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Motorcycle helmet buying guide

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One of the most important things about riding a motorcycle is safety. We all know that the best helmet is not necessarily the most expensive, but the one that fits your head the best. While keeping your head safe will be high on your list, nobody wants a dull-looking helmet. We have featured some great helmets on the market in 2021 to suit every budget. No matter whether you ride on the road or track, we have a helmet here for you.

£100 – £200 Entry level helmets

Sliding first into the category, the HJC CS-15 at £60-£90

Image courtesy of HJC

HJC’s entry into the entry-level category is the visually stunning CS-15. This helmet features a thermo-resin polycarbonate shell, a removable Nylax interior and a glasses groove for reduced pressure on the temples for those of us burdened with anything but perfect 20/20 vision.

HJC has sealed the deal with a micro-ratchet strap, pinlock ready visor and an excellent 4-star SHARP rating.

AGV’s K1, the baby Pista GP comes from around £120.

Images courtesy of AGV

The AGV K1 features a sports styled lid taking the shape from its older brother, the Pista GP. We get an entry-level thermoplastic shell with a unique chin bar designed to reduce collarbone injuries.

The K1 comes complete with a clear pinlock ready visor, double D chin strap, and sporty, aggressive styling.

The AGV K1 helmet has been rated at four stars in the SHARP testing, making it one of the safest helmets in this price range.

2020 Shark Ridill – from £120,

Shark Ridill
Image courtesy of Shark

New for 2020, the Shark Ridill boasts a thermoplastic shell, with an integrated drop-down sun visor. As the successor of the highly successful Shark S700S, the Ridill benefits from a newly redesigned ventilation system and the integration of glasses grooves.

Shark ensured that their new entry-level helmet maintained the quality and features of the S700S, the drop-down sun visor was a crucial part of their previous model, and Shark found a way to integrate it into the new ventilation system,

Top-end of the budget at £199.99 The Nolan N87

Nolan N87 helmet
Image courtesy of Nolan

One of Nolan’s best selling helmets is the N87. Barely making it into this category, with a penny change.

Nolan’s N87 comes with a lightweight polycarbonate shell with an internal drop-down sun visor and scratch-resistant pinlock ready external visor.

Nolan packs its entry-level helmet with a bunch of smart design features including an ultrawide visor and a shell ready for Nolan N-Com integration. This helmet utilizes a micro ratchet chin strap fastening system.

Category 2: £200-£350 All round performers

This category allows the introduction of intricate designs, increased research-based styling, more advanced construction materials, including tasty carbon!

Scorpion Exo-ST1400 Carbon at £320

Scorpion EXO ST1400
Image courtesy of Scorpion USA

Scorpion starts us off strong! Their new ST-1400 features carbon construction, an internal sun visor, large ventilation ports for extra airflow and their patented air-fit technology, ensuring that the fit is perfect for every rider.

The Scorpion EXO ST-1400 is CAD designed from carbon fibre, which gives it beautiful styling while providing high impact protection.

This lid is packed with features, a pinlock ready visor along with a new visor ratchet system pulls it tight against the visor seal to prevent whistling and emergency quick-release cheek pads.

LS2 Carbon Evo – £289.99

LS2 C Evo
Image courtesy of LS2 Helmets

LS2’s carbon contender flies in from Spain where they consulted the design and performance with riders from the MotoGP series to provide a top-class racing lid for the road.

The Carbon Evo pulls in all the safety points with a Double D ring chin strap and a metal security tab. The chin strap itself is reinforced internally to prevent wear and damage, increasing the lifespan of the helmet. Complete with LS2’s neckroll, this adds support to the neck region, assisting in both safety and comfort. Much like many of LS2’s competitors, the helmet features emergency quick-release cheek pads made from a laser-cut foam.

Even with all these features, LS2 didn’t forget about the visor. After discussion with racers, the Carbon Evo comes with a wide aperture, scratch-resistant, pinlock ready, tear off compatible, anti-fog, “space-age polycarbonate” face shield. Very high tech stuff, and quite the mouthful!

HJC R-PHA 70 from £296.99-£329.99 depending on graphics

Image courtesy of HJC EU

HJC released this stunning lightweight carbon helmet with the target audience of those who spend long periods on the bike. The helmet is officially marketed towards tourers with a redesign of the race-ready R-PHA 11, HJC mashed the 11 with technical aspects of a touring helmet to produce this beautiful hybrid.

Made with a hybrid carbon/glass fibre shell, the R-PHA 70 houses an internal sun visor, lightweight design, emergency release inner liner and cheek pads. The large visor is anti-fog and pinlock ready and features Double D chin strap for extra security.

Icon Airframe Pro – £263.99 (Non-carbon)

Icon helmets
Image courtesy of Icon USA

Icon sneaks into the list with a very respectable entry. The Icon airframe pro flies under the radar in the UK, despite the brand’s popularity in the USA.

Icon claims the shell is a handcrafted multi-composite material, although it’s not clearly stated which materials are combined. The rest of the helmet features a Double D ring chin strap, a five-piece modular helmet liner for easy cleaning.

Icon adds a great face shield; its extra-wide aperture is fog-free. It uses pro lock positive locking system for maximum security and seal.

Arai Debut – £269.99 – £379.99

Arai Debut 2020
Image courtesy of Arai UK

The new 2020 Arai Debut bursts onto the scene with their new entry-level street designed helmet. The Debut takes the traditional Arai styling and their willingness not to compromise on quality. Arai prides themselves on safety and will not sell a helmet which does not meet their exacting standards.

The Debut’s shell is comprised of Arai’s Super Fibre construction, a durable composite material. Arai’s attention to detail matches the beautiful sculpting of the helmet. Featuring the classical side pods known to house the visor ratchet mechanism, which Arai has perfected over the years.

No internal sun visor on the debut

Arai doesn’t include internal sun visors due to safety concerns. This is solved by purchasing an Arai Type 1 visor with the additional Pro Shade System. That or a regular tinted visor. The pro shade system, when in the up position, acts as a rain shield.

arai debut
Image courtesy of Arai UK

Arai visors are pin lock ready and anti-fog, and comes with small vents are the top of the shield itself to help with airflow and preventing the visor fogging up.

Arai changed up their usual design, adding in two key channels along the chin bar of the lid, which run to the back. Here these grooves reinforce the structure of the chin bar and helmet, while also lowering the centre of gravity for better comfort and aerodynamics.

Category 3: £350 – £550 Everyday quality with advanced materials

Here we’re going to look at those kinds of helmets which last you a few years, are great products but cost a bit more than the average helmet.

Shoei NXR – £359.99

Shoei NXR review
Image courtesy of Shoei Europe

One of Shoei’s core models and a great seller. The NXR has a powerful sense of speed about it, the shape and ventilation looking like that of a pro-racing lid!

Shoei forms this helmet out of a multi-composite shell, with a set of Emergency Quick Release System (EQRS) cheek pads, and a Double D ring security system. Shoei even includes in the box, a pinlock for the face shield and additional earpads to insert into the helmet to reduce noise.

Shoei’s latest version of the NXR is formatted with four inlet vents and six-outlet vents for maximum ventilation through the multiple density EPS liner. These vents form part of the spoiler at the back, assisting with the aerodynamics of the helmet and increasing user comfort.

X-Lite X-803 Ultra Carbon – £399.99

X-lite 803
Image courtesy of X-Lite Italy

A beautiful helmet from X-Lite, with a shell comprised of carbon fibre. Equipped with an extra-wide anti-scratch visor that is pinlock ready and an upgraded locking mechanism. This revised mechanism prevents the visor from opening at high speeds.

The 803 Ultra Carbon also comes packed with race-inspired features including a breath deflector and deluxe internal padding. X-Lite borrows parent company Nolan’s emergency release system cheek pads to improve safety and assist emergency crews.

X-Lite fitted the 803 with multiple vents, which channel into a large outlet vent integrated into the adjustable race spoiler. Adding adjustability for the spoiler allows for personalisation enhancing stability at speed.

Aside from the beautiful carbon look of the X-Lite 803, the overall race-styling Ultra Carbon may be expensive but it delivers massive quality.

Shark Race R Pro

Shark race R pro

Shark’s race-inspired helmet features a carbon fiber multi-composite shell with advanced aerodynamics. A unique W form spoiler at the rear improves stability both on and off the track.

Read our Shark Race R Pro review here

Shark’s outer shell weighs only 1250g complete with the aerodynamic devices.

Shark designed the helmet to be aerodynamic whilst still integrating ventilation to the lid. The sleek profile of the helmet blends the ventilation perfectly to the shape of the Race R Pro. The chin and forehead vents provide perfect airflow for summer.

Arai Renegade-V – circa £450

Arai renegade
Image courtesy of Arai UK

Arai’s streetfighter based helmet, the Renegade looks devilishly stylish and aggressive. With four mesh chin vents, an extra-wide complete with locking system. Arai hasn’t held back with this helmet, the raw aggressive design makes it perfect for a streetfighter/naked style.

Made from a specialist multi-composite material, the Renegade’s shell has been designed and constructed by Arai’s master craftsmen. The lining is removable, allowing washing when needed. The liner features ample space to mount speakers for intercom systems.

Unlike the Debut mentioned earlier, the Renegade doesn’t feature a spoiler however it utilizes low exhaust vents at the rear. This forces air from the front, all the way around the head to the bottom of the neck. This ensures more heat can be extracted away from the head.

Vozz’s RS1.0 (£399-£549.99)

This new clamshell opening concept comes from the minds over at Vozz helmets. Instead of pulling the helmet down over your head, the Vozz helmet is clipped together with a hinge mechanism at the top. Effectively giving the helmet a “flap” at the back to shut. It’s very reminiscent of a flip front helmet, and yet it is a full-face helmet without a chin strap.

The secure fit of the neck roll and shell fixes the helmet in place and prevents it from moving. With its unique styling, its the first helmet with a totally game-changing concept. We can’t wait to get hold of one in-person to see what it’s like.

The Vozz RS1.0 shell is comprised of a tri-composite fiber with additional ABS. Inside is a durable, dual-density EPS foam liner for protection. The exterior comes complete with a scratch-resistant, interchangeable visor. This anti-fog visor is wider than normal, allowing for extra peripheral visibility, but lacks pinlock compatibility.

Still yet to see a Vozz helmet to review in person

The helmet is unlocked through two clamps at each side, meaning the mechanism can’t be unlocked without intending to do so. This removes the typical chin strap and allows the introduction of a chin cup and skirt combined into the neck roll for supporting the chin like a conventional chin strap.

Aside from their new fastening mechanism, Vozz keeps it traditional with large air intakes at the front which channel air around the helmet and vent from two ports at the rear.

One of the key points to Vozz’s unique mechanism is the ability to safely remove the helmet in a crash situation. The strapless design prevents problems which may occur when the helmet needs to be removed. The design fully supports the head and neck and allows the front of the helmet to be removed by emergency crews.

Find out more here

Category 4: £550+ – Here is where some of the best motorcycle helmets are

Many of the helmets in this category are race replicas worn by the fastest and best on the track/road. We’ll try to outline some non-replicas, as well as these fancy race copies!

Shoei X-Spirit 3 – £595 (plain) – £700 (Replica)

Image courtesy of Shoei Europe

Shoei’s top-level race helmet, as used by Marc Marquez and John McGuinness. Despite its high price, it isn’t a carbon shell, but a fibreglass/organic alternative. The X-Spirit 3 takes the traditional Shoei form factor and adds six individually adjustable vent inlets, which funnel air from the chin, cheeks, visor and forehead for maximum airflow. It also features purposefully designed cheek channels to wick away heat from the side of the head, rather than only using the forehead channels.

The spoiler for the X-Spirit 3 is also unique, including both a wide and narrow flap which allows customization for increased stability. The spoiler is found lower on the helmet creating a controlled flow of air over the crown of the helmet. It also masks the exhaust ports used in the ventilation system.

The design screams “RACE”, and its seen in both the quality of materials and the design used by Shoei. Its high price delivers, using 4 shell sizes to better fit the wearer and increase the safety of this lid. Inside we get an adjustable modular liner, allowing maximum comfort.

The X-Spirit 3 is one to watch, it might be expensive but there’s a reason why its Shoei’s flagship helmet.

The Bell Race Star DLX Flex – £630

Image courtesy of Bell Helmets

Boy, does Bell flex their prowess here, just look at that black and gold! The DLX Flex is Bell’s carbon racing lid which will cost you around £629.99. Bell makes up the the hefty price tag, by using a carbon shell construction (5 sizes available), beautiful design with very nice graphics, a flexible impact liner fitted with their unique “virus cool jade power mesh”.

Bell’s unique liner is segmented, and this allows the flex technology to conform perfectly to the rider head whilst still maintaining excellent crash protection. The liner comes unique to each offered size, which allows for maximum comfort and weight saving.

If you don’t like the existing graphics available, for the extra $300 you can use Bell’s “Helmade” helmet customizer building your own graphic from some basic templates, which is then custom made for you by Bell, complete with monogramming on the side.

AGV Pista GP-RR at £899.99 – £999.99

Images courtesy of AGV

AGV’s flagship helmet, the creme de la creme, the Pista GP-RR, the beautiful work of Italian craftsmen and women. This lid is the same (within reason) as Valentino of the Rossi wears himself.

The Pista is made perfectly from carbon fibre, complete with spoiler and a removable drinking system! The unique Pista style, which has funnelled down to AGV’s other models like the K1 and K6, uses the narrower chin bar to allow a larger range of movement. The sleeker chin bar has also been noted to reduce the risk of collarbone breaks.

If you want something extra special, you could go one step further and upgrade to the AGV Pista GP-RR limited-edition Speciale at £1199.99.

Image courtsey of AGV

Both models have metal vents to increase durability and have an extra-large opening for maximum airflow. Inside we find an adjustable “2Dry” liner complete with an adjustable crown pad for comfort.

As needed for a race-ready lid, AGV adds to this package their max-vision visor, which comes in at 5mm thick and an anti-scratch coating. AGV solidify this with their micro-opening function and metal fixtures to keep the visor in tight to the opening. Warning if you use this on the road, there is no ratchet, the visor is either open or closed. To top this off, AGV throws in a titanium double D chin strap for extra durability and saving a gram or two.

Arai RX-7V £669.99 – £789.99

Image courtesy of Arai UK

An iconic helmet, with arguably some of the best paint jobs and finishes motorcycling has ever seen. Arai’s RX-7V race-ready lid uses the classical Arai R75 shell shape which we all know and love, but uses PB-SNC2, Arai’s exclusive multi-composite material to increase durability and safety.

We have redesigned aerodynamic side pods to hold the visor in place, an internal adjustable skull cap with a removable peel away layer for perfect comfort. Rarely seen on race helmets are speaker cutouts too. Let’s blast some tunes while clocking up some laps!

Read the Arai RX-7V review here

To round off the exterior of the helmet, Arai fits a new extra-wide, extra-tall visor using their new Variable Axis System (VAS). It comes pin lock ready and is included in the box. Although some maintenance of the visor mechanism may be needed, Arai includes silicone lubricant for use alongside the pin lock visor.

The new design features a reshaped chin bar to allow for extra mouth area. This combined with redesigned air vents, keep the face cool and two mini vents on the visor to prevent fogging.

Arai make the RX-7V in many colours and styles, including most of their riders so there’s plenty of graphics to choose from.

Prices may vary, we have based our prices off RRP, so you may find some deals from different retailers.