When it comes to riding, it’s all about living in the moment.
From the whizzing air screaming out sounds of encouragement, to the road challenging your every lane switch, there’s something about completely surrendering yourself to those moments of total freedom that make you feel alive time and time again.
Just like with anything that revs up your adrenaline, you need to make sure that you’re being as safe as you can be so that you’ll be able to enjoy many more of those moments for years to come.
That’s where finding the best helmet comes into play.
Throughout the years, motorcycle helmets have not only helped reduce head injuries by over 69%, but have also saved millions of lives which is why if you’re going to play, you should play it safe when you’re out on those streets.
With so many motorcycle helmets to choose from, finding one that matches your style as well as your budget can be a pretty daunting task if you’re not really sure what to look for.
Luckily, I’m here to help guide you through the process and give you tons of motorcycle helmet reviews and as much information as possible so that the next time you grab those keys for a ride, you’ll have an awesome motorcycle helmet to go with them.
The Top 10 Helmet Comparison Chart for 2017
I’ve put together an interactive table that will show some of the best ones that I like.
All you have to do is click on the column and it will sort out the information for you.
Here’s how to make sense of it.
|Image||Make/Model||Type||Safety||Weight (lbs)||Avg. Rating||Price|
|Shoei Solid Qwest||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||5.4||4.9||$$$|
|Shoei RF-1100||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||5||4.7||$$$$|
|Bell Vortex||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||5.3||5||$$|
|HJC CL-16||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||5.3||4.8||$|
- The Top 10 Helmet Comparison Chart for 2017
- How Does a Helmet Actually Work?
- What Types of Motorcycle Helmets Are There?
- What Should You Consider When Buying a Helmet?
- What Are the Best Motorcycle Helmet Brands in 2017?
- What are the Best Bluetooth Helmets?
- What is the Safest Motorcycle Helmet for 2017?
- What are the Best Full Face Helmets?
- What About Those Cool Custom Motorcycle Helmets I’ve Seen?
- Ball’s in Your Court
How Does a Helmet Actually Work?
Besides making you look like you mean business, helmets are the most important type of safety gear that you can wear when you’re riding on your motorcycle.
- Outer Shell. The outer shell is the first line of defense and is usually made from thermoplastics or fiber-reinforced composites. The entire design of the outer shell is so that it compresses when it comes into contact with anything hard.
- Impact-Absorbing Liner. The inner liner does exactly what it sounds like – it absorbs the shock during a crash. This layer is usually made from polystyrene which is just a fancy word for “Styrofoam”. The one thing to remember here is that this layer crushes during impact and it it’s highly advisable that you get yourself a new helmet if that’s the case. There are some things that you just can’t re-use.
- Comfort Padding. This is what makes that helmet fit nice and snug and is there strictly for comfort, as the name implies. With some helmets, you can take this part out when you’re cleaning it.
- Retention System. A fancy phrase for chin strap. This is what secures the helmet on your head and while it may not seem as important, trust me it is. If you’re not hearing that click, you’re definitely risking injury.
What Types of Motorcycle Helmets Are There?
With so many cool helmets on the market, the eye is naturally attracted to design at first glance. While design is definitely an important element and an extension of your style, pretend I’m your mother for a second because I’m telling you, “Safety comes first!”
There are 6 basic types of helmets:
The grand-daddy of safety. A full face helmet protects your entire face and will offer you the most protection when compared to the other types. This is the type of helmet that is used in professional racing because it has features such as a face shield, vents to increase airflow, and a concentration on protecting that chin.
The next safest option is the modular helmet which is also known as the “convertible” or “flip-face”. Much like the full face, this type of helmet covers the chin as well, but with a little added feature – you can pivot the chin bar upwards or even remove it if you don’t want it (great for road sodas). The movable chin bar is more of a convenience factor as it allows folks who wear glasses to be able to wear it without taking them off as well as chatting it up with your buddies when riding.
Open Face (3/4 Helmet)
Next up is the “three-quarters” helmet. The reason it goes by it’s name is because it covers 3 out of 4 parts of your head. It protects the back of the head, ears, and your cheeks, but not the chin. If you’re looking at open-face helmets, you may want to grab a snap-on face shield or some goggles to avoid those insects from smacking you in the face. You can try sporting that Terminator look with some sick shades, but if they fly off, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The infamous “Shorty”. The half helmet has the same frontal design as the open face helmet, but the difference is this puppy can fly off your head pretty easy on impact. If you’re going for safety, this one shouldn’t be at the top of your list.
This type of helmet isn’t really for street riding but rather used for exactly what the name suggests; off-road riding and competition. Since off-road is a tad more dangerous in the respect that riders can get a little bit more wild, it has an elongated chin bar to protect them from those face-plants. They are also open-face in order to allow riders to get enough air flow and is usually combined with goggles.
Also known as “beanies”, these guys aren’t certified and are basically a death trap.
Resembling a little old school war style, lots of folks get these types of helmets more as a novelty than anything else, but if you’re going for safety, this should be at the bottom of your list.
Might as well wear a hat.
What Should You Consider When Buying a Helmet?
In order for you to make the best choice when picking out a motorcycle helmet, here are the main things you should consider:
Certified and Tested
The whole point of finding a really awesome helmet is making sure it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do and that’s to keep you safe. With procedures in place to test factors such as impact, penetration, retention, and peripheral vision, the United States goes off of two main organizations to certify the safety of helmets. The first one is the Department of Transportation (DOT) and they set the minimum standards that each helmet has to meet in order to pass. The second is the Snell Memorial Foundation, and these guys raise the bar on standards by only approving the best motorcycle helmets. Whichever helmet you choose, just make sure that you check to make sure that it is “DOT” or “SNELL Approved” and you’ll be in good shape.
This is a no-brainer really. You want to make sure that the helmet fits snugly enough that you can’t pull it off. A good starting point is to go by your hat size as well as going for a tighter fit at the beginning, because just like shoes, you have to break it in. Most helmets come with adjustable padding will mold to the shape of your head and a great perk of buying online is not only a much better price than retailers, but the no hassle return policies that vendors have.
Here’s a video that shows you how to get a good fit:
While this sort of ties in with the fit of a helmet, it is a little different in the sense that it’s only going to be specific to you. What’s comfortable for me may differ from what you like. Something to take into consideration as far as comfort goes is that the most popular brands are usually a better fit because of the time that they invest in research and development.
You’ll find that motorcycle helmets have a pretty big price gap, starting as low as $50 and climbing north of the $1,000 mark, but just like with anything, you’ll get what you pay for. I’m not saying to blow your vacation money on a helmet, but ultimately, you’re paying for safety and the less expensive models just don’t make the cut when it comes to this factor.
What you want to focus on as far as design goes is to find a helmet that is an even blend of style, weight, and strength. Make it match your personality, keep the weight load light, and look out for materials such as Kevlar, a para-aramid synthetic fiber. Kevlar is used in several helmets these days, and it’s the same material that is used to replace steel in racing tires as well as even body armor. Tough stuff right there.
What Are the Best Motorcycle Helmet Brands in 2017?
Below is a list of best brands when it comes to helmets. Not only have they proven to be of the highest quality, but these guys have a true commitment to making quality products.
This is an Italian helmet company that was founded by Gino Amisano and while they opened up shop making leather seats, in 1947, they buckled down and got into manufacturing motorcycle helmets and it’s been history ever since.
Arai is a Japanese firm that designs and makes helmets mainly for motorsport, and they thing that I absolutely love about this company is that every single helmet is hand-made and meets the SNELL standards, which like I said above, is the cream of the crop when it comes to safety. If you choose Arai as your helmet, you won’t be disappointed.
Bell makes all types of helmets ranging from street helmets all the way to even snow helmets. Their persistence in always putting functionality above everything else is what impresses me and their attention to detail is second to none.
Since 1971, HJC has specialized in making only helmets. Their innovative ideas combined with a reasonable price tag has led them to become one of the most successful companies in this arena. Their full face helmets are super light weight and have patents pending to advance their control over the market.
With a huge emphasis on research and development, KBC has been making some of the best helmets over the past 20 years. Their head office is in California and have facilities spanning the world to handle distribution. Their mission is do deliver the best comfort, fit, and wow you with their attention to detail.
Also originating in Italy, all of Nolan’s helmets are DOT certified with a focus on an incredible line of modular helmets. They have used technology to their advantage and hold over 50% of the European market.
Shark is a French brand that has been in the game for over 25 years. They were founded by former professional racers so you can rest assured that they have the same “itch” to perfection and finesse that most of you may have. With headquarters in Marseille, they have been known to push the envelope when it comes to technology, performance, and safety.
Last but not least is Shoei, and these guys make helmets like no other. Starting their helmet crusade in 1959, they began making helmets in Tokyo. With each passing year, these guys have become on of the most respected manufacturers in their industry, while remaining a relatively small company. They have an extremely diversified price range, but you can rest assured that you will never be disappointed if you choose Shoei.
What are the Best Bluetooth Helmets?
In the ever changing world of technology, you know as well as I do that products have to keep up with the times.
From the golden age of beepers shifting to phones that are rarely used to even call people anymore, Bluetooth helmets have evolved into the ultimate way to mix safety with pleasure and can take your motorcycle experience to a whole new dimension.
The best attraction to these types of helmets is that you’ll be hands-free, and that’s a really huge perk because when you’re out having fun on the road, the fewer distractions you’ll have, the better.
Another huge advantages is the communication factor because you’ll be able to chat it up with your fellow Wolf Packers and stay in sync from one location to the next.
Then finally is the GPS integration and, personally, that’s what I like the most. No more pulling out dusty maps or losing your manhood by asking for directions at the local gas station. While you can also get a Bluetooth-ready helmet that you can install yourself, most of these come pre-installed and will come with a headpiece and will give you turn-by-turn navigation for wherever you want to go.
If you’re one of those folks that likes to go out and ride with your friends, the communication aspect is worth the price of admission alone.
Below are a few of my top picks that make the cut and are worth taking a peek at.
|Image||Make/Model||Type||Safety||Weight (lbs)||Avg. Rating||Price|
|O'Neal Fastrack||Full Face||DOT||5.3||3.8||$$|
|BILT Techno||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||5.4||5||$$|
|Torc Solid||Full Face||DOT||5.2||3.8||$$|
|HJC IS-MAX||Full Face||DOT||3.86||4.3||$$|
What is the Safest Motorcycle Helmet for 2017?
You’re probably tired of me telling you to be safe, but that’s the bottom line when it comes to finding the safest motorcycle helmets. You shouldn’t have to spend an arm and a leg to be able to find a good helmet that’s going to be able to protect you, however, making sure that head of yours is safe and sound should be at the top of your list. You’d be surprised how many of my friends have bought helmets like these just because they look cool only to find out that they’ll crack like a brittle egg when the time comes.
The below images are courtesy of the Motorcycle Helmet Foundation:
Without doubt, going with a full face helmet eliminates 95% of the problem up front. Since it covers most of your head’s surface area, in the unlikely event of an accident, you will be as safe as it can get. This is common sense for the most part and while full face helmets have a few drawbacks such as visibility (you have to turn your head), in the end, they are worth it in terms of safety.
So what makes a motorcycle helmet safe?
- Look for the DOT/SNELL sticker. SNELL is the holy of holy’s when it comes to helmet testing, then comes DOT. Nothing guarantees 100% safety, but keep your eyes peeled for these stickers because they will give you a good indication that at least the helmet has been through some sort of testing.
- Check the chinstrap. Make sure that the chinstrap looks and feels dependable and has strong rivets.
- Inner-liner thickness. If you see that the helmet lacks anything less than 1 inch, move onto the next.
Remember that even though you may see DOT or SNELL stickers, that doesn’t really guarantee anything. What you want to do is make sure the weight, inner-lining, manufacturer reputation/reliability, and chinstraps are up to the best standards.
Also, if you’re someone who is worried about the visibility or “closed-in” factor and want a little bit more freedom, the next best safest type of headgear would be an open-face helmet, but you’re leaving that chin out there unprotected.
Not to freak you out, but this is what bad crashes can look like if you’re not taking safety seriously (volume warning at the :45 mark):
What are the Best Full Face Helmets?
To piggyback on safety, if you’re going full face on your headgear, you need to know which way to spin that bottle and pick the best one that”ll not only protect you, but give you that cutting edge look as well.
A full face helmet is mostly used by motorcyclists that ride street bikes and will protect those pearly whites if in fact the worst were to happen. It offers the most coverage and protection than any other type of headgear for a reason and the price range is very reasonable for the amount of safety you can expect to get from these guys- well, because it covers your entire face.
They are made with a hard shell that is heavily padded on the inside so that they fit nice, snug, and offer a full sense of comfort and support that you’ll need when riding.
Another feature that’ll keep those bugs and road debris out of your mouth is the acrylic visor as this adds an extra layer of safety.
Very popular with a forward leaning full tuck position, full face helmets are designed with increased ventilation and stellar aerodynamics because like I said previously, these helmet types are used in professional racing. When you’re turning a corner at blazing speeds or showing off some of your latest dare-devil moves, you want to make sure you’re as safe and sound as humanly possible while not losing any speed.
I will say that the there are a few bad things about these types of helmets such as the weight factor which can cause your neck to get sore at times, as well as the limiting your vision; but the good news is that they are becoming more and more lighter and there is a manufacturing trend on improving on these minor aspects. At the end of the day though, we can’t have everything, so I’ll happily wear mine and avoid all the concussions I can get away with.
Here is a list of some of my personal favorites when looking around trying to find the best full face helmet.
|Image||Make/Model||Type||Safety||Weight (lbs)||Avg. Rating||Price|
|HJC CL-16||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||5.3||4.8||$|
|Shoei RF-1100||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||5.4||4.5||$$|
|Shoei Qwest||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||3.64||4.9||$$$|
|GLX Carbon||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||4.7||4.7||$$|
|HJC Cage MC-1||Full Face||DOT & SNELL||3.||5||$$$|
What About Those Cool Custom Motorcycle Helmets I’ve Seen?
You know as well as I do that when it comes to headgear, one size just doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to style.
There are so many different types motorcycle helmets on the market that you’ll always have plenty of options to find awesome motorcycle helmets that’ll create more double takes than those pesky Double Mint Twins.
You can find some really neat custom painted motorcycle helmets in my guide about finding helmets that will match that personality, and more importantly, get some whistles.
Click here to check out some tailored head-gear
Ball’s in Your Court
There you have it. Now that you’ve learned a thing or two about the different types of helmets and have seen some of the top helmet reviews, you should take a look around and find the best bike helmet that’s going to work for you. If you’re a little unsure and still need a little bit more info, check out some our in-depth motorcycle helmet reviews. Remember to pick one that will work for your budget, your style/personality, and most importantly, you safety.
If you have any more questions or suggestions, then feel free to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!
In the meantime…