There are more budget helmets on the market now than ever but which ones are the ones you should be shortlisting?
We don’t all have £500 to buy a top of the range lid but a smaller budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice safety or features. If you buy into the SHARP motorcycle helmet tests then you’ll be pleased to know that there are a few sub-£100 5-star rated helmets. There are also a lot of 4-star-rated helmets which means when it comes to cheap motorcycle helmets, we’re spoilt for choice.
Even though some budget helmets offer similar features to the high-end helmets, there are noticeable differences. The outright best helmets use lighter materials, they usually have better quality linings that are more comfortable and most have better quality visors that, although not necessarily clearer, are usually more resistant to wear and tear.
That said, it is possible to find cheap helmets with removable linings, Pinlock-ready visors and quality venting.
For this guide, we set ourselves a challenge: to find the cheap motorcycle helmets for bikers on a budget. We’ve set £100 as our maximum spend.
Even though we’ve picked helmets on a tight budget, we haven’t sacrificed quality, features or functionality. Each one of our helmets has been through the SHARP helmet rating.
So let’s get going with this cheap helmet review and buying guide.
Budget helmet from a quality brand
Shark makes some of the best helmets in the world and their know-how has gone into this budget offering the Ridill. With a 4-star SHARP rating, it doesn’t sacrifice safety. It is made from a polycarbonate shell and features a quick-release anti-scratch visor a drop-down internal sun visor, multiple vents, removable cheek pads and a micro-metric retention strap.
Feature-packed cheap helmet
Proving that you don’t need to spend £300+ to get a decent helmet, this HJC C70 uses a polycarbonate shell and comes with an internal drop-down sun visor, a removable washable lining, good venting, a double D-lock retention strap, and an Anti-UV scratch-resistant and Pinlock-ready visor. Available in multiple colourways and with an RRP of under £150, you will struggle to find a better lid for the money.
The cheapest motorcycle helmet
They all cost under £70 and yet are ECE-22-05 approved. The Agrius gets a 4-star SHARP rating, while the snazzy-looking SHOX only scores two stars.
If you’re biking on a budget or looking for a cheap helmet for the occasional summer ride or pillion use, then you can’t go far wrong.
We’ve all got a priceless head but there’s no reason you can’t get a cheap helmet.
The most expensive motorcycle helmet
If you want to put a bit of context on these budget helmets, then check out the AGV Pista GP-R. It’s no surprise that it’s the helmet of a certain Mr Valentino Rossi – the greatest motorcycle racer of all time.
We’re not going to pretend that a cheap motorcycle helmet matches this amazing AGV but when you look at the spec sheet, the budget lids don’t lose out by as much as you’d think. The Pista has vents, a removable washable lining, a removable visor which is Pinlock-ready – exactly the same as the budget lids.
Where the AGV Pista starts to leave the budget lids behind is its construction. It is made from Carbon Fibre, features a wind-tunnel-tested rear spoiler, the ability to connect up a hydration-pack and the ability to fix tear-off visor strips.
At £999 it might be the most expensive motorcycle helmet on the market but not all of us can afford to pay for the same helmet as Mr Rossi uses.
Motorcycle Helmet Buying Checklist
There is an impressive range of budget helmets on the market but some do cut down on features and use different materials in order to meet a specific price point. You'll be hard-pressed to find anything that's not made with a Polycarbonate shell (plastic) but that's not necessarily a bad thing, they're just heavier than using fibre-based materials.
Here are the feature that every quality flip-front should have, no matter what the budget.
- Homologation: Full-face helmets are tested to a EC 22.05 standards to check yours is up to the job.
- 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: A removable lining is a great feature to have - you can remove it, wash it and keep your lid from smelling like a tramp's underpants.
- 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.
- 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 heavier.
- 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.
- 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.
With so many helmets on the market, it’s easy to get lost in the pages and pages of choices. These 5 other top helmets under £100 that made our shortlist.
AGV K1 – Featuring a removable washing lining, double-D retention system, anti-scratch and anti-fog visor and adjustable venting.
HJC CS-15 – Featuring a fully washable lining, glasses groove for reduced temporal pressure, a quick-release visor, micrometric retention system and adjustable venting.
Caberg Stunt – Featuring an internal sun visor and Pinlock-ready main visor, it comes in two shell sizes and features a removable washable lining. Good touring option.
MT Thunder 3 SV – It comes with a drop-down internal sun visor, a Max Vision visor, removable lining, and adjustable venting. For under £100, you couldn’t want for much more.
If you tend to keep a helmet for more than a couple of years, look for one with a removable washable lining so you can give it a wash once a year and keep it smelling fresh.
Some helmets come with an internal sun visor but if you want a dark visor, check that your helmet ships with one or that you can buy one. Some can be upwards of £40, so be warned.
If you're used to the D-ring retention system check the helmet you want to buy uses it. Most budget motorcycle helmets use the newer micrometric retention system.
The cheapest 5-star SHARP helmet
If you buy-in to SHARP’s ehtos and just want the cheapest SHARP 5-star rated helmet, then look no further.
Many of the cheapest SHARP 5-star helmets have been discontinued and there’s nothing under £100 on the market today. However, the three cheapest (at the time of writing) are the:
For our money, we’d throw in the extra few quid and go for the HJC IS-17, which has a recommended retail price of £159 but you can grab one on Amazon for just £119. With a removable washable lining, anti-fog visor and internal sun visor, it’s great value for money and quality for the price.
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.