What are the Different Types of Motorcycle Helmets?

You rev up your engine. The sound vibrates through the air and off you ride down the open road. The breeze is blowing through your hair and bugs smash against your face. Just then, a car darts in front of you. You quickly realize you like your motorcycle, sometimes better than your spouse, but you love your life even more.

It’s time to get a motorcycle helmet!

There are a myriad of different types to choose from, to keep the noggin on your shoulders and not a splash stain on the pavement. With so many brands on the market, you can get the safety, style, and price range that you are looking for in a helmet.

Click to jump to a specific type of helmet in this post:

Considerations for Purchasing a Helmet

You wouldn’t go into a battle without protective gear; neither should you ride without the first line of defense against the hazards of motorcycling. Prices vary for helmets but this is not the time to be cheap. You want the highest quality materials and you want the best fit for your type of ride. Design, materials, and ventilation are also factors when looking for the helmet that best complements your rad bike. Safety, weight, visibility and aerodynamics should also be factored in when eying that perfect helmet.


The flames on that helmet are perfect or you spy a wraith-like skull infused into the shell of the helmet but safety is the priority. You only have one head. Look for the following stickers when shopping for a helmet: DOT and SNELL. A “DOT” meets the minimum levels of performance for helmets sold in the United States. To go a step higher, get a “SNELL approved” helmet instead. They are an independent organization that tests helmets with stricter standards.


When considering the best helmet, materials will play a major role. The outer shells should be a strong, lightweight material such as a combination of Kevlar and carbon fiber, or lightweight plastics with composite fiber. Inside, the helmet should have expanded layers of polystyrene or “EPS”. Layers of EPS will absorb and disperse high impact energy.


The weight of the helmet is vital; you want a tight fitting, snug helmet. It should not put more undo pressure on your head and neck. If worn for a long period of time, you should not have a headache or neck pain. Last, but not least, your helmet should fit you properly. If it is too tight, your head will scream in pain but too loose and you’ll have a major case of neck strain. A professional fitting will yield the best fit, for the shape of your head.


Obviously, visibility is the key to a fantastic ride. The open road has many obstacles; wayward cars, animals darting out in front of you, potholes, so you need to be able to see. Eye ports on your helmet are essential. The wider the eye port, the better the visibility; however, the trade off is reduced protection. You leave yourself open to flying debris and no protection in accidents. You can add different style visors to your helmet: flip-down, clip-on, or built in visors. Each will protect your eyes but, in an accident, it is better to have the overall coverage of a helmet.


A good helmet will have little wind resistance so, at the end of the day, you don’t feel like a wrestler has pummeled you into the ground. Also, nothing should protrude from the helmet, causing wind resistance. The more wind resistance, the faster you will become fatigued. If you want a comfortable, long ride on the highway, find the most aerodynamic helmet.

The Different Types of Motorcycle Helmets

Full Face

The safety conscious will prefer the most comprehensive helmet: the full face helmet. These types of helmets cover the head, face, and the jaw.

On the open road, the noise can be deafening but full face helmets give you a quieter ride. They are also well-sealed against the elements, so rain doesn’t pour in and ruin your slick hairstyle but they’re also ventilated for adequate airflow. These helmets come with a clear acrylic visor to protect your vision.

They offer little wind resistance so, by the end of the day, your neck and shoulders haven’t become solid rocks. Though designed to be lightweight, they are heavier than the other types of helmets.

Here are a few of our favorites:

ARAI Corsair V

DOT and SNELL approved. Considered the best helmets in the business but come with a higher price tag than most (range of $699 to $899). Customers love it because, at speeds of eighty mph, the helmet locked in place, with good visibility.

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DOT and SNELL approved. Their price range is from $280.00 to $360.00. Good ventilation, lightweight, and comfortable padding are some of the reasons you’ll love this helmet.

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Bell Vortex

DOT and SNELL approved. The price is about $180.00. 5 Star reviews for this helmet stated across a wide range of topics, including great product for the price, lightweight and vented.

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Open face helmets or three-quarter helmets cover the head but not the face. You’ll love the feeling of cool air on your face but three-quarter helmets do not have eye protection. You will definitely need to check your teeth for bugs and wear eye protection for flying debris and floating coffee cups.

Because of the large opening, visibility is better with three-quarter helmets. Also, communication will be easier.

Many three-quarter helmets come with a flip down shield but the helmet is not sealed against the elements so precipitation will seep through.

Here are a few of our favorites:


DOT approved, insanely popular, and one of the better priced helmets on the market. HJC delivers again with a helmet for any type of rider who doesn’t want to break the bank but still wants some solid quality and cool features.

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Shoei RJ Platinum

DOT approved and priced around the $250 mark. It stands out to us as a great fitting, high quality helmet (and you can never go wrong with Shoei).

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If you are looking for a hybrid of three-quarter helmets and full face helmets, then the modular helmet is just what you need. It is a two piece system that has the features of both types of helmets.

Modular helmets have a movable chin bar that, at the push of a button, slides up over the top of the helmet.

It is easier to put on; you don’t have to snug it on the like the full face helmet. Also, the face guard flips up for easier communication; however, because of the latches, modular helmets tend to weigh more than full face helmets. Because this type of helmets is not fully sealed, wind and rain might ruin your afternoon ride.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Shoei Neotec

DOT approved and priced anywhere from $584.00 to $600.00. This helmet has been a customer favorite for awhile now. It’s reputation is amazing because of its great fit, comfort, ventilation, and quality. You’ll get relatively low wind and noise trouble, too.

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Shark Evoline 3 Uni

DOT approved, this awesome helmet has plenty of features to satisfy your every mood and situation. This is the third iteration of this helmet, and they’ve just continued to up the bar, making it lighter and giving it better features, including visibility, sound reduction, and ease of use changing from the full face position to the open position.

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Half helmets or “skull caps” are more popular with cruisers and scooters. They are much lighter and more comfortable than the previously mentioned helmets and they have the most visibility.

Unfortunately, it offers the least amount of coverage, leaving the lower part of the of head and neck exposed to injury. With a greater wind resistance, fatigue will set in faster and only the top of the skull is covered, exposing ears to the elements.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Bell Rogue

DOT approved. Price is about $250.00. Probably the most badass helmet you can buy. We’re big fans of this unit, and so are the people who buy it. We’ve heard hugely positive feedback about this one, including its comfort, styling, and weight.

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VCAN Cruiser

DOT approved. Price ranges from $30.00 to $50.00. Most customers like the comfort they received for the price. “It does sit a little high on the head” and “is large for some”, but they loved the different graphics for the helmets like a butterfly, a patriotic eagle, or a dark angel.

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Off Road

Off road helmets are recognizable by their long sun-visor and elongated chin section, which protects from dirt and debris. They have no face shields, removing the potential to fog up. Instead, motocross riders like separate goggles for eye protection.

Off road helmets also have vents in them to let heat, from an overworked skull, escape. These helmets are good for short term races and for motocross riders because of the venting systems in place.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Scorpion VX-34

DOT approved. Price range for this Scorpion is between $106.00 to $170.00. These helmets have a polycarbonate shell and aero tuned ventilation to keep riders cooler during races.

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Price ranges from $61.00 to $86.00. These helmets have large eye ports for greater visibility and the latest polycarbonate technology. They are lightweight and have a comfortable fit.

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Vega Viper

DOT approved. Price Ranges from $63.00 to $90.00. Customers have said they, “really like this helmet” and would recommend this 5 star rated helmet.

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The engine rumbles, the race begins, and you’re free. The open road offers, “escape from the everyday”, but you need to protect yourself. Your helmet is the first line of defense from having your brain become one with the pavement. Investing in a well-fitting helmet means plenty of open-road in your future.