Written By
Published Mar. 24, 2020

The days of being too cool to wear a helmet are over. Many states now require it, and there’s an overwhelming amount of data proving that wearing one can save your life. You have a ton of options when it comes to choosing your ideal helmet. One of those options is a racing helmet.

These are full-face helmets that are meant for speed on the track and the street. While you can wear them on a touring bike or cruiser, their true design is for wearing on a sportbike. Check out these race helmets and find the perfect one for you.

The Best Motorcycle Racing Helmet

This sleek black Shoei helmet features bright red geometric linework. It comes in four shell sizes, which means you’re going to find a more customized fit while also cutting down on unnecessary bulk. Inside the shell is a dual-density EPS liner to cushion your skull.

This helmet has a lot of ventilation, which is great for riding in warmer weather. The subtle design adds interest and style without being over the top. In the event there is an emergency, a quick-release system allows for speedy removal of the helmet.

Key Features
  • Four shell sizes
  • Dual density EPS liner
  • One shield system
  • 3D max-dry system II liner
Specification
  • Brand Shoei
  • Model Pendulum Gt-air Helmet
  • Weight 5 pounds
PROS

Lots of ventilation

Emergency quick-release system

Subtle design

CONS

Can feel heavy on your head

No built-in sun visor, alternate visors sold separately

Alternative pad thicknesses sold separately

This all-black helmet from Bell has a tough look to it, especially when you replace the clear shield with the dark smoked one. Both shields are included in the box. Bell uses three shell sizes for the six helmet sizes that this version comes in.

Inside, you’ll find a microfleece liner that’s moisture-wicking and antimicrobial. The helmet is also communication ready, so that it can easily accommodate a Bluetooth system.

Key Features
  • Polycarbonate composite shell
  • Three shell sizes
  • Three EPS construction
  • Venting throughout
Specification
  • Brand Bell
  • Model Qualifier Dlx Blackout
  • Weight 4.85 pounds
PROS

Comes with two shields

Microfleece liner

Communication ready

CONS

Bulky feeling

Lots of road noise

Runs small

Arai is one of the most well-respected helmet brands in the industry, and this is their flagship model. The Corsair offers a ton of ventilation, is lightweight, and provides a broad field of vision. Inside is an Eco-pure liner that’s antimicrobial. The most loved feature is the VAS shield system.

Everything on this helmet is easy to adjust and use. From the visor to the cheek pads, this helmet is the easiest helmet to work on. Once you get it adjusted and start riding, you’ll find that it has great ventilation. Another design feature is it’s more rounded design. This allows it to deflect impacts better.

Key Features
  • Super fiber shell construction
  • Antimicrobial Eco-Pure line
  • Variable Axis System
  • Ventilation system
Specification
  • Brand Arai
  • Model Corsair X Helmet – Scope
  • Weight 3.55 pounds
PROS

Great ventilation

Emergency release tabs for cheek pads

Enhanced energy and impact dispersion

CONS

Snug fit in the face

Could look cooler

Expensive

This helmet makes a statement with its bold design and all-over print. It comes with a smoked visor to complete the tough look of this helmet. The shell is an LG polycarbonate to make it super lightweight. Inside is Scorpion’s KwikWick II liner.

This helmet is really unique and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone with something similar. Take a look at its shape and you’ll notice how aerodynamic it is. This makes it great at easing pressure on your neck as you travel at high speeds. You’ll also appreciate how lightweight this helmet is.

Key Features
  • LG polycarbonate shell
  • Aero-tuned ventilation system
  • Elliptec™ II faceshield
  • KwikWick® II liner
Specification
  • Brand Scorpion
  • Model Exo-r420 Helmet – Shake
  • Weight 1 pound
PROS

Unique design

Aerodynamic

Super lightweight

CONS

Can be hot to wear

Snug getting on and off

Can be loud

This plain black HJC helmet offers more creature comforts than a typical racing helmet. It has a polycarbonate composite shell and chin bar. To keep you cool, it has an advanced channeling ventilation system.

This helmet has an advanced three-stage adjustable SunShield that provides you with 95 percent UV protection. It also has a Quickslide feature that allows you to change the shields without any tools. You’ll also notice that the entire helmet is super lightweight.

Key Features
  • Advanced polycarbonate composite shell
  • Adjustable polycarbonate chinbar
  • Advanced channeling ventilation system
  • Modular helmet
Specification
  • Brand HJC
  • Model 980-615
  • Weight 2.1 pounds
PROS

Lightweight

95 percent UV protection

QuickSlide Tool-less Shield Replacement System

CONS

Sizing can be difficult

Not the most aerodynamic

Bulky feel when wearing

This is a true track-racing helmet from AGV. It has a carbon fiber shell and comes in four different shell sizes for a slimmer fit. It has a patented double-face crown pad and a removable nose guard.

Integrated into the helmet is a hydration system to allow you to drink water while conquering the track. The entire interior liner is washable, which helps you maintain your helmet and keep it nicer for longer. In the event of an accident, the cheek pads are quickly removed with a safety release system.

Key Features
  • 100 percent carbon fiber shell
  • Patented double face crown pad
  • Removable nose guard
  • 4 shell sizes
Specification
  • Brand AGV
  • Model Pista Gp R
  • Weight 5.15 pounds (shipping weight)
PROS

Removable and washable interior

Cheek pads safety release system

integrated hydration system

CONS

No visor clicking positions

Serious lack of venting

Loud road noise

Best Motorcycle Racing Helmets Buying Guide

Wearing a helmet is required in many states, and if it isn’t, it’s smart to still wear one. A racing helmet will protect your face and head while riding and in the event of an accident. These helmets are designed to excel at high speeds.

Their aerodynamic engineering helps them to cut through the air and wind. Their technological features increase their protective abilities and make them more enjoyable to wear. This includes features like quick-release cheek pads to make the helmet easier to remove or Bluetooth-ready integrated speakers.

Most importantly, confirm that any helmet you choose is DOT- or SNELL-approved. These are stickers that signify that your new helmet has passed safety standards to ensure its effectiveness.

Why You Need a Motorcycle Racing Helmet

You should wear a helmet every time you get on your bike to ride. It’s even more important to wear one when you plan to ride at high speeds. Your helmet makes this dangerous activity a little bit safer by protecting your head.

If you buy a helmet with a visor, then your helmet will increase your comfort while riding. It will block the wind, sun, and the majority of road noise. This will create a more pleasant riding experience.

The third benefit is that you can choose one that expresses your personal style. Some people choose a helmet that matches their bike or other riding gear. Others choose something sleek and elegant. Then there are those that choose the loudest and most colorful design they can find.

Choose a helmet that you find appealing and will look good when riding your bike. If you feel good in your helmet, you’re more likely to wear it.

  • Increased safety while riding
  • Greater comfort from the elements
  • Express your personal style
  • Feel good and boost your confidence
Man holding black motorcycle racing helmet near his motorcycle

Popular Types of Motorcycle Racing Helmets

There are several types of helmets on the market, but only a handful of them will work for riding at higher speeds. They make comfort and protection a priority to increase the rider’s safety while wearing the helmet. The better a helmet performs and the more comfortable it is, the less distracted you’ll be while riding.

Consider these types of helmets so that you buy a helmet designed for the type of riding you want to do.

  • Full-Face

This type of helmet covers your entire head and is considered the safest type of helmet on the market. This is because it protects your jaw and chin, which many other types of helmets do not do. Full-face helmets meant for high speeds will have a higher chin bar and a visor that’s angled forward. This prevents lifting.

You’ll find these helmets in a wide range of designs, from plain matte black to those full of bold, colorful designs. Modern helmets in this category are technology compatible with space for speakers or even built-in Bluetooth. Look for one with quick-release cheek pads for safe helmet removal in the event of an emergency.

  • Modular

These helmets look like a full-face helmet when worn, but they have one significant difference. You can flip the chin bar and visor portion of the helmet upwards and away from your face. This turns the helmet into a three-quarter helmet.

These helmets weigh more than a full-face helmet. But they offer more convenience since you can eat, drink, and talk without taking your helmet off. Their safety ratings are also slightly lower because of the addition of the hinge, which compromises the structural integrity of the entire helmet.

While these aren’t commonly chosen for track use, they work well for those doing adventure racing.

  • Dual-Sport 

If you enjoy riding both on and off-road, then a dual-sport helmet will be the perfect choice for all of your riding activities. The exterior looks more like an off-roading helmet, but the interior is more like a racing helmet.

The outside of the helmet will have a lower chin bar and a large visor. On the inside, you’ll find extra padding to give you more comfort. This helmet is like a halfway happy medium between these two types of helmets.

One key characteristic is that the helmet is very aerodynamic and won’t lift at higher speeds. There is also decent soundproofing for a quieter ride.

What to Look for When Buying a Motorcycle Racing Helmet

There are hundreds of helmets available to choose from. To narrow down your choice, you need to know your riding style and size. This will help you find a helmet that’s comfortable.

Having your helmet fit right and be comfortable is vital to safe riding. When your helmet is uncomfortable, you’re distracted, and this can result in mistakes that can lead to dangerous situations.

  • Size

Start by measuring around your head to determine how large your head is. You can then use this measurement to find the correct size of helmet. Check every helmet manufacturer’s size chart because each one is different.

Look to see how many shell sizes the manufacturer makes for the helmet. This is the outer shell casing on the helmet. A single shell size can be used for more than one helmet size. This helps the manufacturer save on manufacturing costs.

It’s better to look for a helmet with more shell sizes to ensure a closer fit. The helmet will be lighter and have less bulk.

  • Head Shape

Helmet manufacturers create helmets with a specific head shape in mind. This is why a helmet that fits one person might be the most uncomfortable thing in the world to another. There are three main helmet shapes to keep an eye out for: round, intermediate oval, and long oval.

Most people are somewhere in the intermediate oval shape. Less common is a long oval head shape. The most uncommon is true round.

When you try a helmet on, keep it on for 45 minutes to an hour. Pay attention to hot spots that may develop. Round-headed people tend to feel them along the temples. People with long, oval heads will feel them on the forehead.

  • Field of Vision

There is a fine balance between providing plenty of protection, but also allowing for a wide field of vision. Both of these are important safety factors. Put the helmet on and look as far as you can left, right, up, and down. You want to make sure you can easily see around you.

If the visor space is too large, the strength of the chin bar is compromised. The helmet may also struggle to secure the rider’s head from moving forward in the event of an accident.

You should also think about the potential for reflection on the inside of the visor. Some helmets have a poorly designed visor that will cause the rider’s face to get reflected back on the inside of the visor. This can make it difficult to see and can be quite distracting.

Man riding at the sunset wearing a motorcycle racing helmet

Tips for Buying and Using Motorcycle Racing Helmets

When looking at helmets, pay attention to the amount of ventilation in the helmet. The more vents there are, the cooler the helmet will be. But these vents also catch the wind, so they reduce aerodynamics. True racing helmets for the track will have fewer vents.

Look at the mechanisms that are on the helmet. Do you need tools to change out the visor and other components? Some helmets are as easy as pushing a button with one hand. Others are quite complicated and require tools.

Try the helmet on and feel the weight of the helmet. Turn your head from side to side and roll your head around. If the helmet feels heavy now, it’s going to feel even worse once you have wind pulling on the helmet while riding. Helmets are typically in the three to five pound range. Under four pounds is considered a lightweight helmet.

  • Check for ventilation throughout the helmet.
  • Consider the ease of changing out parts.
  • Test out the weight of the helmet.

Best Motorcycle Racing Helmets FAQs

Consider your riding style and how you intend to use your helmet when choosing your next helmet. A racing helmet can look cool and come with some technologically advanced features, but they may not be right for your needs. Need help choosing the right helmet? We’ve answered a few common questions people have when first buying their helmet.

Q: Should I break in a helmet?

There’s an initial adjustment period as the internal padding compresses around your head. Over time, the padding will break down with use.

Q: Are track helmets better than regular helmets?

Track helmets perform better on the track because of their aerodynamics. They aren’t as comfortable on the street due to their lack of functional features and venting.

Q: How long does a helmet last?

You should replace your helmet every five to eight years. You can look at the inside of the helmet for a manufacture date to use as a reference.

Our Top Pick

Our top choice for the best overall racing helmet is the Shoei Pendulum GT-AIR Street Racing Motorcycle Helmet. This helmet offers beneficial features for use both on the track and the street. It has an emergency quick-release cheek pad system and is aerodynamic. It’s lightweight and has a ton of ventilation.

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