Motorcycle helmets are designed to keep you safe on the road, and while they cannot prevent fatalities every time, in the event of an accident, the best motorcycle helmet will come equipped with all the right features that can provide ultimate protection to the head and neck area. Many of the leading models on the market are best-sellers for all the wrong reasons. As a new motorcyclist, it can be hard to find a helmet that not only looks good, but one that’s comfortable to wear, offers the right type of padding, and one that fits the way it should.
In many cases, helmets are popular mainly because of aesthetics. But you need more than just a helmet that makes you look cool. You need one that you won’t be embarrassed to wear and one that won’t cause you to sweat excessively, or fit too loose or too tight. The best motorcycle helmet brands offer some of the coolest, safest designs on the market. So, I’ve made it my mission to review many of the leading models to learn more and find out which models have what it takes to keep you safe, comfortable, and looking great. Below is a comparison chart that provides you with some important information concerning a model’s style, type, and weight.
Motorcycle Helmets Comparison Chart
1Storm Motorcycle Modular Full Face Helmet
This is a lightweight modular helmet that provides the type of protection you need for ultimate rider safety. Unlike a standard full-face helmet, this model will allow you to pull away the chin bar area of the helmet in order to enjoy the feel of fresh air on your face. The extensive ventilation system will also promote user comfort, keeping you cool on the road. The fact that this model is lighter than your average modular helmet is a big selling point since you won’t experience user fatigue or neck strain, thus allowing you to ride your bike longer, in total comfort.
Bell Qualifier Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet
This model by Bell earned a high score for its lightweight design and durability. This is a full-face model, so you know it will keep you well protected out on the road. The helmet’s aerodynamic design will reduce drag by allowing the wind to fly over and around the helmet. The ventilation system is designed to keep you cool while you ride, but if the vents are left wide open, you can expect to experience a high level of wind noise inside the helmet. The built-in visor is another great feature and it comes with an anti-fog coating that will keep your visor clear even if you’re riding in extremely humid weather and high temperatures.
However, the clear shield will not provide any type of protection against bright sunlight. Because of this, you may want to consider selecting a new visor for your motorcycle helmet, if you want a shield that provides protection against harmful UV rays and bright sunlight.
ILM Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
This top-selling model by ILM is a full-face helmet that features a thick removable liner that is made out of moisture-wicking material that’s designed to keep you dry and cool. The helmet is also DOT approved and features a quick-release clasp system that makes it easy to take the helmet off and put it on. The aerodynamic design will reduce drag, and prevents the wind from lifting the helmet off your head when you’re riding at top speeds.
ILM Motorcycle Dual Visor Flip up Modular Full Face Helmet
Modular helmets are one of the most popular styles of helmets on the market, due to their comfortable, versatile design that allows you to experience the road in a whole new way. This lightweight modular helmet by ILM features built-in LED lights that are adjustable and designed to keep you highly visible on the road. The ventilation system will keep you nice and cool on the road, even in high temperatures, while the lightweight design promotes longer use and rider comfort. Despite its lighter weight, the helmet is impressively durable and designed to keep you safe, providing ultimate protection from force in the event of an accident.
Vega Helmets Warrior Motorcycle Half Helmet
If you’re looking for a helmet that’s designed to keep you cool and provide the type of freedom you need on the open road, then you’ll love this half helmet by Vega. The thick EPS foam is designed to protect against impact, while the moisture-wicking material works to pull moisture away from the skin to keep you dry as you ride around in hot weather. The durable helmet is available in several sizes and color options, so you can pick the perfect model to match your style.
1Storm Dual Sport Motorcycle Motocross Full-Face Helmet
This is an off-roading full-face helmet that provides the rider with the best of both worlds. The low-profile design will allow you to use the helmet when you’re riding on the road, while the lightweight, durable design will keep you safe and protected when you’re riding over challenging terrain. The high-gloss finish features a UV protective coating that will prevent the color from fading over time. It also comes equipped with a couple of built-in visors that will protect your face from flying debris and can be used in a variety of light conditions.
Motorcycle Helmets Buyer’s Guide
If you don’t know what type of motorcycle helmet to choose, then this buyer’s guide will give you all the info you need to make an educated decision, while discussing the features available and more.
Choosing the best motorcycle helmet isn’t all about picking one that looks cool and works for your style. A helmet should provide the type of protection needed to keep you safe in the event of an accident. However, it should also be comfortable enough to actually encourage you to keep it on. The type of helmet you wear is what will determine how much safety it provides. This means the helmet should feature a durable design, interior padding, and it should offer the type of fit that will work for your head size and even basic riding conditions.
Fit is Everything
When a head experiences a strong force upon impact, it’s partially up to the interior lining in the helmet to absorb a significant amount of force to protect your head and a portion of the neck. This means the helmet you buy cannot have too much space between your head and the helmet. If it does, then you’re simply setting yourself up for a serious injury or worse. Additionally, models that have built-in slip liners can provide more protection since this type of padding system is designed to reduce the injuries linked to rotational forces. If the liner in the helmet doesn’t contour to your head then it will not work the way it’s supposed to.
While a loose-fitting helmet is definitely a recipe for disaster, a helmet that’s too tight can also negatively impact the helmet’s protection. If there is too little space between the head and the helmet it will be uncomfortable to wear. In some cases, a tight fit can cause pain and will be very distracting as you ride, which can minimize your road awareness and may even slow your reflexes, if your mind is more focused on how uncomfortable you are.
Regarding fit, not all helmets can deliver the type of fit and comfort you’re looking for. However, you shouldn’t have to pay big to get a helmet that will fit well and provide the type of protection it’s supposed to.
Riding in Style
The best motorcycle brands will offer a variety of helmet styles, sizes, and color schemes to choose from. But only the leading companies will equip their helmets with top of the line impact padding and offer a variety of size options, allowing you to purchase a helmet that fits your head like a glove.
If you’re new to riding, then choosing the style of helmet you should wear will be the first step. There are many different styles to choose from, which can make shopping for a helmet an overwhelming process. So, where should you even start? There are few basic types of helmets to choose from, and many variations of these styles.
Open Face, Half-Helmets, ¾ Helmets
The open face helmet provides the least amount of protection and it’s also considered the least restrictive. This style allows for improved airflow because the shell of the helmet will not cover your face or chin. These helmets are also referred to as half helmets and they’re basically designed to only cover the top portion of the head. Half helmets, open face helmets, and ¾ helmets will all fall into this category and feature small variations that make them slightly different, whether one variation offers slightly more protection along the back of the skull, or a lower helmet provides more protection around the face.
Full-face helmets can provide full protection because the design totally encloses the head. The large face shield will protect the rider’s eyes and nose, while the shell design features a chin bar that will cover the bottom of the face. These helmets can be difficult to wear for long periods of time and in hot weather since they lack the type of breathability that the open face helmet offers. But many riders will choose this style over the other options since they offer the highest level of protection.
This helmet style is very similar to a full-face model, however, the release button will allow you to pull away the front portion of the helmet. This is accomplished via a hinge mechanism that’s designed to swing away the helmet’s face shield and the chin bar portion of the helmet. This will allow the rider to enjoy the benefits of the type of protection the full face helmet offers, while experiencing the type of breathability that the half helmet offers. But these helmets are also considerably heavier compared to a full face or half helmet because of the large hinge mechanism.
These helmets also have a reputation for high wind noise, however, the added weight and noisy interior are often the tradeoffs for the convenience of removing the front portion of the helmet for improved breathability.
After you’ve chosen a style, then the next step is choosing the size based on your unique head shape. People will fall into one of the three categories:
- Round oval
- Intermediate oval
- Long oval
If you’re able to try a helmet on at a store, before you order online for a better price, then you can get a better feel of how comfortable or uncomfortable a particular model is. To determine which fit will work for you, begin by flattening your hair down since this can obscure your head size. Is your head thin and long, almost round, or is it somewhere in between? If you’re not certain what type of head shape you have, go with oval, since it’s the most common head shape.
Now, check out the different sizes available. Sizing a helmet can be a complicated process since a head size measurement isn’t commonly used in everyday life. You may know your waist size, but the odds are you’ve probably never measured your head. However, it’s actually pretty simple to measure. Grab a soft measuring tape and run it around the back of your head and above your eyebrows. If you don’t have a soft measuring tape then you can use a long piece of string and measure it against a regular measuring tape for an accurate measurement. Next, you’ll compare your measurement to a brand’s sizing chart to determine which size will work for you.
Top of the line helmets can be pricey, so I recommend ordering a new model online. But this can be a challenge if you’ve never worn a helmet before, or you’re uncertain about a particular model’s measurements and whether or not the helmet will work for you. Because of this, I recommend trying helmets on in-store, then ordering the same model online, for less. This way, you’ll get the perfect helmet, one that’s comfortable and offers the best fit, for a price that’s more affordable. If you’re not able to try on some helmets in a store before you order, then make sure you take the time to try on the helmet before you test it out on your bike. When the helmet arrives, try it on and keep in mind that the helmet may feel tighter than expected. This is due to the thick interior padding, which is designed to provide additional protection, upon impact.
A Tight Fit
If the helmet fits tight, this is totally normal. Make sure you adjust the straps for improved comfort. If the helmet is incredibly uncomfortable, then you may need to order a size up. If the helmet feels too tight, measure your head again and compare it to the dimensions of the helmet. If the helmet has similar measurements, then you’ve measured accurately and the helmet should begin to feel more comfortable the longer you wear it, since the padding may need time to conform to the shape of your head.
If the helmet you’ve ordered fits the way it’s meant to, then you’ll feel the pressure of the cushions against your cheeks. Your cheeks may be pushed up slightly. If you have a full-face helmet, grab the chin bar, latch it in place, and move it around. As you move it, your cheeks will move, not the shell of the helmet. If the shell slides, then you’ll need to order a helmet that’s a size smaller. If the helmet feels too tight, remember, it needs to be broken in. Breaking it in should only require approximately twenty hours of riding time. If it still feels too tight after this period, then you’ll need to go up a size.
If you’re concerned about the fit of your helmet, and it’s simply not comfortable enough, there are options out there. Some cyclists will purchase different pads to modify the fit of their helmet. Or you can choose a helmet that allows you to adjust a dial, which will impact the fit of the pads, by reducing how much space the pads are taking up inside the helmet, or the dial can increase it. Unfortunately, not all helmets will come with this feature. If you think that the helmet fits almost perfectly, after the break-in period, then you can try using different liners or pads for a slight adjustment. The size of the pad is marked on the back, so you’ll have to take the padding out to see what size it is. Some manufacturers will have cheek pads that are precut, so all you’ll have to do is peel off a layer or two, for a more comfortable fit.
Wearing Your New Helmet
Try wearing the helmet for a few weeks to see if any pressure points begin to develop. If your new helmet is causing pressure points that are uncomfortable, after only a short time of riding, then wearing the helmet for an hour or two can be incredibly painful. Start by wearing the helmet for just twenty minutes, around the house. While a tight fit is okay, if you feel the need to remove the helmet due to pain, then this is not the helmet for you. In most cases, if the helmet is the wrong fit, you’ll notice some pain right above the temples or on the forehead.
If you remove the helmet and you have a thick red line across your forehead, then you’ll need to try a new helmet. This indicates that the helmet is not long enough for your head shape. If the helmet is applying too much pressure to your temples, then the helmet is not round enough for your face shape. Wearing your helmet around the house to test it out is definitely recommended, especially if you’re planning a long trip. The last thing you want is to be caught on a long trip with an ill-fitting helmet that’s causing you pain and discomfort.
Breaking in a new helmet before a long ride is also recommended, so make sure you devote at least twenty hours to wearing your helmet prior to the big day. During this time, the helmet will mold to your head, for a better fit.
Once you’ve purchased a new helmet, you may run into some common issues concerning fit and comfort. Many riders complain that once they put on a helmet, their ears will fold over. But this is a common issue that you’ll experience with most types of helmets, regardless of fit. If the helmet is the right size, you should be able to push your ears back into a more natural position. Your ears should not hurt constantly when you wear your helmet. Once you’ve put your ears back into a natural position, they should no longer hurt. Basically, it will all be a matter of how the helmet fits and feels once you have correctly positioned it.
- If you’re struggling to figure out your head shape, even after you’ve flattened down your head as much as possible, go with the intermediate oval shape.
- If you’re not able to fit your head inside the helmet, even after you’ve consulted the brand’s sizing chart, then it may actually be the correct size. Some models will come equipped with more neckroll padding than others. To put the helmet on, you’ll grab it by both of its straps, using your thumbs to push down the straps, trapping them against the helmet. Next, you’ll spread the opening of the helmet slightly, then pull it on over your head. If it still feels too tight once it’s one, then you’ll need to go a size up.
- If you normally wear sunglasses or prescription glasses when you ride, you won’t have to worry about this impacting the size of the helmet you choose. These days, most models are designed to accommodate glasses. If you’re still concerned, test out the fit of the helmet with your glasses on. If it feels cumbersome, then you may have to just deal with it, especially if everything else fits perfectly, there’s just a snug fit on the glasses area. If you find that you can’t ride in comfort this way, then try a different style or model. If possible, you can also try switching styles of glasses.
If you’ve been in an accident and the helmet looks intact and relatively unscathed, you should still replace the helmet. Even if the helmet appears to be undamaged or it only has a few minor scrapes or dings, it may have severe damage to the structure of the helmet that you simply can’t see. Because of this, every serious rider knows how important it is to replace the helmet before they ride again. If you want ultimate protection, then buy another helmet before you even consider getting back on your bike. If possible, you can check with the manufacturer and determine whether or not the helmet is covered under a warranty.
If so, some manufacturers will replace the helmet, free of charge, however, they may require you to ship back the damaged helmet. This will help the company to determine how well the helmet stood up to impact and what type of structural damage occurred. In the end, you’re helping the manufacturer to make their helmets even safer.
The best motorcycle helmet should fit the size and shape of your head correctly, otherwise, you’re not getting the type of protection you need and deserve. If your helmet doesn’t fit correctly, then you’re risking a serious injury or possibly even death. Regardless of the style or type of helmet you choose, fit is everything. Of course, if you want a helmet that can provide ultimate protection, then go with a full-face helmet. Even the modular helmet, which can provide more protection than the half helmet, cannot provide the same level of protection that the full-face helmet can, due to its large hinge mechanism.
Of course, if you’re an experienced rider, then you may think that you don’t even need a full-face helmet since you know how to handle the road and chaotic road conditions, but accidents do happen, and an accident isn’t something you will have control over. In the end, the type of helmet you buy should work for you, how you ride, where you ride, and your experience level. but it should also fit like a glove in order to provide the type of protection you need to remain safe on the road.