Vintage and motorcycles are good bedfellows. From Italian styling to luxuriously reconditioned rides, there’s a raw, utilitarian beauty to be found on two wheels. Superfluity is kept at a minimum, and styles of yesteryear echo a time when motorcycling had an ethos and feel all its own — individualistic and raw with an attitude that was a natural flow out of the two-wheeled renegade spirit. And that spirit lives on today, as more motorcycling gear manufacturers are seeing value in vintage styling. More than just leather jackets and boots, helmets also imbue riders with retro aesthetics — and modern safety. So let the beard grow out, tune up the café racer, and get your vintage style ready for a Sunday ride.
Shoei RJ Platinum R
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Best for Modern Ventilation:If you want the wind in your face, but you hate the noise and drag, the RJ Platinum R helps by incorporating forehead intake and exhaust vents (which also aid in reducing rider fatigue), along with a removable visor that allows use of a face shield for protection and additional wind-cutting. The profile is enhanced by a ridge at the back, and narrowed temple sections thin it out and even give your goggles a place to rest. It is both DOT and SNELL approved.
Torc Racing T50 Union Jack
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Best for Café Racers: If café racing is your moto jam, then look no further than an open-face Union Jack helmet that pays homage to the home of café racers, London. This slim design gets retro-style paint and a soft ultra-suede lining that wicks moisture to keep you dry. The chrome trim dresses things up, and the optional interior speakers amp things up. DOT approved.
Premier Jet Vintage Helmet
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Best Military-Inspired Design: If you’re helming a Ural, you’re aiming for the weathered fighter pilot look. And for that, Premier’s Jet Vintage is perfect with a matte military green paint and big fat stars emblazoned on the sides. The look is attractive enough, but the draw of an integrated and retractable sun visor makes it irresistible. And though it’s heavy on old-school style, the modern carbon fiber mix shell weighs in at a super-light 900 grams for all-day comfort. The Jet is ECE certified, essentially the European equivalent of DOT.
Bell Bullitt RSD Viva
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Best Retro Design: Bell partners with Roland Sands Design to create one of the most gorgeous retro helmets on the planet. Similar in vintage ethos to the famous Ruby Castel Spandau, the Bullitt RSD Viva gets a cream-white fiber-composite shell with red, white and black accents and a tasty bubble visor that’s equal parts vintage rider and retro space boy. The RSD Viva is outfitted with a washable antibacterial lining, metal mesh intake vents and an extra flat shield that installs in seconds. DOT approved.
Biltwell Gringo S
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Best of the ’70s: Though the Gringo S doesn’t have the most flattering name, its ’70s feel — with the kind of striping that makes you feel like you’re watching Soul Train on a Saturday morning — more than makes up for it. The full helmet has a simple, no-nonsense shape but bears a hand-painted finish and an interior lining with hand-stitched diamond-quilted padding. Comfort is enhanced by an Internal BioFoam chin pad. DOT approved.
Tachibana GT-750 Grand Prix
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Best Overall Style: The Tachibana GT-750 Grand Prix is the helmet we covet at the end of the day, simply because of its impeccable style, with a design that mimics the iconic Bell Star II. It comes in three absolutely stunning color schemes that use a matte white top portion and a dual-stripe trim at the base. Unfortunately, it’s tough as stink to actually buy in the States (so make sure you get your size right!). Japanese SG rated, the equivalent of Europe’s ECE and US’s DOT approval.
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Best for the Bad-Ass: This dome is the clear bad-ass of the group, looking very much like an extra from Mad Max: Fury Road. But the toughness isn’t all show. It’s a half helmet with a matching adjustable muzzle to keep debris and other road junk off your pretty face. Plus, the muzzle is magnetically mounted, making your reveal or concealment a snap. The matte black composite shell cuts the wind and protects your cranium, and the overall look will scare the dickens out of pretty much everyone short of law enforcement. DOT approved.
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Best Darth Vader Homage: The IS-Cruiser takes the basic half helmet and adds a convenient (and protective) visor and a smoked out sun shield, which can slide up or down as needed. This allows open-air freedom, with additional road and weather protection when you need it. The advanced polycarbonate shell is light and strong, and the liner is both moisture wicking and antibacterial. The Darth Vader homage part is free of charge. DOT approved.
GMax GM65 Full Dress Half
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Best in Clean Design: The GM65’s clean design and catalog of features make it an ideal half helmet that will keep you cool, protected and vintage stylish. The UV400 sun shield fully retracts and also detaches easily. The helmet comes with a snap in neck curtain, for weather protection, as well as a removable Coolmax liner that wicks sweat like a champ. Internal speaker pockets are communicator ready, so group rides are simple. DOT approved.