Retro open faced helmets are designed to look like a lid from the past while making full use of modern technologies.
A bit like the retro motorcycle then!
Thankfully, the boom of the retro motorcycle has seen many of the major biker gear manufacturers producing retro open faced helmets to meet the needs of those buying modern classic machines so we have plenty to choose from.
Below is the shortlist of 5 of the best open faced helmets I found while looking to buy something that was in keeping with the styling of my retro motorcycle, a Triumph Bobber.
There are many different types of motorcycle helmet to choose from and I’m not going to get into the open faced helmet v full faced helmet safety debate. Triumph went to great lengths to make the Bobber look like it stepped out of the 1940’s and I’m not going to ruin their efforts by wearing a MotoGP developed, Rossi inspired full faced helmet.
I scored each helmet on 3 points:
- Value for money – Did it look and feel as if it should cost more than it did?
- Comfort – How did it feel once on my head.
- Retro vibe – I wanted a helmet that looked like it belonged in the past.
I tried all 5 of the following open faced helmets on and in the end I purchased two of them – the Caberg Freeride and the HJC FG-70s – and I still use both of them.
THE CABERG FREERIDE IRON – MY FAVOURITE RETRO HELMET
- Just 800 grams
- Available in 6 colours
- Removable & washable lining
- Leather detailing
Model – Freeride
Manufacturer – Caberg
THE HJC FG 70S – MY SECOND HELMET
Great value for money open faced helmet packed with features including built in sun visor and duel density EPS liner.
My personal choice for spring and autumn afternoon rides when the Sun is low.
Model – FG-70s
Manufacturer – HJC
My Rating 92/100
WHY THE CABERG FREERIDE WAS MY WINNER
The Caberg Freeride is a really light weight helmet. It’s also extremely comfortable and easy to wear – no pressure points yet tight enough that there is very limited lifting as speed. I have found that when I wear it with my retro motorcycle goggles the lifting becomes none existent.
It is the low profile that first attracted me though, this thing is tiny in comparison to other open faced helmets. If you see the crazy frog looking back at you when you are trying on a new helmet, The Caberg Freeride is for you.
It comes packaged with a long clear visor that completely ruins its looks. Probably handy though for long motorway/freeway trips. I couldn’t bring myself to use the visor so I have goggles with mine.
The only downside to the Freeride is that because the shell is so small it can get cold quickly. This is strictly a Summer helmet.
I went for the Iron finish but it comes in plenty of other choices.
CABERG FREERIDE SPEC’S
- Weight: 800 +/- 50 grams
- Kevlar and fibreglass construction
- Long clear anti-scratch visor – after market tinted visors available
- Removable and washable lining
- Micrometric buckle
- Leather detailing
- Available in 6 different colour schemes
You can see the Caberg Freeride is a very small lid when compared with the HJC FG-70s. The HJC isn’t a large helmet either.
These are both my helmets and are made for the same sized head – a 59cm to 60cm large.
MORE ON THE HJC FG-70S
I went for the FG-70s as a second helmet because of the built in visor. I sourced a replacement dark tinted visor in Italy which makes it the ideal lid for those rides when the Sun is low and you can’t usually see a thing.
It’s very comfortable to wear and also very quiet. Not always a good thing I know but after wearing The Caberg Freeride all summer it makes a nice change when I swap to the FG-70s.
Same goes the other way too. As soon as the spring kicks in and I dig out the Caberg Freeride I feel practically naked for the first few weeks.
The FG-70s is also a warm helmet and the pull down internal visor does a good job at keeping the cold wind and low autumn Sun out of your eyes.
OTHER RETRO MOTORCYCLE HELMETS YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER
Shark S Drak 2
Streetfighter style open face helmet with detachable face mask, fibre glass construction and internal pull down visor
Model shown – S Drak 2
Manufacturer – Shark
THE BELL CUSTOM 500 DXL
One of the finest retro open faced helmets available, it’s probably the most famous one too.
Available in loads of colour schemes.
Model – Custom 500
Manufacturer – Bell
Expensive top of the line lid but it shows.
Gorgeous to wear and doesn’t look too shabby either.
Model – Sportsman
Manufacturer – Hedon
BUYING A RETRO OPEN FACED HELMET
The helmets listed above all carry the BSI Kitemark making them legal in the UK. As the company I have linked to sells and ships worldwide I assume they are also DOT approved. If in doubt though you should ask the supplier.
Get the tightest fit you dare as it will become slightly bigger once you have broken it in.
As a retro motorcycle rider you don’t have to spend top dollar on a retro motorcycle helmet but you should avoid the cheap Chinese imports offered on market places such as Amazon. If you do go with a cheaper brand make sure it has a manufactured date stamp inside – motorcycle helmets expire even when sat on a shelf.
Far safer to go with a brand name that has some history in helmet manufacturing and make sure it carries the relevant stickers making it legal in your country.
Sports Bike Shop offer a world wide shipping service which I’ve found to be fast and reliable. I had to return an item that didn’t fit properly and the item was swapped with no drama or fuss.
Sunday 2nd of January 2022
I wear an open face because I found full face helmets to be claustrophobic and visually restricting. There was also the misting problem. Currently I have an AGV with a full face visor. The noise problem I alleviate with ear plugs.