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Types of Motorcycle Helmet Explained (Novice Friendly)

You have spent the last 2 months debating on which bike to purchase and finally it’s on order. Now you’re quickly discovering that with so many types of motorcycle helmets available, choosing one is just as overwhelming as it was picking out your bike!

That is where this article comes in. We will take you through all the various types of motorcycle helmets available to help you pick the right style for you, your bike and your needs.

Let’s get started.

Full Face Motorcycle Helmet

First up is the traditional full face motorcycle helmet, which is one solid piece that covers your whole head, with a fixed chin bar across the front of your face.

The full face helmet is widely accepted as the safest, most protective helmet style available. It is for this reason that competitive racers are only allowed to wear full face helmets, same applies for those partaking in track days.

Experienced bikers who ride powerful sports or liter bikes, any of the Streetfighter or naked bikes, as well as those who just want the best protection available for their head regardless of what they are riding, will always use a full face helmet.

There are still loads of styles and options available within the full face sector however, from retro style helmets like the Biltwell Gringo to sports focused lids like the Arai RX-7V.

It doesn’t really matter your style, or the bike you are riding there is definitely going to be a full face helmet out there to suit. 

Full face helmets offer more protection from the elements than open face helmets do. They are also more practical for attaching communication systems and GoPro action cameras.

No matter your budget you will be able to find a full face helmet to suit your needs, and one that has good safety ratings. 

I always recommend a full face helmet for new riders so that you are protected as much as possible when just starting out. 

Pros

  • Protective properties are second to none
  • Additional features are easier on a full face and more common, such as in-built bluetooth, internal sun visors, and more technical ventilation options
  • Perfect for riding all year as they are protective from the elements
  • Easy to find highly rated (in terms of safety) across all budgets

Cons

  • Full face helmets are heavier than some other types of helmet
  • They can also be warmer than other types of helmet 
  • If you are on and off the bike a lot then a full face helmet is less practical than something like a modular, this may affect delivery riders more than most

Good Options:

  1. Arai Quantic Racing Helmet
  2. Arai Quantic Racing Helmet
    5.0
    $965

    Excellent quality, premium safety and performance features


    More details
  3. HJC C70 Helmet
  4. HJC C70 Helmet
    4.5
    $154.99

    Great value, premium features for less

    More details
    06/03/2023 06:35 am GMT
  5. Biltwell Lane Splitter
  6. Biltwell Lane Splitter
    $249.95

    Aggressive Streetfighter styling and wide visor for great visibility

    More details
    06/03/2023 05:00 am GMT

Open Face Helmets aka ¾ Helmets

Another popular style is the open face helmet. Favored by a wide variety of motorcycle owners from Harley Bagger and Bobber owners all the way to Cafe Racer and scooter riders.

The open face helmet is essentially built like a full face but without the chin bar, so there is no facial protection. 

Open face helmets will fit to cover your ears and the base of your skull in the same way a full face does.

These helmets have been around almost as long as motorcycles have, and if you come across some vintage posters you will likely see the rider wearing an open face lid.

They instill a sense of nostalgia, an old Triumph Bonneville, a Bell helmet, a pair of retro motorcycle goggles and scarf flailing in the wind is the perfect image of vintage motorcycling. 

Open face helmets offer up a great sense of freedom when out on the road, while still offering a decent level of protection for your head. 

You can now get many visors, and add-ons like speaker pockets for open face helmets too, so you don’t need to go without some of the benefits of a full face. 

An open face helmet is great for those who want to avoid a full face for the fear of being claustrophobic, but are better suited to being used at lower speeds. 

You can get open face helmets that come with clip-on chin bars, which change the look and offer a level of protection from the elements. However, it is important to note that these face shields are often not protective and should not be treated as such. 

Pros

  • Great sense of freedom when out on the bike
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable 
  • Modern construction and features mean safety and performance has greatly improved

Cons

  • Open to the elements, not great in wind and rain
  • No facial protection 

Good Options

  1. Bell Custom 500 Helmet
  2. Bell Custom 500 Helmet

    Worlds most popular retro helmet available in 5 shell sizes. Classic design, quality and construction

    More details
  3. AHR Run-O5 Retro 3/4 Open Face
  4. AHR Run-O5 Retro 3/4 Open Face
    4.5
    $69.99

    1950's pilot helmet inspired. Features classic Stars & Stripes. Detachable visor, DOT approved

    More details
    06/03/2023 04:31 am GMT
  5. LS2 Helmets Open Face Spitfire Helmet
  6. LS2 Helmets Open Face Spitfire Helmet
    $119.98

    Great value for money pilot style helmet with integral visor included

    More details
    06/02/2023 07:05 am GMT

Half Helmets

It’s the half helmet that you probably associate with the riders of Harley Davidson motorcycles.

A half helmet offers up far less protection than any other motorcycle helmet but they are better than riding with none at all. 

Just as the name suggests, half helmets cover the top half of the head and sit very similarly to a typical bicycle helmet. 

a half helmet provides no cover at the base of your skull, or for the ears and below, there is also no facial protection. 

From a protective standpoint they don’t offer much and they don’t protect from the elements either, what they do give is the ultimate freedom for the rider.

They are obviously also very lightweight, no other motorcycle helmet type can beat the half shell on this point and they are low profile, so unlike some other open face helmets they will sit low on the head.

Some half helmets will come with drop down visors or peaks.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Freedom, you can ride at one with the road and elements

Cons

  • Lack of head protection
  • No eye protection from the elements
  • No face protection
  • best suited to lower speeds

Good Options

  1. Bell Rogue Half Helmet
  2. Bell Rogue Half Helmet
    4.0
    $224.00

    Design bonus points, comes with a removable chin piece

    More details
    06/03/2023 02:25 am GMT
  3. HJC IS-Cruiser Helmet
  4. HJC IS-Cruiser Helmet
    4.0

    Good value and has a half visor

    More details
  5. Scorpion C90 Helmet
  6. Scorpion C90 Helmet
    4.0
    $92.13

    True low profile, half shell helmet, comms ready and integral sun visor. From a quality manufacturer

    Buy Now
    06/02/2023 07:41 am GMT

Modular Helmets aka Flip Up

A modular helmet offer the best of both worlds between a full face and open face helmet.

Some of the very best modular helmets are dual-homologated which means you can ride in both the full face and open face positions and the helmet has been safety tested in both of these positions. 

Some however, are only built to be used in the full face position with the flip up reserved for when you are filling up the bike at a gas station or popping into a shop for example without needing to take your helmet off. 

Therefore you need to be sure that your helmet is dual-homologated if you want to ride in the open face position. 

Some modular helmets have a chin bar that will flip up right over the helmet and sit at the back while on others the chin bar sits on top of the helmet. 


Where the chin bar flips right over to the back, the helmet is more suitable to use as an open face as there is no wind resistance at the top of the helmet to cause issues. 

They make for great touring helmets particularly if you are riding with a pillion as when stationary at lights etc. you can flip up the lid and communicate easily and clearly.

A modular helmet is also very popular with delivery and courier riders as they don’t have to keep removing their motorcycle helmet with every stop. 

Features like sun visors and bluetooth comms compatibility found on many full face helmets are also found on modular helmets, so there is no sacrifice to be made there.

They do tend to be heavier than full face helmets which is largely down to the flip up mechanism. 

Pros

  • Ease of use – easier to get on and off than a full face helmet
  • The modular helmet system is great for riders who are on and off the bike regularly or ride with a pillion
  • Loaded with features just like a full face helmet
  • Protective properties can be just as good as a full face when ridden in that position
  • Open face option with dual homologated helmets
  • Generally quieter than other styles of motorcycle helmet as the flip up system makes for a tighter fit which reduces wind and road noise 

Cons

  • Heavier than other motorcycle helmets
  • Not all modular helmets are dual homologated so be sure to check before riding in the open face position
  • When riding in the open position the weight is often carried up top so this can make the helmet quite heavy and cause fatigue

Good Options

  1. Shoei Neotec II Helmet
  2. Shoei Neotec II Helmet
    5.0
    $799.99

    If you're looking for a high-quality modular style lid that offers superior comfort, protection, and versatility, the Shoei Neotec II is one of the best available.

    Weight: 4lb or 1800g

    Pros:
    • The aerodynamic shell design provides excellent wind resistance and noise reduction, making it easy to wear for long periods of time.
    • The dual-layer EPS liner is designed to absorb impact and improve ventilation, keeping you cool and comfortable even in warm weather.
    • Extra smooth flip up chin bar.
    • Available from X-small to XX-large and in 9 colors.
    • 4 shell sizes plus the Shoes Interior Comfort System ensures that you can create the perfect fit for your head shape and size.
    Cons:
    • The price point is higher than many other modular helmets on the market, which could be a drawback for budget-conscious riders.
    More details
    06/03/2023 12:55 am GMT
  3. HJC i90 Modular Helmet
  4. HJC i90 Modular Helmet
    4.5

    Great value for money, comfortable and quiet

    More details
  5. Schuberth C3 Pro
  6. Schuberth C3 Pro
    5.0
    $494

    The quietest helmet on the market, extremely comfortable and premium

    More details
  7. Bell SRT Modular Full-Face Helmet
  8. Bell SRT Modular Full-Face Helmet
    4.5

    A high-quality modular helmet that provides excellent protection and comfort, the Bell SRT Modular is an excellent choice.

    Weight: 3.3lb or 1497g

    Pros:
    • Lightest helmet on the list
    • Panovision shield with Class 1 optics for excellent visibility
    • Available in 7 sizes and 13 different colors
    Cons:
    • Some users have reported sizing issues
    More details

    I may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  9. LS2 Valiant II Modular Helmet
  10. LS2 Valiant II Modular Helmet
    4.5
    $324.94

    The LS2 Valiant II is a great option. Despite the weight it's very comfortable and offers excellent protection on the road.

    Weight: 6lb or 2721g

    Pros:
    • The chin bar flips 180 degrees, allowing you to easily switch between a full-face and open-face helmet
    • The Twin Shield System drop-down sun shield provides smooth and dependable sun protection
    • The removable, washable Thermo Form comfort padding is made of a breathable fabric that wicks moisture and dries quickly, keeping you cool and comfortable
    Cons:
    • The heaviest lid on this list
    • The shield fogs up easily in cold temperatures
    • The chin bar can be a bit tight around the cheekbones
    • The vent on the chin piece doesn't allow enough air flow
    Buy Now
    06/03/2023 06:00 am GMT
  11. SHARK EVO-ONE 2 Lithion Dual Modular Helmet
  12. SHARK EVO-ONE 2 Lithion Dual Modular Helmet
    4.5
    $489.99

    The SHARK Helmets EVO-ONE 2 Lithion Dual is one of the best modular helmets and definitely worth considering.

    Weight: 4.03lb or 1827g

    Pros:
    • The chin locking system is secure and easy to use.
    • The auto up and down visor is a great feature, especially for sunny days.
    • DOT approved and ECE2205 approved for riding with the chin-bar in both open and closed position.
    • Full 5 year guarantee
    Cons:
    • The cheek pads are quite tight, so it may take some time to break them in.
    • It can be a bit noisy inside compared to other models.
    More details
    06/03/2023 02:10 am GMT
  13. ScorpionEXO EXO-GT930 Transformer Modular Helmet
  14. ScorpionEXO EXO-GT930 Transformer Modular Helmet
    4.5
    $254.95

    The ScorpionEXO EXO-GT930 Transformer Modular Helmet could be a great choice for you if you ride a Streetfighter or similar naked bike.

    Weight: 5.69lb or 2581g

    Pros:
    • The Advanced injection molded Polycarbonate shell is lightweight and strong, providing excellent impact displacement.
    • The Ellip-Tec II Ratchet System ensures a proper seal and allows for 100% tool-less shield changing in seconds.
    • The AirFit Inflation System adjustment system allows you to custom fit your cheek pads, helping to reduce wind noise and lift.
    Cons:
    • The ventilation system isn't the best, making it less than ideal for hot weather riding.
    • The materials used aren't as high quality as some more expensive helmets.
    • Sizing runs small, so you may need to order a size up from what you normally wear.
    More details
    06/03/2023 03:30 am GMT
  15. ILM Bluetooth Integrated Modular Flip up Helmet Model 953
  16. ILM Bluetooth Integrated Modular Flip up Helmet Model 953
    4.5
    $249.99

    The ILM Bluetooth is another integrated lid. With its one-touch control and long battery life, this is perfect for riders who want to stay connected on the road.

    Weight: 4.4lb or 1995g

    Pros:
    • Bluetooth technology allows for easy phone calls and music streaming
    • Intercom pairs with 1 other rider and works up to 1000ft (304m)
    • Long battery life of 8 hours talk time and 110 hours standby
    • Adjustable vents and fully washable microfiber lining for maximum comfort
    Cons:
    • Runs one size smaller due to built-in Bluetooth module
    • Incoming phone calls override intercom, music, FM radio and GPS navigation audio
    • Some users have reported difficulty using the intercom while listening to music
    More info
    06/03/2023 06:06 am GMT
  17. ILM Bluetooth Flip up Helmet Model 902BT
  18. ILM Bluetooth Flip up Helmet Model 902BT
    4.5
    $189.99

    An improvement on the above helmet (although weight is up) this is a great option for those who ride with others as it offers clear communication with up to 3 other riders and has a longer range.

    Weight: 5.59lb or 2535g

    Pros:
    • Bluetooth 3.0 technology allows for easy one-touch control of phone calls, music, FM radio, and GPS navigation audio
    • Intercom system supports communication with up to 3 riders and has a maximum distance of 1640ft (500m)
    • 12 hours phone talk time, 8 hours intercom talk time and 110 hours of standby
    Cons:
    • The speakers may not provide the best sound quality for music
    • It may fit a bit tight initially, but will break in over time so don't buy oversized
    More info
    06/02/2023 06:35 am GMT
  19. HJC Flip-Up I90 Modular Helmet
  20. HJC Flip-Up I90 Modular Helmet
    4.5
    $229.99

    The HJC Flip-up I90 is a solid choice that offers great value for money.

    Weight: 3.75lb or 1700g

    Pros:
    • Lightweight and comfortable, making it easy to wear for long periods of time.
    • The integrated sunshield is a great feature that deploys quickly and easily, making it easy to adjust to changing light conditions.
    • The SuperCool interior with advanced fabric provides enhanced moisture-wicking and quick-drying functions, keeping you comfortable and dry on long rides.
    Cons:
    • Despite the aerodynamic shape it is a bit noisy at high speeds, which might be a dealbreaker for some riders.
    • It is only DOT and ECE approved up to 2XL, which might not be sufficient for those requiring something larger.
    More info

    I may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    06/03/2023 02:05 am GMT

Dirt Bike Helmets

If you are getting into dirt bikes then the first thing you need to know is that off road helmets are quite different from road bike helmets, the biggest difference being to start with is that they tend to be lightweight.

Most off road helmets do not offer eye protection so will be visor-free, this is so you can add your own goggles or glasses. 

They are designed for maximum protection, reduced weight, increased ventilation and visibility.

The eye opening is much larger than on full face style helmets and the chin bar protrudes significantly which offers not only more protection but increased ventilation into the helmet. 

If you are riding in dirt or mud then goggles are your best bet to secure a seal around your eyes and prevent dirt etc from getting in your eyes. 

Most dirt bike helmets will also have peaks, this is to stop dirt and debris from hitting you in the face when off-road. 

Dirt bike helmets are not built for fancy features like speakers and sun visors, they are built to do a job and nothing else. 

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Great ventilation, so good for Summer months
  • Protective
  • Maximum visibility 

Cons

  • Great for off-road but not suitable for road use
  • Offer little protection from the elements
  • Can be quite bulky so best to try on with your body armor before purchase
  • Not all goggle shapes will fit every helmet so make sure you try them together first. 

Good Options

  1. Bell MX-9 Mips
  2. Bell MX-9 Mips
    4.0
    $245

    Maximum Impact Protection System, lightweight, premium components and comfortable. Available in a variety of color schemes

    More details
  3. O-Neal 3 Series Flat
  4. O-Neal 3 Series Flat
    4.0
    $237.50

    Good value, aerodynamic and great visibility

    More details

Dual Sport Helmets

Dual sport helmets tend to sit somewhere between an off-road dirt bike style lid and a full on adventure helmet. 

They are lightweight, straight to the point, feature free and ready for some exciting rides.

Dual sports motorcycles by design are ready to tackle the road along with the dirt and trails when you come across them, therefore you need a helmet that is ready for that too.

In terms of protection dual sport helmets are produced from the same materials as full face helmets so share the maximum protective properties but have off road features too like peaks and some have the option to remove or flip up the visor to use goggles instead. 

The eye port will take after the dirt helmet style and be much larger than a full face or modular style helmet so that you have maximum visibility of both the road and the bike’s controls at all times. 

The chin bar on a dual sport is often a bit larger too and lower like a dirt bike helmet.  Although it isn’t massive so it keeps some of the wind and road noise out compared to an off-road helmet. 

Having the choice to use the visor while on the street and then flip it up to use goggles off-road is perfect and in line with a dual sport motorcycle’s purpose

Pros 

  • Great for when you are riding on and off-road in the same day
  • Excellent visibility so great even as an everyday helmet if your full faces visor is a bit small
  • Lightweight, built to be used all day
  • Unlike dirt bike helmets you can fit comms kits etc.

Cons

  • Noisier than regular full face/modular helmets

Good Options

  1. AGV AX9 Carbon Duel Sport
  2. AGV AX9 Carbon Duel Sport
    5.0

    Built like an off-road helmet in its design, long chin bar, huge visor

    More details

    I may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  3. KLIM Krios Pro Dual Sport Motorcycle Helmet ECE/DOT
  4. KLIM Krios Pro Dual Sport Motorcycle Helmet ECE/DOT
    4.5
    $749.99

    Ultimate dual sport/adventure helmet, premium quality, maximum visibility and protection

    More details
    06/03/2023 02:20 am GMT

Adventure Helmets

Adventure riders are ready for long haul so they need a helmet to suit. Adventure are dual sports that are ready for the road and to take on some longer tours.

Usually fitted or compatible with all the mod cons of full faces, adventure helmets are best described as a full face with better visibility and a peak.

They will have excellent ventilation, are as quiet as a full face helmet and as comfortable. 

Pros 

  • All the features and benefits of a full face, protective, comfortable and quiet
  • Off-road features like a longer chin bar, a peak and large visor
  • Make excellent touring helmets for long journeys


Cons

  • Can be quite expensive when compared to a regular full face helmet
  • Hard to distinguish between an adventure or dual sport helmet, so research is needed to make sure the helmet will suit your needs

Good Options

  1. Arai XD4 Helmet
  2. Arai XD4 Helmet
    4.5
    $609.95

    Arai quality dual sport helmet, ultimate protection and ventilation

    More details
    06/03/2023 06:20 am GMT
  3. Shoei Hornet X2 Helmet
  4. Shoei Hornet X2 Helmet
    5.0
    $642

    Upgraded for the new model year, lightweight, pinlock included, grooves for glasses

    More details

Summary

Bikers involved in motorcycle accidents reduce their chances of a head injury by a whopping 69% when wearing a helmet.

Motorcycle helmet FAQ

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