The lids are alright: Best sports-touring motorcycle helmets for under £300

Staff Writer Ben Clarke in his HJC i70
Staff Writer Ben Clarke in his HJC i70
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In the market for a new sports touring motorcycle helmet? Got a budget of up to £300? We're here to help. As well as being in direct contact with manufacturers and distributors of the latest lids, our dedicated testers are constantly trying new gear to let you know what it's like.

In this article we've teamed up with our sister title, RiDE Magazine; who spent countless hours compiling the best lids in this segment for a test in their October 2019 issue – comparing everything from safety, to features, to wind noise at 60mph. We have updated the pricing to reflect that of the MCN Shop, with links available to purchase each helmet.

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Explore the helmets on test:

Other helmets to consider

Riding in the Shark Spartan

What to look for in a sub-£300 sports touring helmet

  • Integrated sun visor: Extremely useful when touring, you can quickly and easily reduce the sun’s glare without stopping to change your visor. They are also fully legal in the UK, where only certain tints of dark visors are legal for use on the UK’s roads.
  • Helmet fastener: Some lids come with double D-rings, some with a 'seatbelt' style of clip and others a push-through ratchet fastener. This is a personal choice as some riders don’t get on with certain styles of fastener.
  • Pinlock: One of the best anti-fog inserts on the market, many lids come with a Pinlock included in the price while others simply have its fixings and you need to purchase the Pinlock insert itself separately.
  • SHARP Rating: SHARP’s five-star safety rating is an independent helmet testing scheme ran by the Department for Transport. Not all helmets have been assessed by SHARP but those that have been can be viewed here.
  • Vents: A hot head is an uncomfortable head, so see if the helmet has vents and if they are easily operated by a gloved hand. Vents can cause extra wind noise on a helmet though, so ensure they close securely when not in use.
  • Removable lining: Helmets get sweaty and removing the lining and cleaning it thoroughly is the best way of reducing the pong.
  • Visor removal: Not everyone likes to remove their visor on a regular basis, but if it is thoroughly encrusted with bugs, an overnight soak may be the best way to remove the carnage without scratching it. There is nothing worse than trying to remove a fiddly visor system and then breaking a component when out on a ride or long tour.


How were the lids tested?

  • Weight: Using a set of Salter digital scales, we weighed each helmet as they would be ready for road use, which means any Pinlock systems fitted and the visor attached. A heavy lid can put extra strain on your neck, leading to fatigue, so a lightweight lid can be an advantage when it comes to touring.
  • Features: A straightforward visual check of each helmet, with items such as a Pinlock, helmet bag, removable lining, vents, integrated sun visor and chin-strap fastener all assessed and scored.
  • Ease of use: Using a gloved hand, the lid’s main features were assessed while riding a bike. How easy are the vents and sun visor to locate and operate?
  • Visor change: Despite most lids having an integrated sun visor, we also assessed how quick and easy it was to remove the main visor completely to allow it to be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Noise: Using an SPL meter on an iPhone and a microphone within the ear cavity of the crash helmet, we recorded the peak level at the same speed on each lid.


10: HJC i70, £139.99

HJC i70

Construction Polycarbonate SHARP rating 4/5 Actual weight 1510g Integrated sun visor Yes Fastening system D-rings Number of vents 3 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 108.9dB

At the more budget end of the scale, the HJC i70 isn’t quite as slick to operate as some other lids and while its visor release mechanism is simple to use, it is a bit basic and feels like it might not stand up to a ham-fisted approach.

On the plus side, you get a Pinlock as standard as well as a draw-string visor bag and the lid’s lining is removable. The sun visor’s activator is well positioned on the side of the lid and is easy to use and the vent controls are also easy to locate.

On the road the HJC’s vents were a disappointment as they failed to deliver much in the way of cooling, but the side-mounted visor activator was easier to locate than the top-mounted alternatives. The fit was good, but it pushed slightly on my cheekbones. However, it was the quietest lid on test - a great performance.

  • Comfort 7/10
  • Ease of use 7/10
  • Features 6/10
  • Vents 5/10
  • Visor removal 7/10
  • Total 32/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


9: LS2 Vector Evo, £159.99

LS2 Vector Evo

Construction Glass-fibre composite SHARP rating 3/5 Actual weight 1430g Integrated sun visor Yes Fastening system Ratchet buckle Number of vents 2 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 111.8dB

A helmet that feels reassuringly sturdily constructed, everything is pleasingly well positioned on the LS2, though the draw-string helmet bag is a bit bright!

You get a Pinlock as standard, as well as reflective stickers and the helmet itself has lots of nice touches including the provision for glasses' legs. Although the sun visor is easy to work, it doesn’t seem to come down far enough, leading to a bit of an issue in terms of vision.

On the road, the cut-out for the nose on the sun visor was distracting as it was always in your view, which is annoying. The lid was also quite loud, though the vents worked well, the lining is plush and there’s a fold-down chin curtain.

  • Comfort 7/10
  • Ease of use 8/10
  • Features 7/10
  • Vents 7/10
  • Visor removal 7/10
  • Total 36/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


8: Lazer Rafale Z-Line *

Lazer Rafale Z-Line

Construction Composite SHARP rating N/A Actual weight 1482g Integrated sun visor Yes Fastening system Ratchet buckle Number of vents 2 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 111.1dB

Boasting a surprising number of features considering its price tag, the Rafale comes with a Pinlock system already fitted as well as an integrated sun visor, SOS emergency removal markings and five-year guarantee.

The visor is nice and simple to remove and the lining very comfortable and soft, but there isn’t much room for your chin in there and it is very close to rubbing on the lid’s inner side. The vents’ action is easy to operate, but they feel a little basic in their operation and movement.

On the road, the Lazer seems to mist up its sun visor more than others at low speed, possibly due to its lack of space at the front of the lid deflecting breath upwards and inwards. The top vents were a bit poor in their performance, leaving the top of the head a bit warm and the lid is quite noisy to wear.

  • Comfort 8/10
  • Ease of use 7/10
  • Features 7/10
  • Vents 5/10
  • Visor removal 9/10
  • Total 36/50

Contact www.lazerhelmets.com


7: Caberg Drift Evo, £229.99

Caberg Drift Evo

Construction Composite fibre SHARP rating 3/5 Actual weight 1440g Integrated sun visor Yes Fastening system D-rings Number of vents 2 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 111.1dB

Caberg’s offering has a pleasingly unique fighter pilot look about it that sets it aside from more 'traditional' helmet styles.

Equipped with a Pinlock as standard, as well as an integrated sun visor and removable chin skirt, the Drift Evo is ready for an intercom system and also features some aerodynamic spoilers.

The opening seems a little small and it is quite a fight to get it on, which can make it painful on the ears as they get squeezed. Once on though, the fit is snug and the vents and visor mechanism easily accessed. The visor removal system, however, does take a bit of mastering and isn’t overly intuitive.

It has a lovely big field of vision and the vents all work well. It is a bit noisy, but get over the tight initial fit and it’s a nice lid with good features.

  • Comfort 7/10
  • Ease of use 7/10
  • Features 8/10
  • Vents 8/10
  • Visor removal 7/10
  • Total 37/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


6: Nolan N87, £161.99

Nolan N87

Construction Polycarbonate SHARP rating 4/5 Actual weight 1526g Integrated sun visor Yes Fastening system Ratchet buckle Number of vents 3 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 109.5dB

The Nolan comes with a Pinlock already inserted, which is good, and a draw-string helmet bag. The lid is also ready for N-Com, which is Nolan’s communication system, as well as a rear light and has a five-year guarantee, which is excellent.

Also built with spectacle wearers in mind, the fit is snug but not uncomfortable and the ratchet-buckle fastener is easy to operate and release. The sun visor’s mechanism and chin and head vents are simple to locate and work and the visor can be set at various heights.

On the road the Nolan is pleasingly sung on your head and the lining is very comfortable. However it did press on my forehead and the internal sun visor rested on the tip of my nose, which was annoying. The top vents are very effective but the chin one less so.

  • Comfort 7/10
  • Ease of use 7/10
  • Features 8/10
  • Vents 6/10
  • Visor removal 9/10
  • Total 37/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


5: Arai Debut, £269.99

Arai Debut

Construction Superfibre shell SHARP rating N/A Actual weight 1570g Integrated sun visor No Fastening system D-rings Number of vents 4 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 112dB

An Arai for under £300? The fact the Debut is in this test at all will make it very tempting for some riders — but there is a catch. Arai doesn’t believe in integrated sun visors as it feels they compromise a lid’s safety and the Debut uses Arai’s old visor removal system.

A point of contention: some like it, others hate it and broken side pods are common if forced. However you get a lid with a real feeling of quality and that famous, and trusted, name – and a fair bit of wind noise...

On the road the Arai was noisy but the fit and finish was simply beautiful and it felt like a quality product to wear. All the vents worked well, especially the chin one that was like a tornado, and the visor vents are a nice addition to cooling. As there is no integrated sun visor, you can buy an Arai Pro Shade visor for around £90.

  • Comfort 9/10
  • Ease of use 7/10
  • Features 5/10
  • Vents 9/10
  • Visor removal 7/10
  • Total 37/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


4: AGV K-5 S, £199.99

AGV K-5 S

Construction Carbon/glass-fibre mix SHARP rating 4/5 Actual weight 1480g Integrated sun visor Yes Fastening system D-rings Number of vents 4 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 110.8dB

One of the K-5 S’s most appealing features is the fact it looks anything but a touring-inspired lid. However, despite its sharp and sporty profile, the K-5 S has an integrated sun visor; beautifully simple visor removal system; space for glasses' arms and an extremely comfy lining, but the chin skirt does get in the way a bit.

This is a very stylish lid for those who like to tour with a sporty outlook on life. On the road the AGV’s visor aperture is a touch small, meaning if you tuck in you see the brow of the helmet, but it doesn’t detract from your vision too much.

The top vents are good, as are the chin vents (though the operating lever is inside the chinbar) and you can prop the visor open to allow air directly into the lid. The lining is also very comfortable. A great-looking and good-feeling lid.

  • Comfort 8/10
  • Ease of use 7/10
  • Features 7/10
  • Vents 9/10
  • Visor removal 9/10
  • Total 40/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


3: Shark Spartan, £202.49

Shark Spartan

Construction Glass fibre SHARP rating 3/5 Actual weight 1434g Integrated sun visor Yes Fastening system D-rings Number of vents 2 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 111.8dB

Initial impression is very good for the Spartan. The fit is tight and it feels like it sits quite high on the head with a lot of chin exposed, but it is nice to see it has 'easy fit' to help those who wear glasses ensure the arms sit comfortably.

Despite being small, the levers to operate the sun visor and vents are easy to locate, though the vent’s action is a touch clunky. Removing the visor is a case of just pulling it out, which is easy, and the integrated sun visor covers your whole vision, while there is also an integrated folding chin skirt.

On the road, the Shark feels like it exposes a lot of your neck, which is a bit draughty, but it is comfortable and the nose deflector is well positioned. The top vent provides cooling but the chin vent is more effective. It’s a bit noisy but fit and comfort are good and it feels a quality product.

  • Comfort 8/10
  • Ease of use 7/10
  • Features 9/10
  • Vents 7/10
  • Visor removal 10/10
  • Total 41/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


2: Scorpion Exo-1400 Carbon Air, £249.99

Scorpion Exo-1400 Carbon Air

Construction Carbon fibre SHARP rating N/A Actual weight 1282g Integrated sun visor Yes Fastening system D-rings Number of vents 2 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 111.9dB

On initial inspection, it is very hard not to be extremely impressed by the EXO-1400 Carbon. As well as a beautiful carbon weave on display, thanks to its lacquered shell, the lid comes with a Pinlock system, spare tinted visor, integrated sun visor, removable lining and a five-year warranty.

It also has Scorpion’s Airfit inflation system, to inflate the cheek-pads for a perfect fit. Overall the level of quality feels very high and the visor is nice and simple to remove and replace. Although a touch tight, the Scorpion’s fit is reassuringly sung and the lining very comfortable.

On the road, the Scorpion continues to impress as not only is it very light, it is well thought out and comfortable with excellent vents. It’s noisy though - the second-loudest readings here.

  • Comfort 7/10
  • Ease of use 9/10
  • Features 10/10
  • Vents 8/10
  • Visor removal 9/10
  • Total 43/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


1: Shoei Ryd, £269.99

Shoei Ryd

Construction Multi-composite fibre SHARP rating 5/5 Actual weight 1336g Integrated sun visor No Fastening system D-rings Number of vents 3 Pinlock Yes Removable lining Yes Noise 109.8dB

Another big name brand that is impressively priced to appear within this test, the Shoei Ryd delivers delight as soon as you open the box to see a separate chin skirt and small bottle of visor mechanism lube alongside a Pinlock and comprehensive user guide.

The lid comes in a smart draw-string bag and features an emergency cheek pad release system but like the Arai, lacks an integrated sun visor - you need to buy a GT-Air II for £449.99 to gain this feature. The fit is snug, the feel is excellent and Shoei’s visor release system is intuitive and quick to operate.

On the road the Shoei feels every bit a quality product as the Arai. The lining is extremely plush and the vents work perfectly, but it is far quieter and with a more intuitive visor mechanism.

  • Comfort 9/10
  • Ease of use 9/10
  • Features 7/10
  • Vents 9/10
  • Visor removal 10/10
  • Total 44/50

Find it for sale on the MCN Shop


Other new motorcycle helmets for 2020

Staff Writer Ben Clarke uses the LS2 Pioneer Evo

Not in the market for sports touring motorcycle helmet? Check out this list of great alternatives below:

  • Sports: Arai RX-7V, Shoei X-Spirit III, AGV Corsa R, HJC RPHA 11, Shark Race-R Pro, X-Lite X-803 Ultra Carbon
  • Road: AGV K6, HJC RPHA 70
  • Touring: AGV Sport Modular, Schuberth C4 Pro, Shoei Neotec II, Sena Momentum Evo, Shark Evo-One 2
  • Adventure: Arai Tour-X4, Shoei Hornet ADV, Nolan N70-2 X, AGV AX9, Nexx X.WED 2, Klim Krios Pro, LS2 Pioneer Evo
  • Jet: Arai SZ-R VAS, AGV K-5 Jet, Shark S-Drak 2
  • Racing: Arai RX-7V Race FIM, AGV Pista GP RR, Shark Race-R Pro GP FIM
  • Retro: Shoei Glamster, Shoei Ex-Zero, Arai Rapide, AGV X3000, Bell Moto 3

* = Not available through Sportsbikeshop.co.uk

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