Even before I signed the paperwork for my first motorcycle I had bought three helmets. Each one was unique in graphics, style, and purpose, and I wanted them all. Of course I had no idea what I needed. Not a single one of them fit, and one was completely useless. It earned its DOT certification if I chose to add the sticker that came with my receipt. Thankfully, I never had to test how effective do-it-yourself DOT certification is, but that money was long gone.
The right helmet makes a world of difference in both rider comfort and protection. Upgrading your headwear at least every five years ensures you’re equipped with the latest in technology and safety innovations; just as important, a new bucket instills instant rider confidence, which is essential to focusing and enjoying time spent in the saddle. To keep you from losing your mind when seeking new security for your skull, we’ve searched out the best motorcycle helmets on the market today — the goal is to end up safe and happy, not with a shelf full of shiny garbage.
AGV Pista GP
Best Helmet for Knee Draggers: Designed, developed and tested on the shoulders of seven-time Moto GP Champion Valentino Rossi, the AGV Pista GP is the high water mark for full-face protection on two wheels. Full carbon fiber construction, increased field of vision in full crouch riding and almost double the ventilation of other buckets in the paddock combine to create a race-ready helmet. Both the inner and outer shells are available in four sizes to ensure proper fit and come complete with replaceable, sanitized cheek pads to fight the funk from any heated battles. The AGV Pista GP is DOT and ECE-22.05 (European) certified, so it will do just fine on your next continental road trip.
Best Helmet for Baggers: The chaps-and-patches crowd seem to have a natural aversion to proper head protection; their go-to grab is typified by its lack of material, technology and, in some cases, actual safety certification. While we don’t condone their sacrificial choices, we understand that the half-helmet isn’t going anywhere fast. The Bell Rogue is DOT-certified headwear that keeps the look of a beanie while offering up the protection of a three-quarter helmet. The adjustable muzzle works well to fight the elements and lend some warmth and, depending on what side of the barracks you grew up in, looks kinda cool. Just don’t count on it to keep your face intact if you happen to bail — thats what your full-length beard is for.
Best Helmet for Ridin’ Dirty: Off-road riding is a whole other kind of beast when it comes to technique and the gear a rider needs. The standard full-face helmet just won’t cut it here — and the Thor Verge represents the cream of the (very muddy) crop. Approved for use by the FIM (Federation of International Motorcycling) and the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association), the Verge utilizes a hand-laid composite fiberglass and kevlar construction to deliver a race-inspired shell that is both DOT and ECE-22.05 certified. To increase strength, the chinbar features its own layers of the same dual-density EPS (expanded polystyrene) found throughout the interior, while multiple ventilation ports keep riders cool. A removable antibacterial liner, filtered mouth vent and contoured eyeport gasket (for better goggle fit) mean you should keep fairly clean when the mud starts to fly.
Ruby Le Castel
Best Helmet for Mods, Rockers and High Rollers: While helmets almost always look cool, it’s rare to find one that we would call gorgeous. The Castel helmet is that rarity. Constructed completely of carbon fiber, the visorless Castel weighs in at a mere 910 grams (depending on options) and surrounds riders in a sumptuous den of top-grain Nappa lamb leather. The shape is elegant in its simplicity: the exquisitely detailed venting up front and its aerodynamic peak on top (it extends below the eyeport) is MOMA-worthy. Designed to be worn with either goggles or sunglasses, the Castel wouldn’t look out of place pulling up to the Ace Cafe or the Red Carpet.
Schuberth C3 Pro
Best Helmet for The Iron Butt: The Schuberth C3 Pro was developed in a wind tunnel to deliver the utmost comfort and convenience for the sport-touring crowd. It has been aerodynamically shaped to create downforce in just the right areas, reducing rider fatigue and aiding in optimal rider posture. It creates zero upward lift. The Coolmax-lined interior is quieter at 60 mph than the blender in your kitchen and can be outfitted with Schuberth’s SRC Bluetooth communication system, should you need to check in once in a while. Oh, and did we mention it’s a modular helmet? On those steamy August afternoons when you’re stopped at the traffic light, just flip up the chinbar to ask that nice young lady in the convertible which way it is to the beach.
Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Helmet: The saying goes, “If you’ve got a $10 head, get a $10 helmet”. Not anymore. The Icon Airmada packs the bells and whistles of helmets cresting five hundred dollars into a package that starts below two. Built to an all-world standard, the Airmada exceeds the safety requirements for DOT, ECE, SAI (Australia) and SG (Japan) certification. The shield is 3D molded to provide unparalleled eye protection and the shell is available in four different sizes, including Icon’s exclusive “long oval” headform, to ensure a proper fit. Adjustable intakes at the chin and forehead are standard issue as a part of the twin-channel vent system, while the removable HydraDry liner is machine washable. We’ll take two.