Choosing a helmet is a personal journey in itself. There’s head shape, size, and multiple features to consider that ultimately depend on your riding style and your budget. The good news is, you don’t have to compromise on looks thanks to the never-ending cycle of new graphics, styles and models constantly being produced each season. Even better, you don’t have to break the bank to find a fantastic lid that offers superb protection.
Think a perfect fit isn’t a big deal for safety? Think again. Check out the results of this survey for a quick rundown on the importance of sizing. Finding a perfect fit can be a challenge. Knowing your head shape is half the battle, and can even save you some cash.
Armed with your head shape and budget, you can find a litany of pretty cool helmets out there. I say cool because I’m referencing these slick helmets that feature awesome graphics packages. All priced under $500, you’ll find a mix of full-face, open face, half, and modular helmets in this list.
Choosing to wear a helmet is a no-brainer. The list below makes finding a new, cool helmet just as easy.
Who doesn’t want to look like Maverick from Top Gun? The LS2 Spitfire Helmet comes in several retro-inspired graphic styles if half-naked women on WWII missiles aren’t your thing. Regardless, the graphics on the Spitfire are always top-notch art. Make sure to check out the other styles; we really like this one as a V-twin alternative.
The LS2 Spitfire’s safety foundation is a lightweight composite shell, while the interior features laser cut EPS. The plush lining is hypoallergenic and breathable, and works with an internal ventilation system to keep you cool. There’s also a dark smoke drop down inner sun shield included, so your eye protection is covered.
The LS2 Spitfire is DOT approved, and features a DOT-approved quick release chin strap as well. As always, your chin is exposed on a 3/4 helmet so keep that in mind. Easy on the wallet, cool retro styling, and some modern tech put the Spitfire on a level above other open-face helmets.
The newly revamped Bell Custom 500 helmet is extremely impressive. It comes in 5 different shell sizes to ensure a non-bobblehead effect even if you wear an XS. The low-profile shell also ensures that the helmet sits lower on the forehead, providing even more protection.
The Vertigo is both ECE certified and DOT approved, with a multi-density EPS liner for superior energy dispersion in case of a crash. Visors, which snap on in 5 points, are available as a separate purchase – so eye protection will be needed if you choose to forego the visor. As always, your chin is always exposed on a 3/4 helmet so keep that in mind.
As far as looks, the Bell Custom 500 Vertigo takes “flashy” to another level. Covered in a spiral of retro lightning bolts, this one is sure to turn heads. The matte black version brings it up another notch with silver metallic bolt graphics. That’s a big bang for not a lot of buck. And as easy as it is on the wallet, it even comes with a 5 year warranty against manufacturer defects. This one’s a winner if you’re looking for a minimalized helmet with maximum styling.
Versatility is all the rage, and the HJC i30’s got urban versatility covered. The included clear face shield is designed to be ridden 3 ways: down, up, or completely removed with no tools. But wait, there’s more! A drop-down sun visor is also included. Removing the face shield gives you loads of air directly to the face, so ventilation is not a worry. The comfort liner is designed to accept eyewear, and also features integrated speaker cutouts for an optional communication system.
The HJC i30’s foundation is a lightweight polycarbonate shell. Over that shell is a simple but bold graphic that feels a little spacey and kinda like a motherboard (we think… maybe). There are several other colors to choose from, and are worth a gander before making a decision if the HJC i30 features sound like your jam.
Oh yes, they did. ICON is notorious for out-of-the-box styling and the Airform Grillz is no exception. This helmet is adorned at every inch in metallic gold teeth, 3D textured jewels, machine-gun-induced sensitive gums, and a Louis Vuitton-inspired print. If bling bling ain’t your thing, there are plenty of other outrageous graphics to choose from. The Hello Sunshine is a fantastic option if you want lots of compliments (just ask this chick).
The Airform is an everyday rider helmet designed by combining features from the super-versatile Airflite and the race-ready Airframe Pro. As all these names suggest, airflow is a top priority, with air channels molded directly into the dual-density EPS foam. The sculpted neck roll allows for extra bulk like a backpack and hooded jacket, or even a full-tuck or two while on your way to the coffee shop.
Eye protection is double covered by both a dark smoke face shield (clear is also included with the purchase) and a dark smoke drop-down internal sun visor. Speaker cutouts also come standard in the removable 3-piece moisture-wicking liner. Like all ICON helmets, the Airform meets or exceeds the following safety standards: DOT (USA), ECE (Europe) & PSC (Japan).
No one does epic graphics like ICON Motosports. It’s no secret that every helmet produced is done by true artists with impeccable attention to detail. There are multiple designs and add-on accessories that will blow your mind and sometimes even scare soccer moms. But don’t let the pretty package fool you into thinking that protection has been compromised. No way, no how. In fact, the Airflite made the staff pick list at Revzilla, where they don’t mess around.
The Airflite’s foundation is a strong and lightweight injection molded polycarbonate shell. It is ECE (Europe), SG (Japan) and SAI (Australia) certified as well as DOT (USA) approved. Dual-density EPS foam helps disburse more energy where it counts, and a soft touch removable liner adds to comfort. The Airflite Synthwave comes standard with an extremely unique full-face RST gold shield, a clear version of the face shield, and a dark smoke internal sun visor, so your eye protection is double covered.
Our most favorite feature is the massive amount of airflow this helmet offers. The Airflite features tons of venting to all the right places, which keeps things breezy even in the hottest weather (how do we know? We tested it at Death Valley in June!). It even has the ability to convert to a dual-sport helmet with the purchase of an additional kit that includes an off-road style sun peak so you can rock goggles if it suits your fancy.
The Scorpion EXO AT950 boasts the versatility and rider-favorite features of both a touring and an off-road helmet. What more could you ask for as an ADV rider? More color? Make sure to check out the other flashy color variations available. We especially like how the graphics are styled specifically to camouflage small nicks and scrapes from the inevitable beating of repeated adventure rides.
A strong and lightweight polycarbonate shell serves as the foundation for protection on the Scorpion-AT950. A dual density EPS foam liner offers superior energy dispersion where it counts. The helmet is DOT approved and comes with a 5 year manufacturer warranty against defects. It also features a modular chin bar which allows you to rehydrate, slam a snickers, or just smile at all the onlookers while you refuel.
The Outrigger’s eye-port is extra large for a set of off-road goggles, and there’s also an MX style sun peak that promises to block the sun but is also easily removable so as not to become a sail on the highway. If googles aren’t your thing, the AT950 comes with a clear anti-fog face shield and a dark smoke drop-down internal sun visor.
A wicking liner and forced-air venting keeps you as dry as the desert you dare to explore. Bluetooth speaker pockets are also included, and for us visually impaired riders, the cheek pads are even eyeglass compatible – it seems as though Scorpion has thought of everything. There’s no question why this helmet is a staff pick at Revzilla.
Embrace your inner racer (or face fan) with the AGV K3 SV. The aggressive shape isn’t just for looks, it is extremely aerodynamic and even the sport spoiler on the back has a purpose: stability and turbulence reduction. The K3 SV is also rather lightweight thanks to the thermoplastic shell. 2 shells sizes and 4 EPS sizes help to create a better fit.
It is one of the only full-face round oval helmets with graphics under $500. There are so many wild and crazy graphic variations available for the AGV K3 SV that we had a hard time choosing just one. Make sure to check out some of the other styles before you snag it.
As for protection, the AGV K3 SV helmet is both ECE certified and DOT approved. The helmet comes standard with a removable comfort liner, clear visor, dark smoke drop-down internal sun visor, and pre-cut speaker pockets. Versatile enough for everyday riding, while screaming with race-inspired style.
Never before has one helmet played so many parts. We love the Scorpion EXO Covert X helmet because it transforms from a full face, to a 3/4, and even a half-shell helmet depending on your needs. The “Kalavera” features skulls adorned in the traditional Dia de Muertos style. The whole look of the helmet makes you feel ready for battle.
The helmet comes with a clear visor for night riding, and a dark soke internal sun visor for daytime. Even the replaceable face masks – they use strong magnets to hold in place – come with your choice of graphics. We particularly like this skull design from the Scorpion EXO store on Amazon.
The Covert X is DOT approved, has a fiberglass-aramid-resin composite shell, and even features a dual density EPS foam liner, which adds to the protection factor compared to other half-shell helmets.
In warm weather, internal venting helps keep you cool, while the antimicrobial wicking liner keeps you dry. For cold weather, a set of insulated ear covers with bluetooth speaker pockets are also included. Last but not least, the Covert X features a traditional double D-ring retention system.
The LS2 Valiant II is a revamp of the wildly successful and unique Valiant modular helmet. This puppy’s chin bar flips a full 180 degrees, which allows for the rider to switch from a full face to a 3/4 helmet on a whim.
Other modular helmets just don’t do that, and aren’t safe or designed to ride in with the chin bar open. Advantage Valiant. Let us also mention the Valiant II’s Revo and Orbit graphics also make it much cooler looking (we think it looks a bit like a Transformer… the good kind) than most plain-Jane modular helmets. Game point – Match!
The Valiant II’s foundation is a Kinetic Polymer Alloy (KPA) shell, which is a lightweight but strong composite material. The helmet features two shell sizes, and non-removable moisture-wicking comfort padding.
As for breathability, Valiant II features multiple intake and exhaust channels cut directly through the EPS liner, forcing flow-through ventilation. A full metal latch assures the chin bar will stay locked when closed even at higher speeds.
Once again, the graphics masters reign supreme over the land with the Airframe Pro Lucky Lid 3. This helmet is jam-packed full of vegas-inspired imagery on top of a race-ready hand-laid fiberglass composite shell. Of course, there are other designs to choose from if you’re not a gambler. Flashy as always, the Airframe Pro Lucky Lid 3 comes standard with an RST gold face shield as well as a clear shield, so your eye protection is covered (and looks cool without an extra purchase).
The Airframe Pro is proof that you don’t need to break the bank to get a top-shelf lid. It is ECE (Europe), SG (Japan) and SAI (Australia) certified as well as DOT (USA) approved. Four shell sizes help to reduce bulk and weight as well as keep a low profile even if you wear an XS.
Dual-density EPS foam helps disburse more energy where it counts, and a 5-piece liner with 3 thicknesses available in each size (thicker and thinner liners are sold separately as kits) helps you create a truly custom fit while still staying under $500, even with the extra liner kit purchase.
The sculpted neck roll allows for both unimpeded full-tuck mode on the track as well as wearing a hooded jacket and a backpack comfortably while commuting. And like the name suggests, airflow is top priority for riding in even the hottest of circumstances (what could be hotter than a night in Vegas?).
Channels to direct the air are molded directly into the EPS foam. You won’t find another helmet with these features at this price unless you get extremely lucky during a closeout clearance. Don’t take that bet, just buy the ICON.