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The Best Motorcycle Helmets You Can Buy

Never compromise when it comes to your brain bucket.

best motorcycle helmets
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Buying a helmet is the most critical motorcycle gear purchase you'll ever make. It may be the most expensive item on your list — besides the bike, of course — but if you get in an accident, it will be the most critical item. Whatever your riding style, the best motorcycle helmet is the one that will be versatile, keep your head cool and comfortable — and come loaded with the latest safety technology and helmet ratings.

Of course, the "right" helmet, like the correct bike, varies. If you're bombing eight-to-twelve-lane highways, you need a helmet hewn to reduce fatigue caused by wind buffeting and the screech of air leaking through the visor or sneaking its way beneath your jawline. If you're clocking long hours on the bike, the wind monster will eventually haunt your psyche like a creeping migraine; you'll want the quietest helmet you can find.

If you're expecting the weather to be particularly hot (or cold), find a lid that keeps you cool or warm — better helmets will be adept at both. If you're heading off-road for some ADV riding, find a helmet designed with variable cooling (sometimes the economy choice in that realm can be a modular helmet with a flip-up chin bar for some instant, dunked-in-ice-water relief). MX riders will want a helmet with better protection — there's a greater likelihood of coming off the bike — and a more open design to accommodate goggles and more airflow.

Poke around to find the lid that fits your riding style best; we've also covered some vintage-styled motorcycle helmets and Bluetooth motorcycle helmets separately. No matter what, the right helmet is the one you'll wear for every ride.

What to Look For When Buying a Motorcycle Helmet

Fit: The helmet should fit snugly and comfortably on your head with the eye port starting above your eyebrows. If you can adjust the helmet side to side without your skin moving, you likely need a smaller size.

Head Shape: Not every helmet is optimal for every type of head shape. A manufacturer will typically note whether the helmet is better for long oval (longer front to back), intermediate oval (round) or round oval (longer side to side) heads. Most helmets will skew toward intermediate.

Lining: Wearing a motorcycle helmet can get sweaty, particularly during summer rides. Liners that are easily removable, washable and made from antimicrobial materials.

Weight: A lighter helmet will generally be more comfortable and cause less neck strain. Many helmets incorporate carbon fiber and other lightweight materials into the construction of the shell, which can reduce weight but also jack up the price. Modular helmets tend to be heavier than full-face helmets because they need a way to flip up the visor.

When to Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet

There’s no exact timeline for when to buy a new motorcycle helmet. The rule of thumb is around every five years. But it could be sooner, depending on how often you use it. Here are some factors to watch out for.

You’ve been in an accident: Your helmet is designed to protect your head during an impact not necessarily maintain its integrity to be able to do so again. The safest option after sustaining a heavy impact is to just get a new helmet.

The helmet's interior lining is degrading: Your helmet should be close-fitting when you buy it. It may loosen as the inner material compacts over time. It may degrade and start to flake off. Either way, it’s time to get a new helmet at that point.

Straps, buckles and snaps are starting to fail: Your helmet is only valuable if it stays on your head. Any tearing, loosening or corrosion at the straps, buckles and snaps is a sign that it’s time to get a new helmet as well.

      How to Care for Your Motorcycle Helmet

      Keep your helmet in a storage bag: Storing the helmet safely can help prevent wear and tear. The helmet may come with a drawstring bag which you can bring with you while riding. A protective case would be even better. Avoid storing the helmet in a bag with other gear or fuel.

      Only clean your helmet with warm water: Avoid abrasive and petroleum-based cleaning materials which can damage the helmet. Only use warm water on the exterior and face shield. Mixing non-abrasive baby shampoo with warm water can be a great way to clean sweat and hair oil out of the interior lining.

      Use soft cleaning accessories. The best option for avoiding damage to your helmet is to use a soft microfiber towel that is clean if not brand new. You can also use a toothbrush with soft bristles to clean nooks and crannies. Vents can be blown out using compressed air.

      (Note: some helmets may be temporarily out of stock due to ongoing supply chain issues, so check back often.)

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      How We Tested the Best Motorcycle Helmets
      how we tested helmets agv ax 9, bell race star flex dlx, and k6
      Michael Frank

      We evaluated helmets for this guide based on first-hand testing during at home rides and product launches, as well as consultations with industry experts. We tested primarily for fit, comfort, noise levels and ease of use of features while riding.

      We did not test the helmets for safety in a crash ourselves for obvious reasons. But we did give special weight to helmets with strong ratings on the U.K. Sharp Helmet Scheme test and testing from other independent bodies. All helmets selected are DOT approved for safety.

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