MCN's expert motorcycle helmet buying guide | Everything you need to know before you buy a new lid

You only have one brain and so it’s important to buy the best motorbike helmet you can afford. That doesn’t always mean spending £1000+ on a race-ready carbon lid, though, and there are plenty of highly-rated budget motorbike helmets that achieve top safety scores, too.

As far as the law is concerned, the only item of protective kit you are required to wear on a motorcycle is a helmet. There’s a good reason for this, as repeated studies have shown that wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the chance of serious injury (or worse) in the event of an accident.

It’s common sense to look after your noggin anyway, but deciding which is the best motorcycle helmet for you can be a difficult decision, especially with such a vast choice available.

Riding motorcycles on the road in the UK

The first place to start is the category of helmet that suits the bike and type of riding you do. There’s no sense buying a feature-packed and well-reviewed motocross helmet to ride your GSX-R1000 at the weekend and an FIM-approved sportsbike helmet won’t necessarily cut the mustard on an adventure bike tour of Morocco.

If you already know what type of helmet you would like then jump to the relevant section here, otherwise read on for more advice.


How to choose the right motorbike helmet for you

Arai Tour-X 4

Whichever type of helmet you need, there are some overarching principles that you should keep in mind before you make your choice. Let’s start by looking at the fundamentals and work our way through to options.

A helmet’s primary function is to protect your head from an impact with a solid object. It does this with two main elements – a hard outer shell that is designed to absorb the impact across its entire surface and a deformable inner layer that acts as a cushion or crumple zone. Fibreglass, polycarbonate or carbon fibre are typical materials for the outer construction, whilst expanded polystyrene (EPS) is widely used for the inner.

Many manufacturers incorporate a multi-directional impact system (MIPS) which offers additional protection by allowing the inner to move independently, thus reducing rotational injuries. Some helmets also have an emergency quick-release system (EQRS), which gives emergency services the opportunity to withdraw the cheek pads whilst the helmet is still being worn. This reduces pressure on the head, loosening the fit and making removal easier and safer.

Helmet selection for sale

All helmets sold in the UK must comply with the European standard of ECE 22.06, which has replaced the older standard of ECE 22.05 (although old stock of ECE 22.05 helmets will be cleared first).

This involves a whole range of tests to ensure that any given helmet will perform as it should when involved in a crash. You’ll find a tag somewhere on the helmet to confirm this, usually on the chin strap. As of July 2023, all new helmets manufactured have to be tested to the newer ECE 22.06 standard, although it is still legal to wear those tested under the older ECE 22.05 certification.

In 2007, the UK government set up its own testing scheme, the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP). This awards helmets a star rating out of 5 and can give a further indication as to the best motorcycle helmet for you.

Whatever helmet you choose, it’s also worth investing in some earplugs. The wind noise experienced at motorway speed on any bike and wearing any helmet is enough to damage your hearing, so make sure you protect it!


Watch this video on how to get a helmet that fits correctly:


Adventure bike helmets

At first glance, an adventure bike helmet may appear to be nothing more than a motocross or off-road helmet, but there’s more to them than that. Adventure bike helmets combine the air flow, practicality and sun protection of off-road lids with the creature comforts of sports touring helmets for a globetrotting hybrid.

The most obvious outward element of an adventure helmet is the peak, which comes from the off-road world. It’s there to help keep the sun out of your eyes and also offer a little added protection against branch strikes or other debris.

The down side of a helmet peak is that it creates added turbulence and add strain to your neck muscles on sustained, high-speed rides such as motorway work. For this reason, many adventure helmets also come with blanking panels that let you remove the peak if you wish.

Triumph Tiger 1200

Unlike proper off-road helmets, adventure ones also have the option of goggles or a visor. Wearing googles improves air flow and can keep you cooler when you’re working hard, riding off road, but for road riding the added comfort and protection of a visor is preferable.

Adventure helmets that started out life as off-road models and had road features added are often cheaper than those that were specifically built for the purpose. Here are some of the best we’ve tested on MCN recently:

Tested by Justin Hayzelden for 3100 miles

"The Arai Tour-X 5 is a well constructed, comfortable and versatile helmet. It brings together some of the best features of the current range, such as the RX-7’s visor system, Quantic’s logo vent and Profile V’s wider base, along with improvements of its own, to stand as a testament to the company’s commitment to safety through measured evolution.

"With the peak fitted the T-X 5 is ideal for adventure touring, boasting ample room to flip the visor up and wear goggles if needs be, and with it removed makes a smart and practical alternative to a traditional full-face lid. In a previous review I said that the T-X 4 could be the only lid you’ll ever need, but with its quick-change visor, improved shape and enhanced ventilation, the Tour-X 5 takes that versatility to the next level."

Read our full Arai Tour-X 5 review

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Wide field of vision
  • Easy visor change
  • Excellent ventilation
  • High build quality
  • Adjustable fit

Cons

  • Cheek pads are a little too 'Velcro friendly'
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    5.0
  • Ventilation
    5.0
  • Noise
    4.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    5.0
Weight 1,700 grammes
Construction Complex fibre laminate
Chin strap type D ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor No
Pinlock Yes
Interior Fully removable, moisture wicking and washable
Warranty 5 years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Adaptive fit
  • Removable peak
  • Adjustable peak
  • Quick release visor
  • Fully removable and washable moisture wicking liner
  • Speaker cavities
  • Pinlock included
  • Adjustable vents
Tested by Justin Hayzelden for four months

"It’s taken seven years for the latest version of NEXX’s adventure lid to reach the shelves and I was really keen to find out if the wait for the X.WED3 had been worth it? Well, first off, fit is absolutely bang on. I take a medium and it slipped comfortably onto my noggin without any need for adjustment.

"The interior padding is soft to the touch has a plush, cushioned feel to it, with plenty of spring in the foam to keep it snugged against your head without any undue pressure. I’ve spent many a full day riding around the back roads and byways of Norfolk, and it’s barely been off my head for more than then the few minutes it takes to scarf a snack or glug some fluids. I’ve not once felt the need to remove it to give my skull a break.

"The visor mechanism deserves a special mention, in particular the way it locks in the fully open and closed positions. Springs at either side pull its locator lugs firmly into deep detents, which in the open position prevents it from shutting unexpectedly, very handy if you’re on rough terrain and want to maintain maximum airflow, and when closed it increases pressure on the weather seal, effectively rendering it watertight. Despite riding regularly in near monsoon conditions and incessant truck spray on the A47 (such are the joys of a UK spring) it hasn’t sprung a leak anywhere.

"If there’s one thing the X.WED3 is not short of, it’s ventilation. The frontal area has seven separate adjustable vents, and when you have them all open at once, you can literally feel the wind in your hair. The top three have a tendency to whistle, but the intensity varies depending on screen and riding position.

"Skye Boat Song aside, it is noticeably quiet in general use. Construction includes a rubber gasket between the EPS and outer shell designed to soak up any vibrations from turbulent air, and it certainly seems to work. The peak also has rubber mountings to prevent resonance from buffeting.
My only real issue is the weight. It tips our scales at 1.92 kg and that’s a lot of bulk to carry on your bonce. It’s biased towards the front too, causing it to pull your chin down before lift from the peak takes over. Oh, and the chin strap is way too long. This can easily get twisted and cause its padded outer sheath to bunch up under the chin.

"Build quality is of a high standard, and it does feel like a lot of helmet for the money, especially as it comes with goodies such as GoPro mounts and a spare smoked visor. With a five year extended warranty available, the X.WED3 is worth considering for an all round adventure touring lid – as long as you can live with the weight."

Read our full Nexx X.Wed3 review

Pros

  • Quiet with or without peak
  • Well integrated comms
  • Excellent ventilation

Cons

  • Chin strap too long
  • Ventilation ports can whistle
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Visor
    5.0
  • Ventilation
    5.0
  • Noise
    4.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight 1790g
Construction Multi-composite fibre shell
Chin strap type Double D-ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor Yes
Pinlock Yes (included)
Interior Soft anti-sweat and anti-allergic fabric inner lining
Shell sizes 3 (XXS-S, M-L, XL-XXXL)
Warranty Two years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • High-impact carbon fibre shell
  • Fast release system allows for easy removal and cleaning of the full interior
  • Soft-touch X-Mart Dry fabrics that keep the interior cool and dry
  • Synthetic leather lining with large ventilation mesh panels
  • Anti-vibration EPS helps reduce turbulent air at high speeds
  • X-Foam crash bumpers at the base of the chin and sides help absorb energy in the event of an off
  • Removable peak, with 3 levels of adjustment
  • Retractable large inner sun visor
  • Spring-loaded visor recoil system gives a perfect airtight seal
  • Pinlock insert included in the box
  • 7 air intake vents and 4 exhaust outlet
  • Double D ring strap with magnetic button closure
  • Integrated goggle strap holder
  • X-COM3 series can be fully integrated into the helmet (not included)

Sportsbike and naked helmets

Sportsbike helmets are designed to be as slippery as possible in terms of aerodynamics because they are built to be used at high speeds. This also makes them ideal for use on naked motorbikes where the rider is constantly buffeted by the wind.

Sportbike helmets also have a large field of vision for track use – to improve your view of the riders around you – and also have apertures (the hole you look through) that are high at the top so that you can see where you’re going in a racing tuck.

Many brands have sportsbike helmets right at the top of their range as a flagship model and FIM-homologated versions (which can be used at any level of racing) can run over £1000. But there are plenty of options at lower price points, too.

Here are a couple of sportsbike helmets we’ve rated highly recently:


Tested by Michael Neeves for 14 months and 3000 miles

"Shoei’s X-SPR Pro is pricey, but worth every penny. It’s light, comfortable, superbly vented and slips through the air quietly and with complete stability, making it easy to wear for long periods, especially at track speeds. 

"I’m a medium and it fits well out of the box, but I’ve taken advantage of Shoei’s Personal Fitting Service, who’ve added extra padding for a perfect fit. It isn’t a service widely available yet but keep an eye on their website for updates.

"It also has a flawlessly applied Rich-Art paintjob. Best of all when you see Marc Marquez consistently walking away from huge crashes wearing a Shoei X-SPR Pro helmet (and the previous versions) it gives you the utmost confidence wearing it."

Read our full Shoei X-SPR Pro review

Pros

  • Lightweight and stable, ideal for high speeds and long distances
  • Excellent field of vision with high-quality, scratch-resistant visors
  • Superb ventilation, especially effective in hot conditions
  • Quiet compared to similar racing helmets, reducing fatigue

Cons

  • Visor can be tricky to open
  • Interior lacks the plush feel of some competitors, such as Arai helmets
  • Plastic chin vents can become misaligned and feel less durable
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    5.0
  • Noise
    4.0
  • Looks
    3.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    5.0
Weight 1450g
Construction Multi composite
Chin strap type Double-D ring
Intercom ready? Yes
Drop down sun visor? No
Pinlock? Yes
Interior Fully removable, adjustable and washable
Shell sizes Four shell sizes: XS - XXL
Warranty Five years
Sharp score N/A
  • Removable cheek pads for customisable fit
  • Benefits from Shoei's Personal Fitting Service for tailored padding adjustments
  • Equipped with multiple vents including double chin vents and three top head vents
  • Meets the ECE 22.06 and FIM safety standards
Tested by Ben Clarke for one year and 4000 miles

"The Bell Race Star DLX Flex is an impressive bit of kit. It’s well-designed, lightweight, comfortable and looks fantastic. It’s a true fit and forget lid, you know that you can pull it on for any journey and you’ll be well-looked after and comfortable whatever the conditions.

"The Protint reactive visor works brilliantly almost all of the time and means you never have to think about carrying a second or when you’re going to swap it. Small touches like the magnetic clasp for tidying the slack in the double-D ring strap leave you wondering why everyone doesn’t do that – and I’ll curse the next helmet I test for not having it."

Read our full Bell Race Star DLX Flex review

Pros

  • Big emphasis on safety
  • Antibacterial liner
  • Carbon shell
  • Cool designs available

Cons

  • Protint visor is good but could be better
  • Not the best ventilation I’ve experienced
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    4.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight 1560g (Large)
Construction Carbon fibre
Chinstrap Double-D ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop-down sun visor No
Pinlock No (not needed)
Interior Flex impact liner
Shell sizes Five
Warranty Five years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Flex impact liner
  • Magnetic chinstrap tidy
  • ProTint visor
  • Cool Jade lining
  • Chin, brow and top vents
  • Subtle but sporty aero wing
  • Fasthouse design

Retro helmets

You can technically wear whatever type of helmet you like on a retro bike, but as the scene grew and the market increased, helmet manufacturers sensed an opportunity and many added specific options to their ranges.

Retro helmets range from modern lids with a classic paint job all the way through to hand-crafted custom models that incorporate old-school styling with modern safety standards.

A slight drop in demand has meant that some retro helmet models aren’t being brought up to the ECE 22.06 safety standard and so they will be dropped from ranges, but there are still plenty to choose from.

Here are some of the best we’ve tested recently:

Tested by Ben Clarke for six months

"Look at it. It’s so good-looking that I’d still wear it if it crushed my head. I’d probably still wear it if I couldn’t see where I was going or it was made of immaculately finished papier-mâché. Maybe that makes me a dandy, but I don’t care… just look at it!

"Luckily for me and my disgusting vanity, the Shoei suffers none of those shortcomings. In fact, despite its lightweight design and jet-style dropdown visor, the Ex-Zero scores an impressive 4-star SHARP rating. So I can waft around trendy bike meets and coffee shops to my heart’s content safe in the knowledge that I’m also well-protected."

The Shoei Ex-Zero is an ECE 22.05 helmet so once stocks are gone, they really are gone.

Read our full Shoei Ex-Zero review

Pros

  • Classic 1980s styling
  • Modern safety features
  • Highly reputable brand

Cons

  • Among the most expensive
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    3.0
Composite AIM Multi-Composite fibre layered shell
Chinstrap type Double-D
Type Retro full face
  • EPS liner system with multiple densities
  • E.Q.R.S (emergency quick release system) for easy helmet removal in case of accident
  • Integrated CJ-3 visor, adjustable in 3 positions
  • Removable and washable cheek pads and centre pad
Tested Ben Clarke for six months and 600 miles

"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 fact the Pinlock is included, it seems an even sweeter deal. I do still have my reservations about using it in very hot weather and will report back later in the year on that front."

Read our full HJC V10 review

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Retro styling
  • Intercom ready
  • Good paint finish

Cons

  • visor changes takes time
  • Feels slightly budget
  • Tight to put on and off
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    3.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Verdict
    4.0
Construction Fibreglass shell construction
Type Modern with a retro feel
Chinstrap type Chinstrap type
CE Rating ECE 22.06
Warrranty 3 years
  • Emergency release cheek pads
  • Detachable and washable interior
  • Bluetooth compatible with Smart HJC (sold separately)
  • Pinlock included

Sports-touring helmets

Sports-touring helmets look similar to sportsbike helmets but put long-distance comfort and practicality further up the pecking order than lap times. You are more likely to find drop-down sun visors, ratchet or seatbelt chin straps rather than double D-ring and integrated intercoms. Aero scoops will also be missing, or at the very least smaller than on out-and-out sportsbike lids.

Tested by Ben Clarke for 3 years, 10,000 miles

"This Arai Quantic looks on the face of it like a pretty normal helmet. The design looks good but is nothing to write home about and there's a new forehead vent combined with the Arai badge but other than that it looks quite unremarkable.

"Where things get interesting, though, is with the ECE marking on the back (said no one ever but bear with me). That's because the Quantic was the first helmet to meet the new and updated ECE 22.06 safety regulation for helmets – although Shoei weren't far behind with the NXR2.

"At 1600g (large shell size) it's not the lightest helmet out there but this isn't noticeable when you're wearing it. The new ventilation system works really well and keeps you cool even when it's roasting hot. I've used the Quantic on the road and track and it's really quiet, even at very high speeds. At £599, it's not cheap and it's £60 more than Shoei's NXR2."

Read what other MCN testers have to say in our full Arai Quantic review

Pros

  • Modern, low-profile design suitable for sports touring
  • Exceptional fit and comfort from the first wear
  • Features a variety of venting options for increased airflow
  • Quiet performance, especially in sporty riding positions
  • Built-in recesses for speakers and flat areas for device fitment
  • Effective nose and chin visors
  • Comes with a Pinlock anti-fog insert and silicone for visor maintenance
  • Hand-built in Japan with a high-quality finish

Cons

  • Brow vent may produce wind noise in upright positions
  • High price point compared to others on the list
  • Visor can be tricky to open with thick gloves
  • The shell is slightly heavier compared to older models
  • Arai don't add anything seen as a 'concession to safety' so no drop-down sun visor, for example
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    5.0
  • Ventilation
    5.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    5.0
Weight 1600g
Construction Peripherally Belted e-Complex Laminate
Chin strap type Double D-ring
Intercom ready? Yes
Drop down sun visor? No
Pinlock? Yes
Interior Replaceable brushed nylon liner material
Shell sizes XS-XL
Warranty 7 years from date of manufacture, 5 from purchase
Sharp score N/A
  • Sliding chin and Arai logo brow vents
  • Three-way vent switch in spoiler
  • Emergency release system
  • Wide range of colours and designs
Price: £364.99 (was £399.99)
Tested by Gareth Evans for six months, 4,000 miles 

"l think it's a great look, somehow managing to tread the fine line between subtle and stylish, with an aerodynamic twist thanks to the spoiler.  But as well as the looks, it's the aeros that make this among the quietest helmets l've worn when travelling at speed. It's versatile in terms of venting too, which has been great for me because I've ridden in all manner of conditions, from frosty drizzle to 40-degree-plus heat.  
 
"A CWR-F2 Pinlock keeps fogging at bay and once I'd learnt to use the vents properly this worked faultlessly. When you're adjusting the vents or indeed operating the visor, you get a real sense of quality in terms of the solidity of the materials and the way they all work together. Inside the shell, the removable liners snap into place with poppers that feel very strong, unlike a lot of cheaper helmets I've tested.  
 
"There are a lot of sizing options, including five outer shell sizes and cheek pads in four thicknesses, which means it's worth getting the helmet fitted properly at a shop rather than buying blind online The strap is secured using a double D-ring and, while l've tried other systems, nothing offers the same simplicity.

"Should the worst happen, there's an Emergency Quick Release System that allows the lid to be removed. Sure, it's not a cheap lid, but if this design is too expensive, there are simpler solid colours on offer starting at a hundred quid less And to top it all off, the Shoei comes with a five-year warranty for additional peace of mind."

Some designs are still 45% off at Sportsbike Shop, making them £289.99 instead of £539.99!

Pros

  • Stylish design that balances subtlety and aerodynamics with a spoiler for a quiet ride at high speeds
  • Excellent ventilation adaptable to various weather conditions from cold drizzle to extreme heat
  • High-quality construction with solid materials that enhance the operational feel of vents and visor
  • Available in simpler, less expensive colour options

Cons

  • High cost, though justified by the quality and features offered
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    4.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    5.0
Weight 1470g
Construction Muti-composite shell
Chin strap type Double D-ring
Intercom ready? Yes - Shoei Sena SRL-EXT Bluetooth Communication System
Drop down sun visor? No
Pinlock? Yes
Interior Moisture absorbing Quick-Dry interior for added comfort
Shell sizes XS-XXXL
Warranty Five years
Sharp score 5/5
  • Emergency quick release cheek pads 
  • Washable cheek pads, liner and strap cover 
  • Ventilation system

Flip-front helmets

Flip-front or modular helmets have been popular for decades with riding instructors and police riders who need to speak with people regularly while wearing a helmet. Rather than taking the whole thing off, a button releases the chin bar and allows you to flip open the front of the helmet.

More recently, many flip-front helmets have been dual homologated, meaning you can ride with them either open or closed. This means you get the cooling comfort of an open face in town and the safety of a full-face when you hit the national speed limit.

Flip-front helmets are also popular with touring riders who enjoy the ease of flipping the front for chatting with a pillion or buying fuel.

The down side of a flip-front helmet is that they tend to be larger and heavier than a full-face due to the inclusion of the mechanism (although they get better every year). They also tend to feature the more basic colour and design options.

Here are some of the best flip-front helmets we’ve tested recently:

Tested by Ali Silcox for 3 months/2000 miles - "I would strongly recommend this lid, if you are looking for a good quality, comfortable and feature packed flip-front. Flip-front lids are great for touring, and I’ve worn loads over the year. I headed out on a 1600 mile round trip for the first wear of this lid, that is the confidence I had in the brand and I wasn’t disappointed. Padding is soft and plush, it shows no signs of wear plus it’s retained the new helmet smell, even after sweating, getting stuck in torrential rain and riding for ten hours a day.

This has all the practical elements that I’ve come to expect. The drop-down sun-visor is easy to operate, via a lever on the left underside of the helmet and the visor is sufficiently tinted to be of use. There’s a Pinlock anti-fog insert, which is essential for year-round riding."

Read our full HJC RPHA 91 review

Pros

  • Comfortable from the off
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Quite pricey
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Practicality
    5.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Protection
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight Unknown
Construction Carbon-aramid hybrid and natural fibre shell
Chin strap type Quick release
Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL
Warranty 5 years
Safety Standard ECE 22.06
  • Flip-front helmet with full front-to-back airflow
  • Pinlock anti-fog insert
  • Anti-scratch coated visor
  • Drop-down sun visor
  • Glasses grooves
  • Removable and washable interior
  • Quick release closure
Price: £417.50 (was £564.99)
Tested by Gareth Evans for 12 months/5,000 miles - "This is a high-quality, feature-rich lid with plenty to recommend it as an ownership proposition, including a brilliant comms system integration and the five-year warranty. It isn’t perfect; I’d like slightly higher quality-feeling materials for the money, but overall I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The marketing bumpf does claim superior aerodynamic properties for this lid, and they claim it’s very quiet, but in fairness this is borne out by my experience. It’s a quiet helmet at most speeds, and clearly the design features a number of attributes aimed at smoothing airflow. As you’d expect for a lid with integrated communications systems, they perform flawlessly, with perfect sound quality for listening to music or using the phone."

Read our full Schuberth E2 review

Pros

  • Loads of features
  • Comfortable
  • Prepared for impressive comms system
  • Five-year warranty

Cons

  • Quality of some materials leaves a little to be desired
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    5.0
  • Ventilation
    5.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight 1695g (or 1850g with comms system)
Construction Composite
Chin strap type Quick release
Intercom ready? Yes
Drop down sun visor? Yes
Pinlock? Yes
Interior Removable
Shell sizes XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL
Warranty Five-year
Safety standard ECE 22.06

Urban helmets

If you never venture out of the city centre or ride a scooter to work, an open-face or jet helmet could be a comfy alternative to a full-face.

These are more popular in the scooter culture of mainland Europe’s cities but plenty of UK riders also wear them. Open face helmets are also popular for cruiser or American bike riders and also classics and retro bikes.

Although comfy to wear and cool in hot weather, the obvious down side is that your face isn’t protected in a crash – although jet helmets usually extend further down the jaw line.

Tested by Saffron Wilson for four months, 4,400 miles

"Before I tested this helmet, I’d never worn an open-face. But, since I was touring America in the middle of summer, I opted to give it a go.

"The lack of a chin bar meant I felt a little exposed, but this sensation quickly disappears when you’re on the ride. Plus, the J-O’s composite fibreglass shell is made from the same blend of fibres Shoei uses on its top-spec racing helmets and it features the same kind of multi-density EPS.

"I think it’s a classic and understated design, particularly its low-profile shell shape, as some other open-face helmets can give you a ‘lightbulb head’. The clear visor with its three-levels of closure meant I didn’t have to invest in goggles and gives that extra bit of protection from the wind – as well as being vital in the rain!

"I also like that the J-O has a double-D ring chin strap. There’s no drop-down sun visor but the fit is comfy enough for me to be able to pop on a pair of sunnies. It is fabulous in warm weather and would be great for city riding too"

Pros

  • Made with a composite fiberglass shell, similar to Shoei's high-spec racing helmets, ensuring robust protection
  • Classic and understated design with a low-profile shell shape that avoids the common 'lightbulb head' look of some open-face helmets
  • Equipped with a clear visor that has three levels of closure, eliminating the need for goggles and providing protection from wind and rain
  • Includes a double-D ring chin strap, which is a preferred secure fastening method for many riders
  • Excellent for warm weather and ideal for city riding due to its open-face design and ventilation

Cons

  • Lack of a chin bar may leave the rider feeling exposed, which could be a concern for those used to full-face helmets
  • Does not include a drop-down sun visor, which might be a drawback for some users who prefer built-in sun protection
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
Safety rating ECE 22.05
Construction AIM glass fibre and organic fibre shell
Chin strap type Double D ring

How do I choose the right size motorbike helmet?

A correctly fitting helmet is paramount, both in terms of safety and comfort. Too loose could cause it to move around in use, and it won’t be able to protect as it should, maybe even coming off in an accident. Too tight, and it will quickly become uncomfortable, affecting concentration and giving you a headache – a few miles in a helmet that’s too small can be akin to a medieval torture device. The best motorcycle helmet should be just snug, moving with your head without causing discomfort.

Measuring your head is a good place to start in finding your size (above the ears and around the forehead), but the only way to be sure is to go to a shop or show and try some on. Manufacturers offer a range of shell sizes to suit different size heads, as well as liners and cheek pads to achieve a full custom fit. The best motorcycle helmet is the one you feel most comfortable wearing.


FAQ

What’s the best type of strap?

Keeping a helmet in place is crucial to its effectiveness, and there are three main types of fastening systems – double D-ring, ratchet clasp or a car seatbelt style clip and catch. All meet the required standard, so ultimately it’s down to personal choice.

A double D-ring is the traditional method and is adjusted each time it’s fastened by simply tugging it snug. With no moving parts, it’s also the simplest and remains the standard at the top level of bike sport. A ratchet clasp is similar in that you tighten it to suit every time, but some will find feeding the strap through the clasp less fiddly to get the hang of. The seat belt type has to be adjusted first, altering the length of the strap to suit, so may involve some trial and error. In operation, it’s a simple case of clipping the buckle into the catch and pressing a button to release.

A strap is correctly tightened when you can slip two fingers between it and your jaw. Any more than that could restrict breathing or blood flow, any less and your helmet may not stay on when it needs to.

Which helmets are rated by MCN?

MCN’s expert road testers have a wealth of experience in testing every aspect of motorcycle kits and have put a huge variety of helmets through their paces. Here’s our pick from each category – you can find more options plus in-depth reviews by clicking on the relevant links.


How MCN tests products

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.

If you can’t see a review against an item on this page, it’s because we haven’t tested it yet. These items 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.

- 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.