Why Do Mountain Bike Helmets Have Visors?

A mountain bike helmet is one of the most important accessories to have in your arsenal, whether you have been cycling for a while or are considering mountain bike riding as a new hobby.

Mountain bike helmets come in different sizes, weights, and colors, not to mention there is also a choice between Full-Face and Open-Face MTB helmets.

If you’re on the hunt for a mountain bike helmet, you will most likely find that it has a visor, also called a peak, and wonder about its purpose.

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Mountain bike riders view riding down trail at speed.
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Why Do Mountain Bike Helmets Have Visors?

An MTB helmet’s visor serves a crucial purpose: When navigating forests, wooded trails, or muddy terrain it acts as a shield against obstacles such as low-hanging, leafy branches from swatting the rider’s face. The visor also shields the rider’s eyes from the sun, rain, and snowfall.

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The visor is one key element of an MTB helmet that sets it apart from other cycling helmets. While it is a simple feature, a helmet’s visor serves an important role. It adds extra coverage to protect your head and face in a variety of situations,

In this article, we’ll deep dive into the advantages of your mountain bike helmet visor.

Top Reasons for Choosing a Mountain Bike Helmet with a Visor

A mountain biking helmet with a visor is a must for every rider, whether you’re traveling short or long distances. Below are some of the benefits that an MTB helmet visor provides.

1. It protects your eyes and face from sunlight.

If you’re hitting the trail at sunrise or even when the sun is high, sometimes you will find the sunlight to be in your line of vision. Wearing a helmet with a sun visor gives the eye protection you need so that the sun’s glare will not blind your vision even if you’re riding towards the direction of the sun.

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Red Full-Face mountain bike helmet with goggles.

2. It allows you to transition between sun and shade.

Helmet visors may be fixed, screwed in, or molded to the helmet, while other visors are detachable. There are visors you can tilt up for when you’re cutting through shaded mountain bike trails and then bring back down when you transition into an area where there is bright sunlight. If your visor is wider than other models, it can provide enough shade to your face and keep sunburn at bay.

3. It protects your face from rain and other elements.

Just like riding in sunny weather, biking when it is raining or snowing can be dangerous. A visor adds a layer of protection when riding in poor or changing weather conditions.

When raindrops hit your eye, you must wipe them dry to avoid blurring your vision and breaking your concentration on the trail. The same thing can happen if you find yourself riding in snowfall, where snowflakes can fall directly into your eyes and nose.

If you’re traversing a muddy trail and you’re racing against other bikers, your helmet visor can prevent mud splashes coming from the back wheel of the rider’s MTB in front of you from going into your face.

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4. It shields your face from flying debris.

Sometimes, you may encounter trails where you are riding directly into the wind. A helmet visor protects your eyes and face from dust, insects, or debris that may come flying in your direction. It will also keep your goggles or sunglasses clean if you’re wearing one with your helmet.

If the weather is a bit cold, the blowing wind can sting, make your eyes water, and possibly slow you down. A helmet visor will shield your eyes, so you can ride at faster speeds even in cold, windy weather.

Mountain biker wearing full padding and full-face helmet.

5. It helps prevent crashes and accidents.

Biking on single-track trails with low-hanging branches can be a tricky situation. You need to focus on the trail while keeping your head safe from obstacles such as leaves, twigs, and branches. If your helmet doesn’t have a visor, you have to deflect such obstacles on trails with your arms and hands.

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Doing this may compromise your safety because you’re only using one hand to control your mountain bike. Plus, your attention is divided among several factors, including protecting your face, maintaining your preferred speed, and staying on the right track.

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But if you have a helmet with a visor on, you can focus better on the trail ahead as the visor takes care of keeping your head protected.

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6. It cushions impact.

In the event of a crash, the helmet visor dissipates impact forces applied to the skull and your brain, reducing the severity of head injuries. The visor may chip, shatter, or break away from the helmet, but it keeps your nose, teeth, and other parts of your face in the right place.

7. It can serve as a mount for other cycling accessories.

The helmet visor offers a suitable spot where you can mount accessories to enhance your riding experience. If you want to record your trail-blazing adventures, you can mount a POV camera on your visor. When you like to ride at night or if you are biking on dimly lit trails, you can attach a night light to the visor. Other accessories that you can mount on a visor are goggles strap clips and even a storage bag.

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Types of Helmet Visors

Helmet visors come in different shapes and sizes, but there are two main types.

1. Fixed or Built-in Visors

This type of visor is typically integrated into the helmet. Some helmet models come with a visor that’s permanently attached to the outer shell. Other helmets have visors you can adjust up or down, depending on the weather, or for when you want to stash a pair of goggles underneath.

Fixed or built-in visors are ideal if you’re biking on narrow trails or pleasant weather. They can be a hindrance during falls or crashes because you can land on the visor and the impact might cause damage to your head and face.

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2. Detachable Visors

Detachable visors typically come with a powerful magnet, snap-in plastic stems or tool-free screws so you can easily remove and re-attach it to the helmet. They are commonly longer and wider than built-in visors, so they provide ultimate protection, especially in poor weather.

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1. What’s the difference between mountain bike helmets and road bike helmets?

What differentiates a road biking helmet from an MTB helmet is that the former doesn’t have a visor. The primary reason for this is road bikers need to have an unobstructed vision of the road ahead of them. Road bikers instead wear goggles or sunglasses to protect their eyes from the elements.

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Mountain bike rider cornering on wooded hillside trail.
Image by Adrián Gómez – Millán Díaz from Pixabay

2. Do you need to use a visor all the time?

Professional mountain bikers have mixed opinions about wearing visors every time you hit the trails. The answer ultimately depends on your level of comfort and concern for your safety. Wearing a visor is ideal if you’re a trail rider and you like the challenge of overcoming rough trails. While a visor may limit your vision, it provides additional protection for your skull and face.

However, if you’re riding your mountain bike to commute in the city or within your neighborhood, you may not need to use the visor, so you can have a better vision of your surroundings. Another instance where using a visor may not be beneficial is cross-country mountain biking. Cross-country mountain bikers ride at faster speeds and would lean down to keep their momentum.

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Rosalyn Gonzaga-Tacang

A graduate in Psychology from the University of Santo Tomas, Rosalyn chose a career as an HR practitioner focusing on performance management, total rewards management, research, and policy development. As a gifted writer, Rosalyn turned her hand to part-time freelance writing and has contributed articles to several websites over recent years including e-commerce product descriptions and general content on such diverse topics as business, marketing, psychology, travel, lifestyle, and home improvements. Outside of her work focus, she loves to spend quality time with her husband and children.

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