Eventually, once you've gotten used to your bike, used to riding, and developed some advanced skills, you start to get a craving for some advanced gear. No longer will those second hand riding pants and discount gloves do, and that helmet is going to need some replacing as well. If you're at this stage in your motorcycle riding odyssey, then you've probably decided that this is a hobby you want to invest in seriously, and you're ready to drop some dollars on a top-rated motorcycle helmet.
Shoei GT Air
Simpson M30DL2 Helmet
Bell Solid Adult Qualifier DLX
If you've done some preliminary research, you know there's a lot of selection among the top motorcycle helmet brands, and they have so many features that figuring out which one is going to suit you best becomes something of a chore. Fortunately for you, I've been there, done that, and have all the motorcycle helmet comparisons you'll need to make a final decision.
How do you know the helmet you're looking for is the best you can get? There are features to look for that lesser quality helmets won't usually have. Let's talk about safety first (it's the helmet's primary function, after all).
You'll obviously want something that protects your head the most efficiently. In most cases, this is going to be a full face helmet. Modular helmets come close, but they sacrifice some stability in the chin bar area to allow it to flip-up and convert. Open and half helmets don't cover the face at all, meaning that in a collision, your jaw and chin are highly vulnerable.
To maximize the safety your helmet provides, you ought to get one made from the most durable materials (some blend of carbon fibers, Kevlar, etc.) and that has interior padding that will best absorb shock. The best helmets have been rigorously tested to withstand impacts, piercing, shattering, etc. and will give you the best chance of survival during a collision.
Without going into all the details about motorcycle helmet safety ratings (a never ending argument), finding a helmet that conforms to multiple standards is a good sign that the manufacturer has put the design through its paces, and that it's in the top rankings among helmets overall.
Safety isn't the only factor in play when it comes to helmets, though. How the helmet performs while on the road is also important. The best helmets are designed for superior aerodynamics. Features like multiple vents, spoilers, and a shape that quickly cuts through air are crucial in selecting a helmet that won't slow you down. Aerodynamic helmets reduce drag and lift, resulting in less pressure on the neck when riding at high speeds. They are also versatile, ideal for touring, help cut down on wind noise, and lightweight.
Speaking of which, lightness is an absolute must for top-ranked helmets (you should look for something under 4 pounds). The weight of a helmet is influenced by the compounds used in construction: higher quality materials such as carbon fiber are by and large lighter than less expensive materials like fiberglass and thermoplastics.
The helmet interior is equally important. In addition to finding something that has a well-cut interior designed not to cramp the face, you'll want to make sure it's constructed from comfortable fabrics that are antibacterial and have properties like moisture absorption. This will keep your helmet from getting unbearably malodorous in the summer months. The liner should be removable and washable so that you can extend its longevity.
You should also be able to swap it out with a different size liner to help customize your fit. The interior structure and materials will contribute to determining how quiet the helmet is on the road (through blocking out/absorbing sounds). You'll also probably want to get a helmet that has speaker pockets, or is pre-cut for a Bluetooth system, as wireless comms are becoming ever more popular for riders nowadays.
The face shield is an integral helmet component. Good helmets have easily removable face shields that are anti-fog and have a range of tint choices for replacements. The best helmets will have design features that maximize the tightness of the seal when the face shield is installed, helping to keep air out. The mechanism for locking the face shield in place should also be sturdy, as you wouldn't want your shield flying open unexpectedly.
What about motorcycle helmet sizes? The size of a helmet will determine how it will fit on your head, and that plays directly into its comfort and effectiveness. The best motorcycle helmets offer various sizes for customers, ranging from extra small, to extra large and beyond. You should use a sizing guide to determine what helmet will fit you best, and buy a brand that is known for being true to size. If you can, find out in advance what the ideal head shape the helmet you're looking at is designed for. Some helmets are better for narrower head builds, others for rounder or wider heads.
Last, but not least, you should go with a helmet that appeals to your sense of style. This is going to be your best helmet, after all, so the paint style should match your preferences perfectly. If you like solid colors, there's plenty of matte black and other flat color options for you. If you're the kind that prefers designs, you'll have a smaller selection available, but might still be able to find something that speaks to you.
As a helmet line that has helped to make the Shoei line so reputable, it has also been chosen to be the successor of the 1100 line as the best street bike helmet. It is also capable of being an ideal helmet for sport riding, commuting, and touring.
As an avid motorcycle rider, I enjoy looking at the scenery while being able to hear my own thoughts. I’m not a fan of wind blowing in my ears, which is why this helmet really appeals to me. It is quiet on the inside while providing optimal comfort for the rider. How can you enjoy a ride if you are uncomfortable? It’s also less likely to fog up from breathing thanks to the lower three-position vent, three upper vent intakes, and the whopping 4 positioned upper exhaust outlet vents.
The 3D Max-Dry System III interior center pad conforms to the riders head allowing for a comfortable fit while remaining steady at high speeds. The cheek pads are also available in different thicknesses for a more custom fit. The 3D Max-Dry System III material also helps to absorb sweat and moisture.
At first glance, you might think you're looking at the RX-Q, and you'd be almost, but not quite, correct. The SignetQ has a few of the same features in a different helmet shape that better accommodates long-oval heads. The extra space in the back of the helmet allows a wider base of riders to don it, and when trying this helmet on it certainly felt like an appropriate fit.
The comfort factor of the SignetQ is further enhanced by the interior lining. It's a single piece, removable design made from EPS foam and "Dry-Cool" fabrics that disperse heat, absorb moisture, and keep airflow within the helmet at its peak. Peel-away temple pads within the interior can be removed to provide additional room if desired. The cheek pads have been shaped to conform better to the face with Arai's FCS (Facial Contour Support) design.
Aerodynamics and ventilation are suitably integrated into this helmet. The shape is such that it reduces drag, and the intake/exhaust vents are ideally positioned to redirect air through the SignetQ rapidly. The larger side vent cowlings deliver greater surface area and more stability at lower speeds while retaining high-speed functionality. The SignetQ also has a brow vent channeling design that directs fresh air to the forehead without compromising the strength of the helmet's forehead area with additional holes. Arai is consistently at the top of many motorcycle helmet ratings, and with quality gear like the SignetQ, it's easy to see why.
Crafted to stand out as one of Shoei's premier all-around helmets, the GT Air provides an excellent balance of features in a design that best accommodates oval head shapes. The shell is constructed from Shoei's Advanced Integrated Matrix (AIM) material. It's a combination of elastic and organic fibers that maximizes the helmet's lightness and resilience to damage. To provide options for a wider range of riders, Shoei offers the GT Air in 6 sizes, from extra small to 2XL, and a range of solid color choices (including black, white, yellow, and red).
Using an array of wind tunnel tests, Shoei has perfected this helmet's ability to deal with the wind. There is minimal drag while riding thanks to the molded air spoiler, and very little wind and road noise while donning this helmet. The GT Air has a combination of upper and lower positioned vents to improve airflow, including an upper intake, lower intake, and rear neck exhaust. The result is a cool, comfortable interior that, when combined with the breath guard, almost never fogs.
To further optimize the level of impact resistance the helmet provides, The GT-Air is equipped with a multi-piece EPS (foam) liner. The liner comes in multiple sizes (for custom fitting) and is cut so as not to impede the use of eyewear or the helmet's own ventilation system. The chin strap uses a standard clip, and can be easily removed in urgent situations thanks to the included Emergency Quick Release System (EQRS)
Another old-school helmet, the look of the Simpson M30 bandit has remained largely unchanged since the 70s. The updated versions of this classic, however, incorporate some features critical for modern riders. The shell is a light composite that keeps the helmet's total weight low at 2.87 pounds. It's ideal for round, oval head shapes, and available in 4 sizes from small to extra large. They run larger than expected, so you might have to go down a size to get the right option for your head. As long as you're a fan of black and white, you can get the M30 in any color you want!
The interior of the M30 Bandit has been modernized with EPS foam and a COOLMAX fiber lining. The high-performance fabrics keep moisture off your body and don't let heat accumulate during the warmer months. Combined with the abundant ventilation this helmet provides, you're left with a fresh and comfortable interior that is also superbly quiet. Even at higher speeds, I experienced insignificant wind noise with the M30.
The face shield options are diverse, and while not tool-less, they are relatively easy to swap out if you have a screwdriver and 2 minutes of spare time. The shields do tend to fog more than on other helmets, though. Though the M30 Bandit might be light on the bells and whistles of super-contemporary designs, it's practical and stylish, which many riders value more than anything else.
The Bell Solid Qualifier is the upgraded version of it’s cousin, the Bell Qualifier. This helmet is chocked full of features that are sure to make your riding experience better. All of these helmets come with Transitions equipped face shields, which covers all types of weather conditions. You will also not have to worry about fog or scratches with this type of visor because it is protected by the NutraFog II.
The fog may also be deterred with the help of the adjustable ventilation system. This system gives you superior ventilation and optimal cooling comfort. When I am riding in warmer weather, the heat that beats down on my helmet makes the inside all dewey and sweaty. The Bell Qualifier DLX has a moisture-wicking, removable and washable interior.
If you are concerned about the wind, there is nothing to be worried about. The padded wind collar reduces wind and road noise. Cutting down on the noise will also allow you to hear the speakers that you can choose to install in the built-in speaker pockets if you choose to use a bluetooth stereo headset, such as the Bell Sena SMH10 or the Cardo Scala Rider Q1Q2. These are the only two that fit with this helmet.
There's a lot of charm to simple retro helmets like the M30 Bandit. The straightforward style is appealing to a lot of riders, and they look inimitably cool. The looks alone, however, don't justify their price tags (they're perfect if you can afford to buy on looks alone). The HJC and Nolan are solid helmets, and certainly have quite a few features that make them appealing (particularly at their lower prices), but still aren't constructed to the very highest level of quality. Furthermore, their construction materials, though tough, don't provide the same degree of durability as the pricier materials, and their aerodynamic capabilities are somewhat lacking.
The Arai SignetQ, on the other hand, backs up it's higher price with a bevy of features that make it one of the most aerodynamic, sturdy, comfortable, lightweight helmets on the market. It's versatile enough to use for city riding or going on longer trips, is true to size, has a plush interior that can be customized for a precise fit, and even accommodates longer heads. If you're looking for what might be the best helmet out there, you'll be hard pressed to find anything that outclasses the SignetQ.
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