Wearing a helmet when you ride can mean the difference between life or death, walking away from an accident, or dealing with several months of recovery. While wearing a helmet cannot guarantee you survive a serious accident, it can significantly increase your odds. But what are the safest motorcycle helmets and how can you know for sure you’ve found one designed to handle an impact?
There’s no shortage of helmets to choose from, however, not all helmets meet the required safety standards and even some that do have not undergone additional third-party testing, which means that they’ve met the bare minimum in terms of safety standards. If you want a helmet that will keep you safe and comfortable on the road, then my guide will walk you through the rigorous testing processes, and what you should look for to ensure you buy a helmet that’s designed to handle an impact and provide the type of protection you need when you’re out on the road.
I’ve reviewed several helmets that meet the basic safety standards, some of which have also undergone third-party testing. Each of the models that have landed on my list earned a higher user rating for comfort, protection, durability, and quality. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart which will show you the differences between each of these models, based on style and weight, in addition to their product rating and cost.
|YEMA YM-627 Helmet||2.6 pounds||Half helmet|
|Triangle Matte Black Helmet||3.1 pounds||full face|
|JRT 3/4 Fiberglass Helmet||1.8 pounds||open face|
|Vega Helmets Warrior||2.2 pounds||Half helmet|
|ILM Motorcycle Helmet||4.5 pounds||full face|
To narrow down your search I have listed some helmets below that are all DOT approved:
YEMA YM-627 Motorbike Moped Jet Bobber Pilot 3/4 Half Helmet
This is a pro-quality helmet that has met DOT testing standards. Not only does this helmet meet important safety standards, but it also comes equipped with multi-density EPS, a dual visor, a quick release buckle design, and a reinforced chin strap.
The helmet has also been designed with breathability in mind. It features exhaust and intake vents that are fully adjustable, providing a constant flow of fresh air that will keep you comfortable and cool as you ride.
- Quick-release buckle
- ABS shell
- Dual visors
- Ventilation system
- Multi-density EPS
- Thick liner
- Sizes run small, so the buyer will need to purchase a size larger than what they normally wear
- Chinstrap can be difficult to adjust
This helmet offers ultimate protection on the road, but it also has a reputation for its breathability and comfortable fit. The padding and liners are removable, while the helmet’s sun visor system is also removable, so you can swap out a different visor for night or daytime riding. Versatile and loaded with all the right safety features, this helmet is a steal for the price.
Triangle Matte Black Full Face Lightweight Motorcycle Helmet
This safe, DOT certified helmet has a one-push button flip-up system that instantly converts the helmet from full-face to open face. The helmet is lined with an impact absorption inner liner that also works to wick away moisture, to keep the rider nice and cool. The anti-scratch visor comes with an advanced ventilation system. The dual D-ring strap is supported by durable stainless steel. The helmet comes in a black matte finish and the irremovable DOT Safety Standard is stamped behind it.
- Liner is made out of moisture-wicking material
- Converts from full to an open face helmet with the push of a button
- Anti-scratch visor
- Low price
- Third-party testing
- The Price
This helmet not only meets DOT safety standards, but it has also undergone third-party testing by ACT Labs. The lightweight design, tough ABS shell, and removable, washable liner, promote user comfort and safety out on the road, and all for a price that’s affordable.
JRT 3/4 Fiberglass Open Face Motorcycle Helmet DOT&ECE Approved
This is an open face helmet that meets both DOT and ECE safety standards. The open-face design may be a deal-breaker for some, however, if you know how to select the right visor for your motorcycle helmet, you can purchase a new face shield for protection against the elements, bright sunlight, and flying debris.
However, some riders prefer the open face design since it’s much cooler and more comfortable compared to traditional full-face helmets. The helmet’s liner is removable and washable, so you can keep your helmet smelling fresh by tossing it in the washing machine after a long trip.
- Removable liner
- DOT and ECE approved
- Low price
- Prepreg fiberglass shell
- Tight fit
- Ver yexpensive
In terms of design, the helmet has a low profile look to it, which is what some riders are looking for. The fact that it’s both ECE and DOT approved ensures this model can definitely handle plenty of wear and tear on the road and offers ultimate protection upon impact.
Vega Helmets Warrior Motorcycle Half Helmet
This half helmet by Vega Helmets is perfect for the rider who’s looking for a more comfortable way to ride. This model has undergone testing and meets or exceeds DOT safety standards. It comes equipped with high density, thick fully vented lining that’s designed to provide protection upon impact, but also works to keep the rider cool and comfortable.
Unlike many competing models of half helmets, this model features a drop-down sun shield, which will protect your eyes in bright light conditions. The size adjustment feature allows you to turn a dial to achieve the perfect fit and ultimate protection on the road.
- Drown down sun shield visor
- Adjustable fit
- Covered by a five-year warranty
- Moisture-wicking liner
- Visor is hard to clean
- Chinstrap may be too thick for some wearers
Stylish and loaded with important safety features including a dial that allows you to adjust the size of the helmet for the perfect fit, a moisture-wicking impact liner, and a drop-down sun shield visor. This model will keep you cool and comfortable when you’re out for a ride and it’s hands down, one of the safest half helmets currently on the market.
ILM Motorcycle Dual Visor Flip up Modular Full Face Helmet
This helmet is available in eleven different colors and four size options. It also features a highly adjustable chinstrap and a shell that’s made out of high-resistance ABS material. It meets or exceeds DOT and FMVSS-218 safety standards, which will give riders peace of mind knowing their helmet is designed to handle impact.
- Lightweight design
- Designed to reduce wind noise
- Anti-fog, anti-scratch, modular flip-up visor
- Four size options
- Eleven color options
- Modular hinge is very fragile
This helmet features a lightweight, sleek design that minimizes wind noise, and comes equipped with a flip-up visor that has anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings, which will improve your visibility in both low and bright light conditions. Reasonably priced and highly adjustable, this helmet is perfect for rides around town or for the cross country rider.
Choosing the safest motorcycle helmet is easier than it was just ten years ago, thanks to the fact that manufacturers are now required to meet certain safety standards. However, manufacturers are not required to have their helmets tested by a third party. Manufacturers that do, use third-party testing to ensure that the helmets they produce are designed to handle serious impact and can provide riders with the ultimate level of protection.
In this guide, I’ll go over the different types of testing that are conducted by third parties, to ensure a helmet can provide the higher level of protection that all rider’s needs. I’ll also go over what features and certification labels you need to look for in a helmet that’s safe and designed to last.
Extensive testing of motorcycle helmets in the US is mandatory as it determines whether helmets being sold meet the federal safety standard. Not only is it illegal to not wear a helmet when riding your motorcycle, but in some states, it is also illegal to wear a helmet that does not meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218 requirements.
When you’re shopping for a new helmet, first, check the helmet’s packaging and look for a DOT sticker. The letters DOT should be strategically placed on the outside back of the helmet where you can easily see it.
Bear in mind that DOT stickers sold separately can be applied onto a non-complying helmet. This is considered illegal. The seller is not only breaking the law, but they’re also putting your life in jeopardy in the event of an accident. The original DOT labels are permanently placed on the helmet and they can’t be removed by hand. If a sticker falls off the helmet, then it’s not DOT compliant.
The next thing that you should check is the inside of the motorcycle helmet where you can find a Snell label, which is a symbol that the product has met the safety standards of this private organization. This is a good indicator that the helmet meets federal safety standards.
Also found inside the helmet is the manufacturer’s label which consists of the name, model, size, month and year the helmet was manufactured, construction materials, and owner information. This label is required by the FMVSS 218. Other components that indicate a safe motorcycle helmet can include a thick inner lining, about one-inch thick polystyrene foam, a sturdy chinstrap, and solid rivets.
Key Takeaway: Watch out for helmets with fake DOT stickers and labels. More often than not, you can come up with the conclusion that a helmet is unsafe based on the materials used, the price, and the place where you bought it. Be wary of stores selling cheap knock-offs.
Snell testing is not a requirement. This third-party testing agency goes above and beyond the minimum criteria in order to thoroughly test helmets for safety. Their Innovative impact testing involves controlled impacts that are designed to show manufacturers how their helmets hold up to different types of impacts on different areas of the helmet. With his test, the objective is to measure the gravitational force. The helmet is rejected if the peak acceleration and a test exceed a value.
Roll Off Testing
They also conduct roll-off testing. For this process, a head-shaped object is placed at a 135-degree angle with the face pointing downward. The helmet is placed on the head with the buckles and straps adjusted accordingly. Using a wire a weight is connected from a determined height. Next, the helmet is positioned at 180 degrees and the test is conducted. While the helmet may shift during the test it must remain on the head in order to pass.
The dynamic retention testing involves placing the helmet on a head-shaped object. A weight is applied to the helmet for approximately 60 seconds. During this test, the added weight is removed while a higher weight is applied during a guided fall. If the test finds that the helmet cannot support the maximum instantaneous deflection or mechanical load, then the retention system fails.
Chin Bar Testing
Testing out the chin bar is one of the most important tasks a helmet can undergo. During this test, the helmet is attached to a base. Weight is dropped onto the helmet as it’s facing upward. The chin bar must be able to withstand a determined amount of weight upon impact, without breaking.
To test out the Integrity of the shell, the helmet is attached to a base. A sharp weighted object is dropped from a determined height. The sharp object must not be able to penetrate the shell or make any type of contact with the head inside the helmet.
The visor is attached to the helmet while an air rifle is used to shoot along the visor’s center line and three different areas. The rifle is equipped with sharp soft lead pellets at high speeds of over 300 miles per hour. The pellets must be unable to penetrate the visor in order for the visor to pass the test.
There are several different style options to choose from, however, the three main designs you’ll come across include the half helmet, 3/4, and the full face. In terms of safety, a full-face helmet offers the most protection out of all three.
Full face helmets offer the best coverage and surround the head and a portion of the neck. This style will protect the rider from the elements, bugs, dirt, and debris. The chin bar is one of the most distinguishing features of this style of helmet and it’s something that half helmets and 3/4 helmets lack. Since the chin tends to experience 50% of the impact during an accident, this style of helmet offers the best protection and can keep the jawline and chin safe. This style of helmet also works well with most types of locks, so it’s perfect if you’re a beginner and you want to learn how to lock your helmet to your motorcycle.
When you’re shopping for the safest helmet, be on the lookout for a well-built design. Because the shell is the first line of defense that protects the head and prevents direct contact with the road, you’ll want to choose a model that either comes with a reinforced composite shell, such as a polycarbonate or thermoplastic shell.
Impact Absorption Liner
An impact absorption liner is another feature that you want to look for. This type of liner will not only improve your comfort as you ride but it’ll also absorb a portion of the impact in the event of a crash. The liner is considered the second line of defense after the protective shell and it can help to prevent serious head injuries.
Next, pay close attention to a helmet chinstrap. A helmet is only as good as the strap. If the strap is too big and prevents you from adjusting the helmet for a tight fit then the helmet is essentially useless in the event of an accident because the helmet can go flying off if the strap is not tightly secured.
You may have noticed that full-face helmets have a higher price tag compared to half shell helmets. However, a higher price doesn’t indicate a safer helmet. As I mentioned earlier, manufacturers have certain standards such as Snell testing requirements, in addition to DOT certification, both of which can ensure you’ve purchased a helmet designed to withstand impact. Typically, the cost of a helmet isn’t dependent on the level of protection it provides, instead, it’s affected by the types of materials used to make the helmet.
How Often Should I Replace My Helmet?
Most motorcycle enthusiasts recommend replacing your helmet every five years. If you’ve been in an accident, even if there is no obvious damage to your helmet, it should be replaced right away.
To learn more about rider safety and how to haul gear, click here to read my article on How to Secure your Helmet to Your Motorcycle with a Holder.
What are the safest motorcycle helmets? Helmets that are equipped with the DOT sticker clearly indicate that the helmet meets important safety requirements. However, helmets that have also undergone third-party testing, such as Snell testing, in addition to being DOT approved, are considered the safest helmets on the market.
I hope this buyer’s guide, in addition to my product recommendations, has helped you to find a helmet that’s designed to keep you safe and protected when you’re on the road, one that works with your budget, and a model that provides the type of comfort and protection from the elements that you need, whether you’re riding around town, or traveling hundreds of miles across the country.