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Shopping Guide for Best Motorcycle Helmets

Riding a motorcycle can be a fun and thrilling experience, but because you’re so exposed, it’s also very dangerous. Riding without the right protective gear could get you seriously injured – or worse – even if you’re the most responsible driver.

When it comes to motorcycle safety gear, a helmet definitely tops the list. It’s very important to choose a high-quality motorcycle helmet that will keep you as safe as possible. Unfortunately, finding the ideal motorcycle helmet can be tricky. You need to know what material and weight are best for your riding habits, as well as what comfort features and safety standards can help make the helmet most effective.

At BestReviews, we use diligent research to formulate recommendations that are completely unbiased. Our goal is to pass along all the info you need to make the most educated shopping decision.

Ready to buy a motorcycle helmet? Take a look at the matrix above for our top recommendations. For general information about motorcycle helmets, please continue reading this shopping guide.

For motorcyclists, wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and lower the risk of death by 42%.

Types of Motorcycle Helmets

First things first: what type of motorcycle helmet should you get? Here’s a look at the five popular types.

Types

Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet

A full-face motorcycle helmet has a wrap-around chin bar and flip-down shield so your entire face is covered. This type of helmet offers the most protection while you’re riding.

Types

Open-Face Motorcycle Helmet

An open-face motorcycle helmet covers the top, crown, and back of your head while featuring a flip-down shield that makes it look similar to a full-face helmet. It doesn’t offer the same protection as a full-face helmet, but its visibility is usually better.

DID YOU KNOW?

Motorcycle helmets absorb the impact when your head hits the ground or another surface during an accident. As a result, your neck and spine don’t suffer as much impact, either.

Types

Dual-Sport Motorcycle Helmet

A dual-sport motorcycle helmet is designed for people who use both on- and off-road bikes. It combines the comfort of a street helmet with the style of an off-road helmet.

Types

Half-Shell Motorcycle Helmet

A half-shell motorcycle helmet covers only the top portion of your head, so there isn’t much coverage in the back of the head. It allows you to feel the wind on your face as you ride, but it offers little in the way of protection.

Types

Modular Motorcycle Helmet

A modular motorcycle helmet usually has a flip-up chin bar, so you can switch between a full-face and open-face configuration by simply pressing a button. It’s the most versatile type of motorcycle helmet available.

EXPERT TIP

A full-face motorcycle helmet offers the most protection when you’re riding.


Staff  | BestReviews

What Should I Look for in a Motorcycle Helmet?

What constitutes a good motorcycle helmet? We cover some of the most important facets below.

Considerations

Helmet Shell Material

The exterior shell of a motorcycle helmet can be made of variety of materials, including polycarbonate, carbon fiber, and fiberglass composite.

  • Polycarbonate tends to be the least-expensive material, and it flexes on impact.

  • Carbon fiber is a fairly expensive but lightweight motorcycle helmet material that absorbs energy evenly on impact.

  • Fiberglass composite is also a fairly expensive motorcycle helmet material. It can flex, crush, and split on impact.

DID YOU KNOW?

Motorcycle riders are approximately 16 times more likely to suffer a fatal crash than car drivers. Wearing helmet can reduce your risk by more than a third.

Considerations

Liner and Padding

A motorcycle helmet should have an impact-absorbing liner that provides further protection for your head. Look for a liner made of styrofoam or expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam that’s densely packed to properly deflect the impact of a hard fall. You should also choose a helmet that has some interior padding that cushions your head and ensures a snug fit.

Considerations

Helmet Weight

A motorcycle helmet shouldn’t be too heavy, or it may be uncomfortable to wear. However, if you choose a helmet that’s extremely lightweight and flimsy, you won’t get much in the way of protection. We advise potential buyers to look for a helmet that weighs about three pounds. This helps ensure that the helmet is both comfortable and as safe as possible.

EXPERT TIP

Keep your helmet clean by washing it with water and mild soap. Petroleum-based cleaners can damage the helmet’s outer surface.


Staff  | BestReviews
Considerations

Size and Fit

Most motorcycle helmets come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. It’s extremely important to get the fit right, or the helmet won’t provide the necessary protection.

A helmet should feel snug, so it’s in contact with most of your head and the sides of your face. But it shouldn’t be so tight that it puts a great deal of pressure on any one area. To get the proper fit, measure your head and consult the sizing chart for the brand that you’re considering to see which size is appropriate.

Considerations

Retention System

A motorcycle helmet’s retention system is the means by which it stays in place on your head. For most models, that means its chin strap. Look for a comfortable chin strap that will keep the helmet on your head should you have an accident.

All DOT-certified motorcycle helmets must provide at least 210-degree vision, which allows for more than normal peripheral vision so you’ll still be able to see everything that you normally would.

Staff
BestReviews
Considerations

Comfort

There are a variety of features that can make a motorcycle helmet more comfortable to wear. Vents and breath deflectors can keep your head and face from getting too warm inside a full-face motorcycle helmet. An integrated sunshade can help keep the glare from affecting you as you drive, while wind reduction measures can help ensure that your ride isn’t overly noisy.

Considerations

Safety Standards

To ensure that you’re buying a good motorcycle helmet, it’s important to check that it meets key safety regulations. Choose a helmet that adheres to the Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards; this will be a indicated by a DOT sticker on the back.

If you’re extremely concerned about the safety of your helmet, you may wish to select a model that’s approved by the Snell Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides stricter safety guidelines than even the DOT. You’ll find a Snell sticker on the back of helmets that meet Snell standards.

EXPERT TIP

A modular motorcycle helmet has a flip-up chin bar that allows you to easily switch between a full-face and open-face helmet configuration. If you’re looking for maximum versatility, consider a modular motorcycle helmet.


Staff  | BestReviews

How Much Should I Pay For a Motorcycle Helmet?

Motorcycle helmets vary in price based on style and other features, but you can typically expect to spend between $45 and $450.

Price

$45 to $100

Basic, lower-end motorcycle helmets generally fall in this price range.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Don’t put away your motorcycle helmet when it’s wet. Always dry it thoroughly to avoid mold growth.

Price

$100 to $250

Expect to pay somewhere in this price range for a mid-level motorcycle helmet.

Price

$250 to $450

High-end motorcycle helmets that are extremely durable tend to fall in this pricing tier.

EXPERT TIP

To help your helmet last as long as possible, it’s best to carry it in a bag. Avoid carrying it by the chin strap, which can get worn very easily.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • For the safest riding, you should buy a new motorcycle helmet every few years or after any accidents that you have.

  • Keep your helmet clean by washing it with water and mild soap. Petroleum-based cleaners can damage the helmet’s outer surface.

  • If your helmet’s face shield gets scratched, replace it quickly. A scratched shield can affect your ability to see where you’re going.

  • Store your helmet in a secure, flat area where it’s unlikely to fall and suffer damage. Keep it away from gasoline, cleaning products, and exhaust fumes as well.

For the safest riding, you should buy a new motorcycle helmet every few years or after any accidents that you have.

Motorcycle Helmet FAQ

Q. How should you measure your head for a motorcycle helmet?

A. To figure out the proper size for your helmet, wrap a fabric tape measure around the widest part of your head, which is typically right above your eyebrows and just above your ears. It also helps to know what shape your head is when choosing a size.

  • A long, oval shape means your head is longer front-to-back than it is side-to-side.

  • An intermediate oval refers to a head that’s slightly longer from front to back than from side to side.

  • A round oval means that your front-to-back and side-to-side head measurements are the same.
     

Q. What features should you avoid on a motorcycle helmet?

A. Some features that are designed to make a helmet visually appealing can actually be dangerous. Stay away from helmets with spikes or protrusions that extend beyond two-tenths of an inch. You should also stay away from helmets that are extremely flimsy, because they don’t offer much in the way of protection. That means you should avoid helmets that weigh less than one pound.

Q. How can you tell if a helmet fits properly?

A. A helmet’s cheek pads should touch your face but not press on it too much. Check the fit around your temples and brows to make sure there aren’t any gaps there. If you’re using a full-face helmet, the face shield should not come into contact with your nose or chin.

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