When it comes to custom motorcycles we know what we like. The same can be said for our choice of riding gear. So we’ve thrown our helmets in the ring to create our very own Pipeburn Top 10 Motorcycle Helmets list. On this list, you’ll find the helmets we consider some of the best on the market. Since most of the bikes we feature are built for the street, we’ve limited our selections to road helmets. We’ve also split our selections into retro and neo-classic style categories since, like us, you probably shop for helmets that complement your ride.
Best Modular Helmet: Bell Broozer
Sure there are more advanced modular helmets on the market but from a style perspective none are as effortlessly cool as the Bell Broozer.
Depending on how you choose to wear it, the Broozer is either an open-face or a full-face helmet. Like the Bell Rogue, the Broozer features a removable chin bar that can be easily swapped out in seconds. What makes this helmet a superior choice is that, unlike the Rogue, the Broozer’s removable chin bar complies with ECE and DOT safety ratings.
Along with its ability to transform according to your needs, the Broozer is lightweight tipping the scales at only 1450g (3.2 lbs). The visor is anti-fog, anti-scratch and UV protected and retracts into the helmet with a flick of your thumb. For convenience, the generous folks at Bell supply both a dark and clear visor with this helmet at no extra cost.
If you want to roll with your own sunglasses or prescription specs the Broozer is eyewear compatible and the liner can be removed and washed to help extend its lifespan. With the chin bar removed there’s no shortage of airflow or bugs to your face, but when it’s installed adjustable vents help keep you cool.
As for styling the Broozer lends itself to more aggressive rides like streetfighters or modern choppers, but it’s the flexibility of this design and the attractive price point that we like the most.
RRP: $280 USD
Best Open-Face Helmet: Arai Classic V / Freeway Classic
Open-face helmets are inherently basic in their offering. So what makes a good one? Well for starters you can look at who made it. The Japanese manufacturer Arai is one of the best in the motorcycle helmet game. They’ve been producing them since 1952 and still to this day build all their helmets by hand.
The open-face Classic V may be one of the simplest helmets in Arai’s range, but there’s no less quality. Like all of their helmets, it has acheived a Snell safety rating which is often considered the most rigorous. The shell is made using Arai’s PB-cLc fibre composite which is designed to disperse the effect of an impact over the largest area possible. The interior comprises of a multi-density EPS liner with an inbuilt, hidden ventilation system. The liner is anti-microbial and has removable cheek pads and faux leather trim.
For those who want to add eye protection, the Classic-V has 5 snap stubs to allow the fitment of visors and a goggle strap holder at the rear. And since the front of the helmet is missing the Classic V is super light.
RRP: $235 USD
Best Retro Helmets: Nexx XG100 Racer
The first lid to make the cut in the retro helmet category hails from the Spanish manufacturer, Nexx Helmets. The XG100 Racer, which is clearly aimed at the cafe/custom crowd, is an evolution of the standard XG100 which lacked a hinged visor. The addition of the visor to this model makes it a vastly better choice which is why I have one in my own helmet collection.
The XG100 Racer is offered in either a carbon-reinforced X-Matrix composite shell or a full carbon fibre option. The choice of material is reflected by the price with the X-Matrix starting at around $390 versus $470+ for a full carbon unit. The weight also differs slightly at 1442g vs 1434g (3.18 vs 3.14 lbs).
The XG100 Racer’s style is pure 1970s motorsport. The deep chin bar and smooth round silhouette look right at home alongside any modern classic, neo-retro or vintage motorcycle. Adding to this helmet’s aesthetic appeal is a wide range of stylish graphics and colourways so you’re sure to find one that suits your style.
Other stand-out features of this helmet include the integration of Nexx’s moisture-wicking X.Mart Dry fabrics. A removable and washable liner, pin-lock-ready visors, ergo padding and an optional chin curtain. The only drawback I’ve found with this design is that the ventilation is limited to a mesh panel in the chin, but, as is often the case in this category, timeless style comes at a cost.
RRP: From $390 USD
Best Retro Helmets: Hedon Heroine Racer 2.0
The ’70s-styled Hedon Heroine Racer 2.0 is the second edition of the UK manufacturer’s full-face retro helmet offering. With classic styling, a wide range of slick colourways and a premium finish it’s a stand-out in the current retro helmet market.
The Heroine Racer 2.0 comes in 3 different shell sizes to ensure a snug, low-profile fit. The smallest weighs a mere 1250g while the largest comes in at a touch over 1400g. The modest weight and DOT/ECE homologation can be attributed to the use of carbon and composite fibres for the shell.
On the inside of the Heroine Racer 2.0 is Hedon’s plush 360° cushion padding that uses a specially designed anti-bacterial fabric. To step up the finish and add resilience the liner also features black leather trims.
The Vents on the Heroine Racer 2.0 are located within 3 press studs along the forehead. To make up for any lack of airflow, the visor mechanism can be positioned slightly ajar. For peace of mind the visor is ECE-rated and it provides a wide field of view.
The full-face Heroine Racer 2.0 outdoes the original version thanks to a handful of smart upgrades and design tweaks. These include the use of automotive quality paint, lightweight CNC alloy hardware, removable cheek pads, space for comms speakers and a new visor mechanism that offers 4 different positions. At over $1000 USD this retro helmet demands a big investment, but this kind of quality never comes cheap.
RRP: from $1,000 USD
Best Retro Helmets: Bell Bullitt
It has been labelled “The coolest helmet on the planet” and no retro helmet lineup would be complete without Bell’s revolutionary Bullitt.
The Bullitt was conceptualised by industrial designer Chad Hodge and then released in conjunction with Bell Helmets in 2013. The Bullitt wasn’t the first retro lid to ever be made but it can be accredited with popularising the genre and prompting other big players to follow suit.
This year the Bell Bullitt celebrates its tenth birthday which is a testament to the helmet’s popularity and quality. Not a lot has changed during that time, but here’s a look at what you can expect from the latest version.
Style is where the Bullitt excels. The helmet’s smooth silhouette features very little in the way of details that would detract from its classic vibe. The five forward-facing vents sit flush with the shell and direct air to the face and into channels within the liner. A single, non-adjustable vent at the rear expels hot air. The genuine leather liner is removable and machine washable and is made from Bell’s own Ionic+ antimicrobial comfort padding. It also features integrated pockets for comms speakers.
The Bullitt comes in 3 shell/EPS liner sizes. The latest edition tips the scales at 1470g (size M) and is both DOT and ECE-approved. While the shell is traditionally made from fibre composite, Bell has also released several special edition carbon fibre models which, as you’d expect, demand a bigger investment.
If you like to take in the view as you ride, few helmets offer a field of view as wide as the Bullitt. Bell offer either a flat visor or classic bubble for the Bullitt in a wide range of tints and finishes. As for colourways, Bell is constantly updating and adding cool new styles to the range. If however, you’re after something more unique, they have teamed up with the paint shop Helmade to offer a custom design service on their website.
RRP: from $440 USD
Best Retro Helmets: Shoei Glamster 06
Sure the Glamster may have one of the most cringe-worthy names in the helmet game, and a facepalm-inducing tagline (“Style for Miles”), but it makes up for it with timeless good looks and a decent list of features.
Although Shoei was a latecomer to the retro helmet game, they’ve made up for it with the Glamster. It was the second helmet that Shoei released as part of its Neo-Classic helmet range back in 2019. Preceded by the MX-styled Shoei Ex-Zero the Glamster is a street-bred take on the retro style trend. Influenced by ’70 and ‘80s racing helmets it features a smooth, low-profile shell, inconspicuous ventilation and a large viewport and visor.
For 2023 Shoei has released an updated version of the Glamster named the Glamster 06. The Glamster 06 is essentially identical to the previous model with 2 major differences. The first is that the helmet now adheres to the new ECE 22.06 safety standard. This was achieved by modifications to the shell which make it slightly thicker and heavier at 1300g versus the previous model’s 1200g. The second is a slight increase in price.
As with the original version the Glamster 06 has a multi-density EPS liner. The included visor is Pinlock ready and is supplied with a Pinlock insert. There are 4 non-closing vents on the chin bar and 2 adjustable vents on the forehead. And the exhaust vents are hidden within the rear neckline. The liner is removable, machine washable and has emergency release ready. It comes in 5 different shell sizes and ships with a removable chin curtain.
Topping of the Glamster 06 offering is the fact that it wears the venerable Shoei name. Infact the only negative we can think of in regard to this helmet is how emasculated you’ll feel revealing its name to other riders.
RRP: $547 USD
Best MX Style Helmet: Bell Moto-3
Adding yet another Bell helmet to this Top 10 list (no they didn’t sponsor this story) is the MX-styled Moto-3.
The Bell Moto-3 is a celebration of the manufacturer’s 60+ years of helmet production. Styled directly after the original Moto 3 of the 1970s it’s the spitting image of the original but has been made using modern tech.
Constructed from fibre composites the Moto-3 is DOT certified and comes in 3 shell and 4 EPS liner sizes. For added protection, the Moto-3’s pointy chin bar is also lined with EPS foam. The MX styling of this helmet means there’s no visor to protect your eyes or to lower wind noise so earplugs and sunglasses/goggles are a must. Along the brow of the helmet are press studs which allow the fitment of an included sun visor. As you’d expect there’s no shortage of air entering this helmet, but Bell still added aggressive-looking vents in the chin.
Beyond those features, there’s not much else to be said about the Moto-3 aside from that it looks awesome, weighs nothing and is priced very reasonably.
RRP: $299.95 USD
Best All-Rounder Helmets: Shoei RF1400 / NXR2
If you’re not fussed about retro styling and want a helmet that won’t cost the earth or compromise on features, then check out the Shoei RF1400.
Shoei’s RF1200 was for many years the benchmark of the helmet industry. It was the lightest helmet in the manufacturer’s range, boasted an impressive list of features and was approved to stringent Snell M2020 standards. So with the release of the new RF1400, Shoei has done its utmost to maintain the RF’s reputation using a series of well-executed design improvements and upgrades.
The RF1400 is still Shoei’s lightest lid at 1640g (3.62 lbs). The shell is constructed using their proprietary Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ composite fibre and it comes in 5 different sizes to ensure you get the lowest profile and best fit possible. Internally there’s a multi-density EPS core containing wind tunnel-tested air channels. The liner uses Shoei’s 3D Max-Dry moisture-wicking material and is fully removable and washable. The internal padding also features an emergency quick-release system.
One of the standout features of the RF series is how quiet they are and the RF1400 continues to uphold that tradition. Using their own wind tunnel facility Shoei refined the shape of the shell, ventilation system, internal padding, visor structure and visor seal to further improve internal noise levels. By relocating the air vents, adding an additional intake and increasing the size of the exhaust vent the RF1400 also offers superior cooling to the outgoing model. Another benefit of the revised shell design is reduced pressure on the rider’s neck. Shoei claims there’s a 6% decrease in lift and a 4% reduction in drag which aids in reducing fatigue.
Other features that make this helmet worthy of your hard-earned are the inclusion of a Pinlock-ready visor and Pinlock insert in the purchase price. Breath and chin guards also come as standard, you get a new central visor locking mechanism and a commendable 5-year warranty. Colourways range from basic solids to track-inspired livery and even a few retro-inspired designs. What more could you want (or need) from a motorcycle helmet?
RRP: from $580 USD
Best All-Rounder Helmets: AGV K6
Disclaimer: The AGV K6 made it onto this list because it’s my personal go-to helmet. Here’s why…
AGV pitched the K6 as “The best helmet for any use”. They achieved this by combining the aerodynamic characteristics of their Moto GP-developed helmets with those from their touring range. So whether you’re sitting upright or leaning over the bars the K6 promises minimal turbulence…and in my experience, it does exactly that.
The K6 is both DOT and ECE homologated, but AGV exceeded homologation requirements by almost 40% while creating this helmet. I don’t know about you, but to me, that shows how dedicated this brand is to producing a reliable product.
The K6 shell is made from lightweight, high-strength carbon-aramid fibres and internally there’s an impact-absorbing 5-layer EPS liner. But that’s not all. AGV also designed the K6 to be collarbone safe and added an emergency quick-release liner to assist first-response workers.
The K6 is incredibly light and a mere 1330g (2.95 lbs) and despite its scant structure, it’s impressively quiet. So quiet that you can clearly hear yourself speaking within legal speeds.
For optimum comfort, the K6 uses a plush Ritmo and Shalimar liner with a 2Dry system that wicks moisture. The helmet’s comfortable neck roll sits flush on the neck to reduce wind noise and it comes with removable chin and breath guards. To keep internal temperatures in check cool air enters the K6 via 5 adjustable vents on the chin bar and forehead while warm air exits through a non-adjustable vent at the rear.
The K6 ships with a 4mm thick anti-scratch and Pinlock-ready clear visor and a single Pinlock insert. If you’re after a quality all-rounder helmet I highly recommend this one.
RRP: $499.95 USD
Best Smart Motorcycle Helmet: Forcite MK1S
Tech helmets have been a bit of a novelty in the motorcycle helmet scene over the past decade. From distractive HUD displays, pointless rearview cameras and botched Kickstarter campaigns there’s been plenty of failures. But now, a new Australian manufacturer seems to have nailed the formula. The MK1S by Forcite Helmets is the second iteration of the company’s smart helmet technology and it’s a well-honed featured packed offering.
As far as motorcycle helmets go, the Forcite MK1S isn’t lacking in any way. The carbon fibre-shelled helmet is ECE and DOT rated, has ample ventilation thanks to an 8-vent system, features a removable and washable moisture-wicking liner, emergency release padding and both a Pinlock ready visor and internal drop-down tinted visor. The fit is also spot on and it looks great, so even without the fancy tech it’s a solid offering. The tech is however what takes this helmet to the next level.
The Forcite MK1S integrates all of its technology seamlessly into the helmet. Stashed away inside the EPS liner you’ll find premium 40mm Harman Kardon speakers. With earplugs in they deliver clear, crisp audio whether you’re on a call, listening to music or receiving route directions. As for being heard by others, that task is competently managed by omnidirectional microphones that are so good callers will be surprised to learn you’re on a motorcycle.
Built into the chin bar, without affecting the helmet’s safety, is the electronic brain. Within the unit is a rechargeable battery, Bluetooth components, microphones and a front-facing 1080p camera. The camera captures high-quality footage in most lighting conditions and can record continuously or on demand using the helmet’s handlebar-mounted controller unit. The controller also allows you easily manage phone calls and play music once you get accustomed to the function of each button. As you’d expect there’s a phone app that lets you control the helmet’s many features and settings too.
The stand-out feature of the MK1S is a clever light bar built into the chin. Using an array of LEDs the lightbar displays different coloured and sequenced light patterns. It sounds distractive, but surprisingly it’s not. The lights are positioned low so all of the alerts take place in your peripheral vision which is highly effective. Along with basic route notifications, the lightbar can be programmed to alert you of upcoming traffic hazards which pushes this clever helmet’s safety offering beyond anything we’ve seen before. And considering all its features, the MK1S is very reasonably priced.
RRP: $870 USD