Everything you need to know about motorcycle helmets, how they work, what they’re made from, and what are the best helmets to buy in 2023.
Riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating experience, offering a level of freedom, excitement and adventure unrivalled on the road, but it is imperative that you take your safety seriously.
A motorcycle helmet is the single-most critical piece of safety equipment for any rider, designed to protect your head during a collision. In the UK, a helmet is required by law to be worn if you plan on riding a motorcycle or moped on the road.
But with so many options available, and conflicting information and advice surrounding helmets, it can be challenging to know what to look for when shopping for a helmet. How is it supposed to fit? How do they work? Are expensive helmets worth their price?
There are a lot of things to consider before you decide on a helmet, from its safety, comfort, fit, what style you’re after, what brand you like etc. In this handy guide, we’ll cover all of this, so you have a better idea of what to look out for when buying a motorcycle helmet.
We’ve spent the last 20 years helping customers find their perfect motorcycle helmet, and with the collective knowledge and expertise of our team, we’ve compiled this guide: ‘Helmets 101: What to know before buying a helmet!’
It’s quite a long one so if there are any sections you want to skip ahead to, use this handy content here:
Click the links below to jump to...
|Helmet 'Need-to-Knows'||What is a Helmet made from?||Before you buy||Different Types of Helmets||Helmet FAQs|
Why should I wear a motorcycle helmet?
Even though motorcycles are quick and easily manoeuvrable, they are at the highest risk from other drivers as they easily fit into their blind spots, while newer models of bikes tend to be quieter, making it more difficult for drivers to hear them.
Head injuries are the most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents; crash helmets are designed to reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 42%, so you should never think of stepping on a bike without one.
The UK government website states "You must wear a safety helmet that meets British safety standards when riding a motorcycle or moped on the road." There are no ifs or buts about it - if you plan on riding a motorcycle, you need to buy a helmet.
How do motorcycle helmets protect your head?
Crash helmets consist of a system of protective layers designed to absorb and dissipate the force of an impact, reducing the energy transmitted to your head.
To quote Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion, "for every action/force in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction."
In a motorcycle accident, the collision is the action, and the ground/object bringing you to a sudden stop is the reaction, which results in brain damage or fatality at worst.
The job of a helmet is to spread the impact force over a larger area: when your head hits the road, the foam inside helps to distribute the impact across the entire structure.
Impacts don’t typically happen square onto the helmet, so helmets must be able to deal with impacts at an angle and absorb any rotational energy. This rotational energy is especially dangerous as all of the nerves and blood vessels in the skull tug and yank at different parts of the brain as everything rattles around inside. To combat this, more and more helmets are featuring a smoother shell to help "glance off impacts", a philosophy championed by Japanese helmet makers, Arai.
The structure of a motorcycle helmet is relatively simple, but in order to completely understand how each key component and what role they play in the system, we’ve broken it down in the next section.
Helmet protection ratings and what they mean
To ensure that a motorcycle helmet is doing the best job it can to protect your head, different governing bodies have set overarching safety standards and testing regimes to ensure that the helmet is safe for use.
Helmets come in many different varieties and styles, so there are several minimum requirements set out to ensure that the helmet you wearing meets the minimum criteria for use.
The most common of which is UNECE Regulation 22.05, better known as ECE 22.05: the minimum European standard for safety helmets sold in the UK. This certification is to ensure that whatever helmet you purchase is road-legal, but more importantly, tested to protect your head adequately in an accident.
For modular and flip-front helmets, you may have heard the term "dual homologated" or "P/J approved". This means that a modular helmet is ECE approved to protect you both as a full-face helmet with the chin guard down, or as an open face/jet helmet with the chin guard up, and can therefore be legally worn on the bike regardless in both modes.
For track days, trials or youth sport events, only ACU (Auto Cycle Union) approved helmets can be worn, represented by a gold or silver sticker at the back of the helmet.
In 2016, the FIM Racing Homologation programme was introduced to create one helmet certification for motorcycle racing competitions, including MotoGP and WorldSBK.
Other countries and regions have their own governing bodies and safety regimes, including DOT, Snell and Sharp, so if you plan on riding out in these regions, we would recommend looking into it.
The manufacturing process of all motorcycle helmets consists of four basic components, which form a defensive system to protect the wearer’s head from impacts:
The outer shell, the impact-absorbing EPS liner, the comfort padding and the retention system. These elements are consistent in all types of motorcycle helmets.
Firstly, there is the Outer Shell of the helmet, which represents its hard exterior.
The outer shell is designed to be the first layer of defence during an accident and is designed to compress during the initial point of impact. The shell disperses the energy from an impact over a greater area to lessen the force before it reaches your head and the second, underlying layer of foam lining inside the helmet.
These shells can consist of a variety of different materials but can typically be classified into two overarching groups; plastic and composite.
Plastic helmets are typically made from polycarbonate but you also see ABS and thermoset plastics used too, though these are less common. To make these helmets a lump of plastic is heated up and then blown into a mould to give it its shape.
Composite helmets are made from fibre and resin which when combined form a really strong material. You’ll probably have heard of fibreglass, carbon fibre, and Kevlar which are the most common fibres used in helmet construction, each with its own benefits & drawbacks. The main advantage of a composite shell is that manufacturers can use a combination of different fibres and weaving methods to get the desired properties required from that helmet.
Do note that not all carbon fibre helmets are as they seem: while most of the premium offerings are made truly of carbon fibre, there are cheaper offerings which are carbon skin on the outside with different materials underneath. This doesn’t make them rubbish, but there is more than meets the eye!
The ideal quality we want as motorcyclists is a balance between strength and lightweight – fewer grams on your head reduces strain on your neck, especially useful if you are riding for longer periods. Typically, plastic helmets tend to be heavier than their composite counterparts.
Underneath the outer shell is the impact-absorbing EPS liner, most commonly made from Expanded Polystyrene Foam.
This layer is designed to slow down the rotational force inside the helmet upon impact, and in doing so, the EPS compresses to cushion your skull from rattling around inside the helmet and absorbs the force of the impact. In doing so, the EPS is crushed and won’t expand back to its original density, requiring you to buy a replacement helmet.
EPS has been used in motorcycle helmets for years and remains the top material for an impact-absorbing layer. Helmet manufacturers are able to tune the level of absorption by using varying densities to match different impact speeds.
A greater-density EPS is harder, and therefore suited to higher speeds whilst a less dense, and softer, EPS is better for low-impact speeds. A lot of helmets will utilise a multi-density approach to their EPS liners to build the best.
Affixed to the EPS is the Comfort Padding, the layer closest to your head.
The Comfort Padding is made up of a section of soft foam with fabric over the top. There are typically 3 pieces, the crown pad and a cheek pad on each side. Sometimes they are completely removable but, in some helmets, they are stitched in place. Being able to take the comfort liner out means you can wash it easily to keep it fresh, and some premium helmets have antibacterial fabrics to help keep the inside of your lid from going gross for longer.
The comfort padding is also there for sizing. Cheaper helmets tend to come in fewer shell sizes, sometimes only offering one shell size. This means that the helmet shell and EPS are exactly the same sizes whether you have an XL or an XS, the padding is just bulked up as the sizing reduces.
The smaller the head, the more padding you’re carrying around. If your head is in the smaller size it really is worth getting a helmet with a smaller shell size to avoid having excess weight and bulk on your head.
Then to keep all that fixed to your head is the Retention Strap. Every time you put your helmet on your head with the intention of riding you should make sure the strap is securely tightened. What use is all that other safety stuff if it can be flung from your head in your greatest time of need?
A motorcycle helmet retention strap comes in a couple of different flavours. A Quick Release Ratchet style that works similar to how a car’s seat belt buckle works and allows for, as the name suggests, quick easy removal.
Another common retention strap style is the old favourite the double D-Ring, arguably the safest closure type the only drawback is this strap is near impossible to operate when wearing your gloves – so be prepared to make a tradition of getting your strap perfect before putting on your gloves and getting on your bike.
To add one final piece of equipment would be eye protection: look at most helmets and you’ll find a clear plastic sheet straddling an opening in the shell, this is your Visor.
It’s a super tough polycarbonate plastic that can withstand being pelted by stones from other vehicles in front of you. It must not shatter in the case of a crash either, as the last thing you’ll want is a face full of plastic shrapnel! Legally, only clear and very lightly tinted visors are permitted for road use here in the UK. You can get really dark tints, chrome tints, and even iridescent tints but 9 times out of 10 these aren’t technically road legal. Although, you’ll find most riders rocking them at your local cafe because they just look cool.
Not every helmet has them though. motocross helmets don’t have visors, they use goggles instead due to the demands of off-road riding. It’s very physical so you need lots of airflows, plus with physical exertion comes heavier breathing - with a visor that would lead to a really steamed-up situation, but goggles enclose the eyes separately to the nose and mouth to mitigate this.
Open-face helmets also tend to come without a visor in favour of the rider choosing to wear goggles or sunglasses. Some open-face helmets have poppers across the opening to allow a visor to snap in place, although it’s increasingly more popular to find a visor concealed within the shell to drop down at the wearer's convenience.
So you're looking for a new helmet - what are the most important aspects to consider when shopping? Here are 6 checks you should make before purchasing a helmet.
1. Safety Rating
The most significant factor when considering a helmet is safety; otherwise, you might as well be wearing a watermelon on your head!
Look out for helmets that have been tested and certified to either ECE 22.05 or ECE 22.06, this means that the helmet meets the minimum European safety standards, and is therefore protective and road legal. You can tell this on the label inside the padding of the helmet, or on the certification sticker on the back.
During your research, you may find certifications from other governing bodies, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), Snell Memorial Foundation, ACU etc; while significant, these aren't legal requirements for wearing a helmet on the road. For example, DOT and Snell refer to the minimum safety standard in the US, but that doesn't mean they comply with the UK's safety standards, while ACU and FIM are requirements for helmets to be worn on track days or in motorcycle racing sports like the WorldSBK.
2. Fit & Comfort
What's the point of buying a helmet if it doesn't fit properly? Unlike shopping for a jacket or pair of trousers, you should be far more critical of how a helmet fits on your head: too tight and the helmet will be incredibly uncomfortable to wear longer than 5 minutes, too loose and the helmet can potentially be unsafe in the event of an accident.
Try on several helmets to find the one that best fits your head and is comfortable to wear for extendable periods, and look for helmets with adjustable padding, straps or more shell sizes to guarantee a more accurate fit.
For more information on sizing, head on over to the FAQ section of this article.
On inspecting a helmet, you'll notice ports at specific areas of the chin, sides or top of the shell; these are air vents that allow wind to enter the helmet, forcing air inside to cool your head and face and flush hot air out the rear exhaust vent.
A well-ventilated helmet will keep you cool and reduce the risk of heat exhaustion.
Helmets will normally come with these as standard, but there are also helmets with adjustable vents that will let you control the amount of airflow into the helmet, and therefore keep you warmer or cooler depending on the clilmate.
4. Noise Reduction
Related to ventilation, wind noise can be a significant distraction while riding a motorcycle.
A study at the University of Southampton found that wind noise created at speeds above 40mph can exceed the noise of your bike itself, which in the long term can damage your hearing without proper protection.
Look for helmets with features that reduce wind noise, such as a neck skirt or a noise-reducing seal around the visor. Quieter helmets can reduce rider fatigue and improve your ability to focus on the road.
But, having a quiet helmet isn't the only factor when reducing wind noise; the type of motorcycle you have, the screen fitted to it, and your height will also make a difference. Wind noise is generated by airflow and it can be really hard to eliminate completely, a good set of earplugs will go a long way to reducing noise to a safe level.
Let's talk visibility - of course being easily seen when riding is critical to your safety, so you could consider helmets with reflective surfaces or bright, bold colours to increase your visibility to road users.
While white is considered the most visible helmet, light-coloured helmets like orange, bright red, and neon green are highly visible and statistically advantageous.
Now, don't feel like you have to consider a vibrant colour helmet to make yourself more visible. There are other ways of making you more visible to road users, including wearing a hi-vis vest or a jacket with reflective detailing, and there are even accessories designed to be equipped to your helmet to increase visibility.
While safety should be your primary concern, you also want a helmet that looks good and fits your style. There are many different styles of helmets available, including full-face, modular, and open-face, as well as colours or graphics to match your look.
For more details on the different styles of helmets, read on...
Different types of motorcycle helmets & the best to buy
You can group motorcycle helmets into a handful of different styles; Full Face, Open Face, Flip-Up or Flip-Front, and Adventure or Motocross helmets. In fairness, adventure and motocross helmets are both full-face - in the fact that they have a chin bar, but their nuances distinguish them away from the standard full-face category - you'll see why further on in this guide.
The most common helmet on the market, and considered to be the safest of all biking headgear, is the full-face helmet.
Full-face helmets offer the best coverage of all helmets, covering your entire face, head and chin with a protective shell to reduce the risk of head injury during an impact. Perfect for every time of the year and the style of rider.
If you head to the racetrack or watch racing on TV, you’ll notice all of the racers wearing full-face helmets; this is because racing demands the very best in terms of safety and performance; so it’s why the governing bodies only allow approved full-face helmets. If track days are your thing, then you’ll have to wear an ACU gold stickered full-face helmet.
The other advantage is that weather protection is much better as your face is entirely enclosed from the elements. Your face won’t become a bug graveyard or feel the needle-like pain of rain on the motorway! Another advantage of having the visor is that it will block 90-99% of UV rays meaning there's no need to worry about applying sunscreen for a summer day's blast.
The only potential downside of a full-face is ventilation: as you are entirely enclosed the helmet needs a properly thought-out ventilation system to keep you cool. An open-face won’t have this issue as your entire face gets constant fresh air. They are also the most annoying to put on and take off, although there is nothing particularly difficult about the process it’s definitely worth noting that other types are easier.
From £89.99 RRP
The C10 is the latest competitively priced full-face helmet by HJC, and is a perfect entry-level polycarbonate helmet with a wide visor opening, and com.
Replacing their previous CL-Y and CS-15 models, the C10 provides an ideal fit for riders of all ages, offering sizes as small as 3XS and as big as 2XL to accomodate for youth and adult sizes.
The C10 meets the latest 22.06 safety standards, which paired with its sub-£100 price, offers incredible value and protection by itself. The shell is made from Advanced Polycarbonate Composite, designed using advanced CAD technology to offer high impact resistance for its low weight, and sports a new lower mouth and top vents for improved air intake.
As with all HJC helmets, the C10 is instilled with their Advanced Channeling Ventilation system, which carries cool air from the front vents through the interior channels of the EPS lining, and out through to the back exhaust.
The C10 offers an enlarged peripheral vision compared to the CL-Y and CS-15, with a 10 mm wider view through the UV-resistant face shield and an anti-fog Pinlock-ready max vision visor.
Overall, the C10 is a great value lid. While it may not boast all the bells and whistles of more premium helmets i.e. intercom integration, a sun visor or spoilers, but for the money, its an exceptional option, and comes in a range of colours and graphics.
From £429.99 RRP
The NXR 2 is a premium sports-touring full-face from the renowned Japanese brand Shoei.
Starting from £429.99 retail, the NXR 2 stands alongside the higher end of helmets like the Arai Quantic, AGV K6 or HJC RPHA 11, but offers plenty of
In terms of aerodynamics, weight and ventilation, the NXR 2 is vastly superior to other helmets of a similar price. Developed within Shoei's state-of-the-art wind tunnel test facility, the NXR 2 is designed to be as light, compact and aerodynamic as possible whilst adhering to the new ECE 22.06 certification.
The NXR 2 utilises their proprietary AIM technology (advanced integrated matrix) which consists of a blend of organic and multi-composite fibres alongside a multi-density EPS lining to achieve outstanding shock absorption and a weight of just 1390 grams.
Regarding airflow, the helmet features six air inlets on the brow and chin and four extraction points on the back for fresh airflow face on.
The CWR-F2 visor offers greater peripheral vision, improved demisting and significantly reduced wind noise compared to previous models thanks to the improved visor seal. The visor's locking mechanism has also been repositioned centrally to reduce repetitive stress and increase its lifespan.
The EQRS security system (that's Emergency Quick Release System) allows paramedics to easily remove the lid in the event of an emergency. The advanced comfort interior boasts moisture-wicking properties for all-ride comfort and is ready-prepared to accommodate an intercom system seamlessly in the lining.
The helmet's four different shell sizes (2XS-S/M/L/XL-2XL) ensure a more custom fit than most motorcycle helmets and are secured with a D-ring retention strap.
From £699.99 RRP
Updated to comply with ECE 22.06, the RX-7V Evo is an updated version of their best-selling sports-touring helmet and a joy to wear on the bike.
Featuring a super-fibre shell infused with special synthetic fibres for superior strength, the Arai RX-7V Evo is incredibly strong and lightweight for long-distance wear. The helmet is further reinforced with a super-fibre belt across the eye port and a rounded shell for 'glance-off' performance and increased impact deflection away from the user's head.
The rear spoiler aids aerodynamics and increased stability at high speeds, whilst the air wing and pull-down chin visor greatly reduce buffeting. The ventilation system can be adjusted at the chin area to allow more air whilst reducing wind noise, which works alongside air inlets at the top centre of the helmet and brows for optimal airflow.
The included Max Vision Pinlock fog-resistant lens is designed specifically high demanding conditions such as racetrack and adventure riding. The Eco Pure nylon interior is fully removable for washing, anti-bacterial and moisture-wicking for increased comfort. It will easily accept an intercom system and even includes a handy pocket in the neck roll to stow away excess cables.
Whilst it is a dearer option than other full-face helmets, the RX-7V Evo is an outstanding full-face helmet that feels every penny the premium.
You’ll definitely find open-face helmets tend to be at home with the cruiser and retro crowd.
There’s a certain “cool attitude” that comes with an open-face motorcycle helmet. Scooter riders love them too, especially in warmer European climates where it just suits the relaxed lifestyle to a T. But, freedom to the elements comes at the mercy of the wind and rain, not to mention your face becoming a bug graveyard! If you are going open your face you’ll want to make sure you have some form of eye protection; be it goggles, a drop-down or a pop-on visor. Be careful with wearing sunglasses, you want to make sure the lenses are going to be strong enough to not shatter if a stone hits them.
There are riders who are happy to compromise on a lack of chin bar for the feeling of freedom. To understand the freedom thing, just look at how happy a dog is when it sticks its head out of a moving car’s window! However, the missing chin bar does mean your face is completely unprotected in a crash.
From £99.99 RRP
The Riviera V4 from Caberg is the perfect budget-friendly jet helmet for city hoppers, scooters and touring riders alike.
Featuring an ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) thermoplastic shell with good impact resistance and minimal weight for comfort during long stretches of wear.
The helmet features a dual visor system, consisting of a drop-down internal sun visor, operated by a lever at the top of the lid, and a large anti-scratch clear face shield.
As an open-face helmet, you're going to get a lot of air flow anyway, but Caberg didn't skimp out in terms of ventilation. The helmet features an upper air intake vent at the crown, internal channels within the lining to circulate the air around your head, and two rear exhausts to flush out humid air. Simple but effective.
The interior padding is fully removable and washable, the micrometric buckle ensures a comfortable, secure fit and the helmet is Bluetooth-ready for the Just Speak Evo and other intercom systems.
From £119.99 RRP
For the cruisers and urban riders in the audience, we present the Custom 500 DLX: a classic-style jet helmet that faithfully captures the style of helmets long past, but with updated modern safety standards.
Nothing beats the original. As one of the most iconic helmets in their range, this jet Bell helmet is based on the 1954 original Custom 500, but developed with modern technology and protection.
Made from lightweight and resistant fibreglass, Custom 500 is backed by a multi-density EPS lining, with 5 different shell sizes for an improved fit. The low profile of this helmet is perfect to equip a pair of goggles as well as reduce drag and lift for a smooth ride. The quilted suede leather interior is timeless and finished with chrome trim for a classy finish.
The five integrated snaps on the top of the helmet add to the classic style and allow you to slap a sun peak or bubble shield on. The padded chin strap with D-ring closure allows a secure fit and the helmet comes with a retro leather bag.
From £449.99 RRP
The J-Cruise 2 is an open-face of the highest calibre.
Designed for urban riders and cruisers, the Shoei J-Cruise 2 features a sporty, aggressive shell made from AIM (advanced integrated matrix) with a lightweight, compact design and an integrated spoiler to reduce wind noise and buffeting at high speeds.
The ventilation system, with three large vents on the top of the lid, internal channels to circulate the air around your head, and an exhaust vent at the back to extract humidity.
The helmet has been built with modern communication in mind and so utilizes a very low-profile space to fit a Sena SRL2 Communication device that allows for seamless integration for the comms kit without any awkward wires. It also features a Pinlock-ready QJ-2 visor that offers an enlarged field of view and a built-in sun visor, deployable via a lever on the side of the lid, for less light distraction.
With a stainless steel micro ratchet system, four outer shell sizes for improved sizing, and multiple sizes of cheek pads for a customised fit.
Straddling the line between full face and open face is the flip-up helmet which takes its name from the fact that the chin bar ‘flips’ up and out of the way when required.
It makes it really convenient when you are making a quick stop on the bike and want to show your face without having to remove your helmet i.e. at the petrol station. The level of protection on offer is close to that of a full-face helmet when the chin bar is lowered and locked in place. Most chin bars lift to above the visor aperture and stop at the top of the helmet, which when you are riding around creates an awful lot of drag pulling at your neck. Some helmets like the Shark Evo-One 2 or LS2 Valiant X send the chin bar all the way over to sit at the back of the head making it more aerodynamic on the move.
Do note that not all flip fronts are created equal, as some are certified to ride with the chin bar in the closed and open positions, whereas others are only certified to wear with the chin bar closed. The easiest way to tell is to take a look at the label, found on the chin strap, and if it has a ‘P/J’ then the helmet can be ridden with the chin bar in either position. If it’s just got a ‘P’ then it's only certified to ride with the chin bar closed. In the real world, it doesn’t make a big difference to most people but it is worth knowing.
From £129.99 RRP
If you're rather an inexpensive flip-front helmet, the MT Storm SV is a great all-around option.
The shell of the MT helmet is made from thermoplastic, which is durable, lightweight and comfortable, with an easy-to-operate opening mechanism that can be activated with one hand.
The helmet features two air vents at the chin and top of the shell, with internal channels to push cool air through to the extractors at the back, and a handy drop-down smoke sun visor for quick sun shielding.
The interior padding can be removed and washed, and the quick-release micrometric buckle chin strap and Pinlock-ready, anti-scratch clear visor.
From £249.99 RRP
Scorpion's Exo Tech helmet is a great middle-of-the-road option for touring riders.
This sleek, futuristic-looking helmet is dual homologated to offer maximum protection whether worn as a full-face or an open-face, with a chin bar that can be rotated almost 180 degrees over the helmet and clicked securely into place.
The shell itself is made from advanced polycarbonate for minimal weight without compromising on safety. Three adjustable vents on the helmet provide effective airflow throughout your face to flush hot air: one vent at the chin, another on the back and a spring-operated, one-touch vent at the top.
The helmet also sports a retractable, UV-resistant sun-visor and a clear, anti-fog shield. The removable Kwickwick III hypoallergenic and machine-washable, comfort lining feels extremely plush against your face, and the micrometric chin strap allows you to adjust to your head.
From £539.99 RRP
The C5 is Schuberth's flagship flip-up helmet, the first to be certified to ECE 22.06, with an internal sun visor, and wind-tunnel-optimised aerodynamics and acoustics.
Designed and developed using cutting-edge technology and optimised in Schuberth's own wind tunnel facility, the C5 marks Schuberth's first helmet certified to modern ECE 22.06 standards, as well as the first P/J homologated lid to comply.
The fibreglass outer shell is designed using patented Direct Fibre Processing (DFP) for a uniquely lightweight yet strong shell, which works in tandem with the multi-density EPS lining for impressive shock absorption. Technicians spent more than 200 hours in Schuberth's proprietary wind tunnel to achieve the very best aerodynamic and noise performance, resulting in a new shell profile and neckroll which creates a perfect seal at the bottom of the shell, achieving an astounding 85 dB(A) at 100 km/h in a naked bike.
The ventilation system has also seen improvement, introducing a new double chin air vent with an exchangeable filter to defog your visor while spreading cool air across your face. The top vent features 3 adjustable positions for controllable air intake, uncovered ventilation channels in the EPS lining and a rear exhaust that draws out humid air.
The face shield can now be secured in place by a new chin lock mechanism to reduce release by accident and to conform to 22.06 certification. Pre-installed with a Pinlock branded anti-fog lens, the C5 visor features an improved field of view, a new V-Lock drop-down sun visor, and a memory function feature that fixes the visor in the exact position whether the chin bar is closed, opened or closed again.
The new customisable interior padding equates to a more personalised fit for every head shape, is Oeko-Tex 100 certified and comes pre-fitted with speakers and wiring to seamlessly integrate the Sena Mess intercom kit (sold separately). The anti-roll-off system (AROS) ensures the helmet is kept in place during an accident, and the helmet is secured with a micro-ratchet strap.
The perfect helmet for when you want to ride a little more adventurously and explore what lies beyond the tarmac, without going full motocross.
You keep the useful visor for eye protection but blend in the sun-shading peak and extended chin bar to create a multipurpose swiss-army helmet. Because of the chin bar protruding further than a standard full-face they tend to feel a bit roomier upfront. Some of them even allow you to ditch the peak to make a helmet with better road manners, or lose the visor and run a set of goggles for tougher off-road sections.
Whilst they tend to be favoured by adventure motorcycle riders, there is uptake for this type of helmet by a wide variety of motorcyclists. Their main drawback for this style of helmet is the peak, whilst super useful off-road, when the speed picks up on the main road the wind can catch under them and pull your head up. It’s difficult to pin down because it depends on the motorcycle you ride if you have a screen, the angle of your head etc. You’ll see that a lot of peaks have cutouts to help manage the airflow and if it’s really a nuisance you can just take it off.
From £209.99 RRP
The Scorpion ADX-2 is a modular adventure helmet certified to ECE 22.06, with PMJ homologation and an internal sun visor.
As a follow-up to the ADX-1, the ADX-2 features a number of improvements to its design, comfort and protection to be a truly versatile helmet - the most important being its certification to the latest ECE 22.06 safety regulations.
The helmet features a polycarbonate shell, with an EPS-lined chin bar that can be switched from full-face to open-face modes: simply push a button and raise the chin bar over the removable sun peak. The interior of the helmet is lined with soft Kwikwick material, which is hypoallergenic and moisture-wicking and can be removed and washed.
The ADX-2 has a drop-down sun visor with a MaxVision Pinlock anti-fog visor. With a wide field of view, two helmet sizes, and suitability for glasses wearers, the helmet is great for a variety of riders and uses including touring, adventure riding and dirt biking. Ready compatible with the EXO-COM intercom system.
From £279.99 RRP
The AGV X101 is an off-road full-face that harkens back to the classic Dakar rallies of the 1970s and 80s but takes advantage of today's modern safety standards.
As part of AGV's Legends Collection which also consists of the X3000 and X70, the X101 is another historic model that calls back to AGV's heritage. The lightweight fibreglass shell sports a protective EPS density lining, with a soft and supple suede leather interior. The hardy, contoured chin guard is armed with an integrated air vent covered by a metal grill to protect from dirt and debris.
The X101 is readily equipped with a removable vintage-style sun peak, a Double-D ring retention strap and a large eye port to accommodate a pair of goggles for the complete adventure ensemble.
From £499.99 RRP
Arai has made the Tour-X 4 to be an adventure helmet that can tackle any condition no matter how extreme.
The outer shell has been redesigned to be stronger and tougher. The Super fibre laminate construction of the outer shell works alongside the triple-density inner shell to protect against impacts and shock. This is invaluable for when riding off-road where falling is a big risk due to the bad terrain. Arai’s hyper ridge reinforces the bottom of the shell for added strength and rigidity.
The ventilation system has also been redesigned for even better performance. Vents on the chin and brow provide a fresh supply of cool air evenly into the helmet. But this air doesn’t just fill the helmet to make it warm and stuffy. The ventilation on the top of the helmet uses diffusers to exhaust air out of the helmet. This means you’ll stay cool and comfortable even if the temperatures rise.
If you are a rider who wants a helmet that will stand up to anything you throw at it the Arai Tour-X 4 is perfect for you.
How much should I spend on a motorcycle helmet?
How should a motorcycle helmet fit?
How do I know my helmet size?
Do I need to break a motorcycle helmet in?
Can I wear glasses with a motorcycle helmet?
Do motorcycle helmets expire?
Should I replace my motorcycle helmet after a crash?
How much should I spend on a motorcycle helmet?
There is no general rule of thumb; helmets can vary wildly from £50 to £2500, so how much you spend will depend on a multitude of factors like your riding style, how often you ride, how much budget you have to work with, and more importantly, how much you are willing to part with.
Saying that any road-legal helmet sold in Europe must conform to the current European safety regulation ECE 22.05, so as an absolute minimum, any motorcycle/scooter helmet you consider should be rated to ECE 22.05. As long as the helmet is certified, the helmet is safe for you to wear.
(Note: January 2024 will see in a brand new European helmet standard, ECE 22.06, with more stringent testing and higher minimum benchmarks, so theoretically, this should improve the safety standard of helmets sold going forward. If any helmet manufacturer plans to produce a motorcycle helmet in Europe after January 2024, it will need to conform to ECE 22.06.)
Now, more expensive helmets will excel in some areas where cheaper models might fail in, for example, more shell sizes for a better fit, reduced weight for improved comfort over longer distances, less wind noise, better ventilation, increased aerodynamics for race performance - trust us when we say that you're not just paying for a brand name.
Helmets can be complex things to make safe, whilst also doing the job of keeping you comfortable on a day-to-day basis. Don't feel pressured to spend a lot on a motorcycle helmet, but if you do, it can certainly be a nicer place to put your head in!
How should a motorcycle helmet fit?
It should feel snug against your cheeks and head without feeling pain. If you feel like there is too much pressure against your face or the helmet feels excessively tight, it may be too small for you, and every time you go to wear it, it will feel incredibly uncomfortable.
Contrastly, if a helmet feels almost comfortable on your head and you have abit of room inside, it may be too big for you: this can be outright dangerous, as too big of a helmet will result in it rolling about and importantly, not protecting you as it should in the event of an accident.
Now let's talk helmet shape. Not everyone’s head is the same shape: some are rounded, some are oval and some are more squared. Most helmets fit in one of the general shapes such as an ‘Oval’, ‘Round’ or ‘Neutral’ shape. The shape can differ between models and brands it is a good idea to look around a variety of helmets to find a shape that works for you.
Take our advice - it is always better to air on the side of too snug than too loose!
If you can slip any finger in between any part of your head and the helmet, the helmet is too loose, and you should go a size smaller. And try a few different varieties, styles and brands so you can find the best fit for you.
To make sure your helmet is the right fit, follow these checks:
- Put the helmet on and secure the chinstrap so you can fit no more than two fingers between the helmet and your jaw
- With the helmet on and the chin strap fastened, hold the chin bar and try to move your head from side to side. If your head moves side to side freely in the helmet then the helmet is too big. The helmet lining and cheek pads should be in direct contact with your skin. While shaking your head, your skin should move with the helmet
- Place one hand on the back of the helmet and push forward. Open your visor fully and use your other hand to try to slip your little finger through the visor opening, between your forehead and the helmet lining. If there is room for more than just the tip of your finger, the helmet is too big
- Place one hand on the chin bar and push up (while the chin strap is secured). If the helmet comes off your head, it is too big. Next, place one hand on the back and push up again. If the helmet rolls off of your head, it is too big
- Lastly, try and sit in your helmet for at least 30 minutes or so to get a better understanding of how it will feel over a longer period of time.
Helmets are sized according to the circumference of your head and each brand/manufacturer will have a different measurement for each size so make sure you check the size guides for reference before purchasing.
You will need a soft measuring tape and your head. If you haven’t got another person to help, have a mirror handy so you can note the measurement. Place the tape on your forehead just above the eyebrows, over your ears, and continue around the head until you meet the start of the tape measure again. Ensure the tape measure is level whilst not being too loose or too tight. This is your first measurement.We would suggest removing the tape and re-measuring your head 2 more times to try and eliminate errors.
Once you have your measurements, you can refer to the size guides on our product pages in order to find the best corresponding size for you e.g. a circumference of 57-58 centimetres would be a size Medium in a Shoei helmet.
If you ordered your helmet online, Infinity Motorcycles allows you to return the helmet up to 90 days after purchase as long as the helmet has not been used on your bike. So, we recommend doing the Couch Test; when you first get your helmet, put it on and spend a good hour watching TV in it so you can find out for definite that the helmet is the right fit for you.
If you pop into one of our stores, our team will ensure that you leave with the right size helmet for your head. We offer custom fitting for specific branded helmets, as well as advice on what kinds of helmets will fit best.
Do I need to break a motorcycle helmet in?
Yes! New helmets fresh out of the box will tend to feel firm when first worn, but after a period of time, the interior padding will start to slacken and before long, you won't even notice any discomfort.
The only way to break in a new helmet is to wear it; try wearing it around the house or while watching TV for about 30 minutes for the first few days - if you feel any pressure points or general discomfort, return the helmet for a smaller size or try changing out the cheek pads for a slimmer size. (Note: do not wear your helmet out on the bike without being entirely confident about the sizing. Doing this will void the possibility of returning the helmet in future, as it is a safety product.)
Wearing the helmet for around 15 to 20 hours should be a sufficient amount of time for the lining to begin to conform to the shape of your face, and in the long run, will be infinitely more comfortable to wear.
Can I wear glasses with a motorcycle helmet?
If you plan on wearing glasses under your helmet, our advice would be to try them before you buy!
Most helmets nowadays will be designed with pre-cut grooves built into the lining to accomodate for the arms of your prescription glasses. Even if it doesn't, the shape of your glasses will eventually wear into the helmet but there may be some initial discomfort during the bedding process.
The best kinds of glasses/sunglasses to wear are ones with thin and flexible arms to easily squeeze into your helmet.
Unfortunately, motorcycle helmets do have a limited lifespan from the first time you wear them, but this is more of a recommendation than having an outright expiration date. It's generally accepted that helmets should be replaced every 5 years after purchase, no matter how frequent the use, and at most, 7 years after the production date.
This can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you've spent a fair bit on a helmet, but there is a good reason why you should: the inner workings of your helmet, the thermoplastic resins, the protective fibres, the EPS foam lining, all of these materials degrade over time and with frequent use, gradually lose their protective qualities and their capacity to withstand impacts and dissipate the energy transferred to your head.
Everything from sweat and hair oils, to general wear and tear and sunlight exposure, will reduce the life span of your helmet and make it less effective in an emergency situation.
Should I replace my motorcycle helmet after a crash?
As we previously mentioned, a motorcycle helmet contains interior resins and materials designed to absorb and dissipate the energy generated from an impact and reduce the chances of head injury.
When faced with an impact or crash, the integrity of your helmet is compromised, as a result of the exterior shell cracking and/or the EPS lining crushing under the weight of the impact.
Thereafter, the helmet will be dramatically less effective at performing the same job should you be involved in another wreck, so we heavily recommend replacing your helmet immediately after any kind of crash. when dropping your helmet from a height higher than 4 feet could also compromise the structure of your helmet.
While lower-extremity injuries most commonly occur in motorcycle crashes, head injuries are the most frequent in fatal crashes - so in our opinion, you shouldn't take the risk.
Safety is the #1 priority when you're enjoying the open road. A helmet is the most important piece of gear you have, so we hope this guide has given you enough insight to help your buying decision.
If you're stuck or need further advice, you can always call us on 0800 130 3377 and ask our customer service team or drop by any of our UK stores to try on a helmet or two for yourself! (We've been in the game for over 20 years so we know a thing of two about helmets!)
If you've gotten this far, might I recommend reading our Every ECE 22.06 Helmet We Know About article?
This article was written by Jonah Son & Tom Evans