It always surprises me that in some parts of the world it is legal to ride a motorcycle on a public road without a helmet. I’m looking at you Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire. What’s even more surprising is the fact that some people actually then go ahead and do it. You shouldn’t even ride a plain old bicycle with an unprotected head, much less a vehicle that can hit 100 miles per hour in no time flat. I know a lot of people will roast me for this point of view, but seriously people – always wear a helmet. You don’t need Johnny Law telling you to wear one; it’s like wearing a seatbelt – you do it because you aren’t a moron.

Anyway, here I’ve put together quick reviews of some of the most popular motorcycle helmets you can buy online. I put my top picks first and then the rest are in no particular order. Remember to size your head properly when ordering online. It sucks having to ship a helmet back and forth because you measured your head wrong.

I have stuck to entry-level helmets for the most part since I assume if you are on this site you are new to the whole motorcycle thing and may not want to spend that much money to begin with. That’s fine, and even entry-level helmets will keep you safe these days, thanks to great safety standards. But if you can, spend as much as you can afford on your helmet. It’s the smart thing to do.

Best Entry-level Helmet – 1Storm Modular

This helmet is very unobtrusive, well, unless you buy the pink one, I guess. They come in a wide array of colors, at least ten that I could count. The black version is basically the same helmet you see bad guys in movies wear. It looks cool, but also unremarkable.

In terms of features it all looks pretty good, actually. It’s DOT approved, so check on that. It has a flip-up face, dual visors, and a light thermoplastic alloy shell. The padding is removable. It has very big top vents and nice rear exhausts. I like it, I really do. It’s also priced pretty reasonably and is available all the way from extra-small to double extra-large. Be aware, though, that customers have complained that the actual helmet seems smaller than the quote size, so pay attention to the actual sizing charts and measure your head. It should also be noted that some people report that, although it is tight out of the box, after a little bit of wear the padding molds to your head. So don’t be too quick to return it. Wear it while watching TV or something.

This helmet is priced very competitively and is one of the best overall deals I’ve seen in the upper entry-level niche. I actually think this would be my top pick as a newbie.

Best Value – Duke Helmets DK-120 Full Face

I have to admit, the DK-120 looks freaking awesome. I love the designs and lines of this helmet. It reminds me of a Japanese show known as Kamen Rider where the main character has a very fancy insectoid helmet. This is like a much more mundane translation of that look, especially around the mouth and with that dark-tinted visor on. Speaking of which, the Duke comes with two visors – there’s a clear one which you will need if you plan on riding in the dark, no matter how cool the dark visor will look at night.

The helmet is made of a poly-composite shell and is said to meet or exceed the applicable DOT standards. There are seven points of ventilation, and the helmet is said to be especially aerodynamic. Well, it does look that way, but I guess you’ll only know by riding with it.

The nylon interior is hypoallergenic and it even comes with a cloth carrying bag. All in all it’s a great bargain at the price and it looks fabulous to boot. There are also plenty of first-hand accounts of how the helmet holds up to crashes, which are all pretty encouraging. I have no qualms about recommending the Duke.

Best Mid-Range Helmet – Arai RX-Q

Although I mostly stick to sub-$200 helmets on this page, I feel that it’s necessary to highlight at least one mid-range helmet – the sort of thing you should aim to get in the long run. You can easily spend between $2000 and $3000 on a really high-end helmet, but the sweet spot definitely centers around the $600 mark. At that price point you are really spoiled for choice and can pick from some of the biggest names, like AGV, Bell, and Arai.

The Arai RX-Q stands out among these as an excellent road bike all-rounder. It’s very comfortable, easily accommodates people who wear glasses, and has great ventilation. The materials are high-quality and durable. It is not only DOT certified, but has extra safety features such as a patented quick-release system so that medical rescue people can get it off without causing further injuries.

Although this is a toned-down version of the related Arai Corsair-V, the RX-Q still has excellent high-speed performance and should work well in a variety of conditions and on a variety of road bikes. If you have the extra cash, go for this helmet.

Best Sports Helmet – Bell Solid Qualifier

You don’t get much bigger, brand-wise, in the helmet world than Bell. These guys are the pioneers of keeping your brains where they belong and in one piece. The Qualifier is unabashedly a sport-oriented helmet and it looks amazing. The side profile is one of the sexiest I’ve seen on any helmet, regardless of price. It comes in a bunch of colors and designs, but the matte black and silver are, in my mind, the two best option. However, you should find a design that matches your bike easily, given the range of choices.

Being a Bell you can be sure that all the right standards and qualities are observed in this helmet. Heck, Bell invented a lot of the things they test helmets for in the first place. This helmet might not be the best for more casual riding, but as an entry-level sports helmet you’ll have a hard time beating the Bell in either looks or quality.

ILM Full Face Motorcycle Street Bike Helmet

The lines on this ILM street bike helmet are sharp indeed. I like the matte finish on the one black option the most, but the various glossy colour options are pretty nice. The sharp-faced look isn’t just about style. ILM says this is a particularly aerodynamic shell. Which seems like a strange selling point for a street bike helmet rather than a superbike helmet. The main goals seems to be noise reduction though and that’s always welcome.

There are two visors included with the price. The regular clear visor and then a smoked one. I would have preferred a mirrored option, but that’s just personal preference. The shell is made from ABS plastic, with quick-release clasps.

A neat bonus with this helmet is the winter neck scarf that attaches to the helmet and shields the gap between the helmet and your jacket from the cold.

Finally, this is a DOT-certified lid, so you don’t have to worry about the crash credentials. Hopefully however, you’ll never have to test that first-hand! In the past I would have had reservations about buying a helmet at this low price point, but technology has advanced so much that even entry-level kit like this is OK from a safety perspective. For that matter, the ILM looks more expensive than it is. If this is the extent of your budget you could certainly do much worse.

Triangle Dual Visor Street Bike Helmet

This is yet another helmet with really sharp looks. While the shell mould isn’t half bad, it’s really the geometric graphics that make this one stand out. It creates curves and angles where none exist and I like the overall effect.

I like that the removable liner is not one density throughout. This mean that areas that need more padding get it,but those that benefit more from breathability will get less. You can wash the lining with ease and the material itself has an antibacterial effect.

The mainline feature is the quick change dual visor system which basically means that there is an internal sun visor in addition to the outer clear visor. Very convenient and a great feature at this price point.

Fuel Helmets SH-FF0015

This is another helmet with a rubbery matte finish, which I like. This full-face road helmet has two prominent, vented diffusers on top. While this no doubt helps a lot with ventilation and aerodynamics, they also look sort of goofy. At least they are the same color as the rest of the helmet, which masks the lizard-man frills somewhat. Other than that it looks pretty run of the mill. This is a very cost-effective helmet so I can’t fault it too much if the looks aren’t top notch. In any case, looks are a matter of opinion. Maybe you have really bad taste and like the way this helmet looks.

From a practical standpoint this helmet has DOT certification, so you don’t have to worry about safety issues. It’s also pretty light and has a quick-release mechanism for the face shield. Not bad for a sub-$100 helmet. Based on what people who bought one of these are saying, it’s pretty much as good as base-model helmets get at the moment. A few poor, unlucky souls who have actually taken a tumble with one of these report that it handled the impact just fine. Overall it’s a pretty good deal and it isn’t completely embarrassing.

VIPER Modular Dual Visor

Straight off the bat, in the looks department this helmet just appeals to me. I’m not generally someone that likes graphics that are too “busy”, but the red, black, and white color scheme on the VIPER is pretty attractive.

It’s a full face and open face convertible helmet with dual visors. I actually like helmets like this because my head is, er, well, it’s huge and I also wear glasses. Flip up helmets like these make my life easier because I can simply slide the helmet on from the back without trying to squeeze my poor head through the narrow neck hole. The VIPER is also billed as a snowmobile helmet, but that’s pretty irrelevant for our purposes. It has a built-in sun visor and you can buy an anti-fog visor separately.

This is a helmet that usually goes for about $200, which makes it midrange, but you might find a better deal. You can get some better known brands in this price range, but they won’t look nearly as cool. User reviews are also very positive and those who’ve had the misfortune of going down while wearing one are particularly happy to live to tell the tale. Some people do seem to have trouble with the build-quality of the integrated visor, but most are fine with it. I think this is a great purchase at the price and often there are good deals on this unit, so keep it in mind.

iV2 901 Pink Butterfly Helmet

I spotted this helmet and can see why it’s apparently one of the most popular ones people buy online. The Japanese-inspired artwork is actually quite pretty to look at, if that’s your sort of thing. This helmet is unashamedly aimed at the ladies. In fact, there’s a whole trend of pink bike gear from various manufacturers that are aimed at female riders. Whether the average female rider thinks pink is a color they want to ride in is another issue, but it’s nice to have the option. I do suspect this will be bought for casual scooter riders or people who are not necessarily into bike culture. Either way, if the looks of the 901 appeal to you, we’d better see if it is actually a decent helmet or not.

It has EPS lining and a shell made with ABS, which is a fairly cheap plastic that’s also used for LEGOs. It’s durable though, and the helmet is DOT certified, so it is nothing to worry about. There’s a quick-release visor mechanism and removable cheek pads, so you can wash ‘em, of course.

The user feedback for this helmet is filled with happy girlfriends, daughters, and wives, although I have no doubt that there are more than enough men who wish this was made in their size. Speaking of which, users say the sizing is spot on. For the very low asking price of this helmet it is definitely worth a look if there is someone who is a casual rider that would also love the aesthetic. A great gift idea, actually.

Conquer Snell Open Face Racing Helmet

Modern bluetooth helmets tend to make us all look like Snake Eyes from GI Joe, which is not a bad thing. However, classic biking with an open face helmet has its own charms. You really get a greater sense of speed and if you wear the right goggles you won’t have to worry about dry eyes.

On the other hand it’s no fun to eat bugs or have small objects strike your face. This is especially true if you are riding a cruiser with no windscreen or deflector, which would normally divert debris over your head. Still, if you are brave enough you might want to consider this open face helmet from Snell. A nice matte finish, removable pads, Kevlar chinstrap and fibreglass shell. It meets all safety standards, has a quality construction and a decent price.

Whether you want to use it for racing is debatable, but cruiser enthusiasts will get a real kick from this one.

Bang Up Job

These are some of the better helmets that I’ve spotted for those who are getting into biking as a hobby or form of transport. The market has really changed over the last few years as materials have improved and costs have gone down. Just a few years ago I would not touch a helmet that cost less than $300, but now I’m perfectly comfortable with much of the sub-$200 price range. You should never skimp on protecting yourself, but you should also not spend more if there’s no extra safety in it for you. These helmets have to pass all the same safety tests as their more expensive counterparts. So really, it’s down to features and comfort.

If you don’t find what you are looking for here please check out my helmet buyer’s guide to help you out when you go shopping for your next lid.