When you’re out riding, you’ll want nothing less than the best gear available. Even if you prefer the wind on your face or an unobstructed view, there’s no denying that there’s nothing safer than a full-face helmet.
There’s no shortage of decent lids available on the market, but they are plenty of substandard helmets still being sold. To help point you in the right direction, we’ve got a list of some of the best full-face helmets you can currently buy, across the full budget spectrum.
Before we jump in and take a look, it’s worth noting how we came to these conclusions.
Firstly, there’s no such thing as a perfect helmet. What works for one rider won’t work for another. Some riders can’t ride with too much wind noise, while others don’t mind it. Some riders wear eyeglasses and need a helmet that accommodates them, while others might have other priorities.
For us, a good helmet is one that is safe, keeps distracting wind noise to the minimum, won’t put too much strain on your neck, and won’t bankrupt you if you invest. Of course, all of the helmets we list are at least DOT certified, generally receive favourable reviews, and try to keep the noise to the minimum where possible! As for the financials, well, the best gear is always the gear you can afford.
So, let’s see what’s currently on the market.
The Bell Qualifier has long been one of our favorite budget-friendly full-face helmets. It’s cheap and is an unashamedly “no-frills” lid, but while it lacks in top-end features, it doesn’t make any compromises when it comes to your safety. It’s DOT-approved, has an aerodynamic polycarbonate shell, with ample interior padding, and a D-ring closure strap.
It’s often described as a no-frills helmet, but the Qualifier does have some premium features. These include a removable anti-bacterial liner, contoured padding, adjustable ventilation, ClickRelease tool-free shield swapping technology, an anti-fog visor as standard, and integrated speaker pockets. It even has a five-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Just know that this is an entry-level helmet for entry-level riding. If you’re planning on undertaking some advanced maneuvers at speed, we recommend that you buy a more appropriate helmet. At high speeds, the Qualifier can get noisy, and in some cases, the visor can lift. However, for something cheap and affordable that you can wear for riding around town, it’s a great value lid.
If you’re looking for one of the best budget helmets out there in the market today, say hello to the HJC i10. This helmet packs all of HJC’s powersports knowledge into a sub-$200 lid that is both extremely comfortable as well as ready for the track.
This is due to the helmet carrying a full SNELL M2020 rating, and as far as we know, is the least expensive helmet to be fully track certified. Notice we did not say cheap, as the helmet is anything but in terms of construction, materials, padding, protection, and visor quality.
This is, quite literally, the bargain helmet to rule all other bargain helmets. Oh, and did we mention that it has an excellent ventilation design that lets you adjust just how much air comes across your forehead and crown, and a visor port that affords one of the widest fields of view we’ve tested?
If you’re looking for a comfortable, quiet, and safety-conscious helmet with great airflow, then the Shoei RF-SR is worth looking at. Shoei is one of the leading names in the motorcycle helmet game, with a proven track record for excellence. The RF-SF continues that trend: it’s a durable helmet that surpasses DOT and SNELL M2015 requirements. Plus, it’s full of top-tier features and functions too.
Handmade in Japan, these helmets feature tough dual-layer EPS liners encased in an aerodynamic shell for optimum impact absorption. The RF-SR is small and lightweight, taking the strain away from your neck and shoulders, and making for a less turbulent ride.
An advanced spring-loaded CWR-1 shield protects the eyes and keeps wind egress and noise to an absolute minimum. Emergency Quick Release System technology, comfort padding, breath guards, and a chin curtain, are all included as standard.
Take note that this helmet is optimized for upright riding rather than bunched-up sport riding. At high speed, the noise level will become noticeably louder!
Simpson Ghost Bandit
The Simpson Ghost Bandit is a full-face helmet with an attention-grabbing design, top-level features, and a great safety record. It’s DOT and ECE certified with a tough yet lightweight composite shell, but it has a design that’s chock full of attitude. It offers the perfect balance of protection and style, without compromising either of the two.
Now, you should never buy a helmet solely based on how good it looks. That’s a fact. This one just happens to look great and tick all the right boxes. It features a removable anti-bacterial liner, a drop-down sun visor, tool-free shield removal, and serious ventilation.
The dual chin vents are adjustable and work with the top and rear vents to promote airflow. There are removable air dams to help cut-down noise, but we do have to say that this helmet can get noisy at high speed. It’s a shame because this helmet has it all—it even has integrated speaker and microphone pockets, which is something that should be standard these days but isn’t. If the price was lower, or the noise problem wasn’t so bad at 60+ mph, this would be one of the best helmets out there.
HJC RPHA 70 ST Carbon
HJC’s helmets are often included in these kinds of lists because of their cheaper, budget-friendly models. This time, we’ve decided to include the RPHA 70 ST Carbon series. It’s not a budget helmet, but it’s also not a premium model either. For a mid-range helmet, it offers great value for money and impressive protection. Naturally, it’s DOT-approved and features many advanced safety features.
The helmet uses P.I.M Plus (Premium Integrated Matrix Plus) technology which uses a blend of carbon fiber and carbon-glass hybrid fabric for the outer shell. On the inside, the RPHA features an anti-bacterial moisture-wicking liner with removable cheek and crown pads. The HJ-26 anti-fog shield can be swapped without tools, and a separate tinted sun-shield is also included.
Ventilation is good on this HJC, with intake and exhaust vents and a rear vent switch. Unfortunately, this helmet can get loud when you’re gunning it. For most riders, this won’t be a problem, but if you plan on taking advantage of the HJC’s speaker pockets take note of the sound issue.
The wind noise is a negative point, but the overall quality of this helmet for the price cancels it out.
AGV Corsa R
AGV is widely regarded as one of the best helmet manufacturers in the game, and the Italian brand’s Corsa R helmet is one of their best. Ideal for street riders and track racers alike, the Corsa R is professional-grade hardware. Though it’s a step-down from the brand’s flagship Pista range, the Corsa offers many of the same features in a more affordable package.
Built using a combination of carbon fiber and aramid, with a tough multi-density EPS liner, the Corsa R can withstand shock and impacts, but without weighing heavily on your head. It’s lightweight, weighing 3.45 lbs, but packs heavyweight features.
Inside, there’s an intelligent integrated ventilation system to promote airflow, adjustable vents, removable cheek pads, and a reversible helmet liner. The face shield makes a perfect seal with the helmet, and it’s locked in place with a dual-purpose locking system. It’s not a noisy helmet, but it does have a negative point: replacement visors can be quite expensive!
Bell Star MIPS
The Bell Star was an instant icon when it first arrived on the scene. Now, we have the updated version of that classic lid, but this time with added MIPS. MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System, is a special layer in a helmet between the shell and the EPS liner that reduces impact and rotational forces from damaging the brain. What could make the Bell Star even better? Having MIPS installed, that’s what.
Aside from the MIPS, the Bell Star uses a Tri-matrix composite shell made from Aramid, carbon fiber, and fiberglass. Inside, it features an advanced X-Static silver liner that provides top-level odor and bacteria protection. What we love about this helmet is that it’s eyewear friendly, with small recesses in the interior foam that can accommodate the arms of eyeglasses.
It can also accommodate communication devices thanks to the integrated speaker pockets and uses an advanced Panovision face shield with Class 1 optics. It also exceeds SNELL M2015 and DOT requirements.
Take care when ordering one of these though. Sizing it correctly can be difficult, and they have been known to be tight on larger heads.
Nolan N87 MotoGP
Nolan’s N87 helmet is a DOT-certified lid that has been in the game for a while now, but their MotoGP edition elevates the helmet to a new level. Made from a tough polycarbonate shell, the N87 features an ultra-wide Pinlock-ready face shield, an inner sun shield, Clima-comfort inner liner, and washable contoured cheek pads.
It’s comfortable to wear and easy to operate thanks to Nolan’s Microlock straps. There’s plenty of ventilation too, and with the added AirBooster technology, it rarely fogs up. However, it can get a little noisy when you’re traveling at high speed.
The drop-down sun visor, though rated with 400UV protection, is the only real negative. The deployment and retraction mechanism could be better. Also, the helmet is set up to accommodate Nolan’s N-Com communication system, but it may not accommodate devices from other brands. If communication is important, check that your device fits before pulling the trigger.
Otherwise, this is a comfortable and innovative helmet at an affordable price point.
Arai Corsair X
The Arai Corsair X is a premium helmet that comes in a variety of finishes, with varying price tags. The standard Corsair X is remarkably affordable considering the level of engineering and technology involved. Made from Arai’s proprietary PB SNC2, a blend of resin and synthetic fibers, the shell is strong and tough, and designed to protect against direct impacts as well as “glancing” impacts too.
To do this, Arai uses a design that redirects energy rather than absorbs it. It’s one of many advanced features in this full-face helmet. On the inside, the helmet has an Eco-Pure Liner for antibacterial and comfort purposes, advanced ventilation for optimized airflow, peel away padding that can be removed in an emergency, and speaker pockets.
The face shield is an anti-fog VAS MAX Vision unit, held in place using a Variable Axis System powered shield pivot. It also included a special shield latch that prevents unexpected opening and keeps noise penetration to a minimum. The VAS system is one of the best features of this helmet, making for intuitive face shield operation when riding.
Unfortunately, it does have a high price tag, even more so if you invest in a race-replica paint job. But, if you can afford it, it’s one of the best tools for the job.
The Shoei RF-1200 was the gold standard that many helmets were compared to throughout the latter half of the past decade. It was, quite simply, the best full-face helmet that money could buy in the sub-$800, pure carbon-kevlar-fiberglass class of “money is no object” helmets. So, when it was discontinued late in 2020, the RF-1400 appeared just under a week later as its replacement.
So what’s new about the RF-1400? First off, it’s visited the wind tunnel and audio dynamic labs at Shoei and is even quieter in terms of wind noise over the RF-1200. It’s also using a new interwoven fiberglass-aramid-organic fibers shell that is lighter than the RF-1200 without losing any strength.
As well, the old visor on the RF-1200, one of the few points that anyone had any issue with, has been chucked out. In its place, a new, more optically correct visor (99.9% correct) and a totally reworked mounting system make tool-less visor changeouts a 15-second affair. The new baseplate system also pulls the visor back tight to the visor seal much more evenly, reducing any possible wind noise there as well.
Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Carbon
Scorpion is known for putting out helmets and gear that should cost about twice as much as they do, but insist on keeping their prices reasonable. The EXO-R1 Air Carbon helmet is just one such piece of gear, and we’ll explain why to you.
First of all, this helmet is made entirely out of 3K style resin impregnated carbon fiber weave. This is the same type of carbon fiber that airplane wings are made out of, meaning it has some flex and elasticity to absorb energy, but is nearly unbreakable. It is also one of the strongest types of carbon fiber for its weight, as this helmet is ridiculously light.
The next biggest thing about the helmet is that it comes with a true, 99% optically correct clear and smoked visor in the box, as well as a pinlock insert. These visors are powersports grade, and have tear-off strip pegs on the outside in case you want to use the helmet as your race helmet.
That wouldn’t be out of line in any way, as the EXO-R1 series of helmets are literally a slightly more consumer-oriented version of the EXO-R1 GP MotoGP and WorldSBK professional helmet. The only street-going allowances that we know of are the AirFit system, allowing you to get a precise fit via inflatable bladders in the helmet along your jaw and cheeks, and the fact that the lining and padding are not custom fit from a laser scan of your head like they are for pro riders.
Realistically, with the research, development, time, effort, and materials that are in the EXO-R1 Air Carbon, it would still be a steal at $850, but at $550 it is one of the best helmets you can buy for the money.