Adventure motorcycle helmets help create an authentic rugged adventure biker look but they’re not just an image thing.
We all know that adventure bike riders spend 99% of their time on the road but the peak is handy to keep the sun out, the visors generally have a larger aperture for better visibility, they tend to have better venting and are roomier, meaning they work better for those who wear glasses when they’re riding.
Plus, did we mention they look the part?
We’ve looked at over 140 adventure bike helmets to pick three great ones for any budget. Plus we’ve written a checklist of what to look out for and some top tips to help you make the right choice.
Feature-packed and under £100
Constructed from a thermo-resin outer shell with a cool matt finish, you can pick this helmet up for under £100. With a metal reinforced quick release chin strap, impact-absorbing multi-density EPS lining, and emergency release cheek-pad system, it’s not a bad choice for the price. Featuring a scratch, UV and fog-resistant external visor, it also has an internal drop-down dark smoked sun visor to reduce glare. The lining is soft, comfortable and fully removable and washable. We really like this blue paint job but there are lots of different colour options available.
Pinlock ready, comfortable lightweight lid
Packed with additional features, this adventure helmet by Nexx is made from ultra-lightweight fibreglass with aramid fibres, reinforced with carbon. The shape of the chin has been designed to reduce chest injuries from frontal impacts. It’s a well thought through lid and an earlier Nexx model, the X.D1 also won a RiDE Best Buy award. It has a Double-D chin strap with an Emergency V2 Emergency strap to allow easy access to an injured riders’ head. The anti-fog visor is Pinlock ready and has an integrated sun visor which can be operated while using gloves. The 3D lining is breathable to allow a flow of air around the head and is fully removable and washable. Also, X.WED 2 has special areas designed to attach action cameras. Also available in loads of different colour options.
Arai quality and comfort but at £500 it’s not cheap
Arai has never been cheap but you get what you pay for. This adventure helmet is made from a multi-composite shell with a triple density inner shell for added durability and impact and penetration protection. Complete with a Double-D chin retention system, Pinlock ready visor with an insert included, and a fully removable washable liner for added cleanliness and comfort. The vent system on this helmet incorporates the latest technology to prevent misting on the visor while keeping the visor secured. Additional brow ventilation allows more air to optimum cooling. If plain white’s not for you, there are many different colour schemes.
The Cheapest Adventure Motorcycle Helmet
You can grab our Budget Pick for around £90, which is pretty cheap when it comes to a helmet. But if you’re on an even tighter budget then check out Spada’s Intrepid helmet.
At around £70 it’s amazing value for money and it’s a popular choice for Adventure bikers on a budget. Click here to take a look.
Adventure Motorcycle Helmet Buyer's Checklist
With a focus on quality, the best adventure motorcycle helmets are rarely the cheapest ones out there but that doesn't mean you can't get a bargain.
If you're looking for the best helmet, these are the features that we think you should be looking out for.
- Safety ratings: Full-face helmets are tested to the EC 22.05 standards but the government's SHARP test has yet to test many adventure helmets. Whatever you do, make sure you don't buy a counterfeit lid.
- Removable peak: At motorway speeds, a peak can be a liability if it catches the wind during a lifesaver or whatnot. It's hard to keep your head level at 60mph as the wind presses down on the peak. If you can remove it easily, it'll be that bit more versatile.
- Retention system: Most full-face lids use a D-ring type system to keep the helmet securely in place some will use a ratchet system. If you have a preference for either, make sure the lid you're buying uses your preferred system.
- Linings: All of the helmets in this review feature a removable washable lining. Most of the top-end lids do but some are only partially removable or others only have removable cheek pads. If you're going to be using your lid all the time, especially if you do any sort of trail or dirt road riding, you'll need to wash the lining a couple of times a year.
- Internal visor: An internal sun visor is a very useful addition. It can be used in conjunction with a clear visor to ensure you stay legal.
- Removable visor: If you're going to be riding off-road, it's handy to be able to move the visor up and out of the way or quickly remove it in order to use MX goggles.
- Pinlock-ready visor: A Pinlock visor system will stop your visor from misting up, making the kid more useful in all conditions. If your budget lid comes with this system it's a real bonus. If it's scratch resistant then this should see it last longer before needing to be replaced.
- Shell material: Top-end helmets will use carbon-fibre or composite fibre which are strong and light. Polycarbonate (plastic) shells are just as strong but they'll be slightly heavier.
- Shell sizes: Most budget lids will only be made with one shell size but if your lid comes in two sizes, it means you'll be able to buy a lid that comes with far less padding (if you're an S or XS size) or a decent amount of padding (if you're an XL size) meaning you'll get a better fit and a more comfortable lid.
- Bluetooth: More high-end helmets feature the provision for a Bluetooth intercom. Most of the well-known manufacturers make their own Bluetooth system which will neatly fit into their lid. If you're planning on using a Bluetooth headset, this is definitely worth factoring in.
- Warranty: All of the helmets in this review have a minimum of a two-year warranty but some helmets have up to a 5-year warranty. If your lid is going to get heavy use, this longer warranty could prove very useful.
How to find a helmet that fits
There’s no point buying a feature-packed helmet if it doesn’t fit. Similarly, a ‘bargain’ helmet isn’t a bargain if it gives you a headache.
Here are the steps you need to take to ensure you’re buying a helmet that’s a perfect fit.
Step 1 – Measure around your head at the level of your eyebrows using a Seamstress tape measure (or a piece of string which you then measure out with a ruler). This will give you the size of the lid you should be trying on. Different manufacturers have slightly different measurements for their sizes (typically XS, S, M, L, XL)
Step 2 – When you put the lid on, you shouldn’t feel any undue pressure around your skull. The cheekpads will probably feel tight at first but they do bed-in a touch. If they are exerting a lot of pressure, check to see if the helmet manufacturer offers cheek pads with different thicknesses so you can adjust them. If the helmet is exerting pressure on your skull, it’s too tight. There will be little to no give in the shell and lining, so if after 60-seconds you can feel any pressure (almost like someone’s poking their finger on a part of your head) then you need to go up a size.
Step 3 – Strap the helmet up as if you’re going to get on the bike and try and rotate the chin bar up and down your face. If the helmet rolls on your head then it’s too large. If you do the same with a sideways motion, the helmet should pull at your skin but not rotate around your face.
Step 4 – Place your thumb pointing upward on the bridge of your nose. You should be able to slide the top half of your thumb between your forehead and the helmet. This shows you’ve got just enough space for the lid to seat properly and not exert too much pressure on your head.
Remember that a Medium-sized Arai will fit and feel differently to a Caberg or any other brand. So if you’re switching to a different manufacturer, it’s worth trying on a couple of different sizes, just to ensure you’re getting the best fit.
If you're planning on using an intercom, consider a helmet that has been made to accommodate a manufacturer's Bluetooth headset, so you can have a neat setup, instead of riding around with a brick attached to the side of your lid.
Be careful when buying a cheap lid on a site like eBay. If it hasn't come through the UK importer, the chances are they won't honour any warranty issues.
If your helmet manufacturer offers different size cheek pads you can switch these over to further improve the fit of your helmet.
Don't feel embarrassed or pressured when trying on a helmet. You need to wear it for at least a minute to get an idea of whether it's putting pressure on any parts of your skull. If you feel a bit of pressure after one-minute, imagine how that will feel after an hour.
The Best Adventure Motorcycle Helmet For You
It’s very hard to say ‘this is the best adventure helmet’ because different helmet brands fit riders in different ways. We all have different shaped heads and what works for one rider won’t work for another.
It’s vital to try different lids on, to see how they feel to you. It also depends to an extent how much time you spend riding on the road or riding off-road on trails. If you’re commuting you want a quiet, super comfortable lid. If you’re riding off-road, weight and goggle-use is probably more important to you.
Adventure Motorcycle Helmet FAQs
Can I wear a normal full-face helmet on my adventure bike?
You can but not many people do. If you only ride on the road, you won’t be hindered by wearing a normal full-face helmet. Adventure helmets are, in the main, an image thing.
Can I wear an MX helmet on my adventure bike?
The chances are your MX lid isn’t road legal. In order to be road legal a motorcycle helmet has to have one of the following: a British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark or a UNECE Regulation 22.05 or a European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.
If you are doing a lot of off-road riding on your adventure bike you might want to take an MX lid with you. They’re far lighter than Adventure-bike helmets, giving you that bit more freedom of movement.
What’s the difference between an Adventure and Dual Sport helmet?
Dual Sport is the term our American cousins use to describe Adventure. They’re exactly the same.
Why do Adventure helmets have a visor?
You would think they wouldn’t need a visor as most Adventure riders spend most of their time off-roading on their R1250GS and not commuting into Basingstoke town centre.
Oh no, hang on, that’s not right. All adventure bike helmets have a visor as they’re used on the road where a visor is useful. The better Adventure-bike lids enable you to remove the visor or move it out of the way and use goggles when riding off road.