BEST MOTORCYCLE HELMETS
This is the “standard” motorcycle helmet choice for street riding, including commuting, touring, and cruising. Sporting an aerodynamic shape with ventilation and a hinged face shield, this is a good choice for standards, cruisers, nakeds, commuters, retros, tourers, and other motorcycles ridden solely on the street.
The Arai Contour-X helmet is our top full-face helmet pick for 2023. A major highlight of this helmet is the new shell shape, crafted using an exceptionally strong laminate construction. Arai also debuted an effective new ventilation scheme with this helmet. The rear spoiler design aids aerodynamics while reducing strain on the rider’s neck during long hours in the saddle. Overall, the Contour-X is a superb new design from one of the industry’s most respected brands, with quality and attention to detail that experienced riders will appreciate with every ride.
For riders just getting started, or seasoned riders looking for an affordable lid, we recommend the ICON Airflite Mips helmet. The original Airflite was a customer favorite when it first arrived, but now it’s even better with a Mips liner that provides better protection against rotational impacts. This DOT/ECE-approved helmet comes in a huge range of colors and graphics, from fully blacked-out to the wildest designs you can imagine. Plus, ICON gives you both clear and smoked face shields in the box, which many other helmets at this price point (around $330) don’t include.
Like a full-face street helmet, but with a hinged chinbar that flips up or locks closed. More comfortable and less claustrophobic than a standard helmet, but a little heavier and louder. Popular with tourers, cruisers, commuters, and two-up riders.
Schuberth’s new C5 is so impressive that we called it one of the best moto gear advancements of the year. https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/best-motorcycle-gear-advancements-of-2022
Schuberth is one of the most respected names in modular helmets, and the C5 is the most refined models yet from the German firm. It offers an intermediate oval fit that suits a larger range of head shapes in the United States market, and the fit can be fine-tuned using six interior panels. Weight is down to less than four pounds, which is excellent for a modular, and it even comes prewired with speakers and a microphone for an SC2 Bluetooth comms unit. The hinges and locking mechanism are superb. No other modular has this combination of comfort, technology, and refinement.
The Sedici Sistema II Mips rings in at less than $300, but don’t let the price fool you. This affordable modular can go toe-to-toe with helmets that cost far more. A recent revision gave the Sistema II a full Mips liner to absorb rotational impacts. The shell is Fiberglass and DuPont™ Kevlar® fiber construction, with an aerodynamic shell profile and minimal wind noise. It also boasts features like a drop-down sun shield, effective ventilation, and peel-away layers in the interior foam to get the perfect fit.
The only choice for fully off-road riding on dirt bikes, MX bikes, and enduros. Distinctive upper peak, lots of airflow, long chinbar, and no face shield. Large eyeport fits goggles, which are usually sold separately.
Our top dirt helmet choice is easily the Fly Racing Formula. Constructed from exotic carbon fiber and packed with safety tech, this choice is best for hardcore dirt riders. Impact Energy Cells and Fly’s Conehead EPS design soak up hits off-road, at both low or high speeds. We also liked the flexible nylon peak that can take plenty of abuse before throwing in the towel. Massive ventilation seals the deal for this outstanding off-road helmet.
Once again, the Bell MX-9 Mips is our top pick for dirt protection and performance on a budget. Bell knocked it out of the park with this design: a full Mips rotational liner, light weight, great ventilation, multiple shell sizes, and plenty of graphic options. The MX-9 Mips is even DOT/ECE rated, so it would be a good choice for dual-sport rides that include some street miles.
Crossbreed of street and dirt helmets that can be used everywhere from the highway to the trail. Removable peak, plenty of ventilation, and a wide eyeport with both a face shield and goggles compatibility. Ideal for adventure motorcycles, scramblers, and dual-sports.
For our money, the Klim Krios Pro is the ADV helmet to have for 2023. Based on the original Krios, the Pro adds Koroyd impact-absorbing technology that also helps with airflow. Klim went ahead and redesigned the entire ventilation system, which ducts air throughout the hand-laid carbon fiber shell. Then there’s the face shield with its Transitions photochromic (auto-tinting) lens and simple FID-LOCK magnetic strap closure. The Krios Pro is the clear champion of ADV this year.
The Bell MX-9 Adventure Mips is another returning champion for 2023. Since its introduction, the MX-9 Adventure Mips has been one of the strongest contenders in the budget ADV world. Simple, sturdy, and effective, this helmet is equally at home on- or off-road. It weighs three pounds, six ounces in a size medium thanks to a polycarbonate shell with plenty of ducting for ventilation. Of course, it also has Mips to soak up rotational impact, which puts the MX-9 ahead of many competitors. Remember to pick up a pair of goggles if you intend to spend lots of time off-road with this lid.
Outright comfort takes a back seat to aerodynamics, lightweight, and protection from high-speed impacts. Meant for spirited street riding and track days, often constructed from fiberglass or carbon fiber with specialized features like spoilers for high speed and low drag. Best used with fully faired sport motorcycles and other high-performance machines.
The Arai Corsair X is a proven choice for sport and roadracing, and for 2023, it’s our top pick for the serious sportbike enthusiast. Just count how many you see at your next track day. The Corsair X’s aerodynamics keep the helmet light and stable at speed, especially in the tucked riding position that maximizes the effectiveness of sport bodywork. Add an optional spoiler for even better aero. Inside the helmet, a fully removable interior can be tuned for additional comfort using peel-away pad sections to tailor the fit. Weighing in at just over three and a half pounds, the Corsair X is a truly pro-grade choice that checks all the boxes for serious performance.
It’s hard to believe that Scorpion can deliver the R1 Air for under $400. It has a resin-infused, 3K carbon fiber shell that looks fantastic. More importantly, it’s ultra lightweight, and Scorpion’s proprietary AirFit system ensures a snug, comfortable fit while riding at any speed. It has an effective ventilation system, a high-quality face shield with anti-fog tech, DOT/ECE approval, and a five-year warranty. You won’t find a better sport helmet for this kind of money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but two helmets with the same safety rating should offer similar protection in the event of a crash. Expensive helmets generally offer more features, less weight, reduced noise, and improved fit and finish. They will also use better shell materials like fiberglass and/or carbon fiber. High-end helmets will have more shell size options, and they may offer different interior pads (or adjustable interior pads) to dial in the perfect fit.
It is not possible to repair the shell or liner of a motorcycle helmet. However, manufacturers offer spare parts for items like face shields, dirt helmet peaks, Pinlock inserts, air vents, and other trim pieces that can be replaced without altering the helmet’s ability to protect you.
A motorcycle helmet should be snug, but not uncomfortable. Looking in a mirror, you’ll want to see what we call “chipmunk cheeks”, where the foam cheek pads are pushing up on your cheeks a bit to indicate a good fit. A helmet that is too loose will not be able to fully protect you from impacts. Any pain or pressure points? Try another size, or another helmet model, and see if they clear up. Helmets will break in by around 10 to 15 percent in the first 10 to 15 hours of riding.
Full face street helmets are the quietest option. Modular helmets have small gaps where the chinbar attaches, which can create wind noise. ADV helmets have peaks and pronounced chinbars that catch wind. Race/sport helmets put function over comfort, and dirt helmets are so specialized that they make no attempt to be quiet. Prolonged exposure to loud noises like wind blast or engine sounds can damage your hearing over time, so ear plugs are a great investment alongside a quality helmet, regardless of what you ride. Keep in mind that attachments like action cameras and Bluetooth communicators may add more wind noise by blocking the flow of air around the helmet.
Almost all of today’s helmets are compatible with Bluetooth communicators. To make installation even easier, look for helmets with built-in speaker pockets. These cutouts in the helmet’s foam liner allow the Bluetooth unit’s speakers to be recessed, giving your ears more room for comfort. Some helmets come prewired to accept specific Bluetooth communicators. Simply plug the unit into a little compartment in the helmet, and you’re all set. Others have the Bluetooth unit pre-installed so there is no installation necessary. Which is the best for your buck? We've got that completely covered right here!
If you wear prescription eyeglasses, we have good news for you. Lots of today’s motorcycle helmets include cutouts to accommodate the arms of your glasses so you can slip them on easily. These cutouts also reduce pressure to the side of the head when the helmet is on.
These helmets are the least restrictive, but they are also the least protective. We recommend helmets with face shields and chinbars for their protection and comfort. All the same guidelines for safety ratings, head shapes, expiration dates, and maintenance still apply.