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The Best Motorcycle Helmets

best motorcycle helmet chaz davies uk - The Best Motorcycle Helmets

If you search Amazon for ‘motorcycle helmet’ you get over 2,000 results back. That’s a lot of choices and that’s just from Amazon. Factor in other retailers and there are literally thousands of helmets on the market.

So we set out to save you time by shortlisting a bunch of helmets that we think are the best motorcycle helmets available to buy today.

Our review criteria

We’ve set strict criteria for this helmet buying guide because we can afford to be picky.

  • Every helmet has to have scored a minimum 4-stars out of 5 in the SHARP tests
  • Every helmet has to be available in at least 2 shell sizes
  • Every helmet has to have a removable and washable lining
  • Every helmet has to have top-notch ratings from owners – real world riders
  • Has to come with a minimum two year’s warranty
  • Bonus points if it’s a RiDE Recommended or Best Buy helmet

There are a lot of helmets on our longlist but we boiled this down to 10 great helmets for our shortlist.

What’s best for you

It’s very hard to say ‘this is the best 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.

Although it’s no surprise that the well-known marques are popular for a reason – they’re generally very comfortable for a majority of riders.

As you have seen from our strict criteria above, all the helmets in this review have met a very high bar.

From under £200 to over £600

You might be surprised to see the difference in price points; some helmets are way under £200 while others are over £600. Although the price has been a factor in our considerations, we’ve recommended the helmets that we think are the best available right now – we haven’t just gone for the most expensive.

If our picks don’t work for you in terms of budgets, brands or features, then refer to our shortlist where you’re sure to find a great option.

best motorcycle helmet nolan n87 replica - The Best Motorcycle Helmets
Ben's Pick

Everything you could want from a helmet

So the lairy paint might not be to your tastes (it’s also available in other colours) but you can’t argue with the N87’s specification. It features a fully removable and washable clima-cool lining and removable cheek pads. The visor has a wide aperture and the N87 features an internal drop-down sun visor and a quick-release UV resistant anti-scratch visor which is Pinlock ready. It also has a removable chin curtain and quality venting. It’s ready to fit Nolan’s N-Com Bluetooth system and ESS (essentially an LED brake light on the rear of the lid).  It weighs 1.5kg and scored 4-stars in the SHARP test. It offers amazing bang for your buck.

arai rx 7v replica jonathan rea - The Best Motorcycle Helmets
Also Great

The Rolls Royce of motorcycle helmets

There’s only one reason we didn’t pick this as our best motorcycle helmet and that’s the price. It’s three times the price of the Nolan that we picked as our best lid but you can’t deny this is a quality helmet. It features a fully removable and washable eco-pure lining and cheek pads, it comes with a quick release visor, a max vision Pinlock insert and a new stronger shell design which increases internal space. There’s a speaker pocket in the cheek pads to integrate an intercom and there’s the usual great venting from Arai. It weighs 1.55kg and scored 5-stars in the SHARP test. Iconic lid – better than ever. 

The best budget motorcycle helmet

agv k 3 sv tartaruga 305x305 - The Best Motorcycle Helmets

It’s amazing how much helmet you can get for your money these days. Even 5 years ago, only the top of the range helmets came with removable linings, quick release visors and Pinlock posts but now we’re spoilt for choice. In fact 3 of the helmets in our shortlist came in at under £200 and they all scored at least 4-stars in the SHARP helmet test.

The three cheapest helmets on our shortlist are as follows:

AGV K3 SV – IF you’re not a fan of the Rossi-replica helmets (most are pretty garish!) the K3 SV also comes in plain colours. Featuring two shell sizes, a fully washable and removable lining, an internal sun visor and Pinlock-ready main visor. It’s also setup to accommodate the Share Bluetooth intercom system. It comes with a 4-year warranty.

HJC FG-ST – 5-star SHARP rated, the FG-ST has a fibreglass shell, quick-release visor a three-stage internal sun visor, a Silvercool moisture-wicking interior multiple vents and an anti-fog visor insert. It comes with a 3-year warranty and it’s RiDE Recommended too. 

Shark S900 Dual – Featuring a fully washable and removable lining, removable cheek pads, a quality 2.2mm thick Pinlock-ready quick-release visor (with Pinlock insert included) and an internal UV sun visor. It weighs 1.5kg, it scored 4-stars in the SHARP test and it comes with a 5-year warranty.

The most expensive motorcycle helmet

agv helmets full face pista gp r project 46 most expensive motorcycle helmet 305x305 - The Best Motorcycle Helmets

Check out the AGV Pista GP-R. It’s no surprise that the most expensive motorcycle helmet is that of a certain Mr Valentino Rossi – he’s been known to frequent the odd MotoGP race from time-to-time.

Constructed from carbon fibre, the Pista features a wind-tunnel-tested rear spoiler, the ability to connect up a hydration-pack and the ability to fix tear-off visor strips.

This is the Version 3 and at £999 it’s easily the most expensive motorcycle helmet on the market but then again, if you’re designing a helmet for Valentino, no expense needs to be spared.

If you want to save a few quid, you can pick up a Version 2 model for ‘just’ £749.99 but you’ll have to be quick as there are only a few left in each size.

quality motorcycle helmet - The Best Motorcycle Helmets

Anatomy of a quality motorcycle helmet


With a focus on quality, the best 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.

  1. Safety ratings: Full-face helmets are tested to the EC 22.05 standards but the government's SHARP test is also worth factoring in. If it scores 4-stars or higher in the SHARP test then you know it'll deal with an impact and stay firmly in place.

  2. 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.

  3. 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, you'll need to wash the lining a couple of times a year.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Pinlock-ready: 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 

motorcycle helmet fitting guide - The Best Motorcycle Helmets

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.

  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)

  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.

  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.

  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 Shoei 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.

Motorcycle helmets: Ben's Top Tips

Premium manufacturers often sponsor MotoGP or World Superbike riders, so if you don't mind having last year's paint job you can often buy a current helmet at a discounted rate.

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.

Our shortlist: The best motorcycle helmets

With over 2,000 different helmets on the market, we quickly whittled this down to 70, by using a set of features that our helmets had to include and criteria that our helmets had to pass in order to make the longlist.

Then from here we picked the best helmets from each manufacturer and removed the ones that just didn’t quite cut the mustard. So if our two picks above don’t work for you, one of the helmets from our shortlist will.

AGV K3 SV – If you’re not a fan of the Rossi-replica helmets (most are pretty garish!) the K3 SV also comes in plain colours. Featuring two shell sizes, a fully washable and removable lining, an internal sun visor and Pinlock-ready main visor. It’s also setup to accommodate the Share Bluetooth intercom system. It comes with a 4-year warranty.

Arai RX-7V – It features a fully removable and washable eco-pure lining and cheek pads, it comes with a quick release visor, a max vision Pinlock insert and a new stronger shell design which increases internal space. There’s a speaker pocket in the cheek pads to integrate an intercom and there’s the usual great venting from Arai. It weighs 1.55kg and scored 5-stars in the SHARP test.

Bell Race Star – Bell has seriously upped their game in the past few years. This Race Star is their top of the range lid. Featuring a gorgeous carbon fibre shell it uses innovated magnetic cheek pads and is designed to suit glasses wearers. There’s a removable washable liner and it comes with a Pinlock-ready visor. It’s 5-Star SHARP rated too.

HJC FG-ST – 5-star SHARP rated, the FG-ST has a fibreglass shell, quick-release visor a three-stage internal sun visor, a Silvercool moisture-wicking interior multiple vents and an anti-fog visor insert. It comes with a 3-year warranty and it’s RiDE Recommended too. 

Nolan N87 – It features a fully removable and washable clima-cool lining and removable cheek pads. The visor has a wide aperture and the N87 features an internal drop-down sun visor and a quick-release UV resistant anti-scratch visor which is Pinlock ready. It also has a removable chin curtain and quality venting. It’s ready to fit Nolan’s N-Com Bluetooth system and ESS (essentially an LED brake light on the rear of the lid).  It weighs 1.5kg and scored 4-stars in the SHARP test. It offers amazing bang for your buck.

Schuberth S2 Sport – Known for their quiet lids and also prolific in the flip-up helmet category, the S2 Sport is a full face lid that comes in two shell sizes. It features an internal sun visor, a Coolmax lining, tabs on the visor to prevent whistling when it’s open. It also features built-in antennae and comes with speakers for Schuberth’s Bluetooth intercom.

Shark Race-R Pro – Shark’s top-spec race lid is made from a carbon-fibre composite shell it features an anti-fog anti-scratch quick-release visor, a removable and washable lining which is built to accommodate glasses too. 5-star SHARP rated. At 1.3kg it’s a seriously light lid.

Shark S900 Dual – Featuring a fully washable and removable lining, removable cheek pads, a quality 2.2mm thick Pinlock-ready quick-release visor (with Pinlock insert included) and an internal UV sun visor. It weighs 1.5kg, it scored 4-stars in the SHARP test and it comes with a 5-year warranty.

Shoei NXR – A more road-orientated lid from Shoei, the NXR is a top-seller. It comes in four different shell sizes, meaning you’ll get a more precise fit. It features Shoei’s Emergency Quick Release System (EQRS which allows emergency services to quickly remove the lid in the event of an accident). It features a removable washable liner, it includes a Pinlock visor insert, a huge amount of vents (10 in total) and it weighs in at just £1350g – seriously light.

Shoei X-Spirit 3 – Shoei’s flagship race helmet, the X-Spirit 3 is the latest generation. It features four shell sizes, it has an adjustable interior so you can tweak it to perfectly suit you and the cheek pads are removable. There are multi-adjustable vents and the shell is designed to be more stable at speed. The visor is quick-release and Pinlock and tear-off ready. It weighs 1400g and is SHARP 5-star rated.

You can see all the SHARP 5-star rated motorcycle helmets here.

Motorcycle helmet FAQs

What does a helmet need to be road legal in the UK?
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.

What’s the cheapest carbon-fibre motorcycle helmet?
We couldn’t find one under £100. The cheapest carbon fibre motorcycle helmet currently on sale is the Shark Spartan Carbon which retails for around £250.

Sources

Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this review of the best motorcycle helmets:

SHARP helmet safety scheme:
https://sharp.dft.gov.uk/