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Best motorcycle helmets of 2021
TeamZilla Feb 26, 2021
With more motorcycle helmet models, features, and safety standards than ever before, the process of choosing a new helmet can be daunting to any rider. Helmets also represent a decent chunk of your gear budget, too, so it’s worth investing in the right lid for your ride.
Fear not; RevZilla’s back with another year of Gear Guides, where we recommend our favorite gear from every corner of the motorcycling world. As always, we’re kicking things off with helmets.
Top motorcycle helmets of 2021
Advancements in helmet technology and design over the last few years mean that we’ve got some very exciting options to consider, no matter what you ride. Let’s get started.
The selection process
At RevZilla, we don’t just sell gear, create videos, and write articles. We’re riders, and we constantly evaluate our gear every time we ride. We also have gear experts and product testers to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry, plus countless reviews and points of feedback from customers to further inform our opinions. The helmets on this list are true juggernauts in their respective classes, so read on to find your next helmet.
|SHOEI RF-1400||Best full face||$500-$600||New gold standard for streetSnell M2020 and DOT certified|
|ICON AIRFLITE||Best budget full face||$250 – $320||Huge graphic rangeSuits many riding positions|
|FLY RACING FORMULA CC||Best dirt||$490||Carbon Composite shellRHEON for rotational forces|
|BELL MX-9 MIPS||Best budget dirt||$160-$170||MIPS rotational layerDOT/ECE certification|
|AGV SPORTMODULAR||Best modular||$750-$850||Lightest modular we’ve testedMetal chin bar components|
|SEDICI SISTEMA II||Best budget modular||$220-$370||Ventilated, aerodynamic comfortVersions with carbon, Bluetooth|
|ARAI XD-4||Best ADV||$610-$740||Fully customizable interiorSnell M2020 approved|
|SCORPION EXO-AT950||Best budget ADV||$270-$290||Incredibly versatileWide eye port, accepts goggles|
|BELL RACE STAR FLEX DLX||Best race/sport||$735-840||Superlight 3K carbon fiber shellProTint photochromatic shield|
|SCORPION EXO R1-AIR||Best budget race/sport||$400-$430||Ultra-TCT shell for light weightRam-air intake ventilation|
SHOP THE GEAR
Shoei RF-1400 Helmet$529.99Icon Airflite Helmet$265.00Fly Racing Dirt Formula CC Solid Helmet$489.95Bell MX-9 MIPS Helmet$164.95AGV Sportmodular Carbon Solid HelmetFROM $749.95Sedici Sistema II Helmet – Solid$229.99Arai XD-4 HelmetFROM $609.95Scorpion EXO-AT950 Helmet$269.95Bell Race Star Flex DLX Helmet$769.95Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Helmet – Solid$399.95
The biggest helmet release of the last year had to be the RF-1400, Shoei’s update to the legendary RF-1200 and the latest in a long line of RF-series helmets. Based on our testing, the RF-1400 isn’t just an improvement over the previous model. It’s a fully qualified successor to the RF-1200’s throne. Meet our new gold standard for do-anything street helmets.
The RF-1400 utilizes Shoei’s AIM+ construction and carries DOT and SNELL 2020 certifications. The new shape offers improved aerodynamics and a quiet, comfortable ride. There are four shell sizes and an intermediate oval fit that works for a broad range of riders. We especially like the revised interior padding and the optimized ventilation setup. And as an added bonus, the RF-1400 comes with a Pinlock visor for fog-free vision.
For all the RF-1400’s virtues, it isn’t cheap. Our budget alternative is the ICON Airflite, a polycarbonate-shelled street lid with an intermediate oval fit and loads of graphic options.
The Airflite has been a fan favorite since it debuted a few years ago (it won our “People’s Choice” last year), and it’s only improving with time. ICON just added a MIPS option for rotational impact protection, for just a few bucks more. Also, the Airflite is DOT/ECE certified so you can ride with confidence. Other niceties include the drop-down sun visor, Hydradry internal liner, and unique style.
For 2021, our top dirt helmet choice is easily the Fly Racing Formula CC. We loved the standard Formula last year, and even gave it our top honors in the 2020 Gear Guides, but they’ve since unveiled the CC version that we love even more.
CC stands for Carbon Composite, and this variant means that the Formula CC packs the same safety tech and style as the Formula, but at $200 less. A measly two-ounce weight over the full-carbon Formula gain is the only drawback.
You get a Tri-Weave shell that combines the strengths of carbon fiber, DuPont Kevlar, and fiberglass, all in one aggressive shell. The Formula CC carries over Fly’s RHEON impact protection technology that handles linear and rotational impacts at low speed, both crucial in the dirt. There’s also Conehead EPS technology to handle high- and low-speed impacts. Consider the phenomenal ventilation and class-leading comfort, and it’s easy to see why we recommend this helmet.
For dirt riders on a budget, we prefer the MX-9 MIPS from Bell. These helmets start around $160, and that nets you a lightweight polycarb shell, substantial airflow, and DOT/ECE certification.
The star of the show here is that MIPS technology to mitigate rotational impacts in the dirt. Bell’s MX-9 MIPS is a standout in its class based on MIPS alone, but the good stuff doesn’t stop there. You get three shell sizes, an EPS-lined chin bar, and a five-year warranty, plus plenty of graphic options.
We’re thoroughly impressed by the Sportmodular, AGV’s top-shelf modular offering. Modular customers demand comfort and safety while the helmet is in its closed position, plus easy chin bar deployment and high-quality moving parts. Look no further than the AGV Sportmodular, in our opinion.
Its full 3K carbon fiber construction means this is the lightest modular helmet we’ve ever tested (three pounds, two ounces), and with a shell inspired by the radical AGV Pista GP R, the Sportmodular has certainly earned the “sport” part of its name. Even the D rings on the chinstrap are titanium to shave weight! On the modular side of things, we find a fully carbon chin bar with metal opening/closing components and an Integrated Ventilation System. It also boasts an internal sun shield, pressure-free interior, and plush neck roll. The whole package is DOT/ECE approved and glasses-friendly.
Seeking a sub-$300 modular helmet with maximum bang for the buck? Our choice is the Sedici Sistema II. A recent revamp of this lid resulted in a full fiberglass and aramid shell (!) with an improved design for better aerodynamics.
Less turbulence means less fatigue, which means more riding. The whole package weighs an impressive three pounds, 12 ounces in a size medium. We like the adjustability built into the pads so that you can customize the fit to your noggin. The Sistema II goes on to feature some more modular must-haves, such as a drop-down sun visor, removable liners, and a Pinlock-ready face shield. (The Pinlock is not included on this helmet.) Bump up to a carbon version for added lightness, or the Parlare model for built-in Bluetooth comms.
When your rides regularly take you on- and off-road, it’s time to consider an ADV helmet. We’re huge fans of adventure riding here at RevZilla, and for our money, the Arai XD-4 is the helmet to have.
Countless riders have trusted Arai’s XD series to keep them safe and comfortable over the years, and the XD-4 is the pinnacle of their craft in this territory. Features include SNELL M2020 certification, a fully customizable interior, and the best ventilation of any ADV helmet we’ve tested. These helmets are individually handmade with impeccable fit and finish to boot. They’re aerodynamically stable, too, so the peak won’t interfere too much with your ride while on pavement. Even Spurgeon couldn’t destroy his XD-4!
Not everyone needs a high-tech, handmade ADV helmet. If you’re looking for ADV protection under the $300 mark, you’ve got to consider the Scorpion AT-950.
This versatile, DOT-approved helmet is a true jack of all trades with its removable peak, modular chin bar, and removable face shield. You’ve seen it in several of our previous Gear Guides because of that versatility and price point. We also love its ventilation scheme, anti-fog face shield, KwikWick II antimicrobial liner, and metal hardware for the chin bar. The AT-950 is compatible with dirt goggles, but it doesn’t include them, so keep that in mind if you’ll be doing lots of off-roading.
The Bell Race Star Flex DLX stands at the top of our race/sport podium for 2021. At $735, this is a serious investment, and it’s worth every cent in our opinion.
After all, this is the second year in a row we’ve chosen the Race Star Flex DLX! Breaking down the name of the helmet, Race Star puts this carbon marvel at the top of Bell’s sport range. It carries a SNELL M2015 certification, optimized aerodynamics, and five shell sizes for precise fitment. Flex indicates that this helmet has Bell’s Flex Impact Liner, a triple-layer design that manages forces from impacts of varying speeds. Finally, DLX means it wears a ProTint photochromatic shield that automatically tints to match your current light conditions. The ProTint shield is a real gem in Bell’s lineup, and we’d definitely rock one on the street. For those who enjoy riding at the limit, the Bell Race Star Flex DLX is our favorite for 2021.
The Scorpion EXO R1-Air helmet is about half the price of the Bell, but it’s more than half the helmet. That makes for an impressive budget sport/race choice that we’d recommend to anyone who wants a track-grade helmet without breaking the bank.
The low-drag shell is Scorpion’s Ultra-TCT, which combines fiberglass, aramid, and poly-resin fibers into a lightweight package. There’s a ram-air vent system, multi-layer EPS, AirFit inflatable cheek pads, and a generous MaxVision face shield for a wide field of view. Those cheek pads are especially nice if you’re planning a track day or an aggressive ride through the canyons, because they help to lock the helmet in place without adding discomfort. A dark smoke face shield and Pinlock insert are included in the box to further sweeten the deal. We found this helmet to be an absolute bargain for the comfort and protection it provides, making it our clear choice among its peers.
That’s a wrap for our top motorcycle helmet picks for 2021. Helmet technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, and all the innovation made this one of our most exciting years yet. This winner’s circle of helmets represents the very best of what’s available today in the helmet world, but we don’t stop there. Make sure to check out the best motorcycle gear of 2021 with our top-ranked picks for every kind of ride.