Motorcycle Helmet Guides
A helmet is the best protective gear you can wear while riding a motorcycle. Whether you are a beginner or experienced rider, dual-sporter, racer, long-distance touring rider or hardcore ADVer, this guide will explain all aspects of how to select a new motorcycle helmet. No matter what style you seek, we simplify the process of finding a helmet that is best suited to your needs.
A litany of details are associated with helmets and many questions arise. What do the different levels of certification, like DOT, ECE, and Snell, actually mean? For my type of riding, what type of features and functionality should I be looking for in a helmet? While all riding gear is important and designed to save your life in case you call upon it, no other piece is as important as the motorcycle helmet.
On this page you'll find the following Motorcycle Helmet Guides (click the links below to skip directly to that segment):
Helmet Buying 101
- How to Buy a Motorcycle Helmet: An Overview
- How to Fit a Motorcycle Helmet
- Motorcycle Helmet Shapes Overview
Helmet Buying by Price / Quality
- Everyday Riding Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide
- Premium Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide
- Super Premium Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide
Helmet Buying by Application
- Touring Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide
- Modular Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide
- Dual Sport Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide
- Hi-Viz Neon Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide
- Motorcycle Race Helmet Buying Guide
Helmet Buying 101
This will be the general guide for every first time motorcycle helmet buyer or simply a refresher for an experienced rider that hasn't had to pick up a new lid in a while. We break all the basics down: features, functionality, head shapes, safety certifications, and so forth, while breaking helmets down into three areas: Everyday Riding, Premium & Super Premium helmets. We also discuss pricing of helmets and go in-depth on different brands and the helmets available from them. This guide is the starting block for anyone looking for a new motorcycle helmet, connecting the dots on the key details that differentiate helmets.
The most crucial aspect of buying a new motorcycle helmet is taking an accurate measurement. All you need is a helper and a soft tape measure (or piece of string to measure later with a ruler). The measurement needs to be around the widest part of the brow. Cheek pads are size-interchangeable for comfort, so the most important region is the crown of the head. To ensure no pressure points and a comfortable and, most importantly, safe fit, please take the time to measure properly and please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.
In conjunction with taking a proper measurement, helmet shape is extremely vital to both comfort and safety in a motorcycle helmet. Helmet shapes vary by brand and even within brand; for example, a Shoei Qwest helmet has a slightly different shape than a Shoei RF-1100. The majority of helmets will fall into the intermediate oval shape range while specific brands, like Shark, are known for long ovals, and others, like HJC helmets, are known for their round head forms. With the exception of a pin-lock face shield (which can be retrofitted), the Arai RXQ and Arai Signet Q have virtually identical features and one is indistinguishable from the other, but they are designed to fit different head shapes. Consider the shape of your head when buying a motorcycle helmet, keeping in mind that cheek pads may possibly be changed and that pressure points anywhere in the crown of the head must be avoided.
Helmet Buying by Price
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about everyday riding helmets. These helmets are generally in the $125-$250 range, DOT certified, Snell or ECE, and offer all the functionality for the everyday motorcycle rider. This group of helmets will typically accommodate a range of head shapes and deliver excellent value for the price point. Creature comforts, like the moisture-wicking washable liner in the Scorpion EXO-750 and the SilverCool antibacterial interior of the HJC FS-15 provide added value to already strong-functioning helmets. The helmets within this lot offer excellent performance for the commuter, the urban rider, or even as a passenger helmet.
In the Premium Helmet category, you begin to see some serious space-age materials in helmets and lids designed for more specific applications. The price range for these helmets is going to be roughly $250-$500, with the R&D and technologies taking the quality to a higher level than the everyday lids. In this group you'll find dual sport helmets designed for enduro riding, modular helmets for riding flexibility, long-distance touring lids, and a smattering of race helmets. Nearly every one of these helmets will meet a safety certification higher than DOT, be it America's upgraded Snell standard or Europe's ECE 22.05. The comfort levels are increased, the ergonomics and aerodynamics are dramatically improved, and you'll notice markedly elevated performance. Premium Helmets are built for the serious rider.
The pinnacle of design, technological innovation, and overall performance, super premium helmets are the utter zenith of motorcycle helmet development. From best-in-class dual-sport helmets to premier hyper-miling touring helmets to race helmets worn by MotoGP pros, this class of brain buckets has the most specific applications of anything on the market. They cost $500 and up, and that hefty price tag pays for attributes such as multi-material composite shells with lightweight resilient materials like Kevlar, fiberglass and carbon fiber. It would be difficult to find a helmet in the group that doesn't feature advancements like premium materials in the guts and upgraded certification (Snell, ECE, etc). Everything is perfected: balance, ergonomics, aerodynamics, ventilation, shield systems, and shell construction. These are the most hardcore helmets available.
Helmet Buying by Application
It's an absolute must that a worthy long-distance touring helmet do a handful of things extremely well. Balance, ergonomics and low sound-level are of utmost importance, since the rides will generally be long-term and any discomfort is unacceptable. Ventilation is critical as well; most touring bikes have upright positions and the helmet venting configuration must be consistent with this position. The vents should be at the top of the head, most effectively flowing air when the rider is straight up. You will no doubt see upgraded safety certifications, optimal creature comforts and futuristic materials in shell construction. We picked several of our favorite long-distance touring helmets and detailed the features and benefits of each in this video in an effort to remove some of the cloudiness that inherently exists when so many options are available.
Modular motorcycle helmets have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years as a broadening number of riders seek more versatility from their lids. Designed to be worn in the full face configuration, with the face shield and chin bar in place, or as an open-face helmet, with the chin bar lifted up, modular helmets are extremely popular in the ADV and sport touring crowds. At the base level, all modular helmets have a chin bar that can be flipped up. At the next level, helmets like the Shark Evoline completely flip up and around to the back of the head for full-on aerodynamic open-face riding. Others, like the Scorpion EXO-900 and the Nolan N43, can be reconfigured from a full face helmet to a comfortable open face helmet in the matter of seconds with removable parts: both of these helmets have removable visors and chin bars and can be configured multiple ways. It's important to consider the level of versatility you desire when buying a modular helmet, as the chin bar systems, face shields, and occasional sun visors vary from helmet to helmet.
.As more riders become interested in enduro-style hyper-motard riding and ADV touring with different terrains, dual sport helmets are becoming ubiquitous in the motorcycle helmet world. They offer the versatility of multiple configurations that can be manipulated as conditions dictate: visor on, face shield off; visor on, face shield on; and visor off, face shield off. Dual sport helmets generally have oversize face shields for an extra-wide periphery and most allow for the integration of goggles to be worn underneath for that added layer of protection from the elements. Enduro helmets range greatly in price, from the basic lids at $100 all the way up to the most technical and extreme helmets that approach the $700 mark. Essentially a cross between a street and a dirt helmet, dual sport helmets will hold up and perform remarkably well in all seasons and all weather conditions. This guide will help to break down the nuts and bolts of this range of dual sport helmets as well as provide insight as to what exact upgrades you'll be paying for as the price tag grows.
High visibility gear is a growing trend in the motorcycle gear universe. Hi-Viz, or neon, yellow and orange typically comprise two of the most attention grabbing and visible colors in the visual color spectrum. The purpose of hi-viz motorcycle gear is to afford the safety conscious rider the best chance at being seen by other motorists and avoid accidents. There are twice as many motorists on the road as there were 20 years ago, and staying safe on two wheels continues to increase in importance to many riders. Basic hi-viz helmets can start at the entry level at $100 and go all the way up to super-premium and technical helmets that may exceed the $700 mark. This guide will help you navigate the lines and applications of helmets which share the "glow in the day" yellow or orange paint job. Bright in the name of safety!
Every racer knows that several critical factors must be considered when buying a race helmet. The helmet must be lightweight, comfortable, aerodynamic and strong, and the ventilation must be optimal. When you're out on the track, you have to be completely dialed in to your riding techniques and can't have any distractions in terms of discomfort with your lid. We sorted out our top six picks for race helmets and detailed the weights, features, and benefits of each one. We also touch on the racers who are wearing each of the helmets featured. Consider this the first stepping stone in your process of sorting out the many race helmet options available.