Five Great Helmets Under $300 for New Motorcycle Riders
In the United States you’ll find that 19 of 52 states have implemented a universal helmet law. Regardless of the law in the area you reside, one thing that motorcyclists can unanimously agree on is the importance of protecting your skull.
Not only will a helmet reduce the impact forces transmitted to your brain, they also provide an effective barrier from elements and objects you’ll encounter while riding. Most riders will look for a helmet that supplements cranial protection with some form of face shield. This will guard from insects and foreign objects, both of which become exponentially more dangerous at higher rates of speed.
This article will help you identify the best helmet for your riding style and further your product knowledge about motorcycle helmets.
There Are 6 Distinct Categories of Helmets
You’ll find that each category of helmet suits a certain style of bike and rider. The half-helmet is popular amongst the hog and cruiser motorcycle scene, whereas an off-road helmet will feel at home on a dirt-bike, super motard, or some styles of adventure bike.
If you’re riding on the street, be sure to verify the helmet is DOT approved. Many States require an approval sticker to be visible on the outside of the helmet.
For higher quality and safety, look for SNELL M2010 or M2015 certification. SNELL is a voluntary testing process run by a non-profit group which sets higher standards for manufacturers. Helmets meeting both these standards are of the highest safety and quality.
Most commonly associated with hogs and cruisers, the half helmet offers a specific aesthetic at the expense of coverage and protection.
Many different configurations exist, with options such as integrated earpiece communications from Harley Davidson and muzzle-style protection available on the Bell Rogue.
Riders who choose this style of helmet typically choose it with regards to form over function, so beware that significantly better protection exists in other helmet designs.
The open face helmet is a classic design that has remained a staple of motorcycle culture for decades. Providing the rider with complete cranial protection, the biggest difference between this and a Full Face helmet is the lack of frontal face protection. Open Face users typically prefer the classic styling and improved airflow over other helmet styles, yet still benefit from more protection than a half bucket.
A major disadvantage to Open face helmets comes in the form of running an intercom system.
Without the structural accommodation to mount and conceal a microphone, the logistics of integrating all the features of a Sena, U-Clear or equivalent hardware become difficult. This is one of the shortcomings which is overcome by the design of a Modular helmet.
Like the name suggests, a modular system affords the user the ability to lift and retract the entire frontal section of the helmet. This style of helmet integrates the benefits of an Open Faced helmet and the safety features of a Full Face helmet.
Common among dual sport and sport touring riders, they are offered by almost every major helmet brand and proponents tout their versatility and convenience as significant advantages to their design.
Bluetooth intercom systems are effective when integrated properly into a modular helmet.
Full Face Helmet
Full face helmets are the standard for user protection and most common style of motorcycle helmet. They are aerodynamic and as a result minimize wind-noise.
Aesthetically, full face helmets are associated with super sport riders, but are commonly seen in all disciplines of road riding.
Full face helmets facilitate the integration of an intercom unit with maximum ease over any other style of helmet, and many brands offer their own helmets with bluetooth capability.
Dual Sport Helmet
The biggest difference between a dual sport and a full face is the addition of a visor peak, while a fixed face shield relieves users from relying on goggles used with off-road helmets.
Aesthetically, this type of helmet will navigate the lines between full face and off-road designs.
Typically heavier than a full face but offering more street protection than an off-road helmet, this style is frequently associated with the adventure bike community.
Installing a communications platform is will be no more difficult than a full face helmet.
Off-Road helmets are designed to maximize airflow and heat dissipation in an off-highway scenario. This style of helmet is designed to be worn in conjunction with goggles. An adjustable visor provides protection from roost and the sun.
These helmets are typically associated with motocross and off-highway vehicles, although some users will operate them on the street.
Be sure to verify your off-road helmet is DOT and SNELL rated before using it on-highway.
Top 5 Helmets Under $300
HJC SY-Max III Modular Helmet
We like the wide visibility and integrated tinted visor offered by the SY-Max III, and it’s also one of the most affordable modulars for sale.
The SY-Max III has been improved over previous versions to reduce wind-noise, simplify intercom installation, and provide more ventilation.
High product quality complemented by a strong fit and finish make this helmet a great choice.
Icon designed the Variant from the ground-up instead of repurposing a pre-existing helmet in their catalog.
The Variant is known for wide viewing angles and being unusually aerodynamic despite having a large visor peak. This was achieved through extensive wind testing to optimize airflow through the visor peak cross-sections.
Icon offers several accessories to make the Variant a year round affair, including a breath box to prevent fogging in cold weather and several different faceshields to suit your riding style.
Shoei has been manufacturing motorcycle helmets since 1958. In this industry, they are synonymous with quality and innovation. The RF-1200 is Shoei’s best selling helmet, and was developed from the ground up to accommodate SNELL standards.
They key to the Shoei RF-1200 is that it does everything well. However, it is important to point out where Shoei has focused. Safety is one. The helmet comes with the DOT and Snell certifications which is what helmets are primarily about. Big deal.
In addition, the other area the company has focused on when making the Shoei RF-1200, these are; the shell structure, the aerodynamics, and the EPS liner. The company has taken care of both technical and cosmetic aspects of the helmet because Shoei wanted to manufacture a helmet that stands out in all the parameters. Read our in-depth review here.