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Best Motorcycle Helmet Reviews: A Buyer’s Guide For 2017

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​I think you will agree with me that there are too many helmets to choose from?

The right motorcycle helmet will do more than make you look good. It could save your life. While you may decide to save money on some parts of your gear, you should always buy the best rated motorcycle helmet you can afford. Yes. Don't skimp on a quality helmet because it will mostly like be the best safety equipment you can buy when riding a motorcycle. 

Choosing a new motorcycle helmet can be intimidating, even if you have ridden bikes for many years. The choice of top motorcycle helmets available today in terms of style, design, and safety features is almost overwhelming. The top rated motorcycle helmets each have their own pros and cons, which may be the way it is made, the price or simply the color.

What you choose to buy is a personal decision but one that could have major consequences. Don’t rush it, take your time and evaluate each option.

The following guide will take you through the styles available, with reviews on the best-selling helmets and a motorcycle helmet comparison. Before we figure out what is the best motorcycle helmet for you, let's find out the different types of helmet available.

 Best Motorcycle Helmet Comparison Table

Picture

Helmet

Type of Helmet

Key Feature

Price

Rating

1Storm Motorcycle Street Bike ModularFlip up Dual Visor Sun Shield Full Face Helmet Glossy Black

Modular

Beautiful Glossy UV Protective Finish

$

Matte Flat Black Full Face Motorcycle Helmet DOT 2 Visors Comes with Clear Shield and Free Smoked Sh

Matte Black Full Face Motorcycle Helmet DOT +2 Visor 

Full Face

Stainless Steel Dual D-Rings Strap

$

VCAN V531 Cruiser Solid Flat Black X-Large Half Helmet

VCAN V531 Solid Flat Black Half Helmet

Half Helmet

Top quality ABS thermoplastic resin shell that meets and exceeds DOT standards

$

IV2 BIOHAZARD High Performance Dual Sport Motocross ATV Dirt Bike Helmet DOT

Bio-hazard Matte Black Dual Visor Full Face Motorcycle Helmet DOT

Full Face

New and Improved Retractable Sun Visor Control; Glove-friendly Easy Controls

$

Fuel Helmets SH-FF0014 Full Face Helmet, Gloss Black

Fuel Helmets SH-FF0016 Full Face Helmet, Gloss Black, Large

Full Face

Removable cheek pads for easy cleaning

$

Scorpion EXO-500 Helmet - Large/Matte Black

Scorpion EXO-500 Helmet - Matte Black

Full Face

AirFit Inflatable Cheek Pad System

$$

HJC IS-MAX II Modular Motorcycle Helmet Anthracite X-Large

Modular

One-touch Integrated SunShield (HJ-V5)

$$

Bell MX-9 Adventure Solid Helmet - Large/Matte Black

Bell MX-9 Adventure Solid Helmet - Matte Black

Dualsport

Velocity Flow Ventilation system for cooling and comfort

$$

Shoei RF-1200 Helmet - Matte Black

Full Face

E.Q.R.S. (Emergency Quick-Release System) CWR-1 Shield System

$$$

Arai Signet-Q Helmet (Sapphire Silver, X-Large)

Arai Signet-Q Helmet (Black Frost, Medium)

Full Face

SAI MAX-Vision Brow Vent shield

$$$$

Different Types of Helmets To Choose From

Among the many types of motorcycle helmet on the market, some can serve a dual purpose, such as road and off-road riding, while others cater for personal preference like full-face versus open-face.

It is not just their look that separates the helmets. The construction may be different which can dramatically affect the price. Before making your choice, you need to decide what you type of riding you will be doing and where. A full-face helmet with Bluetooth may be ideal for touring, but look very out of place among a group of Harley riders out for a Sunday afternoon cruise.

Expensive doesn’t always mean it is one of the best helmets for motorcycles nor does cheap mean unsafe. These days there are legally established, high quality standards in place to protect the biker. Always check your helmet meets those standards.

Let’s now consider some of the most common types of helmet available:

Open Face Helmets: For Riders Who Want More Freedom When Riding

LS2 Helmets OF569 Open Face Motorcycle Helmet (Solid Pearl White, X-Small)

Open-face helmets, also known as three-quarters, retain their popularity despite providing less protection for the lower face and jaw. Their attraction comes from the feeling of greater freedom when riding, with your face open to the elements, something you don’t experience in a full-face helmet.

Greater visibility is offered by open-face helmets and they typically weigh less than most other styles. Some come with a wraparound visor but it is not just the wind that may blow in your face, so you need some form of eye covering to keep the bugs out. In some states, it is a legal requirement for a wearer of an open-faced helmet to have a visor, glasses or goggles.

With no chin piece in the way, communication with your buddies is easier off and on the bike. When you stop to admire a view, there is no need to yank the helmet off like you would with a full-face model.

The trade-off between the extra safety and the loss of freedom lies with you, the biker.

Dual Sport Helmets: For On and Off Road Riding

Gmax GM11D Dual Sport Adventure Full Face Helmet (Flat Black/Hi-Viz, Large)

The dual sport helmet is a combination style for bikers who spend as much time on the road as they do riding off road. With the rise in popularity of bikes designed to do both, it was inevitable that helmet design would follow.

The shape is longer than a typical full-face helmet, with a visor positioned to shield your eyes from the sun. There are vents built into the helmet to ensure better airflow.

Early models suffered from aerodynamic issues on the freeway but these have been sorted out. Modern designs have incorporated many road safety features and now provide better stability when riding along the freeway. With the ability to remove the peak on some newer models, they can serve extremely well as on-road helmets.

Some cheaper models still suffer from noise through the vents when riding fast on the road but most bikers who wear dual sport helmets consider this a small price to pay for the convenience.

Full Face Helmets: If You Want Full Protection All The Way Around

SHOEI Gt-air Wanderer Tc-5 Size:MED Motorcycle Full-face-helmet

As its name implies, the full-face helmet covers the entire face, with a cut-out across the eyes and nose, which is normally covered by a visor. Some helmets are designed to incorporate accessories, such as Bluetooth for communicating with other bikers or listening to GPS instructions.

Some bikers dislike the claustrophobic feel of this type of helmet and believe the diminished sensation of wind and reduced hearing take away some of the joy of riding. Others maintain that this is not a problem but part of their attraction. With the head enclosed in the helmet, the rider is less exposed to the elements and the ride is normally quieter. The aerodynamic shape may also prevent neck strain on long journeys.

Ultimately, a full-face helmet will provide greater protection in the event of an accident. With 35% of crashes involving an impact in the chin area, the helmet safeguards your lower face and jaw.

Half Helmets: For Cruisers or Harley Riders

Bell Pit Boss Helmet - X-Large/2X-Large/Matte Black

Half helmets, also known as skull caps or ‘shorties’, are still very popular with Harley riders, although there is a drift by some toward wearing safer helmets.

The half helmet is similar in design to open-face helmets but it doesn’t extend so far down, leaving the side of the face and base of the skull badly exposed. These helmets, despite their design still receive the DOT safety sticker. It is important that any ‘shorty’ purchased comes with a genuine DOT approval sticker and is not just a novelty item.

The helmet is light, with wearers claiming they are more comfortable and, by not covering the ears, have a better ability to hear what is happening around them. It also provides the best visibility offered by any helmet on the market.

This is the least safe legal helmet allowed on the road, giving no protection against the elements, bugs or dirt.

Dirt Bike Helmets: If Your Sitting More Upright and Off-Road It Works Better

Shoei Solid VFX-W Off-Road/Dirt Bike Motorcycle Helmet - Matte Black / Large

The dirt bike helmet is similar to a full-faced helmet but with a broader cut-out to allow you to wear goggles and typically has an angular chin piece, rather than a rounded one. The chin guard and goggles will protect you against the worst of the dirt and debris thrown up while off-road riding. A peak or visor keeps the sun from your eyes.

The cut-out allows air to freely flow through during the exertion involved in riding off-road, to keep you cool. There are also additional vents to dissipate the heat you generate.

Dirt bike helmets can, if DOT approved, be used on the road but their design does not make them ideal. During off-road riding you will sit more upright, so the aerodynamics of the helmet are different to that for a road bike. Continued on-road use, especially at speed, may cause neck strain due to the visor and the shape of the helmet.

Modular Helmets: For Riders That Want Both Worlds at the Same Time

Hawk ST-1198 Transition 2 in 1 Black Modular Helmet - Large

Modular helmets or flip ups as they are also known, are increasing in popularity. They combine the benefits of an open-face helmet with the protection of a full-face helmet, leading some to call them the best street motorcycle helmet.

The helmet is primarily designed to be used as a full-face helmet but the chin bar and visor can be lifted up, leaving you with what is essentially an open-face helmet. This will enable you to chat more easily or enjoy a drink when parked, without having to remove the helmet. The way the chin bar and visor are moved out of the way, either swung up or removed altogether, varies by manufacturer so always check it does what you expect.

One downside with modular helmets is their weight. Another problem with some designs is because it is not a proper full-face helmet, so there can be issues with wind noise and rain.

Overview of the Top 5 Helmets To Save Time & Research

1. Shoei RF-1200 Helmet - Matte Black

If you want to invest in a premium helmet brand, Shoei is definitely one of the top motorcycle helmet brands in the world.

Shoei made this helmet from its popular RF-1100 model and improved upon its strengths and kept what was great about the older helmet. The shell has improved with Shoei’s AIM+ Matrix construction to a more aerodynamic and compact shape to help with wind noise and buffeting.

It is also built with a more aggressive design that comes with a slimmer line and shape which made it lighter than the RF-1100.

For safety it is DOT and Snell rated and with its elaborate design there are much more to desire with this masterpiece. Having to own this helmet myself, it is a very quiet helmet on the road especially above the 60mph mark where most helmet gets noisier. The padding and liners inside the helmet are well sealed and intact which adds to the quietness and comfort of this helmet.

The vents are well located throughout the center line of the helmet and what we really liked was the back vent of this helmet beneath the spoiler that can be adjusted with a switch to keep the hot moisture out of the helmet for maximum riding comfort.

The face shield which is the newer CWR-1 face shield made with polycarbonate, makes it tough against the wind and locks tight into the rubber seal creating a quiet ride. What we liked again was the pinlock pins on the face shield to put a anti fog shield which creates a double pane effect for anti fogging and  maximum visibility for those brisk days.

If you’re looking for a helmet in the high end or premium market for the first time or had one before, this is the way to go without a doubt. 

Arai Signet-Q Helmet (Sapphire Silver, X-Large)

It is not hard to see why Arai has become respected the most top rated motorcycle helmet manufacturer in the motorcycle space.

The Signet Q is the newer version of the old RX-Q which already set the standard for quality, comfort and safety long ago. The shell is super light and strong with its CLC Shell Construction Arai uses. The air vents are well located throughout the helmet with top rear exhaust vents letting the warm moist air get sucked out for added comfort. What we did like about the Signet Q though is the brow vents they made on the face shield itself.

Warm air will go through those vents and through the temple area and goes out through the rear side wing exhaust vents. Super detailed and smart design! It doesn’t end there. The pinlock system on the face shield will create a double pane window effect where it doesn’t let moisture fog up for maximum visibility.

Being a premium high end helmet, the Signet Q is designed with exotic materials to not only keep your head safe, but have a reliable top of the line helmet to keep for years without having to upgrade into a different helmet soon.

3. Bell MX-9 Adventure Solid Helmet - Matte Black

Bell MX-9 Adventure Solid Helmet - Matte Black

This helmet is makes it to one of our favorites with its dual sport design and versatility that can be worn both the street or on the dirt trail. Its outer shell is made with polycarbonate which makes this a lightweight helmet for easy maneuverability.

The style is aggressive with its fighter jet inspired look and the peak comes off completely by removing the three screws that are on the side and top of the helmet just in case you’re heading for the street.

Another thing we like about this helmet is the opening of the eye port and shield which you can fit a set of motorcycle goggles for the adventure riders who prefers a dirt bike style.

The air vents are wide and spread across the centerline of the helmet for maximum airflow and keeps it nice and cool on a hot riding day. The interior lining is made to absorb moisture that is anti-microbial which can be removed along with the cheek pads for cleaning which is a plus. For safety, it is DOT certified and rated so it can be trusted in an unexpected accident.

With all of these features in at an affordable price, this makes a great functional helmet for any rider who wants the best of both worlds.

4. Scorpion EXO-500 Helmet - Large/Matte Black

Scorpion EXO-500 Helmet - Large/Matte Black

It goes without saying the EXO’s are amongst the most popular helmets in the Scorpion line. This is a more scaled down version of the EXO 1000. This particular helmet is lighter weight and more affordable than the EXO1000. It will not feel like your wearing a brick over your head. The fit is more of a round-oval fit.

One of the cool things about this helmet is will have a ‘AirFit Inflatable Cheek Pad System’. You can customize the inner cheek pads by pressing on the pump to inflate the bladders. If you feel like your cheeks are too tightly squeezed hit the release button and voila! you can have your normal face back.

It features two updated chimney vents on the top and a single chin vent providing better airflow than the other EXO’s. The helmet also features an anti-fog retractable sun visor so you wouldn’t have to worry about opening up the chin vent to defog your shield. The design on the back of the helmet has a spoiler attached so the airflows over the curved surface perfectly.

The two vents in the rear are exhausts where the hot air in your helmet leaves as your riding keeping your head cool. One thing unique about this EXO500 is it has a three-position shield mechanism that has the lock and open positions. However it also offers a position to just crack it open slightly in the bottom. So just incase the weather doesn’t permit you to open the whole visor but you need ventilation, it’ll come in handy especially for a rider like myself.

I also love the retractable sun visor (which are usually on higher end helmets) because I swear I can’t see anything sometimes when riding. Finally most importantly if your going to keep this helmet for long term your going to want the shells to come out so you can wash them easily. Obviously Scorpion thought of that when they built this masterpiece. Personally this is one of my favorite helmets not only because of the price point, but it gives so much value to the rider for the money. You cannot go wrong by choosing this helmet.

HJC IS-MAX II Modular Motorcycle Helmet Anthracite X-Large

Their slogan is number one in the world. And while that is pretty debatable, what can't be denied is that they make one hell of a motorcycle Helmet.

The IS-MAX II is no exception.

It all starts with making use of advanced polycarbonate composite to craft the shell. From there the upmost emphasis is placed on the comfort and safety of an adjustable chin bar. When the sun shield slides down HJC utilizes the very best in UV protection to ensure that you not only see what lies ahead, but also what surrounds you.

Inside, the helmet no expense seems to have been spared with the use of ultra comfortable padding stitched over with sweat resistant nylon. All that is complemented with what we believe is one of the best interior ventilation systems we've seen.

The colors available are as versatile as the helmet itself, boasting six to choose from. (Our favorite is Anthracite, but that's just us.)

If you're looking for one of the highest quality best reviewed motorcycle helmets available today, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.

Motorcycle Helmets For Those On A Serious Budget...

1. Matte Black Full Face Motorcycle Helmet DOT +2 Visor by IV2

Matte Flat Black Full Face Motorcycle Helmet DOT 2 Visors Comes with Clear Shield and Free Smoked Sh

IV2 is one of the top motorcycle helmet brands and the Matte Black Full Face helmet is their best street bike helmet according to reviews. Coming with DOT approval, it has a shell made from ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and an EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) inner liner for impact absorption.

The cheek pads are removable for cleaning. Modern construction techniques result in this stylish helmet weighing only 2.3 pounds, making it amazingly light while retaining its strength.

The helmet comes in several sizes so you can be sure of a good fit. The chin strap has stainless steel double D-rings to keep the helmet securely fastened. The two visors, clear and smoked, are interchangeable and easily removed. The aerodynamic design make it easy to wear at high speeds and helps with wind buffeting and resistance.

There are vents at the front and back of the helmet to allow enough air for comfort but without creating unnecessary noise.

2. VCAN V531 Solid Flat Black Half Helmet

VCAN V531 Cruiser Half Helmet (Solid Gloss Black, Large)

Looking good while remaining safe are key requirements for any helmet and the VCAN 531 is both stylish and exceeds the DOT approval standards. Weighing only 2.6 pounds, this is one of the lightest helmets available for the price and one of the top selling motorcycle helmets.

The shell is made from high-quality ABS thermoplastic, and finished in black gloss for a stunning effect. The EPS inner lining provides the impact absorption needed to protect your head. It is easy to wear, coming in five different sizes, so you can be sure you’ll find the right one for you.

With exceptional peripheral vision, the helmet gives you the freedom to wear the sunglasses you want. Its low cost makes this the best value motorcycle helmet you can buy.

The helmet is held in place by a nylon strap secured by an adjustable double D-ring. There is a small removable visor, held in place by screws for greater strength.

3. Fuel Helmets SH-FF0016 Full Face Helmet, Gloss Black

Fuel Helmets SH-FF0014 Full Face Helmet, Gloss Black

Fuel Helmets have been in business since 1999. Their SH-F0016 Full Face Helmet is one of the best rated motorcycle helmets. It has a shell made from lightweight thermoplastic to provide maximum protection for you and the inner lining of EPS. This outer shell is designed to absorb the initial impact by the way it deforms and will also prevent injury from sharp objects.

The EPS liner safeguards your brain as it compresses, decelerating your head inside the helmet and preventing tissue damage.

For a budget helmet, approved by DOT, this model delivers safety and quality. There are two vents to allow the air to circulate freely and keep you cool, reducing fogging of the visor. It is reasonably light and designed to be comfortable, with foam padding in the places where it touches your head. The non-polarized visor is easily detachable, as are the cheek pads for easy cleaning. The helmet comes in black and weighs 4.5 pounds.

4. Bio-hazard Matte Black Dual Visor Full Face Motorcycle Helmet DOT (L)

IV2 BIOHAZARD High Performance Dual Sport Motocross ATV Dirt Bike Helmet DOT

Another winning helmet from IV2, this model carries unique art work making it one of the best looking motorcycle helmets around. Safety is not compromised by its stylish design, and the helmet meets the DOT requirements easily.

The shell is made from a lightweight ABS composite to give you the best possible protection in the unfortunate event of an accident. The EPS inner shell has been designed to absorb the impact to safeguard your most important organ, your brain.

For comfort, vents allow free movement of air. The liner will soak up any sweat but is fully removable for easy washing to ensure hygiene and minimise unwanted odour.

The retractable sun visor has been redesigned and improved. Wearing gloves is necessary on a bike but can cause problems when you are trying to fiddle with your helmet. The Bio-hazard has controls designed to be glove-friendly. The straps use double D-rings to secure the helmet.

5. 1Storm Motorcycle Street Bike Modular/Flip up Dual Visor/Sun Shield Full Face Helmet Matt Black

1Storm Motorcycle Street Bike ModularFlip up Dual Visor Sun Shield Full Face Helmet Glossy Black

It is not hard to see why the 1Storm Modular motorcycle helmet is consistently one of the top rated motorcycle helmets.

These popular helmets combine the complete protection of a full-face helmet when you are riding, with the ease of communication of an open-face when stopped simply by lifting the visor. DOT approval is a sign that you are buying a helmet that doesn’t just combine the best of both worlds but meets legally required government approved safety standards.

One problem with modular helmets has been their weight, but 1Storm has overcome this by using a lightweight but strong thermoplastic alloy. The smoked visor has a UV protective coating to protect your eyes when you ride in bright sunshine.

Designed for comfort as well as safety, the foam liner can be removed and washed. The helmet comes in many sizes to enable you to get one that fits perfectly.

Other Quality Brands

IV2 Helmets​

IV2 feature heavily among the top ten motorcycle helmets, but other brands have features that set them apart. The first two are more expensive than those reviewed above which reduces the volumes of sales, but they are classed as among the best motorcycle helmet brands available today.

Shoei Helmets

Shoei is a Japanese helmet manufacturer, known for its high-quality products and innovative designs. The company has a loyal following of bikers, who consider these to be top of the line motorcycle helmets.

Arai Helmets

Arai is another helmet maker from Japan, with an equally strong following who believe this company makes the best helmet for a motorcycle. They have been in the business since 1926 and are famous for the consistent testing at every stage of the manufacture of their handmade helmets.

BILT Helmets

Bilt Helmets was previously an off-road brand, but now focuses on street gear and making good, reliable helmets for bikers. Some models incorporate technology such a Bluetooth.

Nolan Helmets

Nolan is an Italian company that has been making helmets since 1973. Their high-quality helmets meet the highest safety standards and are used by several top racers.

AGV Helmets

AGV is another Italian firm with a pedigree going back to 1947. World champion racers have used their helmets. All their helmets meet DOT standards and many in their range exceed the higher ECE safety rating.

Buying Guide: Pay Attention

There are several factors affecting comfort, such as size, the shape of your head and design features of the helmet that reduce noise.

  • Size: Choosing the right size is the first step in buying a comfortable helmet. Measure your head – or better still ask for help in doing so. The tape measure should go around your head about half an inch above your eyebrows and your ears, meeting at the back of the head at the widest point. Manufacturers will have a chart from which you can find out the size. Don’t rely on one manufacturer’s sizing being the same as another.
  • Shape: People’s heads vary not just in size but also in shape. Two bikers with the same head size might disagree on the fit of a particular helmet purely based on the head shape. Everyone’s head is more or less oval, so manufacturers tend to break the shapes into three main categories: long, intermediate and round.
  • Design Features: Some manufacturers make helmets for specific head shapes, e.g. intermediate, while others will produce models to suit different shapes. You will have some flexibility to modify the internal profile with padding but you need to make sure that whatever you buy is comfortable for your head shape.
  • Tips: It is recommended you wear the helmet for several minutes before buying, with the strap tightened as you would for riding. While wearing it, roll your head to make sure the fit is snug. Tilt your head down sharply to see if the helmet slides forward. The cheek pads should be touching but not pressing hard on your face and the same should be true for the padding against your forehead, touching but not with excessive pressure.
  • Test: After several minutes take the helmet off and check for places where you felt pressure. Are there red patches on your forehead? If you feel uncomfortable wearing the helmet for a short period, imagine how much worse it will be after an hour of buffeting by the wind on the open road.

Conclusion

Buying a new crash helmet is a daunting task for beginner and veteran rider alike. With so many new models to choose from and with technology advancing swiftly, it can be hard to make that decision. The first question should be what kind of riding will you be doing – off-road, touring or commuting? Choose the appropriate helmet and then look at the options. The best motorcycle helmets reviews will give you many to choose from.

We also have a post about other awesome helmets that'll turn heads when riding.

Whether you are looking for the best street bike helmet or the best value motorcycle helmet, ensure it fits well.

If a helmet is not comfortable, your journeys will be miserable and you may end up not wearing it (if the law in your state allows you the choice). Either way, the outcome could be disastrous.

Choose the right helmet for you and enjoy riding in style and safety.

To Our Readers and Fans...

If you thought this post was helpful in finding the right helmet for you, be sure to check out our post about best jackets for motorcycle riding to have your body protected at all times riding. We've done some great reviews on jackets we thought was the best in quality, value, and safety for any riders out there looking for the best gears.

​Thank you so much for reading and please use our site to help you find the best gears outdoors and join our community by subscribing to share your stories and expertise on No Place Like Out.  We also plan on doing giveaways for your favorite gears so be sure to get updated with our drawings as well!

Cool Preview of Future Helmet Designs...

Product images sourced from Amazon.com

About the author

Chris Henderson

Chris is a motorcycle enthusiast. He loves motorcycles and is passionate about keeping the best gears for any riding conditions. His goal is to provide readers with useful information so that they may choose the best products that are on the market today.

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