The Best Motorcycle Helmets for Beginners Under $500 [2023 Edition]

Beginner riders don’t want to spend too much money on gear, and hey, I get it. When I first started riding I spent all the money I had on a crappy motorcycle and I lacked extra dough for good gear. I wore an older open-face helmet that I bought to ride go-karts years before and some sunglasses for the first year of riding. 

After that, I upgraded. I would not recommend this path to new riders. You need good protection right away when you’re most likely to make big mistakes. I’d suggest starting with a good helmet. You can spend a couple of hundred dollars for a good helmet or up to or over $1,000, but generally, I tell new riders not to buy anything over $500.

See also: the best full-face helmets under $500 and the best modular helmets under $500.

For $500 or less you can get one hell of a helmet that will provide you with excellent protection, good features, style, and high levels of comfort. Also, as a new rider, I hesitate to say you need to buy the latest and greatest helmet out there that was designed for the best MotoGP riders. If you want to, go for it, but there are so many great helmets available for only a few hundred bucks. Here are my top picks. 

Scorpion EXO-HX1

Scorpion EXO-HX1

The new Scorpion EXO-HX1 is a superb helmet for the beginner, for three main reasons.

Firstly, it is a combination of two helmets into one. You have a standard full-face helmet, and a supermoto helmet when you replace the visor with a peak shade and goggles. Secondly, it is made of very durable, impact-absorbing LG polycarbonate for its shell, with advanced multi-layer, dual-density EPS foam backing it up throughout. Third, as it is designed to be able to handle goggles of multiple sizes in the supermoto setup, the visor is extremely large and allows for a great field of view.

It also comes with the latest KwikWick III lining, which is fully removable and machine washable, and has excellent ventilation via a large mouth vent, which also directs air around the cheeks, and ram air upper intake, which covers the ventilation around the top and sides of the head. All is exhausted through the subtle venturi exhaust at the back of the head.

Putting all of it together, you have a helmet that really should be nearer to $300, yet is selling for around $200.

Bell Custom 500 Helmet

Bell Custom 500 Helmet

A lot of people chastise open-face helmets, but I like them. Sure they don’t offer quite as good of features and protection, but they still provide a good amount of protection and they do so while letting you get the wind on your face. And, the Bell Custom 500 Helmet is the way to go in my opinion. 

Bell has essentially remade its helmet of old with modern materials and technology. This allows the Custom 500 to sit low on the head and look good while you wear it. The helmet features five shell sizes and five EPS sizes to keep the profile as small as possible. There’s also an integrated five-snap pattern that will allow you to add aftermarket shields and visors. 

Bell’s Custom 500 Helmet also gets a padded chin strap with a double D-ring closure system, multi-density EPS, and a five-year warranty—see Scorpion isn’t the only one. 

AGV K1 Helmet

AGV K-1 helmet

  • Price: $209.95
  • Head Shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Weight: 3.64 pounds
  • Buy: Revzilla, Amazon

The AGV K1 Helmet is an aggressive, sharp-looking full-face motorcycle helmet that will pair nicely with a quick and sporty sportbike or naked street bike. 

The helmet features AGV’s high resistance thermoplastic resin shell construction and the shell is offered in two different shell sizes. There are also four EPS sizes across the sizing range. The helmet comes with an integrated ventilation system, a quick-release visor system, scratch-resistant anti-fogging face shield, micro-opening visor, fully removable and washable 3D liner, and a double D-ring chin strap. 

This helmet is a fantastic option for sportbike riders who want good protection and style but don’t want to break the bank. 

Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS Helmet

Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS Helmet

  • Price: $229.95
  • Head Shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Weight: 3.74 pounds
  • Buy: Revzilla, Amazon

Bell’s helmet building experience has allowed them to figure out how to build one of the best adventure motorcycle helmets for the money. The MX-9 Adventure MIPS Helmet is that lid. 

The helmet features Bell’s multi-directional impact protection system for rotational impact protection. The helmet has a polycarbonate shell that comes in three sizes, an integrated face shield, a top-quality ventilation system, moisture-wicking removable comfort liner, and speaker pockets. 

There’s also EPS in the chin bar, a padded chin strap, and the helmet comes both DOT and ECE approved. This lid also comes with a five-year warranty as all Bell helmets do. 

Scorpion EXO-AT950 Helmet

Scorpion EXO-AT950 Helmet

The Scorpion EXO-AT950 Helmet is one of those that makes you wonder. It’s super good, and Scorpion is still able to sell it at a really good price. How? Don’t ask, just accept it. 

The helmet features a polycarbonate shell, dual-density EPS that’s multi-layered, intake and exhaust vents to keep you cool, and the Ellip-Tec ratchet system for the no-fog face shield. The helmet also comes with a drop-down sun visor, KwikWick II anti-microbial helmet liner, a flip-up chin bar, and speaker pockets. 

This is the ultimate do-anything, go-anywhere helmet. It comes with DOT approval and a five-year warranty. 

BiltWell Gringo S ECE Helmet

The Biltwell Gringo S is now better than ever before. It offers classic full-face styling, a ton of super cool colors, and now ECE approval as well as DOT approval. 

The helmet offers an injection-molded ABS outer shell with a hand-painted finish, EPS inner liner, hand-sewn Lycra liner with diamond stitching, internal BioFoam chin pad, double D-ring chin strap, CNC-cut eye-port, rubber or chrome around the eye-port, and speaker pockets. 

This helmet is a great option if you want full-face protection and classic helmet styling. Biltwell makes quality lids, and this one is no exception. 

Bell Bullitt Helmet

bell bullitt Helmet

Bell’s version of the classic full-face motorcycle helmet is the Bullitt. This helmet takes a lot of Bell’s heritage and rolls it into a modern lid that looks old school. 

The helmet features a low-profile fiber composite shell with three shell sizes across the sizing range. The helmet also has a multi-density EPS liner, a premium comfort liner that’s removable and washable with micro-suede and a mix of fabric and leather. There’s a padded chin strap, five metal mesh intake vents, and an exhaust vent. 

This helmet comes with a—you guessed it—five-year warranty. It also ships with a flat face shield, but you can buy a bubble shield if you prefer. 

EVS T5 Helmet

EVS T5 Helmet

  • Price: $119.99
  • Head Shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Weight: 3.61 pounds
  • Buy: Revzilla, Amazon

Bonus bang for buck helmet for our dirt and dual sport riders. The EVS T5 Helmet features a lightweight, yet durable specifically engineered thermoplastic shell. The RAM Air Cooling System provides increased airflow and cooling with internal EPS ventilation channels that do a great job at keeping the ol’ noggin cool and dry. The removable/washable moisture-wicking/anti-microbial comfort liner is quick and easy to remove, keeping the EVS T5 Helmet clean and ready for your next ride.

The EVS T5’s EPS liner is also Eject compatible and is designed to be fully compatible with all race collars on the market. It also features a dual-density EPS impact liner and compression Halo impact protection for superior energy management. This is a fantastic option for dirt or dual sport riders looking for a DOT & ECE certified helmet without burning a hole in their pocket.


HJC C91 helmet

  • Price: $169.99-$184.99
  • Head Shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Weight: 3.73 lbs
  • Buy: RevZilla | Amazon

If you want a workhorse of a modular helmet that won’t break the bank, the HJC C91 should be on your list. A no-nonsense, do-the-important-things-right helmet, with a shell made of advanced polycarbonate composites, lined with multi-layer, multi-density EPS foam. The simple but effective ventilation, dubbed “SuperCool” by HJC, is surprisingly effective.

The “bang for your buck” value starts to show with a solid, positive chinbar locking system, and the release latch feels as solid as one on a helmet three times the price. As well, a drop down sun visor is included, and the main visor is PinLock ready, for either version I or version II of the anti-fog system, something that is more common on $200+ helmets. Finally, the helmet comes ready to use either HJC’s own Smart Bluetooth comms system, or any really any system such as Cardo’s PackTalk. The lining is fully removable for both washing and cleaning, as well as making installation of a comms system easy.

The HJC C91 carries DOT certification.

Shoei RF-SR

Shoei RF-SR helmet

  • Price: $479.99
  • Head Shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Weight: 3.66 lbs
  • Buy: RevZilla | Amazon

Last year, we recommended the excellent Shoei RF-1400 as it was just one cent below $500. Now that it is beyond that breakpoint, its little brother, the Shoei RF-SR, has landed precisely where it needed to to take over as the “near $500 but so worth it” helmet.

As part of Shoei’s RF flagship lineup, the RF-SR’s shell is made of the same AIM+ (Advanced Integrated Matrix Plus) material that all RF’s share, namely interwoven fiberglass, aramid, and organic fibers to form a lightweight yet resilient and elastic helmet. This is backed with multi-layer, multi-density EPS foam, then lined with hypoallergenic fabric with robust padding. The RF-SR features an emergency quick release system for the cheek pads, as well as those same cheek pads being customizable for the perfect fit.

What makes the RF-SR a superb beginner’s helmet, however, is threefold. Firstly, it is one of the quietest helmets on the market, as it shares the aerodynamic developments used for the ultra silent RF-1400. Secondly, it is designed to be worn in all riding positions, namely sport, standard, and reclined, and be just as effective in all three. Lastly, it comes with a Pinlock ready visor and the Pinlock insert, while the visor is also treated with Shoei’s EVO fog resistant coating.

Ventilation is provided by two crown-mounted intakes leading to two exhausts as the top-rear of the helmet, while the chinbar air intake serves both to keep the visor clear, but also uses some neat air routing to capture your exhaled breath and push it away from the visor area, to prevent fog build up.

The Shoei RF-SR carries multiple certifications, including SNELL M2015 and M2020, ECE 22.05, and DOT. It is also rated by the UK’s SHARP labs as a full five star (maximum rating) helmet with superb protection.