According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of serious head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 37% after a motorcycle accident. If this isn’t enough to convince you to use helmet, Florida’s universal helmet law might be. The law requires all motorcycle riders and passengers to use helmets that comply with federal safety standards. The only way a motorcyclist in Florida can evade this rule is if one is over the age of 21 and has insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical benefits.
All motorcycle helmets are not the same. When shopping for helmet, follow some tips to select the safest one on for you. The safer your helmet, the less likely you are to sustain a face, head, or brain injury from accident.
Top Five Safest Motorcycle Helmet in 2020
Our criteria to find the top 10 best helmets is simple:
It must have a 5 star SHARP rating
SHARP are the UK government funded helmet safety testing agency. They’re the most trusted name in safety field, and a 5 star rating on a helmet from SHARP is not just rare, but an incredible achievement.
It must be sensibly priced
There are lot of ultra safe helmets out there that come with the price tag to match. We’re keeping things sensible and restricting our budget to $300 max. All except the Shoei X-Spirit III anyway, we threw that in because it’s a stunning race helmet for the hardcore rider.
1. HJC IS-17
The HJC IS-17 packs in a ton of value. Not only do you get creature comforts like a drop-down sun visor, but you get the highest SHARP rating and can buy it in a large number of colors (like Hi-Vis yellow) and themes (like Iron Man and Star Wars). It also comes with a Pinlock shield system for adding anti-fog lenses, which is really important for those of us living in humid environments.
The HJC IS-17 is also certified to meet ECE REG 22.05 and DOT standards and comes with a Double-D ring chin strap clasp, although they appear to only label the helmet with the standard most applicable to each country or region that it’s sold in.
2. AGV Veloce (GT or S)
AGV has a ton of helmets that rate highly by SHARP, in fact, of all the AGVhelmets tested by them, none score less than a 4 out of 5 stars. Both the AGV Veloce GT and S top the charts with 5 stars, and since they’ve been on the market for a while, can be found in select sizes and themes as low as ~$250.
DOT-Approved in the U.S. and certified to ECE REG 22.05 elsewhere, and with a strong Double-D ring chin strap clasp, it has proven itself to be a stylish, affordable, and safe option for those looking for those sweet, sexy Italian curves.
3. Bell Star
The Bell Star model has been around a long time, albeit with a more basic design. It is now offered in three styles, the MIPS, Race, and Pro, all three of which share the same shell platform but with incrementally more protection. You can read through a model comparison and MIPS description at billyscrashhelmets.
The idea between the MIPS system is that overlapping layers of protection inside the helmet glide over one another to reduce the rotational forces reaching your head. We haven’t seen any tests to prove that this works, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the helmet’s safety performance. And combining a SHARP 5-star rating with ECE 22.05, Snell 2015, and of course DOT-Approved certifications, we’re convinced that this helmet is one of the safest on the market.
4. Shark Race R Pro / Carbon
The Shark Race R Pro is a top of the line racing helmet made for speed and comfort. As a composite shell composed of carbon and aramid fiber, you can expect it to be extremely abrasion and heat resistant, and luckily Sharp has proven that it also scores top in impact resistance as well. Read all about aramid’s material properties INSERT HERE.
It’s both ECE 22.05 and DOT-Approved and comes with a Double-D ring chin strap clasp. Shark is proud to tout its optical distortion-free windshield and its wind tunnel-tested design—features that add a little extra safety when it’s needed most, on the track at high speed.
5. Shoei Qwest
Shoei helmets have a reputation for being expensive, and most are. But as we keep saying, expensive /= safe. Luckily, the Qwest model has been around for a long time, which means that it has not only been tested by Sharp and scores top ratings for impact resistance but you can also get it for a great price!
Online shops are thinning their inventory, sure, but we still find them on the shelves of local motorcycle dealers everywhere and these days, who doesn’t price-match?! They even come in an array of female-oriented color schemes like the one shown.
Like the Shark Race R Pro helmet described below, Shoei loves to promote the distortion-free visor and wind tunnel tested design, but what’s even more interesting is their focus on protection from UVA and UVB rays, which can reduce the longevity of the shell. Ok with us, whatever helps the rider to focus on the ride and the helmet to last.
Unlike the Shark Race R Pro, the matrix or composite of the Qwest is not carbon and aramid (Kevlar) but fiberglass. Be sure to understand the materials used before jumping to conclusions. In this case, fiberglass is plenty strong and safe.
Shoei exclusively uses Double-D ring chin straps to ensure that the helmet stay securely on and, unlike most other helmets made for global markets, it’s certified to the Snell M2015 standard. It’s also of course DOT-Approved.
How to Buy the Safest Motorcycle Helmet
The safest motorcycle helmets must have the following;
- Full Face (the safest type)
- DOT Approved (a must)
- Snell Certified (optional)
- Material (composite fibreglass)
- Fits Perfectly (super important)
Full Face Coverage
Motorcycle helmets come in three main shapes: full-face, three-quarters, and half. For the best protection, shop only for full-face motorcycle helmets – the kind that protect the entire head, face, and chin, with a build-in visor to protect the eyes. Full-face helmets are the only style that will keep the chin, mouth, teeth, nose, eyes, and head safe while riding. Opting for a half or three-quarters helmet could spell trouble if you strike your face on the curb or asphalt in an accident. Blunt force trauma to any part of your face or head could be fatal.
Florida’s law requires the use of helmets that comply with federal safety standards. These standards according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration include specific impact attenuation, peak acceleration, penetration, retention system, configuration, and labeling requirements. Federal helmet regulations are highly specific and can be confusing even for motorcycle veterans.
If you don’t want to worry about checking each helmet to see if it meets the complex federal safety requirements, simply look for the Department of Transportation (DOT) seal of approval. The DOT sticker only goes on helmets that meet all the federal safety regulations. Keep in mind, however, that the DOT sticker only ensures that the helmet meets the minimum levels of performance accepted. This means helmets with DOT stickers do not necessarily take additional steps to ensure safety.
While not all motorcyclists agree on the “safest” motorcycle helmet brand, you can read reviews and decide which sounds right for you. The Snell Standard, for example, is something thousands of motorcyclists claim to be the safest motorcycle helmet performance test. Snell tests helmets based not only on federal requirements, but for additional safety features such as how the helmet stands up to typical scenarios it might encounter on the road.
Snell conducts impact, positional stability, dynamic retention, chin bar, shell penetration, face shield penetration, and flame resistance tests on helmets to gauge their performance. If a helmet has the Snell sticker of approval, it can withstand a wide range of accident types and scenarios.
Once you decide which type of helmet you like, you need to consider what your helmet is made out of. Polycarbonate is the most common helmet material but offers the lowest level of protection. Fiberglass is more expensive but offers more coverage than their polycarbonate counterparts. Finally, carbon fiber helmets distribute crash forces more evenly and are the lightest and most expensive helmet material.
You can purchase the safest helmet on the market and it still wouldn’t adequately protect you if you don’t select the right size and fit. Your helmet should fit securely around your head and chin, fitting snugly on your skull without adding too much pressure. The helmet should not shake or move around at all when on your head. Chin straps and rivets should be sturdy and fit comfortably. Try your helmet on before you buy and take it for a test run if the shop permits you to do so. See how it feels after 10 minutes of wear. The helmet should not be so tight as to give you a headache or so loose as to flop around when you move.
All these factors are important, especially if you are involved in an accident. Faulty helmets could contribute to a personal injury. If you believe a faulty helmet caused your motorcycle accident injury to be more severe, talk to an experienced Fort Lauder-dale motorcycle accident lawyer, we can answer any additional questions you may have about your options.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money to get top-of-the-line safety! Brand, comfort features, and style contribute most to price but safety should be on the top of your list when looking to buy. Don’t trust some marketing mumbo-jumbo about the shell material and don’t settle for just DOT-Approved. Trust laboratory tests and proven features like full-face design, Double D ring chin straps, and as always, bright reflective color/graphics schemes.
Next on the list of buying criteria should be fit—after all, poorly fitting helmet is one that can cause distraction or even come off in a wreck. Only after safety and fit should you consider other features like speaker inserts, sponsorship’s (looking at you Monster Energy drink and Valentino Rossi), and finally brand. Plenty of great brands offer helmets that score low in safety tests, and plenty of lesser-name brands offer highly scoring helmets.