A helmet is the most important piece of motorcycle safety equipment you can purchase. If you care about your personal safety, only consider purchasing one of the best motorcycle helmets. In this review, we’ll recommend a number of popular motorcycle helmets and explain what we like about each one.
In this article:
- #1 Best Overall: HJC RPHA 11 Pro
- #2 Runner-Up: KLIM Krios Pro
- #3 Runner-Up: Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS
- #4 Best Budget Helmet: Bell Qualifier
- #5 Shoei GT-Air II
- How To Find The Best Motorcycle Helmet
- FAQ: Best Motorcycle Helmets
#1 Best Overall: HJC RPHA 11 Pro
Weight: 5.4 pounds
Safety Certification(s): DOT, ECE
Shell Sizes: S to 2XL
Price Range: $360 - $410
The HJC RPHA 11 Pro is designed for the track but is suitable for road riding as well. At around $400, this is a low-cost helmet considering the advanced design. In addition to being DOT- and ECE-certified, this helmet held up in our own crash test.
The antimicrobial liner is removable and features an emergency kit for added safety. The aerodynamic design makes the helmet extremely quiet on the road or the track. The enlarged eye port provides increased visibility on the road.
What Customers Are Saying: While there are only a few Amazon reviews of the HJC RPHA 11 Pro, the scores are high. It has an average score of 4.9 out of 5.0 and 100 percent of reviews rate the helmet 4.0 stars or higher. On RevZilla, the helmet has a 4.6 out of 5.0-star rating based on more than 50 reviews. Reviewers note that the helmet is safe, comfortable, and provides excellent noise reduction. Many say the helmet vents well.
- Premium Integrated Matrix (PIM) Plus fiberglass aerodynamic shell
- ACS advanced channeling ventilation system
- Rapidfire II shield replacement system
- EPS impact-absorbing liner
#2 Runner-Up: KLIM Krios Pro
Weight: 3.4 pounds
Safety Certification(s): DOT, ECE
Shell Sizes: M to 3XL
The KLIM Krios Pro features a state-of-the-art Koroyd impact liner that provides multi-directional impact absorption that is also breathable and lightweight. The Koroyd liner is constructed from a welded tube structure with a high compressive strength.
While designed for adventure riding, the Krios Pro is also suitable for the road. You can remove the face shield and visor to create four different configurations: adventure, dual sport, offroad, and street. The chin protection and forehead vents are adjustable so you can find the perfect configuration for your riding style.
What Customers Are Saying: There are not many Amazon customer reviews for the KLIM Krios Pro. On RevZilla, the product has an average score of 4.2 out of 5.0 based on more than 10 reviews. According to customer reviews, the helmet is lightweight and protective. Many riders swear by the brand for its safety features.
However, not everyone is satisfied with the Krios Pro. For some, the helmet does not fit comfortably. Even positive reviews mention that there is a high amount of wind noise and recommend wearing earplugs with this helmet.
- Koroyd impact-absorbing technology
- Transitions photo-chromatic lenses
- Full carbon-shell
- Polycarbonate anti-scratch face shield
- Antimicrobial Klimatek liner system
#3 Runner-Up: Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS
Weight: 5.0 pounds
Safety Certification(s): DOT, ECE
Shell Sizes: XS to 3XL
As the name suggests, the Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS helmet features a multi-directional impact absorbing system (MIPS) impact-absorbing liner. The MIPS system is designed to allow your head to move inside the helmet during an impact, reducing rotational force on the brain. This means increased safety if you fall at an angle (which is common in motorcycle crashes).
In addition to offering superior safety, the Qualifier DLX MIPS helmet is lightweight and comfortable. The padded wind collar and adjustable ventilation system help with airflow. This helmet also has integrated speaker pockets and removable, machine-washable interior padding.
What Customers Are Saying: The Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS has an average Amazon review score of 4.3 out of 5.0 based on about 40 ratings. More than 80 percent of reviewers rate the helmet 4.0 stars or higher. On RevZilla, the helmet has an average score of 4.4 out of 5.0 based on about 70 reviews. Reviewers mention that the helmet is lightweight, comfortable, and well-vented. Most complaints involve wind noise.
- MIPS multi-directional impact-absorbing liner
- Polycarbonate shell
- Transitions adaptive shield
- NutraFog II anti-fog, anti-scratch, UV-resistant shield
- Includes five-year warranty
#4 Best Budget Helmet: Bell Qualifier
Weight: 4.9 pounds
Safety Certification(s): DOT
Shell Sizes: XS to 3XL
Price Range: $115 - $120
For the price point, it’s hard to do much better than the Bell Qualifier. This helmet is lightweight, comfortable, and safe. The clickrelease face shield allows you to swap out the face shield tool-free. The ventilation system is adjustable and the antibacterial liner is removable and washable.
We think the Qualifier is an excellent entry-level choice, and it comes in a range of color and style options. However, there are better impact-absorbing liner systems on the market. The upgraded Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS discussed above features MIPS impact absorption technology, but will jump the price up by more than $150. Still, the standard Qualifier is crash-tested and should keep you safe in many situations.
What Customers Are Saying: The Bell Qualifier has an average Amazon customer review score 4.6 out of 5.0 stars based on over 2,800 reviews. About 90 percent of reviewers rate the product 4.0 stars or higher. Several reviewers said that they crashed while wearing the helmet and came away with minimal injuries. The Bell Qualifier is appreciated for its low price point, lightweight design, and comfortable fit. One customer described the fit as between “intermediate and narrow oval.”
Most customer complaints point to the face shield. The helmet ships with a clear face shield, and a tinted face shield can be purchased separately. This accessory runs around $40.
- NutraFog II anti-fog, anti-scratch, UV-protected face shield
- Velocity Flow Ventilation system
- Polycarbonate ABS shell construction
- EPS impact-absorbing liner
- Removable, washable liner
- Integrated speaker pockets
- Five-year warranty
#5 Shoei GT-Air II
Weight: 5.9 pounds
Safety Certification(s): DOT
Shell Sizes: XS to 2XL
The Shoei GT-Air II is an aerodynamic helmet featuring a molded spoiler for reduced drag and lift. This touring helmet is a good choice for long rides. The sun shield visor system blocks UV rays, and the ventilation system maximizes airflow and prevents fogging.
The interior lining absorbs sweat and is fully removable and machine washable. The helmet also features enough interior space to accommodate eyeglasses. A large number of color options make it a good-looking helmet as well.
What Customers Are Saying: The GT-Air II has an average Amazon review score of 4.6 out of 5.0 based on just over 30 ratings. About 91 percent of reviewers rate the helmet 4.0 stars or higher. On RevZilla, the helmet has an average rating of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars based on just over 40 ratings.
Customers claim that the helmet is quite comfortable for long rides, and it provides good airflow and moderate noise reduction. The fit seems to suit oval-shaped heads, and several customers appreciate the ratcheting chinstrap, which can be easily managed while wearing gloves. The only reviewer complaints about this helmet mention increased wind noise at high speeds. None claim that the helmet is loud, but not as quiet as they had hoped. One reviewer said that the internal sun shield somewhat reduces visibility.
- Multiply matrix fiberglass and organic fiber shell
- Emergency quick release system
- CNS-1 face shield and baseplate system
- QSV-2 inner sun shield
- Multi-piece EPS impact-absorbing liner
- Pinlock face shield
- Compatible with SENS SRL2 Communication System
How To Find The Best Motorcycle Helmet
When shopping for the best motorcycle helmet, the first and most important feature to consider is safety. Beyond that, be sure to pick a helmet that is comfortable and provides good visibility.
The best motorcycle helmet may not be the same for everyone. The shape of your head and how you intend to use your motorcycle (for recreation, your daily commute, on a track, or on a long road trip) should all be considered when choosing a motorcycle helmet.
In general, you’ll want to consider the following categories:
- Added features
In the United States, motorcycle helmets must be certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) before they can be sold for on-road use. In addition to allowing no less than 105 degrees of vision from the midpoint and not having any surface projections exceeding 5.0 millimeters, DOT certification tests three areas.
|DOT Test Category||How the Best Motorcycle Helmets Are Tested|
|Impact absorption||This is tested by dropping the helmet from a fixed height onto both a flat and curved surface.|
|Penetration resistance||This is tested by dropping a steel spike onto the helmet from a fixed height.|
|Retention||This measures how well a helmet stays on your head and is tested by placing a helmet’s retention straps under a load of 50 and 300 pounds, then measuring stretch and displacement.|
Companies are responsible for testing their own helmets themselves. However, any helmet that claims to be DOT-certified may be randomly and independently inspected by the Department of Transportation to ensure compliance.
Some helmets may also sport a Snell certification. The Snell Memorial Foundation is a private nonprofit that conducts helmet safety inspections similar to the DOT tests, though Snell safety standards are slightly more rigorous. To be Snell-certified, a helmet manufacturer must submit a helmet to the Snell Foundation for independent testing. Snell will also regularly retest certified helmets to verify continued compliance.
Be sure to purchase a helmet that is at least DOT certified. A Snell certification is also a good indication of helmet safety. Another safety standard you may see listed on your helmet comes from the ECE. This European safety certification is similar to that of the DOT.
Here are a few other safety questions to consider:
Does the helmet have an emergency removal system?
Should you have a crash that involves a traumatic impact on your head, you risk spinal injury. You don’t want any such injury worsened by the paramedic’s attempt to remove your helmet. While first responders are trained in the procedure for safely removing a helmet after a crash, this technique requires two trained experts and can be difficult to execute.
An emergency removal system makes the first responder’s job easier, decreasing the chances that further injury is sustained when removing your helmet after a crash by reducing the amount of external force necessary to remove the helmet.
Is the helmet a full-face or open-face design?
A full-face motorcycle helmet is typically safer than an open-face design. For this reason, we don’t recommend an open-face helmet. However, some helmets have a modular design that allows the rider to choose between configurations. A modular helmet may be a good choice for riders who want an open-face helmet for short-distance, low-traffic rides, but need full protection for high-speed and highway rides.
What type of impact-absorbing liner does the helmet have?
While all motorcycle helmets feature an impact-absorbing liner of some sort, some materials provide better protection than others. Liners are designed to absorb energy from an impact after a crash.
Many helmets use EPS foam padding, while others feature more advanced technology. Standard EPS padding will reduce force from linear impacts, but during a crash, rotational force will also be applied to your skull. Fluid liners and multi-directional impact protection systems (MIPS) absorb more rotational force and provide a smoother, less violent deceleration of force.
The KLIM Krios Pro features Koroyd tubes, which are tiny plastic tubes thermo-welded into a honeycomb pattern. This technology has a higher compression rate and can absorb more energy than an EPS foam liner.
After safety, comfort should be a major consideration when shopping for a motorcycle helmet. The longer you ride your motorcycle, the more important helmet comfort becomes. Obviously, the best way to determine helmet comfort is to try the helmet on yourself. However, if you purchase a helmet online, this may not be an option.
You can always return an uncomfortable helmet, but there are features to look for that can help you decide if a helmet will be comfortable before trying it on:
- Fit: Helmet fit is a big part of both comfort and safety, as a loose-fitting helmet offers poor protection. Some of the best motorcycle helmets have removable pads for customization. Also, consider the shape of your head. Some helmets fit those with oval-shaped heads while others may be better for riders with round heads. Be sure to try on any helmet for snugness and comfort before wearing it on a ride.
- Climate control: The temperature inside your helmet can have a big impact on comfort. Moisture-wicking liners will keep you dry. You also want a helmet with good venting and airflow.
- Weight: A heavy helmet may hurt your neck after an extended ride. You will need to decide which weight is comfortable for you, but any helmet around 5.0 pounds or lighter should be comfortable for most riders.
Helmet visibility is important for enjoying the riding experience but also plays into safety. It’s important to have a helmet visor that doesn’t fog easily. This means looking for helmets with good airflow and an anti-fogging lens coating.irt
Also, consider the degree of visibility a helmet offers. Helmets designed for off-road use typically feature a much wider visor opening to accommodate goggles. Most of the helmets on this list are suitable for road riding. If you plan to use a helmet for off-road, consider the KLIM Krios Pro or other motocross-style helmets.
If you need glasses to see or like to wear sunglasses while riding, be sure to pick a helmet that has extra room for them. If you want an open-faced helmet, but don’t want to give up the safety of a full-face helmet, consider a modular helmet, which allows you to transform your helmet into either design.
Finally, consider how you plan to use your helmet. Will it be for everyday use? Racing? Long-distance touring? Depending on these factors, certain features may be more important to you than others.