Safe, comfy and stylish motorcycle helmets don't have to cost a fortune | Budget options from under £100

It may seem like a daft place to try and save money, but there are plenty of budget motorcycle helmets on the market. The truth is that while price can act as a rough guide to the safety and quality of a new helmet, it isn’t infallible.

Best bargains at a glance

All motorcycle helmets sold in the UK should meet the minimum required safety testing standard. The latest is called ECE 22.06, but there are still ECE 22.05 helmets available until stocks run out. And because the safety standard is a minimum – rather than a graded system – some of the helmets that far surpassed the old standard could still be safer than those that barely passed the new one.

You can also often save yourself a few quid by opting for a plain colour instead of a colourful race replica. As alluring as the more colourful options are, you might be able to get the next helmet up in white for just a few pounds more than the one you’re considering with exciting decals.

AGV K1 S helmet action shot

The UK Government also has an independent testing procedure that rates helmets out of five for safety called the Sharp score. Participation is voluntary, but you’ll see if you look through the included models on the Sharp website, you’ll that price is far from a determining factor for safety.

So, which helmets can you trust? Here is a list of quality helmets that will keep your head protected without breaking the bank. Each is accompanied by a review from a different member of the MCN team.

Best budget motorbike helmets

Sub-£100 ECE 22.06 option

The HJC C10 sporty helmet is seriously good value, having passed the latest safety testing standard but costing under £100. MCN Deputy Editor, Emma Franklin gave it 5/5 stars overall when she tested it for two months and 1000 miles.

She said: "If you’ve got no more than £100 to spend on a helmet, you won’t be disappointed with the HJC C10. Although it doesn’t have many bells and whistles, as a basic helmet its performance is impressive.

"It’s good quality, very quiet and looks classy. It definitely doesn’t feel – or look – like a cheaper lid. It’s also available in youth sizes which make it a really good option for a first lid."

Read Emma's full HJC C10 review

Pros

  • Brilliant value
  • Very quiet
  • Comfortable
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Nit picking here, but visor is a little stiff to open
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    4.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    3.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    5.0
Weight 1550g (measured)
Construction Polycarbonate
Chin strap Ratchet
Intercom ready? Yes
Drop down sun visor? No
Pinlock Sold seperately
Interior Moisture wicking, removable/washable
Shell sizes Four
Warranty Three years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
Starting at just £159.99 for a plain colour, the AGV K1 S sporty helmet is pretty punchy in terms of value. It well made, nicely finished and feels good to wear, plus comes with AGV’s 2 year warranty and dealer back up, which is standard across the range.

MCN Product Specialist, Justin Hayzelden gave the AGV K1 S 4/5 stars overall when he tested it. He said: "It may have a few negative points, but as a good looking, day-to-day lid that’s easy on your wallet, the AGV K1 S has a lot going for it.

"It’s comfortable, functional and durable, with a high end feel to the interior and ventilation is superb – even if the vents are hard to operate. Ok, it doesn’t have a drop-down sun shade, but it’s so easy to change the main visor that it’s barely an issue, and what it loses in convenience it makes up for in EPS – and I know which I’d rather have."

Read Justin's full AGV K1 S review

Pros

  • Fits well
  • Feels light
  • Easy visor change
  • Well ventilated

Cons

  • Vents are stiff to operate
  • No visor lock
  • Specs are a tight fit
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Visor
    3.0
  • Ventilation
    4.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight 1,500 grammes
Construction Polycarbonate
Chin strap type Double D ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor No
Pinlock Visor prepped, but insert extra
Interior Fully removable
Shell sizes 2
Warranty 2 years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Thermoplastic shell
  • High density EPS
  • Collarbone safe profile
  • Dry-comfort liner
  • Integrated spoiler
  • Adjustable vents
  • 190 degree horizontal field of view
  • Quick release visor
  • Pinlock prepared
  • Double D ring strap
  • Removable and washable interior
Tried and tested by Steve Herbert-Mattick for one month and 400 miles

HJC's i71 sports-touring helmet emerges as a remarkably premium offering, unexpectedly outperforming its modest price point. MCN's Steve Herbert-Mattick gave it 4 stars overall.

He said: "This is one of the first helmets compliant with the ECE 22.06 standard I have used, necessitating a size upgrade from my usual small to medium, a shift consistent across different brands and styles. It delivers immediate comfort thanks to its plush yet firm cheek pads and a well-fitted forehead lining, ensuring a snug fit without discomfort over extended rides, exemplified by a 250-mile journey without any unease.

"The helmet is brimming with features, including a Pinlock-ready visor, equipped with Pinlock, and a new, user-friendly locking mechanism. Additionally, it boasts an exceptional drop-down sun visor offering nearly complete coverage while preserving peripheral vision, and is designed to accommodate an HJC Smart Bluetooth unit, enhancing its functionality. Despite these advantages, the visor's tendency to fog and the limited effectiveness of the sun visor in damp conditions or when stationary highlight minor areas for improvement. The helmet's ventilation, focused through substantial mouth and forehead vents, is notably efficient, although its performance is optimized for upright riding positions.

"Despite its considerable weight, the i71 stands out for its impressive value, retailing under £200 for plain designs (and slightly more for graphic options), suggesting quality and comfort that rival more expensive helmets. While it has some drawbacks, such as a potentially fogging Pinlock visor, a somewhat ineffective sun visor, and a challenging chin strap design in cold weather, these do not significantly detract from its overall appeal. Its excellent construction and comfort for long rides, combined with its generous features, position the i71 as a standout choice within its price range, offering a premium experience for the discerning motorcyclist."

Read our full HJC i71 review

Pros

  • Has a premium feel
  • Interior is comfortable from the start
  • Great drop down sun visor
  • It has good venting

Cons

  • It feels fairly heavy
  • Visor can be slightly foggy
  • Chinstrap is on the short side
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Visor
    3.0
  • Ventilation
    3.0
  • Noise
    3.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Verdict
    4.0
Weight 1790g
Construction Polycarbonate
Chinstrap type Double D-ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor Yes
Pinlock Yes
Warranty 3 years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • HJ-V12 visor new 3-position opening options
  • Large vents to increase air flow
  • Accepts 2nd generation Smart HJC Bluetooth systems

Retro style on a budget

The HJC V10 retro helmet would look well at home on any number of retro bikes or streetfighters with its bruising style and old-school feel. Ben Clarke gave it 4/5 stars overall after 600 miles of testing.

He said: "If the looks are up your street and you’re looking for something to wear predominantly in spring through to autumn, the HJC V10 is a great option. It may not have the lustre and premium feel of more expensive helmets but for the asking price, it’s a really good quality option.

"I wouldn’t feel short changed if I spent my own money on one and when you add in the warranty and the Pinlock being included, it seems an even sweeter deal."

Read Ben's full HJC V10 review

Pros

  • Great looks
  • Retro styling
  • Intercom-ready
  • Lightweight
  • Good paint finish
  • No tools needed for visor change

Cons

  • Feels slightly budget
  • Tight to put on and off
  • Visor change takes time
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    3.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Verdict
    4.0
Weight 1422g (weighed in L with Pinlock fitted)
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor No
Pinlock Yes (included)
Shell sizes XS-2XL
Warranty 3 Years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Construction: Advanced Fibreglass Composite Shell
  • Chin strap type: Double D Ring
  • Interior: Moisture wicking and quick drying, removable cheek pads
  • Visor: Easy replacement bolts
  • Emergency tabs for quick and safe removal

ECE 22.05 helmets

The move from ECE 22.05 to the latest 22.06 has created some bargains on perfectly good helmets that meet the old regulation. Be quick though, once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Available while stocks last

Price: £74.99 (was £84.99)
The Dexter Electron 2 is a budget adventure style lid that MCN's Chris Newbigging gave 4/5 stars overall after six months and 1300 miles of riding. He said: "A great budget option – for new riders on a budget, occasional pillions who might not see the value in expensive gear, or even as a near throwaway helmet to take on a fly-ride motorcycling holiday, it’s a great choice.

"If you’re a rookie off-roader and tend to bash your lid regularly, you can afford to replace this several times over compared to a name-brand helmet, too."

The down side is that the Dexter 2 is an ECE 22.05 helmet and so once stocks are gone, they are gone.

Read Chris's full Dexter Electron 2 review

Pros

  • Price
  • Drop-down visor
  • Pin-Lock visor

Cons

  • Venting isn’t particularly effective
  • Peak is noisy
  • No ECE 22.06 version currently available
  • Comfort
    3.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    3.0
  • Noise
    3.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    3.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Verdict
    4.0
Weight 1530g
Construction Polycarbonate
Chin strap type Quick-release
Intercom ready? No
Drop down sun visor? Yes
Pinlock? Included
Interior Dexter Tech fabric, removable/washable
Shell sizes 2
Warranty Two years
Safety standard ECE 22.05
Price: £99.99 (was £169.99)
Tested by Gareth Evans over 600 miles

"This lid is seriously good value for money. While the one I’ve been wearing costs £140, a blank gloss black one is a penny under £100, which is remarkable for something that fits well, has decent venting, is suitable for track days and has facility to fit a Pinlock (available at extra cost).

"The main negative from my time using it is the integrated sun visor, which comes down too far for my face and rests on my nose. That’s pretty irritating, and a shame because it would otherwise be useful and it’s very easy to operate with a gloved hand. I’m less keen on the ratchet style of chin strap too – I prefer a D-ring.

"Also, removing and reinstalling the thin, flexible visor highlights the cheapness we’re dealing with here. The mechanism feels flimsy, but still works flawlessly. And finally, it’s far noisier than more premium designs of helmet, but some decent earplugs would help there too."
Quality: 5/5
Value: 4/5

Things to consider before you buy a budget helmet

Is it road legal?

To conform to UK law a helmet must either:

Reach British Standard BS 6658:1985 and also carry the BSI Kitemark.

Meet UNECE Regulation 22.06

Meet a European Economic Area member standard equivalent of BS 6658:1985 and also carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.

Most lids will have ECE 22.06 printed on them, usually at the back of the lid.

Helmets stamped ECE 22.05 are still legal to be sold until retailer stocks run out but these are disappearing fast.

Is it Sharp rated?

SHARP’s five-star safety rating is an independent helmet testing scheme ran by the Department of Transport. You can see which lids have been tested at SHARP’s website.

Is it ACU gold-approved?

An ‘ACU Gold or Silver’ sticker means that the lid is approved for use in motorcycle sport by the Auto Cycle Union in the UK. Some trackday organisers insist on you wearing an ACU Gold-approved helmet.

Does it have a Pinlock insert?

One of the best anti-fog inserts on the market, many lids come with a Pinlock included in the box while others simply have its fixings and you need to purchase the Pinlock itself separately. If you need to buy it, factor this extra expense into your buying decision.

How much does it weigh?

A heavy lid can put extra strain on your neck, leading to fatigue when worn for a long period of time, so a lightweight lid can be an advantage when it comes to touring.

Is the lining removable?

Helmets get sweaty and removing the lining and cleaning it thoroughly is the best way of reducing smells and keeping it nice to wear. If you cover a lot of miles in all weather conditions it is a good idea to get a lid with a removable lining.

Is the visor easy to remove?

A fiddly visor removal system can be very annoying when it comes to removing the visor to give it a good clean and remove and stuck on flies. Look for a well-designed system that will allow you to quickly remove the visor with minimal effort or use of tools. Some overly-complicated visor release systems result in broken side-pods or a damaged mechanism and that could mean a lengthy delay while you await spare parts.

Does it have an integrated sun visor?

A ‘flip-down’ sun visor is a really handy addition for when the sun is out as it means you can simply flip it down while on the go rather than stopping to fit a pair of sunglases.

What is its ventilation like?

A hot head is an uncomfortable head, so see if the helmet has vents and if they are easily operated by a gloved hand. The more vents, the cooler your head will be, however they can create extra wind noise.

Is it ready for a communications system?

Many helmets are ‘communications ready,’ which means they are designed with extra recesses around the ear areas so that you can insert headphones for a communications system. Without these recesses, the headphones can press irritatingly on your ears.

Is it designed for glasses?

If you wear glasses, a lot of helmets have special areas in them to allow the glasses’ arms to sit comfortably between the lining and your face, stopping them pressing on you or getting deformed and also making them easy to remove and put on.

What kind of strap fastener does it have?

There are two general types of helmet strap fastener – a D-Ring and a ratchet-style. The D-Ring requires manually threading and then tightening the strap where a ratchet-style system is a simple push-fit. It is a matter of choice with some riders preferring the ease of the ratchet-style and other opting for the secure feeling offered by a D-Ring.

Can I buy a dark visor?

Legally a visor must allow a light transmission of 50%, which means most dark visors are ‘for non-road use only.’ This doesn’t stop riders wearing them and if you want to have a dark visor, always check that one is readily available for the helmet you are looking at.

How MCN tests helmets

At MCN, our team of expert journalists have decades of experience gained over hundreds of thousands of miles. We don’t test our kit to destruction; we use it exactly how you do, in the real world and in all conditions. That means we can deliver impartial buying advice you can rely on.

Each of our writers has an in-depth understanding of the needs of today’s biker… because they are one.

We’ve worn these tested helmets for hundreds or thousands of miles on MCN test bikes and we ride in all weathers and conditions, too. We’ll never recommend a helmet we wouldn’t put our own head in!

If you can’t see a review against a helmet on this page, it’s because we haven’t tested it yet. These helmets will only be included if we think they’re important and relevant in the market, and rest assured, we will be working on bringing you a review as soon as we’ve done the miles.

To find out more, head to our dedicated page explaining how we test motorcycle products.


Our scores explained

When we review a product, we award it a score out of five. In the ratings tab of a given product, you may also find more specific scores for the different aspects of a product’s performance to help you make an informed decision. Here’s a guide to what each number score means:

  • 1 star – Poor performance in this category or overall. A product with a single star rating has fallen below the expected standard and should be avoided.
  • 2 stars – Basic performance in this area or overall. A product with a two-star rating has managed to perform to a barely acceptable level and there is room for improvement.
  • 3 stars – An average performance in this area or overall. A product with a three-star rating has achieved a basic level of performance and is deemed adequate.
  • 4 stars – A product has performed over and above the accepted averaged in this category or overall. A product with a four-star rating has surpassed expectation and delivered in a particularly impressive way.
  • 5 stars – A product has performed at the highest possible level in a particular category or overall. A product with a five-star rating has delivered to the highest possible level, impressing the tester with its performance. We would happily spend our own money on it.

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us.