If you’re a lover of vintage motorcycle helmets, then you will love our Top Picks when it comes to old school motorcycle helmets. Below are some of the best priced, safest and highest quality retro motorcycle helmets for riders. Not only that, but our buying guide gives you everything you need to know before purchasing your next retro helmet, while our FAQ works to answer some of the most important questions you can have, when it comes to getting a vintage helmet for your motorbike.
The Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmet
Meeting and exceeding both DOT and FMVSS requirements, this full face retro helmet is a fantastic choice for those who love both style and safety. This option from Daytona Helmets comes with a classic look that is sure to give you a fantastic, retro feel, while still being safe and secure – perfect for daily riding.
It comes at a fantastic price, especially when you consider all the smaller features which truly make the Daytona Cruiser the best vintage helmet on the market, today. Take the moisture wicking fabric, for example, which leaves you with a cooler, more comfortable ride. Meanwhile, the three different shell sizes, available up to 4XL, will be sure to give you a decent fit, no matter what your style.
Exceeds DOT safety standards
Available in soft-touch or clear lacquer finish
3 different shell sizes
- Brand Daytona Helmets
- Model COMINU049916
- Weight 2.3 pounds
Uses a moisture-wicking fabric to keep your head cool and comfortable
Quick-release system allows for easy removal
Light yet fully lined for comfort
Can be very loud during rides
Sizing can run a little small
Bell create some fantastic options in motorcycle helmets – especially when it comes to those who prefer a vintage look – and this Custom 500 Open Face Motorcycle Helmet is certainly no different. Made with an antibacterial lining to keep your helmet feeling (and smelling) fresher for longer, this helmet also uses a multi-density liner to give you optimum comfort.
Slightly more expensive than many options on our list, this is still a great choice for those who like to focus on an eye-catching retro helmet design without compromising on quality. Better still, this option meets DOT safety standards, too.
Open face motorcycle helmet
DOT approved safety standards
5-year warranty included
- Model 7070149
- Weight 3.5 pounds
Antibacterial interior means your helmet won’t smell or rot as quickly
Uses a simple snap pattern for visors
Multi-density liner provides comfort and security
Some loose fabric can vibrate and cause loud noises during rides
Padding can be a little excessive for some who prefer a loose fit
Available in a whole host of great designs – our favorite being the Rebel Star graphic – this open face vintage style motorcycle helmet from TORC looks and feels great. The lightweight materials ensure that too much strain isn’t placed on your neck during rides, meaning you should be able to wear this helmet all day without too much discomfort.
Better still, this DOT certified retro style helmet has removable cheek pads which can be washed without concern, so you never have to worry about your helmet smelling or rotting from those longer days out on the bike.
Available up to XXL
- Model T50-RS-WT-M
- Weight 3 pounds
Removable cheek pads are washable, helping to keep your retro helmet as good as new
Lightweight materials help keep the strain off your neck
Disperses energy well upon impact
Full coverage can be a hindrance to those who prefer full vision
Runs a little large so be sure to check sizing
A retro design helmet with many modern features, this open face helmet comes with a shorty visor and plenty to brag about. Meeting both DOT and FMVSS standards, you can ride with your unique design without fear.
This option comes with a range of sizes up to 5XL and even hosts a 5-year warranty as standard, so you can be sure that the moisture wicking liner will never give way under regular use. Meanwhile, the padded D-ring strap provides a solid feel and the thermoplastic alloy shell keeps your helmet lightweight for longer rides.
Exceeds both DOT and FMVSS standards
Available up to 5XL (8 5/8 – 8 ¾)
5-year warranty included
- BrandVega Helmets
- Model 8529-225
- Weight 2.15 pounds
Antimicrobial lining helps keep away smells and bad bacteria
Moisture-wicking liner keeps your head cool and dry
Sizes run very small, even according to the sizing chart
Another option from Bell, this full-face retro motorcycle helmet comes with a clear shield when shipped but an optional tinted shield is available. This is the most expensive option on our list, coming up much higher than any of our other options – however, this is for good reason, as the Bullitt motorcycle helmet is packed with tons of features.
For starters, the lining is made with a genuine leather that is both antibacterial and fully removable (and washable). The real kicker here, though, is the integrated speakers and accessory shields which give your new helmet the option to be completely customized to your exacting standards.
Optional tinted shield available
DOT and FMVSS- approved
Packed with features
- Model 7047930
- Weight 3.5 pounds
A fully removable/washable, anti-bacterial interior which is made with real leather gives a superior feel
Integrated speaker pockets and accessory shields allow you to truly personalize this helmet
Very expensive option
Available with a range of graphic options, and with three shell sizes up to size 2XL, this helmet from TORC is our first half-helmet option on our list. Being DOT approved and available with an integrated visor, this is a great choice for those who want the full retro look but don’t want to compromise on safety standards.
Being a half helmet, there is ample ventilation here. That said, the liner of this helmet is still completely removable and washable, making clean-ups a lot easier after longer rides on a hot day. Comfortable and lightweight, this is a great choice for any rider.
Half helmet style
- Model T5515FG23
- Weight 2.9 pounds
Features a removable and washable liner
Liner is also antimicrobial to protect from nasty bacteria
Sizing runs a little small
If you’re a fan of the classic German motorcycle helmet look, then you can’t get any closer with all the added benefits of today’s safety standards than this option from AHR. Made with a high-density buffer shell layer and a lightweight ABS shell, this option is sure to never stress your neck and back.
This is a comfortable option that gives a fantastic retro look and comes available in sizes up to XL. Don’t expect miracles with this helmet in terms of safety or features but it’s a cheaper option that would work brilliantly for passengers and shorts rides.
Half helmet style
Available up to XL (Head Circumference: 23 5/8″ to 24)
- Model 5864259475
- Weight 1 pounds
Lightweight and resistant to wear and tear thanks to the high-quality materials
High density EPS buffer layer provides added protection on impact
Does not provide good protection around the neck
Looks big and sizes run a little large
Ideal for those who are looking for a truly vintage look, this weathered style helmet comes with a rustic design that can fool anyone into thinking that this modern helmet is actually from the classic motorbiking days. Available up to 2XL and in two shell sizes, you’ll be sure to find a comfortable fit, here.
The inner suede lining is both breathable and comfortable, with many customers noting that this option feels great on colder days but can be a little too hot in the summer months. There are also removable cheek pads which makes hand washing a lot easier when it comes to clean ups.
DOT and FMVSS approved
Available up to XXL (15 x 12 x 12 inches)
- Model T5015WBRZ23
- Weight 6 pounds
Ultra suede inner lining is very comfortable
Has an authentic, retro look
Heavy when compared to other options on the list
Packaging can be poor, with my customers noting damaged helmets
Available at a fantastic price, when considering all the comfort-based features, this option provides fantastic value for money – even if it is a little more expensive than many of the other options on our list. The hand-sewn, removable brushed Lycra liner is comfortable and cozy, without concerns about smells or wear and tear over time.
Rugged and unique, with a hand-painted finish over the injection-molded ABS outer shell and polystyrene inner foam, the d-ring strap is firm but fair – making this one of the most solid and secure feeling options available.
Meets DOT safety standards
Available up to XXL (7 ½ – 7 7/8 Hat Size)
- Model BH-WHT-GL-DOT-SML
- Weight 2.5 pounds
Injection-molded outer shell with hand painted finish gives a real feel of quality
Open-cell foam padding gives greater comfort, lighter weight and decent protection
Customers note that there are problems with packaging, receiving the wrong item or damaged goods
Can get very warm, very fast
If you love the look of the half helmet options but want the user-friendly additions which can protect your face and neck from environmental nasties, this is the best choice for you. This motorcycle helmet comes with motorcycle goggles and a sun lens built-in to the helmet itself.
The chin strap comes with a quick release, and the additional zip-on coverage provides a touch of extra protection, while keeping you warm and safe. This helmet gives a great vintage look but still isn’t the safest option (despite being DOT certified), so this is best used for shorter, safer journeys.
One size available
Drop down sun lens built in
Chin strap buckle gives a quick release
Made with artificial leather for a beautiful look
Cheaply made and can break around the visor area
Has garnered mixed reviews across the spectrum
Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide
What to Look for in a Vintage Motorcycle Helmet
The coverage you get from your vintage style motorcycle helmets depends mostly on the type of helmet you get. We discuss this in more detail below, but the three main types of retro helmets are full-faced, half-head and open-faced helmets. Each one offers their own level of protection and come with their own pros and cons.
The safety of your helmet is absolutely paramount. Having a retro helmet can mean that you might be taking away from some of the most contemporary safety features – particularly if you opt for a half head helmet. However, there are still some good standards available and, when met, you can be sure that your helmet will provide your head and neck with ample protection.
Most notably, DOT (Department of Transportation) certification is one of the biggest ways to tell whether or not your helmet is safe to use on roads. There is also the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) which are the US specifications around design, safety, performance and durability. The latter of these is much more extensive and, thus, this is the preferred certification which you should be seeking out on all your helmets.
Important for both safety and comfort, the right size helmet can be a little tricky to come across, when buying online. Always check the standard sizing guides and be sure to cross-reference these with reviews to see if their measurements are likely to run a little larger or smaller than the standard sizing.
In order to get the best fit for your head size, be sure to take a tailor’s tape and measure around the largest part of your skull- roughly around the eyebrows and over the ears. This should give you a good idea of what your measurements are, so you can choose the best fit for you.
One of the biggest factors many drivers cite when it comes to buying vintage style motorcycle helmets is the design. If you’re interested in getting a vintage look, then it’s important that the design fit these, comfortably, too. Modern designs with fire emblems and glossy looks probably aren’t going to fit the bill. However, fake weathering should do the trick, along with the right style.
The more features your helmet has, the more expensive they are going to be. However, having reinforcements in the right place can be a huge benefit to your safety. Similarly, a comfortable lining makes long rides a lot easier to handle, as will a lighter material.
There are also the benefits of having a few gadgets involved. Modern helmets can include speakers around your ears for music or provide much better ventilation as and when required. Whatever you prefer, check for the best value for money, for you.
Reviews are one of the first places you should go, if you’re thinking of purchasing anything online. These will let you know if you’re likely to come across problems and what the customers service is like. They are also a great way of getting any tips and tricks regarding your comfort and/or safety – or they can even point you in the direction of similar but more effective items.
Types of Retro Motorcycle Helmets
- Full Face
A retro full face helmet will cover your skull, face and neck. While these are common in modern helmets and what most people envisage when thinking of helmets, they’re fairly rare in vintage style motorcycle helmets.
This is mostly because most lawmakers consider the protection of skull and neck to be much more important than of your face and so, to save money, many manufacturers simply didn’t bother to make a full face helmet. They are, however, one of the best options, as they will protect everything from the neck-up, should ever get into an accident.
The only real negative to these being that you may feel like you have less peripheral vision while wearing a full-face helmet. They can also get a little stuffy over time, as there is less ventilation available. Finally, they are the least likely to look like a vintage helmet over other types.
- Open Face
These provide a great, vintage helmet look while still protecting your skull and neck. There is no chin bar or face shield here, so there is a higher risk of causing severe damage to your face, should you get in an accident. However, they are structurally just as safe as a full-face helmet.
As you’re more likely to deal with the wind and rain, while wearing these, it might be worth purchasing some motorbike goggles to combat the watery eyes and sore face.
- Half Helmet
Also referred to as a brain bucket, these are essentially made to cover the upper half of your head only. They are very popular with retro riders and look great for those who like a vintage look. As you won’t receive any protection for your neck or face, they are a lot harder to find DOT certified varieties, and they can be considerably colder, as there is more than enough ventilation for road users.
Again, you might find that you’ll need to buy further accessories for these helmet types, if you’re comfortable with a half helmet, to protect your eyes from environmental factors. You can also purchase bandanas and balaclavas to create a barrier for the rest of your face.
Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmet FAQ:
Q: Is it safe to buy a used vintage motorcycle helmet?
A: There are a few risks when it comes to buying a used vintage motorcycle helmet. For starters, you’ll need to make absolutely sure that the helmet has never been in an accident or had any major impact at all. If there is any risk that this has happened, then you should avoid buying it or seek to return your retro motorcycle helmets.
This is because an impact can affect the structure of your helmet and mean that you’re more likely to seriously injure yourself during an incident. Even if you can’t see any damage to the helmet, an impact can change the padding, meaning that you will have less safety between your skull and the road, should you slip or get hit.
There’s also the fact that padding usually forms to fit a person’s head – and this is completely normal and part of the design. However, having ill-fitting padding means you’re more likely to deal with discomfort and even a loose helmet during rides. Again, this can mean that, should an incident occur, you are more likely to suffer catastrophic damage.
However, if completely restored to its original format, there is a way in which you can use a vintage motorbike helmet. In these cases, it’s always best to opt for a professional refurbishment, as the foam lining will need to be redone up to DOT standards.
Q: How can I restore a vintage motorbike helmet?
A: To restore a vintage motorbike helmet, we would always suggest going to a reputable shop first. This is because the foam lining of the helmet, as well as the shell, often require specific mixtures and materials which only they can provide. It’s also very difficult to alter or change a retro helmet without compromising the safety of the helmet, unless the restoration is done under a qualified eye.
However, you’ll be pleased to know the simpler parts are often the most likely parts to need restoration. Items such as the lining of your helmet can be altered and refit by any seamstress, and usually at a very low cost to yourself.
Q: How much should I pay for a new retro motorcycle helmet?
A: The budget of your retro helmet depends mostly on the quality of the helmet you’re after. Most helmets will start around the $50-mark, but these are often the most basic helmets, with the most basic safety features. Naturally, those helmets with more safety features or benefits will cost more, with a top-of-the-range helmet that hosts plenty of features costing around $300 or more.
Try to opt for the best value for money, for your needs. Remember that helmets are designed to effectively be disposable pieces of equipment in the same way that you might wear out a pair of pants and decide on what works best for you. If you’re a daily rider, it’s worth spending a little more for your optimum comfort, while occasional riders might prefer a cheaper but simpler option.
Our Top Pick
The Daytona Cruiser from Daytona Helmets is fantastic choice in retro helmets. Not only does it come at a great price, but there’s extra value to be found in the comfort and safety of your new helmet. Exceeding both DOT and FMVSS requirements, you can ride without worry, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be cared for no matter what happens.
The classic looks are available in a range of overall and shell sizes, making this one of the best options for a great fit. Finally, this helmet is very highly rated with buyers, who love the comfort, design and overall feel of this option.
- What’s the safest type of motorcycle helmet? - How Stuff Works