There’s an understandable impulse with buying safety gear that suggests that spending more buys you a safer product. But with such a wide price range for motorcycle helmets, it can be hard to know how much extra safety you’re actually getting. Fortunately, like most safety equipment, a more reliable determinant of the safety of motorcycle helmets than cost is safety certifications. In the US, all motorcycle helmets must be approved by the Department Of Transportation (DOT) in order to be legally worn while riding a motorcycle. Of the major certifying bodies, DOT approval is the most “basic.” But that doesn’t mean it’s not a rigorous and reliable standard.
The extra money you spend on a helmet goes to several other factors that are secondary to safety, but still supremely important. Comfort is one of them. Motorcycle riding is meant to be fun, which is why you don’t want to feel like you’re being suffocated by a stuffy helmet. And who could deny that some small part of the reason people get around by bike is to look cool? That’s why there’s nothing wrong with letting aesthetics play into the decision-making process when buying a helmet.
Another thing to consider is the style of helmet. The safest kind of helmet is a full-face helmet, for the intuitive reason that it covers your entire face. Another popular option is modular helmets, which combine the breathability of open-face helmets with the safety of full-face helmets. The face-covering can be flipped up while riding to get some fresh air and flipped down while riding for more safety. They’re still not as protective as full-face, however. Open face helmets have a cool, vintage look, but they’re nowhere near as safe as full-face helmets. With that in mind, these are some affordable motorcycle helmets available right now.
1. Bell Qualifier Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet
Bell is a reliable maker of bicycle and motorcycle helmets, and this reasonably-priced motorcycle helmet from the brand comes in sizes from X-small to XXX-large, so you can ensure a custom and comfortable fit. It’s a full-face design, and it’s made from a lightweight polycarbonate/ABS shell. The shield has a quick-release design for easy replacement.
Pros: Lightweight design, comes in a wide variety of sizes and designs. Anti-bacterial liner on the interior.
Cons: Image on the product page suggests that the helmet arrives with a shaded visor, but it only comes with a clear one.
Bell Qualifier Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet
2. ILM Flip up Modular Helmet
This helmet from ILM features a modular design — you can wear it open or full-faced. It has a dual-visor design, meaning that when worn open you can still shield your eyes. It also features an LED light on the back for added visibility at night. An added bonus is that the interior cheek pads are removable and washable.
Pros: Modular design with dual visors for comfortable wearing open or closed.
Cons: Sizing can run a little big.
ILM Flip up Modular Helmet
3. ILM Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
Another option from ILM is this full-face helmet. It’s a good value for a helmet, made even better by the included accessories. Two visors are included: a clear and a shaded one. Plus, there’s a fitted neck scarf for comfortable riding in cold weather. The padded liner is also removable, so it can easily be washed.
Pros: Affordable buy that includes a fitted neck scarf and two visors. Padding is removable and washable.
Cons: Scratches somewhat easily.