Buying the best motorcycle helmet can be tougher than navigating “The Waterfall” at Sachsenring! With so many helmets on the market, the twists and turns are enough to bog down the most decisive decision maker. That’s where our list of top motorcycle helmets of the year comes in.
A motorcycle helmet is the single most important piece of gear that you will buy for yourself and/or your loved ones. You will ride many miles, and you will smile many smiles on your motorcycle, but both will be amplified even further if they are done in a helmet that fits your budget, fits your needs, and most importantly, fits your head.
Top motorcycle helmets of 2020
The selection process
Here at RevZilla, we get our hands on all the latest and greatest helmets from all across the industry. You’ve likely seen the reviews and browsed the product pages, but behind those are the huge number of hours our gear experts put into understanding the details of each of these products. Of everything we've evaluated, these are the best of the best. That being said, perfection is always a lap ahead of any product. There is always room for improvement, so we also point out nitpicks that we had for each, no matter how small they may have been.
|Sedici Strada II||Best for $200||$200 - $230||
|Icon Airflite||Best selling||$250 - $320||
|Shark Evo One 2||Best innovation||$430 - $470||
|AGV K6||Best street||$499 - $550||
|Fly Racing Dirt Formula||Best dirt||$650||
|Bell Race Star Flex DLX||Best overall||$735 - $840||
Once upon a time, not so long ago, the world of $200-ish motorcycle helmets was about as dull as the real world after the machines took over in “The Matrix. ” Features were limited, materials were eh at best, weights were high, and variations were few. Fortunately for riders looking to garner immense value from their helmet investment, the Sedici Strada II came to market for the 2020 riding season.
The Strada II features a ground-up redesign over its predecessor and it starts with a fiberglass shell that has been reinforced by Kevlar at the top. This combination allows for an impressive balance between the desire to reduce weight and the absolute imperative of providing top-tier protection and durability. At three pounds, five ounces, and featuring options with either DOT/ECE or DOT/SNELL safety certifications (more on that in a minute), the Sedici Strada II allows riders to choose a preference in a way that other $200 motorcycle helmets cannot. But the value of the Strada II goes far beyond shell materials alone.
The Strada II focuses on rider comfort with an intermediate oval internal head shape that also utilizes removable 5 mm pads for additional fitment customization. Riders will also get a Pinlock-ready face shield and the option to choose between a version that offers an internal drop-down sun visor (DOT/ECE-certified) or the one without the visor (DOT/SNELL-certified). Overall, the Strada II provides a ton of value for under $200.
Nitpicks: Considering what you get for a price point below the $200 mark, there's little to call out on the Strada II. That being said, as the brand continues to innovate in the years to come, we’d like to see them incorporate direct venting to the face and more defined detents on the faceshield mechanism.
The people have spoken. The Icon Airflite costs a little more than the Strada II, but riders made it the best-selling helmet on RevZilla.com last year. Sometimes, no explanation is really needed. A cool motorcycle helmet is a lot like a beautiful bike — it all comes down to the eye of the beholder and the Airflite definitely stands out.
Icon makes the Airflite in a wide range of colors and graphics, and also provides a vast assortment of parts that can be exchanged across helmets as you build your own style. For example, a graphic spoiler and matching side pods can be attached to a solid color for a bit of visual vibrancy. Now, anyone who has experience with Icon side pods will likely know that they traditionally have not come frustration-free. For the Airflite, we were happy to see that Icon has improved that aspect in an attempt to de-wonkify the process. Best of all, Icon gives riders every shield color from light smoke to rainbow chameleon (yes, you read that right, rainbow chameleon… it’s attention-grabbing). This helmet isn’t for the bashful or the stylistically timid. It’s a statement, and not a subtle one.
Glitz and good sales are not enough to put a helmet on this list, however. The Airflite delivers the features needed to be one of the best motorcycle helmets of 2020. For a helmet that comes in the $250-$320 range (depending on graphic), riders get an injection-molded polycarbonate shell, robust venting, a removable Hydradry moisture-wicking liner, and an all-world safety rating that meets or exceeds the specs for DOT, ECE, SAI, and SG standards. The design of the helmet pulls from the racing DNA of the Icon Airframe Pro, yet packages it with features such as a drop-down internal sun visor and a slightly less aggressive profile that makes it better equipped for everyday usage across the spectrum of riding positions. It’s also important to note that the Airflite, like most of the Icon lineup, has a long-oval head shape and will not work well for riders whose heads are more neutral.
Nitpicks: At three pounds, 12 ounces, the Airflite is right on the cusp of what we would consider a heavier helmet. For everyday riders, the added weight will hardly be noticed, but on long-range trips you may start to feel the extra ounces. Another area for improvement that we noted was the streamlined neckroll. While the helmet does have internal cut-outs for Bluetooth speakers and a flat area that is ideal for a sticky-mount communication unit, the way in which they cleaned up the line at neckroll-to-helmet connection point means that riders will not be able to use a clamp-mount Bluetooth system. While that will be no big deal to some — you can use a sticky-mount system with no issues — it is definitely something you should note.
Innovation takes vision and the ability to bring the idea to life in the real world in a way that others have yet to discover. That’s what the original Shark Evoline brought to modular motorcycle helmets and it’s the legacy that the the Shark Evo One 2 continues to build upon in the latest addition to the Evo lineup.
The Shark Evo series of helmets offers riders the unique capability of a modular motorcycle helmet that can also be worn in the open-face position. Alright, so you might be thinking, “All modular helmets allow riders to wear them in the open-face position. That’s the point!” And yes, you are correct. The key to the Evo series is that they provide the ability to wear the helmet in the open position, while riding. The Evo One 2 helmet is able to do this because, unlike just about every other modular on the market, the innovative thinkers over at Shark came up with a system that allows the helmet’s chin bar to flip all the way to the back, rather than stop at the vertical position (and thus, catch a ton of wind and be an obviously bad idea while riding a motorcycle).
Where the Evo One 2 tops its predecessors in the same line is in its streamlined shell and reduced weight (a medium comes in at three pounds, 12 ounces). Now you might be thinking, “Wait, didn’t you just say three pounds, 12 ounces was a nitpick for the Airflite? How is that a good thing for the Shark?” That is a great question. The answer is that modular helmets tend to be heavier due to the mechanisms needed to allow the chin bar to rotate. It’s the price to be paid for the functionality. In addition to the weight savings over other modulars, the Evo One 2 comes with a notably improved mechanism for activating the internal drop-down visor, reduces wind noise, offers a Pinlock-ready faceshield (with Pinlock insert included), an ultra-plush bamboo liner, has been specifically designed to work well with eyeglasses, and is both DOT- and ECE-certified. All in all, a pretty impressive lid.
Nitpicks: Modular helmets are a favorite of touring riders around the world, and so are Bluetooth communicators. One of the areas of the Evo One 2 that could use some improvement is the size of the speaker pockets. While they will work well for many units, if your preferred speakers are on the larger side, you will likely need to adjust the arrangement.
Sticking with the interior, we noticed that the venting channels do not extend all the way to the back of the helmet. This would provide better circulation of air when the helmet is in the closed position. However, as we mentioned above, if it ever gets stuffy, a quick flip of the chin bar to the open position would instantly provide more airflow than any full-face helmet on the market. So this is an easy issue to remedy.
If you are going to be the best, you need to beat the best, and that’s exactly what the AGV K6 helmet has done for 2020 (see Honorable Mentions below). Providing a revolutionary, forward-thinking approach to street motorcycle helmets, and a bit of a departure from the ultra-aggressive designs that AGV has become known for, the K6 is unquestionably one of the most exciting helmets that we have seen in the past half decade. And, if you are looking for a solid, non-graphic, you will get it all for under the $500 price point.
With a carbon-aramid shell construction (that comes in four shell sizes!), and the most refined faceshield mechanism that we’ve ever seen, the AGV K6 is as streamlined a helmet as is currently available on the market. The low profile and ultra-light weight mean that riders will be more comfortable for longer, due to reduced neck strain and wind resistance. For some context, if you rock a lid that comes with the medium small (MS) shell size, you will be getting a helmet that weighs all of two pounds, 14 ounces and is still DOT/ECE-approved! That, in and of itself, is flat-out bonkers.
The low weight is back up by competitive features on the AGV K6, including an eyeglass-friendly fit, 2Dry internal moisture-wicking system, Pinlock-ready faceshield (lens included), solid detents for faceshield positioning, and an astoundingly good shield-to-helmet gasket seal that keeps wind noise to an absolute minimum while riding.
Nitpicks: For all the great features and innovations of the AGV K6, the piece that could most use improvement is the venting. The problem is not the number of intakes but the volume that they are able to suck up and move through the interior of the helmet. Vents on the K6 are slightly smaller than we’d like to see and it can be hard to manage the five different ports while riding.
Gear that blazes new trails always catches the eye of our experts, especially if that gear is built for blazing through actual trails! With the new Dirt Formula helmet from Fly Racing, that is precisely what riders will get. While the price point of this lid ($650) is a big jump up from many other helmets the brand has traditionally offered, this helmet also sets a new standard with the innovation it brings to the table.
In reviewing the Dirt Formula helmet (and we reviewed it hard, with a lot of off-road abuse!), the first thing that stood out was the weight savings that came from the full 12k carbon fiber outer shell. For context, in a medium, the helmet came in at an impressive two pounds, 13 ounces while still meeting or exceeding DOT and ECE standards. At the same time, underneath the shell, Fly Racing has made use of impact energy cells (featuring their proprietary RHEON technology) that have been specially crafted to better absorb the forces of low-speed linear and rotational impacts, thus reducing the amount of energy that is transmitted to the brain.
Additional advancements to the liner itself have resulted in the development of six critical zones that provide a progressive response to both low- and high-speed impacts. All of that, along with superior venting, creative design of the peak system (with a replacement included), and a variety of other features are why we feel the Fly Racing Dirt Formula helmet is leading the pack for off-road riding in 2020.
Nitpicks: It’s expensive. That is going to stand out for those familiar with Fly Racing helmets. While it shouldn’t deter anyone from purchasing the lid (because the features more than justify the price tag), it is something that will take some getting used to for fans of the brand. That being said, at this price point, even small nitpicks are absolutely warranted. While it may not seem like a big deal to many, for all of the intricate details that this helmet features, the cheekpads leave something to be desired. They are pretty basic, and are not quick-eject in their functionality.
Any way you cut it, $735 is an expensive piece of motorcycle gear. At that price point, excellence is expected and ultra-high performance is simply table stakes. When operating in the rarified air of the world’s most premium brands, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. Providing a dramatic upgrade in features, without changing the price, is one way to make it happen, and that is exactly what the Bell Race Star Flex DLX has done for 2020.
The Bell Star name has a long history and with the Flex DLX Bell has upped their game by making use of a strategically re-crafted outer shell that varies the thickness (increasing in certain areas and decreasing in others), and updates the material itself, with a 3k carbon composition. This obsession with continual improvement, along with the tailored fit that comes from five shell sizes and six EPS liners, has led to a five-ounce weight reduction in a medium-sized helmet over its predecessor (with a total weight of three pounds, five ounces). Additionally, the folks at Bell have taken special care to improve the actual fitment by further pronouncing the intermediate oval shape.
With a helmet this advanced, a more thorough discussion of the liner itself is necessary. As noted in the name, the Flex technology Bell used here is one of the fundamental differences that sets this helmet apart from all others, even those in the top stratosphere of premium race helmets. With the Flex tech, the Bell Star employs an outer layer tailored for high-speed forces (EPS), a mid-layer for medium-level impacts (EPP), and an inner layer that is extra absorbent for low-speed impacts (EPO). Working together, the combination of these three layers stacked on top of each other also reduces the amount of rotational force that is transferred to the head in the event of a crash. When factoring all of that in with the ultra-premium fit and finish, the inclusion of a ProTint faceshield ($150 value), and the fact that this helmet comes in at the same price as its predecessor, it made for an easy selection as our best racing motorcycle helmet of 2020.
Nitpicks: It’s really hard to find fault in getting more for the same price point. That’s what is happening here with the Bell Race Star DLX Helmet. The ProTint shield alone is a crazy-good value. However, it is also not a Pinlock shield. If we had our druthers, it would be, but in the end, this is a minor price to pay for the functionality of a shield that you never have to swap out for various light conditions.
Best helmets: Honorable mentions
When it comes to picking the best, it’s always a close call. There is definitely room for disagreement, and in the end, subjectivity is a real thing. Style, fit and feel are hard to define and technological innovations are happening fast. For that reason, we also added two honorable mention helmets to the list, the Fox Racing V3 helmet, and the undisputed juggernaut of all juggernauts, the Shoei RF-1200 Helmet. Whether you are a dirt rider and choose the former or a road rider and choose the latter, you absolutely will not go wrong with either of these time-tested perennial performers.
Buying the best motorcycle helmet... for you
Well, that’s about it. We’ve logged the miles, put in the hours, scoured the landscape and compiled our annual list of the best motorcycle helmets of the year. There is a lot of information in this guide, but to be honest, it really is just the beginning. For more direction on all the intricacies of helmets, check out our detailed information on helmet safety ratings, how to size and buy a motorcycle helmet, or just call up one of our gear experts to talk it through.