Motorcycle helmets come in every different colour, shape, size and style under the sun, and the price range from budget to premium is vast.
To try to pick just one motorcycle helmet that is the best overall would not only be impossible, but it would be totally subjective.
I can categorically tell you that Arai helmets have stolen my heart, and therefore I think they are the absolute best helmets on the market with no competition.
However, to do so would be pointless.
As great as I think Arai helmets are, they may not fit your head, they may be uncomfortable for you, and you may think that Shark helmets are the bee’s knees instead.
So, we have gathered all the best helmets in a range of different categories to cater to as many people as possible.
We have the best open face helmets, the best budget helmets, the quietest lids you can get your hands-on, and we have compiled them all together so you can see only the creme de la creme of motorcycle helmets.
Excited? I am, so let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
Best Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
Full face helmets offer the best protective qualities that a motorcycle helmet can give, covering the whole of the head and face.
They are more likely than modular and open face helmets to receive high safety ratings from SHARP.
Full face helmets are the only type of helmet used by racers and those partaking in track days for their safety benefits.
Aside from this, they also allow a host of other features to be included within their build that are less easy on something like an open face helmet, such as in-built comms kits.
Full face helmets are great for everyone from new riders, sportsbike riders, Harley guys, touring adventurers, they are the full package, and there is one for everybody.
Pros of a full-face helmet:
- Protection – they offer the highest level of impact protection
- Additional features are most often found on a full face helmet – internal sun visors, built in communication systems, speaker pockets, clever ventilations systems etc.
- Highly safety rated full face helmets are easy to find across all budgets
- Great for all year riding as they offer the best weather protection from the elements
Cons of a full-face helmet:
- Generally heavier than open face helmets
- Not great for delivery riders, who may favour a modular helmet for ease of communication on and off the bike
- Depending on the helmet, they can get warm in the Summer especially compared to an open face helmet
Best Modular/Flip-up Helmet
The best flip-up helmets offer all the benefits of a full-face helmet while providing the option to flip up the front.
When a modular helmet has been dual homologated, it has been tested as both a full face and open face helmet, and as such, you can legally wear it in both positions.
Note that not all modular helmets are dual homologated and so these should only be ridden with when in the full-face position.
Modular helmets are great for delivery riders that are on and off the bike all the time as they don’t have to keep taking their helmets off.
They also make brilliant touring helmets, particularly if you are riding with a pillion.
At rest stops, traffic lights etc., you can just flip the front up and communicate effectively and easily with those around you.
Pros of a modular helmet:
- Easy to get on and off as you put them on in the open face position, before locking the front down
- Dual homologated helmets can be worn in both the full face or open face position when riding
- Offer similar protective properties as regular full face helmets when worn in the closed position
- Makes petrol and rest stops easier as you don’t have to remove your helmet just lift the front up
- Generally quieter than full face helmets as they tend to close tighter around the face when in the closed position, minimising wind and road noise
Cons of a modular helmet:
- Heavier than traditional full face helmets
- Not all modular helmets are dual homologated so be sure to check before riding in the open face position
- When using in the open position the weight is carried up top and can be quite bulky leading to severe wind buffeting particularly at speed
- While the advantages of being able to flip the front up are great, it is always best to ride with the front closed, to protect your face
- Despite manufacturers claims that a modular is just as safe a full face helmet, SHARP has only 5 modular helmets that are rated 5 stars on their list
- Compared to the number of full face 4 star rated lids there are also comparatively few modular helmets with that rating too
Safest Motorcycle Helmet
When it comes to buying a motorcycle helmet, most of us want to know that it is deemed safe and will do the job should it come to it.
A helmet can be pretty, lightweight and packed full of features, but if it doesn’t hold up in an accident and protect your head, then it is worthless.
No motorcycle helmet can protect you completely in an accident as there are so many variables, but some are more up to the job than others.
In the UK, all motorcycle helmets eligible for sale need to meet ECE standards, so you can have some peace of mind that all legal helmets offer a minimum level of protection.
All riders should want the safest helmet, but those heading for track days, riding at speed, doing long tours, and new riders should all aim to get themselves the safest possible.
Qualities of a safe motorcycle helmet:
- SHARP is an independent initiative set up by the Department of Transport, which rates helmets based on their protective abilities over and above anything else; a 5 star rating from SHARP is hard to get and reserved for only the best helmets.
- Full face helmets are deemed most protective under all circumstances.
- A safe helmet is one that fits well – read our motorcycle helmet size guide.
- Helmets designed specifically for their safety properties are not only great on the track and at high speed, but will be more than upto the job of everyday road riding.
- Fortunately buying a highly rated safe helmet no longer means buying the most expensive, safe helmets are accessible for all riders budgets.
Downsides to buying a specifically safety prioritised helmet:
- The only downside to prioritising safety, may mean that a certain style of helmet that you were aiming for may not be the one for you.
- You may need to sacrifice style, colour, and additional features for the sake of a well-fitting, highly rated helmet.
Best on a Budget
Thankfully budget helmets no longer equal rubbish helmets; in fact, you can get brilliant helmets on a very tight budget.
The priority needs to be buying a helmet that fits you properly. It doesn’t matter if it is £60 or £600; if it doesn’t fit then, it is no good.
Lately, there have been many budget helmets on the market that offer some premium features only seen before on much more expensive helmets.
Budget helmets can offer premium quality at low cost, and most importantly, protect your noggin.
So for new young riders, pillions or those looking to have a spare helmet, the good news is you won’t be compromising too much by spending less.
Pros of a budget helmet:
- Premium features at a fraction of the cost
- Budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on safety
- Quality construction, materials, useful features are all available at a reasonable cost
- Sometimes a difference of £20 is the difference between an average and excellent helmet, so quality is accessible for everyone
- New riders can access quality helmets without having to pay out a fortune, so there is no excuse for buying a poor quality helmet
Cons of a budget helmet:
- There may be some sacrifice in terms of the quality of materials used for example liners may not be as plush
- When it comes to extra features, things like internal sun visors may not be as darkly tinted
- You may be limited in colour options with entry-level/budget helmets compared to helmets higher up in model lines
Best Helmet Under £200
Just like budget helmets, it is more than possible to get a great helmet for under £200 without sacrificing safety or quality.
£200 tends to be the turning point from budget helmets to more expensive models in manufacturers’ lineups.
The main differences between under £200 and above £200 helmets come in the form of the materials used for the outer construction and inner linings and the quality of additional features such as tinted visors.
Just like a budget helmet, one for under £200 is great for riders new to motorcycling who don’t have a fortune to spend on accessories but still want a quality protective helmet.
Pros of a helmet under £200:
- Quality components at a fraction of the price
- Usually helmets under £200 from the big manufacturers are the entry-level model to their range, so the design and tech used are derived from their more expensive models
Cons of a helmet under £200:
- May lack in quality materials compared to more expensive models
- Style, designs, colours etc. may be more limited
Best Quiet Helmet
It can be quite a subjective experience when hunting for a quiet helmet, as what one person deems quiet is not the same for another.
However, there have been huge leaps forward in the way helmets are developed to reduce wind and road noise for the rider.
Schuberth leads the pack when it comes to developing quiet helmets and prides itself on it.
Lately, manufacturers have started adding extra ear padding to their helmets to reduce wind noise. They have turned back to their development teams to ensure visor seals are crisp and ventilation systems effective without being super loud.
Quiet helmets are great for those who don’t want to wear ear plugs when riding and those who find wind and road noise distracting on longer trips.
They are perfect for those who use a Bluetooth communication system and want to hear their music or conversations with other riders without having the volume up really loud.
Pros of a quiet helmet:
- Rider concentration is improved, as the distraction of road and wind noise is largely removed.
- Communication systems can be operated on a quieter level, which saves blasting the volume, potentially damaging hearing over time.
- No ear plugs are required if the helmet is reasonably quiet.
Cons of a quiet helmet:
- Some would argue that reducing wind and road noise too much makes for a riding experience that is somewhat removed from the surroundings.
- Too quiet a helmet, especially one paired with a comms kit, could lead to the rider being distracted too much and unable to hear important things on the road.
Quiet, Well-Built, Worth It
The C3 has picked up a reputation as one of the quietest helmets on the market.
It combines aerodynamic design and an acoustic dampening, snug-fitting neck roll to position itself as the quietest helmet at this price point.
It’s also a minor miracle that they’ve made it so well ventilated without sacrificing noise reduction.
Quiet Full-Face, Stunning Field Of View
An honourable mention goes to the Arai X4.
For a full-face helmet with a field of view that wide – it’s pretty quiet.
For people doing trails, tours, off-roading or those after aesthetics, a quality, quiet helmet and a wide field of view – it’s a great choice.
Many manufacturers will claim their helmets to be lightweight, as nobody wants to ride with a heavy lump on their head causing discomfort.
Especially when lightweight lids are now constructed from incredibly strong and protective materials, there is just no need to put yourself through it.
However, only when you start to look at the helmet’s weight and try it on to see how the weight is distributed will you realise that not all ‘lightweight’ helmets are made equal.
Some of the best helmets ever produced are made from multi-composite shells featuring materials like carbon fibre; they are super lightweight yet offer protective properties of a far higher standard than any polycarbonate/thermoplastic shell could.
Quality lightweight helmets are perfect for those heading out on longer trips, as they won’t fatigue the rider as much as a heavy helmet.
They are also great for sportsbike riders, especially on the track when any weight reduction has major benefits for that extra bit of speed.
Pros of a lightweight helmet:
- Reduce rider fatigue and discomfort compared to a heavy helmet
- Riders can ride for longer without needing a break.
- Overall weight reduction assists with sports riders, being more aerodynamic and chasing top speeds.
- There is no compromise on protective qualities with a good multi-composite lightweight helmet.
- There is also no compromise to be made on additional features available as many lightweight helmets still come with useful features like internal sun visors and a Pinlock system.
Cons of a lightweight helmet:
- While a multi-composite lightweight helmet offers no compromise on protection; a polycarbonate helmet marketed as lightweight would need to be looked at for a safety rating as this type of shell protects the head by being extremely strong and therefore generally pretty heavy.
- A fully loaded helmet with built-in comms kit, sun visor, Pinlock visor, extra padding etc. will weigh in pretty heavy and so you may have to sacrifice some of these features for the sake of weight saving
Best Cool Helmet Options
At one time, you had a choice to make:
Do you want a protective motorcycle helmet? Or one that looks good?
Gone are those days! You can now have both, and I am very grateful, having ridden around in a HJC FG-ST in the Marvel Punisher design for quite a while a couple of years ago.
In recent years even the top-end brands like Shoei have branched out into creating helmets for the thriving modern retro scene that has taken over the biking world.
Cool helmets are, of course, subjective to individuals, but some are universally pretty cool; much like motorcycles, I think we would all struggle to knock any late 50’s classic British bike?
Whatever your style, whatever you ride, from race replicas to serious cafe racer vibe chasers and strictly orange and black Harley riders, there is an awesome helmet out there for everyone.
In the context of this post, let’s assume by ‘cool’, we mean something a little different, standout, stylish, different from the norm.
Pros of a cool helmet:
- Bags of style, match your helmet to your bike and stand out from the crowd.
- Stylish lids no longer mean they lack in protection, you can truly have the best of both worlds.
- Quality materials are often used in stylish helmets to warrant any extra cost to the consumer.
- Want to represent your favourite superhero? Support your favourite racer? Or maybe Steve McQueen is your icon, helmets are out there, waiting for you, whatever your desire.
Cons of a cool helmet:
- Unfortunately, there are still many helmets available that are ‘novelty’ helmets and should be avoided as they may not be ECE certified for road use.
- As with fashion, style can sometimes mean a compromise on comfort.
- You may pay over the odds for a fancy design on a model that is significantly cheaper if bought in plain paint schemes.
Undisputed ‘Daddy’ of the Retro Scene
Attention to detail is second to none, with the Bullit Carbon, and the field of view is one of the best that you can get from a full-face helmet.
Drooling quality and stunning looks, this helmet is sure to have heads turning.
Best Open Face Helmet
Open face helmets have been around almost as long as motorcycles have.
There is nothing quite as nostalgic as an old Triumph ridden by a guy with goggles, a Bell helmet and a scarf flailing in the wind.
However, thankfully, open face helmets have developed over the years to offer a better level of protection than the good old days.
Open face helmets appeal to those who don’t like the idea of a full-face helmet for fear of getting claustrophobic.
Aside from wearing no helmet (which is, of course, illegal), open faces offer the greatest sense of freedom when on the open road, connecting you directly to the elements.
Quality open face helmets now offer the same cool features seen on full-face lids, like sun visors, speaker pockets etc.
Pros of open face helmets:
- Greater sense of freedom, connection to the elements and open road
- Modern open face helmets offer tech features like sun visors, and comms kit connectivity
- More comfortable than other helmets
Cons of open face helmets:
- Not as protective in the event of an accident as full face or modular helmets
- No or limited protection from the elements
Value and Style
For those wishing for a more ‘all-in-one’ option, I would go for the Caberg Riviera V3 Sway
This is especially appealing for riders switching between full-face helmets which also have built-in visors and peaks. Overall a lot of helmet for the money.
Best Option for Glasses Wearers
Motorcycle helmets to accommodate glasses have specific cutouts in the liner; these small slits allow the glasses to fit in comfortably.
Modular helmets are a good option as the nature of the front flipping up means that the liner is already split, and this split tends to be where the glasses would sit along the side of the head.
Our favourite option is the Shoei NXR-2 which has dedicated glasses grooves and the latest ECE 22.06 safety rating.
See our full guide to the best motorcycle helmet for glasses wearers.
There you have it, a comprehensive round-up of the best motorcycle helmets currently available!
While it isn’t possible to say definitively which helmet is the best overall, we have covered all the bases from premium to budget, full face to open face and everything in between.
Whatever your budget, style, priorities when it comes to a motorcycle helmet, this list should point you in the right direction and help you make a great informed choice for your next lid.