you’re an old hand, you’ll benefit from physically trying on any helmet you’re considering buying. Everyone’s head shape is slightly different, and so some helmets will feel better to some riders than others.
To put your full face helmet on, first hold it by the chin straps with the front of the helmet (i.e. the visor and the chin guard) pointing at the floor. Put your thumbs on the inside of the straps and gently apply pressure, balancing the helmet with your fingertips, and use the chin straps to guide the helmet down onto your head.
If it’s a good fit for you, it’ll feel snug. Enlisting the help of a friend or store assistant can help make sure you’re wearing it the way the manufacturer intended.
Risks and Warnings
It’s important to remember that motorcycles will never be the safest mode of transport, and that riding one will remain a fundamentally dangerous activity whatever precautions are taken.
The fact that motorcycle riding is dangerous doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take every effort to make it as safe as possible. In fact the opposite is true, which is why full face helmets are enthusiastically recommended by medics and professional riders alike.
That said, you should always remember that a helmet alone won’t keep you safe. Reasonable and responsible riding is hugely important, for your safety as a rider and the safety of any passenger you might be carrying, as well as that of other road users and pedestrians.
The freedom which makes so many riders passionate about motorcycles can create the temptation to speed and maneuver around other vehicles on the road. Resisting this temptation is the easiest way to protect your life and that of others. Even the most expensive high-tech helmet on the market won’t protect you from brain injury at a certain speed.
Regular inspections of your helmet are recommended, as even a small crack can have a significant effect on its ability to absorb an impact.