Open face helmets have become quite common and popular in the moped and scooter communities. They are seen more as a “light duty” helmet, and can sometimes even be seen as a bit of fashion with some of the shell colors available. As well, there are those that see open face helmets as part of the rebellious side of motorcycles, the “old-style” of British cafe racing, and even early powersport competitions.
While an open face helmet, by default of the terminology, does not have superior facial protection, it is still a helmet and helmets are still the absolutely most essential piece of gear that you need to have (you can even find open face helmets that are Snell certified). That is why it is the only piece of gear that is also legally required to ride.
As such, we’ve researched high and low, long and short, underground and in the sky, to find the absolute best open face helmets you can wear as a beginner, or even experienced rider, in 2021.
The Bell Broozer is a very interesting helmet. While the image we have presented above may look like a full-face helmet, the entire chin bar area is fully detachable, allowing it to become an open face helmet. When the chin bar is removed, it still has excellent cheek and jawline protection in the form of the chin bar guards extending forwards to cover a fairly large portion of your face.
The shell of the Broozer is made of polycarbonate outer with an abs inner. This combination gives excellent impact resistance. Underneath, dual-density, multi-layer EPS foam is grooved for excellent ventilation as well as impact shock dissipation. The visor is a drop-down type, allowing riding goggles to be worn with it up, or to use the actual visor itself. Included in the box are both a smoked dark visor, and a clear visor.
Ventilation is through two crest mounted intakes, which channel the cooling air directly down to the crest of the head and then out via two rear exhausts. The lining is fully removable and machine washable. And, most importantly, the Broozer is DOT certified in both full face and open face setups. For the price, this is one excellent option.
When Shoei makes a helmet, they do not mess around. The J-O (they are quite insistent that is pronounced as two separate letters, not “Joe”) has all the technology, advanced manufacturing, and materials that you would expect from their top of the line helmets, in a comfortable and, for Shoei, affordable open face helmet.
The shell is made of Shoei’s fiberglass and carbon-glass composite weave, which is formed under high pressure to ensure the best strength and lightness. This is backed with multi-density, multi-layer foam, and padded with a partially removable liner. The entire edge of the helmet is lined with nubuck leather for that extra bit of retro flair.
A three-position sun visor (despite it being a clear visor) is mounted to the crown, and has fully up, partially down, and fully down positions. It is a good thing that the helmet has cutouts for the arms of sunglasses, as the visor is permanently mounted into the shell for extra stability. It is fully DOT certified, however, and for a fiberglass and carbon-glass shell Shoei, extremely affordable.
While there are other helmets on this list that fit into the “retro cafe” look, none do it as well as the Bitwell Bonanza. Therein also lies the one weakness that this helmet suffers from, that being that it has a pulled back cheek area, not covering as much of the jaw as other helmets on this list do.
However, that is not to say that the Bonanza is a bad helmet. Made from mixed polycarbonate and ABS, the shell is tough but elastic enough to absorb a good portion of an impact, with the EPS layered under it absorbing even more. The liner is stitched in a classic diamond pattern and is fully removable for machine washing.
The helmet does not come with a visor, although a retro “bubble shield” visor is designed to snap onto the three anchor points on the crown. It will also accept most standard face shields that also use triple anchors. Lastly, and by default, it will accept sunglasses with a stealth cut in the padding to allow for eyewear arms, and of course, the retro classic riding goggles.
The Bitwell Bonanza may be low priced, but it doesn’t give up any of it for protection, as it carries DOT certification.
You cannot, literally cannot talk about the origin of motorcycle helmets without referring to the eponymous Bell 500, one of the most revered helmets of all time. The original 500 was the origin, the granddaddy, the source, the first, and the Custom 500 continues the look and feel of the original, but with modern safety in mind.
This modern version of the classic has a lightweight polycarbonate shell, backed by multi-density EPS foam. The liner and padding are non-removable but are affixed in place securely so that the helmet can fit tight to the head, offering the most protection.
No visor or bill-peak is included with the helmet, although through an extensive amount of snap-on accessories, you can transform the Custom 500 into anything you like, from an adventure helmet all the way through to a retro-cafe racer helmet. Using a 5 point snap mounting system, you can even affix a light chin guard across the face if wanted or needed.
The Bell Custom 500 carries full DOT certification.
Perhaps the most unique of our recommendations, the Shark Street Drak is an open face helmet with a difference. Unlike the Bell Broozer recommended at the start, the Street Drak does not have a proper chin bar option. Instead, it features a faceguard that mounts to the unique part of this helmet: the built-in goggles.
The helmet shell is made of injected thermoplastic resin and is backed by multi-layer, dual-density EPS. Unlike a lot of open face helmets, there is a ventilation system with a two-position crest mounted intake and a small exhaust gap around the back of the neck at the base of the helmet. The liner is made of natural fibers and is partially removable for cleaning.
The built-in goggles can be removed if absolutely necessary, but are a structural part of the face protection system, as the face guard cannot be used without them. They are made of anti-fog and anti-scratch materials and will fit over most pairs of eyeglasses if needed.
The Scorpion EXO-CT220 is an extremely versatile helmet. Designed to bridge the gap between a true open face helmet and a full face or modular full-face helmet, it can be set up in literally any fashion you want. The standard fitment is the one pictured above, with a drop-down half sun visor with a sun peak over top. You can also remove the peak if you need to. You can remove the half visor and put on a full face visor (included). You can remove the half visor and use just the sun peak. It’s really up to you!
The shell is made of advanced polycarbonate, with multi-density EPS foam backing it. This EPS foam is grooved so that the ventilation system can quickly and efficiently cool your head, with two intakes and two exhausts in-line that will scoop away heat.
Scorpion’s own KwikWick II liner is fully removable for leaning, and also features Scorpion’s KwikFit adjustable cheek pads. Those cheek pads also feature emergency removal release pulls, that will allow an attending EMS or paramedic to remove your helmet safely in the event of a crash.
Another feature that is small, but intelligently thought out, is that on the cheek areas of the shell have a small raised lip that the full face visor fits down into. This is designed so that if you go over the handlebars or end up face planting during a crash, the visor will push into these lips and lock hard into place, deflecting a lot of the energy of impact throughout the shell of the helmet, which is what the shell is designed to do in the first place.
The EXO-CT220 is fully DOT certified
Price: $149.99 to $159.99
Head Shape: Round Oval
Weight: 3.37 lbs
The HJC i30 is a helmet of multiple configurations, not unlike the Scorpion above. While not as complex, it still has a removal full face visor with drop-down internal sun visor, and is meant to be used primarily as an urban open face helmet.
The shell is made of polycarbonate, backed by EPS foam. The helmet is shaped so that the front intakes for the ventilation system are high and in the airflow, as many scooters these days and some mopeds have included windscreens that push cooling air away from standard intakes. This ventilation system works with a new version of HJC’s MultiCool liner, which is antimicrobial and removable for cleaning.
The full-face visor is also designed, with feedback from HJC’s more sportbike and race-oriented helmets, to be quick-release, allowing it to be swung up, removed without tools, and stuffed under the seat or into a backpack in a matter of seconds.
As an urban open face helmet, it is quite obvious that HJC meant this specific helmet to meet the growing demand for a high quality, affordable, and effective helmet for scooter riding with the newest wave of maxi-scooters emerging from many manufacturers.