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 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 Bluetooth Helmet – BILT Techno

There’s almost nothing these days that doesn’t have a Bluetooth connection, and just about everyone has a smartphone that can beam calls and music over this short-range radio standard. Stuffing an earbud headset into your helmet is uncomfortable and painful, so the best option is to get a helmet that already has the electronic doodads built in. That’s where the BILT Techno Bluetooth Helmet comes into the picture. It has all the controls, speakers, and mike right in the helmet. Just pair your phone, stuff it safely in a pocket, and you’ll be jamming to tunes and yakking with your stockbroker in no time.

Usually helmets with these sorts of features will set you back five or six hundred dollars, but the BILT is priced at about a third of that, making it a real bargain. It doesn’t have the design chops of the big names in safety gear, but it’s functional and has all the safety certification you need to feel at ease. In fact, BILT says the injection-molded polycarbonate shell actually exceeds some DOT requirements, although I’m not sure which in particular.

This helmet really is packed with features, though. I love the integrated flip-down sun visor and the oversized buttons and vents that make gloved operation pretty easy. There’s plenty of venting, and if you buy two helmets you can have rider-to-rider intercom communication.

It wasn’t too long ago when you had to cough up a lot of money for similar features from the likes of BMW. Some people complain about audibility at higher speeds, but others disagree. So maybe this is down to how good (or bad) your ears are.
Either way, this has got to be one of the best bang-for-buck, hi-tech helmets on the market. It has just about everything a roadbike rider could want. Just don’t take it to the track or attempt superbike shenanigans with it. Then you’re better off going for something more expensive from people like Arai or AGV.

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 Budget 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.

TMS Adult Flat MX Helmet

I’m a total sucker for a matte black finish on a helmet and I’m happy to see that it’s become somewhat of a trend these days. I never really liked the 90s helmet graphics craze myself. This MX helmet from TMS really makes that matte finish work for it. It may not be the most exciting helmet mold out there, but the finish helps to mask any ugliness that may be there. The shell is composite, which cuts down on the helmet’s weight, which is more important for bumpy off-roading than relatively smooth road-riding.

A low price is usually a big warning sign for a helmet, but this unit is DOT certified and there are few complaints about the quality, although some people do say that the padding is a bit on the thin side. The visor retention screws are apparently a bit shoddy and some people have had minor sizing issues. Overall, however, these seem to be a bargain and don’t compromise on safety standards. They’re worth it if you are on a budget; I just wouldn’t recommend them for road use, but then that’s not what they are designed for.

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.

XFMT Carbon Helmet

If you want to make something look expensive these days it seems that the go-to strategy is a faux carbon fiber finish. Now, carbon fiber is an amazing material and hilariously expensive, so obviously this $50-ish helmet is not actually made of carbon fiber. That’s an issue I have with carbon-finish type products – carbon fiber is expensive so we associate the look with expensive stuff like Ferrari dashboards. I just think there’s something lame with trying to make something cheap look expensive this way. That’s just my opinion though.

So obviously I don’t like the look of the helmet in terms of the finish, but even the overall design seems a little boring and outdated compared to something like the Duke. Overall, to me this seems too cheap and nasty to be worth it, even if there may be nothing wrong with the technical aspects of the helmet. It is a flip-up dual visor model, which is actually pretty good at this price point, but I can’t get myself to like it.

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.