A Bluetooth-equipped helmet can be an essential piece of motorcycle safety tech, whether you're staying in touch with your posse or getting turn-by-turn directions from a paired phone. But the term Bluetooth helmet technically can be a bit of a misnomer. Bluetooth handles the phone pairing in a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet; communicating with other riders happens via proprietary mesh networks with distinct radio bandwidths, sort of like walkie-talkies.
What's this about Cardo versus Sena?
Cardo and Sena build the two leading Bluetooth helmet communication systems. Cardo sells its PackTalk system; Sena manufacturers its own third-party units and builds the backbone of the proprietary system for manufacturers.
Both the Cardo and Sena systems work fluidly; they're quick and easy to set up with a smartphone app. Both also feature oversized and fairly straightforward onboard controls. Cardo offers its own voice command system, while Sena allows you to use Apple and Google systems.
Sena offers a couple of advantages. Units like the 50R and 50S include noise-canceling tech, and newer Sena models can accommodate up to 24 riders, while Cardo Packtalk tops out at 15. But the systems are so close in quality that the deciding factor for many buyers may be which system their friends are already using.
What to look for in a Bluetooth helmet
The key trait of Bluetooth-ready helmets: they have built-in space for small speakers to nest beside your ears. Stuffing the speakers into a helmet without added space will put pressure on your ear. It could also affect the fit of the helmet and, consequently, be dangerous during a crash.
Worried about getting the fit right? You could always get a helmet with communication technology already built in.
The Best All-Around Bluetooth Helmet
This is a full-featured modular helmet that is built with recessed ear pockets and compatible with either Cardo or Sena systems. It’s also quite lightweight for a modular helmet at a little under four pounds, includes a drop-down sun visor and has an extra-wide viewing field. Plus, the helmet comes in high-vis yellow that makes it harder for drivers to miss you on the road, even if the rest of your getup is stealth black.
The interior is designed for comfort. with secure padding that won’t shift. It’s well-vented with both a mouth port inlet and an exhaust port at the top. Switchgear is oversized to work with gloves and a Pinlock face shield’s heavy-duty detents hold firm when you’ve high-lifted the lid for extra venting. Bell even left some extra room behind both visors for eyeglass wearers.
The Best Upgrade Bluetooth Helmet
The AGV Sportmodular was designed to be one of the most versatile pieces of kit you can buy. Using carbon fiber construction tech developed for Moto GP, it’s almost as light as the AGV K6, weighing just 3.06 pounds. But it’s also a modular helmet with a hinged chin bar, so it’s extra comfortable for ADV riders who want to swing open a lid to get a swig of water without removing the helmet.
AGV offers an extra-wide 190-degree field of view, and the sun shield and visor offer distortion-free viewing from all angles. The Sportmodular was designed in a wind tunnel, to ensure it would be very quiet and have less drag/turbulence. A special internal cuff reduces wind noise and is reversible, to let in more air in the summer or block it out in cooler conditions.
Sena makes AGV’s comms system, called ARK; the Sportmodular can be upgraded to use it for around $280.
The Best Affordable Bluetooth Helmet
For $399, you’re getting the comms integration of a standalone $288 Sena unit and a fully-featured composite fiberglass helmet. Dual front vents couple to an oversized rear exhaust port and a hydrophobic liner fabric — easily removed and washable — wicks away sweat. The integrated Sena system means the components come ready to use.
The EVO includes a Pinlock face shield with strong detents (so a partial flip-up stays put, even at speed). Plus, the included Sena unit is good for 17 hours of talk time between charges.
Best Bluetooth Helmet for Urban Riders
Built from a combination of carbon fiber and aramid fibers, the K6 helmet is insanely lightweight, checking in at just 2.76 pounds (some helmets can weigh nearly twice that). The helmet features a 190-degree field of view, and five large front air vents keep your bean cooler on hot summer days or in stop-and-go traffic.
At speed, the K6 was wind-tunnel tested to be quieter with less wind buffeting. AGV scales their helmets from small to 2XL, rather than keeping the same helmet and adding different amounts of foam. Wear glasses? Designers gave the K6 a tad bit more room behind the shield to accommodate specs.
Best Bluetooth Helmet for Touring
Modular helmets can be loud, because the split that allows the chin bar to swing up can introduce turbulence. But Shoei's Neotec 2 helmet works around that by being extra slippery and aerodynamic with a wind deflector along the chin bar and a small rim at the cheek pads as well. Shoei even formed a sports car-style spoiler into the helmet shell, reducing the noise and quelling the lift from higher speed riding that can cause neck fatigue.
While we love old-school D-ring chin straps, the ratchet mechanism you get here is just easier to operate, especially while wearing gloves. This lid also gets a built-in 100% UV-block sun shield that retracts quickly via a single slider to block sudden glare easily. The Neotec II is designed for Sena SRL Communication system integration.
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If you ride frequently, you need a helmet designed around safety, comfort and clean-ability. Schuberth handles the safety, giving the R2 Traction an extra-wide field of view lens, a larger eye port and an anti-fogging shield. Schuberth also heat forms the R2 Traction out of glass fiber, allowing varying wall thicknesses. This practice gives you extra protection where you need it while reducing weight where you don't need it.
The R2 Traction also gets a chin spoiler to reduce drag and noise. To avoid sweat buildup that can lead to a smelly bucket, the R2 Traction has a continuous anti-microbial liner that's removable and washable. The helmet is designed to pair with the $229 Sena SC1 comms system, with a pre-installed speaker, microphone and antenna to improve reception.
Built for Speed
If you ride in a tuck, you've experienced the bite from the back of a helmet digging into your spine. Icon's Conflux solves this issue with a neck roll explicitly designed for that riding position and remaining pliable as you lean forward. The liner and cheek pads are made from moisture-wicking fiber. And internal air channels funnel air directly over the inside of the liner, blow-drying away your sweat.
Icon includes a slot for an inner drop-down sun visor (sold separately) and a mouth vent, and the Conflux is compatible with Icon's own R.A.U. Bluetooth Communicator (for $195), which works on the Sena frequency.
Best Bluetooth Helmet for Using a GoPro
Need your moto helmet to also be a tripod? Check out Nexx's X Vilitur, which incorporates dual mounting brackets for a pair of GoPros. Wire that up along with Nexx's X-Com 2 Bluetooth headset ($329) and you could direct an action-adventure series from the seat of your bike.
And you wouldn't have to yell "Quiet on the set!" either. This modular led gets double rubber seals between the chin bar and the helmet frame and spoilers at the leading chin edge to reduce wind chatter. An adjustable chin curtain deflects more wind. The neck roll is a single piece to reduce irritation. We like the micro-ratchet chin strap that's easier to operate while wearing gloves, as well as the integrated sun shield. The cheek pads are formed to let your glasses hit your ears without causing extra pressure on your skull.
Best Bluetooth Helmet for Hot-Weather Riding
Modular? Full-face? Half shell? Can't decide? The Valiant II means you don't have to, since the LS2 has both flip-up modularity and can be used as a three-quarter open face helmet. You get the benefits of dual shields (sun or clear), both of which are fog-resistant and distortion-free. Carefully structured padding around the lower opening ensures a quiet ride for the money.
The liner is removable and washable, and venting is free-flowing and constant. This helmet has two shell sizes, with a 2XL-3XL version that could be a better helmet if you have a larger head. Need comms? This helmet accepts ant communication setup, with carve-outs for speakers at the ears.
Best Bluetooth Helmet for ADV Riders
Even beyond the sexy carbon fiber shell and three-pound weight, there are standout features that make the Klim Krios Pro helmet unique. Its Koroyd honeycomb internal structure works like a car's crumple zone in an accident, so it self-destructs on impact, sucking up forces caused by deceleration. The helmet also has a transitions lens that changes with the available light, so you can always see clearly and ride more safely.
This is also an extra versatile ADV lid, with a quick-change function to ditch the visor and swap to a street look in an instance without tools. When you do ride, both the venting and the shell of the Klim are shaped to reduce wind noise. It's compatible with Bluetooth systems and has ear pockets ready for inserting speakers.
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