Buying a helmet is the most important 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 by far. 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.
Here are some of the best motorcycle helmet options for 2021. Oh, and by the way: the first two — a.k.a. some of the best of the best helmets — are currently on sale.
The Best All-Around Motorcycle Helmet
Safe and affordable don't usually go hand-in-hand. But the AGV K-3 gets 4/5 stars on England's notably stringent Sharp's safety testing. And it piggybacks off what AGV has learned when making its Pista and Corsa lids, so its integrated rear spoiler quiets airflow. So does a chin bar designed to cut through the wind. AGV also includes an internal sun visor, four front vents and two exit ports. Did we mention it only weighs 3.69 pounds? That's very light for a helmet this affordable.
AGV also adds some features learned from its experience building racing helmets for MotoGP. The K-3 has an extra secure visor with hard detents that won't release the shield even when it's partly opened for additional venting. Even the leading underside edge is tapered, so it's less likely to cause a collar bone break in the event of a crash.
The Best Upgrade Motorcycle Helmet
The AGV AX-9 is made from lightweight carbon fiber, bringing the weight down to just 3.69 pounds and making it more comfortable for long road miles. It also includes some added features to extends its versatility for ADV riders.
The helmet integrates a multi-modal mouth port, which allows you to remove the standard screen at the front of the helmet, allowing up to 300% more airflow front to back. The helmet also adds an oversized visor for extra aerodynamics and more eye shading. The visor is removable and adjustable, letting you adjust any sail effect on the fly.
The Best Value Motorcycle Helmet
This Bell helmet offers incredible features and tech for an affordable price. For safety, there's a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), which is a shell within a shell to dissipate the initial hit of a crash and protect against traumatic brain injury. Bell also includes a photochromic face shield that automatically brightens under dark conditions and tints in sunlight (no more squinting!).
Bell designed this helmet in a wind tunnel to be extra aero and prevent wind noise. Bell also added an internal collar that reduces the flow-through of loud air. Want to swap lenses? No sweat: Bell added a quick-release system to make it easy to pop in a replacement.
Whether you're commuting to the office or planning a cross-country journey, find the motorcycle jacket you need.
The Best Motorcycle Helmet for Racers
Arai specially designed the Corsair-X for riding in a racing posture — think more crotch rocket than Harley. This helmet's angled venting, aerodynamics and low weight — just 3 lbs, 11 oz — are intended for the rider riding fast on the street or hitting the track. Arai made the helmet rounder and smoother to improve airflow in a tuck and have the helmet dissipate more energy if there's an impact.
The Corsair-X face shield features a two-position latch system, holding the shield shut securely but in a de-misting position, letting you vent safely without the shield flying up at 70 mph. Ports on this bucket improve airflow to the front of your head. A removable neck roll reduces noise in cooler weather or removes completely to let you exhaust even more heat when you're bombing the track.
The Motorcycle Helmet for Standing Out in a Crowd
Icon's Airframe Pro Carbon helmet is not for the timid. The naked carbon fiber shell alone draws attention, and then there are the gold accents on the shield and the gilded rear spoiler/vent. But this helmet has more to offer than just its rockstar good looks.
The aft neckline is tapered, so it won't catch your jacket collar when you're in a tuck position. The additional padding options let you custom-fit the internals to get the most comfortable fit possible. Components are hydrophobic, and the chin/mouth deflector allows you to tailor airflow at the front while directing every exhale through the vents to prevent fogging. Its ultra-aerodynamic shape also should prevent wind noise.
Whether you're planning a cross-country tour or just want to rip trails, one of these backpacks will be perfect for the job.
The Best Motorcycle Helmet for MX
If you hammer dirt, you're bound to eat some eventually. Fox Racing built the V3 RX Rigs to take that crashing force and dispel it, so you're better protected. That starts with MIPS, a liner within the liner that alleviates the rotational forces caused by an impact. The magnetic vizor also releases, so there's no added backward force on your head and neck.
During riding, the V3 RS Rigz should feel lightweight, thanks to a carbon-fiber shell. We dig that the copious venting was engineered not to allow dust or grit to enter while still providing powerful breathing. Also: MX riding is a sweaty sport, so the addition of X-Static antimicrobial cheek and interior padding is just smart.
The Best Motorcycle Helmet for Off-Road Peripheral Vision
You'd be hard-pressed to find any helmet with a bigger eye-port than the Klim F3 Prizm Helmet. The added visibility allows you to spy obstacles better off-road. It also works more easily with motorcycle goggles, which keep getting bigger and bigger.
This Klim helmet's shaping is smaller, so you're managing less mass, which should reduce fatigue when hammering on really gnarly off-road segments. With 13 air intakes and six exhaust ports, it's exceptionally vented, so you're not frying your bean during the slow-speed technical portions of your ride.
The Best Affordable Helmet for ADV Riders
With the MX-9, Bell borrows the venting and shaping from their full MX designs but pares back that aggressive look for a rounder shape ideal for traveling at a fast clip on pavement. The helmet integrates MIPS safety tech at a price lower than many bicycle helmets but still keeps the overall weight below four pounds.
An extra-wide lens opening gives you a better field of vision and compatibility with a broader array of goggles. The visor is removable and oversized front mouth and top vents suck out hot hair to four large exit ports.
The Best Motorcycle Helmet for Touring
Schuberth designed the C3 Pro to be extra quiet for long-riding miles and reduce fatigue. The rear spoiler staunches buffeting and the subsequent noise from wind turbulence. Schuberth even included small divots in the air vents that redirect airflow over the inside of the helmet. This means the air cools your cranium without sounding like it's blasting by your ears. Schuberth even made sure that frontal airflow is smoother around the wide shield.
Add these improvements up and you get a helmet that produces only 82 dB of noise at 62 mph, which makes it one of the quietest helmets you can buy. We also love the micro-ratchet chin strap for quicker and more secure fastening as well as the integrated sun-shield that deploys behind the primary one.