Best Motorcycle Helmets (2021)
Written by Carolyn Jackson
Motorcycle helmet laws vary state by state. A majority of states have an age requirement for wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. A handful of states require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Just two states (Illinois and Iowa) have no laws about wearing or not wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
Regardless of what state you live in and the laws there, we highly recommend you always wear a proper motorcycle helmet when riding. No matter your age, where you ride, or how experienced a rider you are, motorcycle accidents can still happen. However, riders are 37% more likely to survive a motorcycle accident simply by wearing a helmet, and passengers’ survival rate goes up by 41%.
In this article, we will discuss all things motorcycle helmets, including cost, laws, and our top 5 favorite motorcycle helmets currently in the market.
Have more questions about riding a motorcycle? Then, check out our ultimate guide.
- When picking a motorcycle helmet, you should look for a DOT-approved and/or Snell-approved helmet and measure your head above the eyebrows to ensure the right size.
- There are six different types of motorcycle helmets, offering varying levels of protection for different kinds of riders.
- Laws and regulations for motorcycle helmets are determined state by state.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Motorcycle Helmets
Motorcycle helmets are designed for protection, comfort, and style. First and foremost, a helmet is the most important protective gear you can wear when riding a motorcycle. A helmet will help protect your brain, face, and your life in the event of a crash. Combined with other protective gear, such as gloves, over-the-ankle boots, a jacket, long pants, etc., a motorcycle helmet is designed. It has proven to reduce injury and make riding a motorcycle safer.
In addition to providing protection and safety, wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle actually makes the riding experience more enjoyable. It reduces wind noise on your face and ears, provides protection from sun, wind, and rain on your face and in your eyes, and deflects unwanted objects such as bugs, dirt, or debris.
When picking out a motorcycle helmet for yourself or a loved one, four basic components work together to provide rider protections: 1) the outer shell, 2) impact-absorbing liner, 3) comfortable padding, and 4) the chin strap.
When looking at different helmets to purchase, you will need to select a size. Most helmets are slightly adjustable, but only within a few centimeters, not within inches. Therefore, you will need to determine your head’s circumference. Take a flexible measuring tape, and just above your eyebrows, wrap the measuring tape around your head to get an approximate size. Different motorcycle helmet manufacturers have different sizing mechanisms, so knowing your head size will help ensure you purchase the right size for you.
There are six different types of motorcycle helmets you can purchase:
- Full Face — these are the safest helmet option as they cover your entire face and head as well as your neck, protecting you from crashes, falls, and debris.
- Modular — also called a flip-up, this is a mix of a ¾ helmet and a full-face helmet. There is a hinge that allows the rider to flip up the visor and chin bar.
- ¾ Helmet — this is a standard open-face helmet. They cover the back and front of the head, but not the chin or face.
- Half Helmet — a half helmet only covers the top of your head, leaving your neck, ears, and face unprotected.
- Off-Road — these are designed for dirt bikes, ATVs/UTVs, and other off-road vehicles. They are not ideal for public roadways. These are usually lighter weight but are similarly built to a ¾ helmet.
- Dual-Sport — these are a blend between an off-road and a full-face helmet. They are safer for public roads and highways than an off-road helmet and can be used both on roadways and on dirt trails.
How Much Do Motorcycle Helmets Cost?
In short, you can expect to pay between $150 and $300 for a good motorcycle helmet. You can, however, find motorcycle helmets priced under $100, and some others up to $1,000. Motorcycle helmets range in cost based on a few factors, such as their safety approval/rating, materials used, sizing variations available, and customization options.
You’ll want to look for a motorcycle helmet that is Snell and DOT approved. Most states that require helmets for motorcyclists require those helmets to be DOT approved. This means the helmet is compliant with the safety requirements and standards set by the Department of Transportation. Snell is a private safety-rating system, but their standards for safety are more robust and stringent than DOT, so finding a helmet that is approved by both is a great rule of thumb.
Do I Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet?
Depending on your state’s laws, the answer is that it depends. As we mentioned above, most states require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet if they are a certain age (usually 18 and under). Some states require all riders to wear helmets no matter their age. Two states have no laws about motorcycle helmets, leaving the discretion entirely up to the rider.
One thing to keep in mind about your state’s laws is insurance requirements. If you ride or live in a state that does not require you to wear a motorcycle helmet, they may need you to have a certain level of insurance coverage to make up for the risk of riding without a helmet. For example, in Texas, riders 21 and over who have successfully completed an approved motorcycle operator training and safety course or riders who have health insurance that provides at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred while operating a motorcycle can drive without a helmet.
For more information about motorcycle insurance, take a look at our comprehensive article on Motorcycle Insurance.
The long and short of it is that you will wear a helmet if you are a responsible motorcyclist. The benefits of wearing a helmet outweigh any preferences for feeling the wind in your hair. Trust us when we say, as soon as you need a helmet, you’ll be happy you have it on. Check out this map of the states by helmet laws.
Top 5 Best Motorcycle Helmets
We’ve picked our five favorite motorcycle helmets currently on the market. Our criteria were safety first, followed by price, comfort, features, and style. Our helmet selections range from $140-$610. You’ll notice full-face helmets are always a little more expensive than a ¾ or half helmet, purely because of how much material they use. Another reason prices might increase is because of their safety rating. If certain institutions like Snell or DOT give a helmet a safety rating, it might cost a bit more.
Size Range: XS-XXL
Type: Full Face
Materials: Composite multi-ply organic fiber outside; multi-density EPS liner inside
Weight: 5 lbs
Bell Pit Boss Half Helmet
Size Range: XS-XXXL
Type: Half Face
Materials: Composite fiberglass outside; fabric inside
Weight: 3 lbs
ScorpionExo Covert Removeable Muzzle
Size Range: XS-XXXL
Materials: Polycarbonate outside; Expanded Polystyrene inside
Weight: 4 lbs
Sedici Sistema II Parlare Bluetooth Helmet
Size Range: XS-XXXL
Materials: Aramid fiber and fiberglass outside; EPS liner inside
Weight: 3.7 lb
Arai XD-4 Helmet
Size Range: XS-XXL
Materials: Super CLC (a combination of carbon fiber, fiberglass, and a variety of resins) outside; EPS liner inside
Weight: 3.66 lbs
Check Out More Helpful Motorcycle Guides and Articles
Picking a motorcycle helmet should be a fun and exciting milestone for riders. There are so many options to customize and personalize your helmet and get one that perfectly fits you. If you already have a motorcycle or are thinking about getting one, there are some other articles that might answer some top-of-mind questions for you. Take a look!
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- Motorcycle Insurance: What to Know Before You Purchase
- 15 Best Beginner Motorcycles
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