Retro motorcycle 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 helmets to meet the needs of those buying modern classic machines so we have plenty to choose from.
Below is the shortlist of 5 I made when looking to buy a new open faced helmet that was in keeping with the styling of my Triumph Bobber.
I’m not going to get into the open faced 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 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.
One of the smallest shells ever made with a DOT/BSI legal helmet. It’s also the lightest helmet I’ve ever worn.
My favourite summer helmet. It comes in various colour options, the Ironstone as shown is the one I went for.
Model – Freeride
Manufacturer – Caberg
Great value for money 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
OTHER RETRO MOTORCYCLE HELMETS YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER
This AGV retro helmet is unashamedly aimed straight at the Cafe Racer rider.
Would look the business on the R Nine T Racer in this colour scheme.
Model – RP60 Chequered Flag
Manufacturer – AGV
My rating – 91/100
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
My rating – 91/100
Expensive top of the line lid but it shows.
Gorgeous to wear and doesn’t look bad either.
Model – Hawker
Manufacturer – Shoei
My rating – 90/100
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 no lifting as speed.
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.
- 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
Even with the goggles on you can see the Caberg Freeride still looks 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.
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 early Spring and Autumn 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 then I swap to the FG-70s.
Same goes the other way too. As soon as the Summer 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 out of your eyes.
BUYING A RETRO MOTORCYCLE 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 Amazon. 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.
I purchase most of my gear from Sports Bike Shop in the UK. They offer a world wide shipping service which I’ve found to be fast and reliable. I’ve had to return 2 items that didn’t fit properly and on both occasions the items were swapped with no drama or fuss.