Without the protection afforded by a car’s roll-cage, crump zones, and seatbelts, those traveling by motorcycle are not only more susceptible to a much wider range of potential dangers and hazards, but they’re also prone to facing consequences that are far more severe when things do go awry. With nothing separating the rider from the road other than the items that they’re wearing, it can legitimately be hard to overstate the importance of proper riding gear. And while every component of a rider’s protective gear is important, the single most pivotal piece of kit is undoubtedly the helmet.
Modern moto lids currently come in a myriad of different styles and types, though full-face brain buckets undoubtedly offer the most robust protection in the event of a crash. As a result, there are literally hundreds of different full-face models to pick from — a fact that can make shopping for one a daunting experience. Knowing this firsthand, we’ve thoroughly scoured the sector in order to deliver this curated guide to the best full-face motorcycle helmets where we’ll be delving into what makes for a good full-face helmet, their pros and cons, how much one should spend on one, and what to look for when shopping for one, before diving into our picks for the latest and greatest full-coverage lids that money can currently buy.
The Best Full-Face Motorcycle Helmets
Best Cafe Helmet
Most Innovative Helmet
Ruroc Atlas 4.0
Best Overall Full-Face Helmet
AGV K6 S
Best Commuter Helmet
Best Sport Helmet
Arai Corsair X
Best Retro-Inspired Helmet
Veldt Mark 1 Fullface
Best Smart Helmet
Best Track Helmet
AGV Pista GP RR
- Show more
Pros & Cons
The Strengths & Weakness Of Full-Face Helmets
As previously mentioned, full-face motorcycle helmets offer the pinnacle of protection for riders. Unlike half or 3/4-style brain buckets, full-face lids protect the wearer’s cranium, while also sporting a chin-bar and visor. This full-coverage setup protects the rider’s jaw and face in the event of a fall or crash, and also fortifies them from rain, small pebbles, insects, and other small debris that can get kicked up. The inclusion of a chin-bar also allows full-face helmets to accommodate microphones for comm systems. More importantly, full-face helmets are also designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, with these lids sporting drag coefficients that are markedly more slippery than that of your face — a fact that mitigates wind resistance, thereby reducing neck fatigue. Ultimately, the biggest advantage of full-face helmets is their unparalleled protection. Not only do they cover and protect more of the wearer’s head, but they also boast larger, more robust shells that have more mass to absorb and dissipate impacts and energy.
While the strengths offered by full-face helmets greatly outweigh their weaknesses, that isn’t to say that full-face lids aren’t without their own shortcomings. For starters, full-face helmets are heavier than 3/4-style models. What’s more, because they cover the wearer’s entire face and head, they don’t offer as good of airflow or ventilation – something that’s even more noticeable during the year’s warmer months. The inclusion of a chin-bar on a full-face lid can also make a helmet’s visor much more prone to fogging up — though good ventilation and a pin-lock insert will qugelymitigate this issue. And, even with emergency cheek pad release systems, full-face helmets are still more difficult for first responders to remove in the event of a crash.
Cranial Fortification Qualities
What Makes For A Good Full-Face Helmet?
There are legitimately dozens of factors that contribute to the overall quality of a motorcycle helmet, though a small handful stand out as objectively being the most crucial. Below, we’ll briefly touch on the most pivotal aspects that make for a good full-face moto lid.
Protection: The single most important factor when shopping for a helmet is protection, as the main purpose of these items is to protect their wearer in the event of a crash. As such, you’ll want to review the materials used to construct a helmet, as well as if the helmet benefits from any advance systems to increase safety — such as the MIPS system or the NASA-developed RHEON reactive polymer that Ruroc integrates into the three-piece EPS liner of its Atlas 4.0 helmet.
Materials & Construction: A motorcycle helmet’s ability to protect its wearer is obviously of extreme importance. As a result, you’ll want to pay close attention to the biggest area that impacts this element, which is the materials used to craft a helmet and the construction technique (or techniques) used to piece said material together. This includes both the construction of the shell itself, as well as its underlying liner material.
Amenities & Features: Over the last few years, we’ve seen helmets bestowed with a growing number of supplementary features such as drop-down sun visors, pre-drilled comm ports, removable beaks, and in some cases, built-in cameras and SOS beacons. While this element shouldn’t largely guide your search, it should for sure be factored into your overall decision.
Visor & Hardware: One area that separates high-end motorcycle helmets from cheaper lids is visor and hardware. The more premium helmets tend to not only feature better visors, but they’re often sold with included pin-lock inserts. Visors can also easily be swapped out.
Closure System: For decades, double D-rings were the go-to helmet closure setup, though in recent years we’ve started seeing a growing number of other innovative closure mechanisms including ratcheting items and even chin straps that are secured using magnetically-coupling FIDLOCK buckles.
Shell Size & Fitment: In order for a motorcycle helmet to properly do its job and fully absorb the energy of a crash, it needs to snugly and precisely fit its wearer. As a result, today’s more reputable manufacturers almost always make their respective brain buckets in a variety of different regular sizes and shell sizes — rather than using a single shell size across every size of a helmet. What’s more, certain companies produce helmets that best accommodate a certain head shape — such as Arai which tends to make helmets that fit more oval-shaped heads.
Ventilation: Full-face helmets can often get hot and stuffy, even in normal weather. As a result, a full-face helmet’s ventilation is of extreme importance. When looking at this area, you’ll want to review a helmet’s number of both intake and exhaust ports, as well as whether or not said ports are open/closable.
Fit & Finish: One element that helps to distinguish the more premium helmets on the market from their cheaper counterparts is a lid’s overall fit and finish. The more high-end helmets almost always benefit from much more meticulous quality control processes, plus often feature more premium paint and a superior overall finish — elements that are typically achieved through hand-worked small batch production.
Weight: The weight of a helmet is carried entirely on a rider’s neck and shoulders. Because they only weigh a few pounds — typically from around 3lbs to 5lbs — this may not sound like a huge issue, though this minor strain can quickly add up on long riders. For this reason, weight plays a massive role in a helmet’s overall comfort.
Sound & Wind Noise: One area that you may not have considered if you don’t have much experience with motorcycle helmets is sound and wind noise, as some lids do a substantially better job or drowning out wind and engine noise than others. It is worth noting that this area shouldn’t be taken into account when looking at track and race helmets (as earplugs are almost always worn in these situations).
Comm-Compatibility & Readiness: Over the last decade as our mobile devices have become more and more integral aspects of our day-to-day lives, Bluetooth comms systems have grown increasingly popular with motorcyclists. This has lead to a trend that sees helmets produced with recesses and ports designed specifically for accommodating comm systems. Some helmets are even engineered to accept specific comm systems that neatly integrate into the helmet.
Selecting The Right Lid
How To Find The Helmet That’s Best For You
Even if you’re privy to what factors make for a good helmet, it can still be a little tricky knowing exactly how to find the brain bucket that best suits your personal wants and needs. In order to simplify your shopping experience, we’ve broken down the most most important factors to consider when shopping for your next motorcycle helmet.
Intended Use: How you plan one using your new helmet should always be your jumping off point when shopping as different helmets are conducive to different applications. As an example, even the best race and track helmet on the market will seldom be ideal for use on the road.
Brand: The vast majority of motorcycle helmet manufacturers are fairly consistent in terms of quality and fit and finish. One great way to ensure that you’re getting a quality brain bucket is to purchase from a brand with a proven history of delivering well-crafted helmets — some of which have been doing so for well-over half-a-century.
Paint & Finish: The vast majority of full-face motorcycle helmets are offered in a wide variety of solid colors, patterns, and other designs that can also massively impact the overall appearance of a lid — making this a pivotal aspect to consider when shopping.
Retailer: Sadly, today’s motorcycle helmet market has increasingly been flooded with cheap imitations and knockoffs of some of today’s more premium lids. While they may look similar, knockoff helmets provide atrocious protection — a fact that’s frankly unsurprising considering their price and the fact they haven’t passed any safety certifications. We urge anyone shopping for a helmet to purchase from a reputable retailer such as Cycle Gear, Urban Rider, or Revzilla. There’s also always the option of buying helmets directly through the manufacturer.
Dollars & Sense
How Much Do You Need To Spend To Get A Good Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; good helmets are rarely cheap and cheap helmets are rarely good. While this doesn’t mean you necessarily need to shell out a grand or two on a brain bucket, we will remind you that a helmet is the only thing separating your head from the cold hard tarmac in the event of a crash. As such, buying a helmet shouldn’t just be viewed as purchasing motorcycle gear, and instead should be seen as an investment in protecting your brain — something that’s hard to put a price on. With very few exceptions, we recommend spending at least $300 to $600 on a full-face helmet in order to get your hands on a quality lid. Spending a few hundred over that amount can enable you tag snag an even better lid, but at a minimum, the three-to-five-bill mark is the least you want to shell out, as most lids south of this price simply won’t offer the same levels of protection as their pricier and better-made counterparts. Put simply, when shopping for a helmet, it’s always worth asking yourself, “What dollar value do you place on protecting your brain?”
Understanding The Rating System
A Look At Motorcycle Helmet Safety Certifications & Standards
Not all motorcycle helmets are created equal, with different lids offering varying levels of protection. In order to provide a more objective sense of a helmet’s protective capabilities, a variety of governing bodies have established official standards and certifications that helmets can receive — each of which denotes the helmet’s safety standards, where’s it’s certified to be used, and if it’s been homologated for on-track use. Below, we’ll briefly touch on the most common/important standards and certifications for modern motorcycle helmets.
DOT: A standard set by the U.S. Department of Transportation — or “DOT” — this American safety rating certifies that a helmet meets or exceeds the minimum federal standards required for use on public roads.
ECE: Short for the “Economic Commission for Europe,” the ECE standard is the European Union’s pass-or-fail safety certificate for motorcycle helmets intended to be used on public roads, denoting the helmet as met or exceeded the standards needed to qualify.
FIM: Solely pertaining to closed-course use, the FIM rating is the FIM’s (or Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme’s) certification standard that denotes that a helmet has been homologated for use on a race track. As such, pretty much all race leagues and track day organizers require a helmet to carry this certification.
SHARP: Established by the British government in 2007, SHARP — short for the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Program — is a supplementary certification to the existing ECE standard. Carried out on a voluntary basis, the SHARP standard using a star rating system — unlike the ECE standard that uses a pass or fail system.
SNELL: Like the SHARP standard, the SNELL certification is another voluntary system carried out by the SNELL Foundation. Interestingly, there is a SNELL standard used for public road use, as well as a SNELL standard used by some race direction.
- Unique 1980s, race-inspired design
- Perfect for cafe racers & vintage sportbikes
- Stellar Japanese craftsmanship
- Offers amazing value
- Isn’t sold in U.S. though can be ordered from overseas
Best Cafe Helmet: Inspired by 1980s era racing helmets, the Shoei Glamster is a retro-themed lid that combines throwback looks with modern aerodynamics and safety standards. Underneath its bullet-shaped Matrix+ AIM shell the helmet packs a multi-density polystyrene foam liner,, plus comes outfitted with a Pinlock EVO fog-resistant insert, a suite of intake and exhaust ports, and an emergency quick-release cheek-pad system for first responders. Several versions of this Japanese-made model also sport Shoei’s ‘70s and ‘80s era logo — another small but very cool touch present on this helmet. The Glamster also stands out from other retro-style helmets currently on the market thanks to the fact that it features Shoei’s usual brand of stellar craftsmanship and fit and finish.
Shell Material: Multi-Ply Matrix AIM
Safety Certification(s): ECE
Ruroc Atlas 4.0
- Has 3-piece EPS liner infused w/ NASA-developed RHEON reactive polymer
- Secured using self-guiding magnetic FIDLOCK buckle
- Features a pin-lock-compatible visor w/ 215º horizontal FOV
- Ships w/ preinstallation ports for Ruroc Shockwave Bluetooth comm system
- Sold in enormous variety of colors, graphics, patterns, & designs
- Aggressive appearance not for everyone
Most Innovative Helmet: When developing its Atlas helmet, British brand Ruroc tossed out the existing helmet-design playbook in order to engineered one of the most advanced lids ever created from the ground up. Sporting unique silhouette and shell design, the Ruroc Atlas 4.0 features a carbon fiber shell that covers a multi-density three-piece EPS liner that’s been infused with RHEON — a NASA-developed reactive polymer that doesn’t abide by traditional Newtonian physics and allows the liner to do an otherworldly job of absorbing and dissipating impact and rotational forces in the event of a crash. It doesn’t end there, however, as the Atlas 4.0 also comes loaded with a viewport with a whopping 215° horizontal field of vision, a magnetic FIDLOCK strap, a free Photochromatic Transition visor, and ports and pre-wiring for an optional Shockwave By Harmon Kardon comm system that neatly integrates into the fourth-pen Atlas helmet. Weighing in at just 3.5lbs, this helmet is also sold in a huge variety of unique patterns and designs — as well as in a plethora of solid and exposed weave carbon fiber color options.
Shell Material: Carbon Fiber
Safety Certification(s): ECE & DOT
AGV K6 S
- One of the highest full-face helmets ever made adjust 2.7lbs
- Made in Italy
- Super aerodynamic shell
- Offers great bang for your buck
- Plush interior & light weight make for an exceptionally comfortable helmet
- Vents can be difficult to use when wearing gloves
Best Overall Full-Face Helmet: At a mere 2.95lbs, AGV’s K6 helmet was already one of the lightest road-legal full-face helmets on the market, tipping the scales at less than quite a few of the world’s most cutting-edge high-dollar race helmets. Despite already knocking it out of the park with the original K6, the Italian outfit has returned to the drawing board in order to deliver the even more svelte AGV K6 S — an ultra-sleek full-face lid that weighs just 2.75lbs while exceeding DOT and ECE standards by nearly 40%. Compatible with AGV’s ARK comm system, the K6 S also features a carbon-aramid fiber shell produced in four sizes, a five-density EPS unit, a Microsense interior, a Ritmo and synthetic leather neck roll, and a Class1 optic visor with a 190° field of view, an included Max Vision Pinlock, and a metal visor mechanism.
Shell Material: Carbon-Aramid Fiber
Safety Certification(s): ECE & DOT
- Shell crafted from hand-laid interwoven matrix
- Offers Shoei’s usual world-class build quality & protection
- Made by hand in Japan
- Fitted w/ Shoei’s 2nd-gen 3D Max-Dry System interior
- Comes standard w/ Pinlock EVO-equipped CWR-F2 visor
- On the heavier side at over 3.60lbs
Best Commuter Helmet: With a 55-year history of crafting world-class helmets, Shoei is unequivocally one of the most respected companies in its space. So when the Japanese brand touts its latest and greatest all-arounder lid as being its lightest and most compact full-face model to date, you know it’s something special. The successor to the already wildly impressive RF-1200, the Shoei RF-1400 is constructed around a hand-laid matrix comprised of interwoven layers of fiberglass and organic fibers and was designed using extensive wind tunnel testing. Other noteworthy elements include a second-generation 3D Max-Dry System interior, a breath guard and chin curtain, a Pinlock EVO-equipped CWR-F2 shield system, Shoei’s emergency quick-release system, and the brand’s usual impeccable craftsmanship and a top-notch fit and finish. Tipping the scales at only 3.62lbs, the RF-1400 is also both SNELLl M2020 and DOT certified.
Shell Material: Fiberglass & Organic Fiber Woven Matrix
Safety Certification(s): DOT & SNELL
Arai Corsair X
- Fantastic spoiler design
- Great ventilation
- Made by hand in Japan
- Outstanding build quality & craftsmanship
- Incredibly stable at high speeds
- Looks more dated/less modern than other contemporary full-face helmets
- Emergency cheek pad pulls aren’t easily visible/noticeable
Best Sport Helmet: Worn by a slew of the world’s top riders, Arai’s helmets offer some of the best protection on the planet while also delivering outstanding comfort and absolutely stellar aerodynamics and stability. Case in point; the Arai Corsair X. The latest in a long line of performance-focused models from Arai, the Corsair X benefits from an extremely cutting-edge peripherally-belted structural net composite shell that uses Super Fiber and other special synthetic fibers — which were developed for use in F-1 helmets — treated in a specially-developed resin that creates stronger bonds between the fibers comprising the shell. Arai has also outfitted the helmet with its X Type 12 air diffusers, a wildly effective suite of intake and exhaust ports, VAS V MV shield, VAS shield and latch systems, a removable neck roll with integrated exhaust channels, and proprietary adjustable and antimicrobial liner.
Shell Material: Peripherally Belted Structural Net Composite
Safety Certification(s): DOT & SNELL
Veldt Mark 1 Fullface
- Modular lid w/ removable chin-bar, face shield, & partial & full-face visors
- Made on the Isle of Man
- Features titanium hardware
- Sold in huge variety of liveries, patterns, & colors
- Can be customized using online configurator
- Removable chin-bar lacks structural integrity/strength of normal full-face lids
- Expensive price
Best Retro-Inspired Helmet: Made on a small island in the Irish Sea that hosts one of the most legendary motorcycle races in history, the Veldt Mark 1 Fullface is a unique top-shelf take on a retro-inspired brain bucket that’s constructed around a modular 3/4-style lid that’s been fitted with a chin-bar and a visor. Extremely lightweight at only 2.62lbs, this helmet may sport a vintage appearance though it’s a thoroughly modern piece of protective gear, with a full carbon fiber shell, a Class 1 optic shield with a Pinlock insert, the option of a suede or leather interior, and all-titanium hardware throughout. Veldt’s Mark 1 Fullface also benefits from a level of fit and finish that would be almost impossible to achieve when producing helmets on a mass scale, with each and every unit undergoing a meticulous quality control and inspection process before leaving the boutique brand’s Isle of Man workshop.
Shell Material: Carbon Fiber
Safety Certification(s): DOT Or SNELL
Origin: Isle of Man
- Great helmet construction fitted w/ heaps of modern tech
- Has F1-inspired integrated peripheral LED display & built-in comm
- Equipped w/ chin-bar-embedded action cam w/ 0.25” Sony IMX sensor
- Ships w/ handlebar-mounted controller
- Offered w/ optional Master & Dynamic speaker upgrade
- Expensive price
- Required SD card not included
Best Smart Helmet: Just as much a cutting-edge piece of tech as it is a motorcycle helmet, the Forcite MK1S is a modern carbon-shelled smart helmet that features an advanced range of onboard devices. On top of a chin-bar-embedded action camera with a 0.25” Sony IMX sensor, a 158° field of vision, electronic vibration stabilization, and the ability to shoot in 1080p at 60FPS, this also includes an F1-inspired peripheral LED display, a battery that offers roughly 100 hours of use per charge, an included handlebar-mounted smart controller, a dual microphone array, and a set of premium 40mm Harman Kardon speakers that can be upgraded to optional Master & Dynamic speakers for an added charge. Despite being loaded with this impressive suite of tech and functionality, the MK1S still tips the scales at only 3.36lbs —a figure no doubt achieved through Forcite’s use of a T-400 carbon fiber shell construction. Forcite has also bestowed the MK1S with 3D-formed foam cheek pads and crown liner, a sweat-absorbent comfort liner with premium hex sports fabric and emergency pull tags, a UV400-rated drop-down sun visor, and an eight-port ventilation system.
Shell Material: T-400 Carbon Fiber
Safety Certification(s): DOT Or ECE
AGV Pista GP RR
- A genuine replica of the world-class race helmet worn by many MotoGP & WSBK riders
- Made by hand in Italy
- Viewport designed to accommodate racing tuck
- Comes fitted w/ integrated hydration system
- Not ideal for road use
- Very VERY expensive price
Best Track Helmet: If you watch any MotoGP race weekend, you’ll be sure to spot a slew of riders all wearing the same AGV helmet. And the company offers a literal carbon copy replica version of this ultra-cutting-edge race-specific lid to the general public with the AGV Pista GP RR — or “Pista GP Race Replica.” Sporting a super aerodynamic form with an integrated “Biplano” spoiler design and onboard hydration system, this helmet sports a shell with an all-carbon fiber construction that was engineered with a major focus on stability at high speeds. Rounding out this world-class race lid are a suite of all-alloy air vents, a titanium double-D ring retention system, and AGV’s 360° Adaptive Fit system that allows for complete customization of the helmet’s interior thanks to a bevy of included foam inserts. This helmet does admittedly come at a steep price, though it truly does offer the absolute pinnacle of protection.
Shell Material: Carbon Fiber
Safety Certification(s): DOT, ECE. & FIM
The Best Motorcycle Helmets For Every Type Of Rider
Still on the hunt for your next brain bucket? Then be sure to check out our guide to the best motorcycle helmets for every type of rider for a more robust and expansive look at the latest and greatest moto lids on the market, from adventure helmets to cafe lids to 3/4 items.