What Makes a Helmet Quiet?
Aerodynamics. The easier a helmet slips through the wind, the quieter it will be. Some of the quietest helmets on the market are made by Schuberth. The German company is also the only helmet manufacturer we know of with a wind tunnel in its headquarters. Shoei is probably in second place when it comes to quiet helmets, that company is also heavily reliant on wind tunnel testing, even designing its own rig to move a helmet side-to-side and up and down in the tunnel to accurately recreate real world riding conditions.
The purpose of all this aerodynamic research is to determine the best way to deal with turbulence, which is what creates noise. That turbulence can be caused by an anything that disrupts the wind flow. Gap in your visor seal? Huge external vents? Air getting caught under your chin? That’s how a helmet gets noisy.
Addressing those things is how you make a helmet quiet – by starting with a shape that allows the air to smoothly reconnect behind the helmet and eliminating those trouble spots. If you want a quiet helmet, look for a clean, smooth, aerodynamic shape free of too many external vents and wings. Additionally, the helmet should feature a quality, adjustable visor seal and should close snugly around your neck.
How Do You Make a Helmet Quiet?
Earplugs. If you don’t ride with them now, start doing so. Wind-noise-induced hearing loss is a real thing and sitting in such a high decibel environment for extended periods exacerbates fatigue. RideApart highly recommends Howard Leight Max ear plugs. Buy a box of 200 and stash extra pairs in all your pockets.
Going further, a chin curtain helps, as does a good visor seal. The screws that mount your visor base plate can often be adjusted to find a perfect fit and the Shoei RF1200 innovates with a novel visor location adjustment, enabling you to quickly and easily get a perfect seal. It’s also worth considering a neoprene wind-blocking sleeve which seals the gap between helmet and neck both reduces noise and keeps errant detritus out of your face.
Keep in mind, though, that what you ride and how you hold your head are also major factors in wind noise. For example, if you ride a track-focused helmet on a cruiser, holding your head upright and not tilting it forward as if in a tuck, it’s likely you won’t benefit as much from the helmet’s hearing-protection qualities.
RideApart’s own wind tunnel is beset by construction delays, so lacking any repeatable, non-variable-polluted objective test method, we’re going to have to bring you anecdotal reporting. Below – in no particular order – are the five helmets that, in decades of cumulative riding careers, the RideApart staffers report are the quietest currently available: