With 2013 drawing to an end very soon now, looking back over the year’s best gear becomes more tempting. Each and every season, manufacturers release new and improved products, and this translates into a massive list of items which makes it exceedingly difficult to sort the best from the rest.
This year was a banner year for one specific motorcycle gear market segment - the motorcycle helmet. To be fair, most years are good years for the helmet as the technology required to build a safe and comfortable lid advances constantly through research and development, brain and cranial scientific understanding, and racing experience – where helmets are put to the severest of tests. What happened in 2013, though, is something not all that common - nearly every major manufacturer released an all-new or greatly updated motorcycle helmet to the market.
Highlighted here are those which have captured the interests of riders and reviewers everywhere and those which stand out against the competition in a significant way. Some are very high end, while others are far more reasonably priced, but all of them are among the safest motorcycle helmets you can buy. All are DOT approved for street legality, and many carry SNELL certification as well.
However, it is the features and designs above and beyond those essential qualities that has elevated them to this list. Without further ado, here are the best new motorcycle helmets of 2013:
- AGV Pista GP Helmet – Project 46
- Arai Defiant Helmet
- Bell Rogue Helmet
- HJC CL-17 Helmet – Victory
- Icon Alliance Helmet – Dark
- Scorpion EXO-R2000 Helmet – Dispatch
- Shoei GT-Air Helmet – Wanderer
- Shoei RF-1200 Helmet – Dominance
AGV Pista GP Helmet – Project 46
Ah, the ultimate race helmet – the AGV Pista GP Project 46. Pista is the Italian word for track, after all. Developed by a special division of the storied Italian helmet maker AGV in conjunction with nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Pista GP was made for racing right from the start. It is very lightweight thanks to a total carbon construction, has an enormous field of view, and is perhaps the most aerodynamic lid available.
The ventilation is remarkable, only adding to the extensive list of comfort-focused features – a motorcycle racer does not want to even have to think about the helmet when competing. You do pay for these phenomenal features, though, and for the exclusivity of owning a lid which is designed to protect one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time. But, what is your brain worth to you?
Arai Defiant Helmet
Every motorcycle rider knows Arai; of course, so do Formula One, NASCAR, and many other race series’ participants and fans since it is the most widely used helmet in sanctioned competitions. The company knows safety helmets, and every professional knows this. The new lid from Arai, the Defiant, builds on this reputation and takes it to new heights. It is race-bred, but is not made specifically for racing.
The Defiant is designed to be the perfect motorcycle helmet for riders of nakeds, standards and streetfighters. It is constructed to more easily allow the more upright riding position employed by riders of those bike types and incorporates extensive venting, mirrors the Arai RX-Q’s round-oval shape, has the highly desired Arai comfort features, a Pinlock-ready shield, and is both DOT and SNELL approved.
Bell Rogue Helmet
Bell Helmets has been making motorcycle helmets for over 40 years, and the name still carries a definitive caché within the industry. Since the company reinvigorated itself after a buy-out, Bell has been creating motorcycle helmets par excellence and has broken new ground with innovative new features and designs. The Bell Rogue stands as a perfect example of the manufacturer’s focus on the cutting edge.
Though it appears as if it is just a half helmet, it actually has many attributes which give it ¾ helmet functionality. The “muzzle” is the primary reason for this; it covers the mouth and nose areas, is lined with a comfortable and removable breath guard, and is itself removable and held on using magnetic force and a push-button snap. The Rogue is also lightweight, is made in three different shell sizes, has a fully removable and washable interior and is DOT approved.
Best 2013 Bell Helmet
HJC CL-17 Helmet – Victory
The first look at the HJC CL-17 Victory motorcycle helmet might make one believe that this is a used lid, but that is not the case at all. The purposely integrated ‘abrasions and scratches’ are akin to pre-distressed blue jeans and are there to add character. HJC has a well-earned reputation for producing motorcycle helmets that are safe, stylish, feature-rich and affordable, and this is about as far as one has to look to see this demonstrated.
The CL-17 is built from a lightweight polycarbonate material shaped using CAD, is equipped with HJC’s Advanced Channeling Ventilation System (ACS) for warm weather comfort, uses a Pinlock-ready face shield that blocks 95% of the sun’s harmful rays, and is fully certified by the DOT and SNELL.
Best 2013 HJC Helmet
Icon Alliance Helmet – Dark
Icon is a manufacturer known for treading on the edge of acceptability while still making gear which is safe, durable and very, very stylish. This is most certainly the case with the all new Icon Alliance “Dark” motorcycle helmet. The blackness of this helmet is undeniable thanks to the Rubatone matte finish, which seems to actually absorb light like a black hole. Even the branding is in black monochrome, and it includes a ‘dark’ tinted face shield to keep everything in line with its name. Its medium oval shape will appeal to a wide market segment, but its advanced, wind-tunnel designed shape will catch attention without needing to don it.
The Alliance features twin channel venting, a fully removable and washable anti-bacterial Hydradry interior, the Icon Prolock pin which holds the face shield down even at high speeds, and sports an “All World Standard” in safety certifications, something Icon is rather proud of and should make the Alliance safe to use anywhere.
Best 2013 Icon Helmet
Scorpion EXO-R2000 Helmet – Dispatch
Scorpion is a relative newcomer compared to many helmet manufacturers, but they were created by and are staffed with individuals who have many decades of experience making motorcycle helmets. This has given them an advantage in that they can design high quality helmets with innovative features that keep the rest of the industry on their toes.
The Scorpion EXO-R2000 is the top-of-the-line lid from them and was developed with significant input from Scorpion’s many sponsored racers. The strong, proprietary composite shell is teardrop shaped and was tested in a wind tunnel to prove its worth. Comfort was not left out as a highly advanced ventilation system is combined with a removable, washable and moisture-wicking interior, Scorpion’s AirFit cheekpad setup, and the Ellip-tech shield sealing mechanism to keep the rider happy and cool. The EXO-R2000 also carries both DOT and SNELL safety certifications.
Best 2013 Scorpion Helmet
Shoei GT-Air Helmet – Wanderer
Shoei is a helmet manufacturer which really needs no introduction to motorcycle riders. They have been covering the heads of both street-going and track-inhabiting bike owners for over 50 years. Shoei’s new GT-Air motorcycle helmet is sure to help the company to make it another 50. Its feature list is long and inclusive.
First, the shell is of Shoei’s AIM composite and incorporates a molded-in spoiler which serves to improve the already great aerodynamics of the lid. Next, it make use of the new CNS-1 face shield which is larger than its predecessor, is Pinlock ready, and is fastened to the lid with the QR-N baseplate system. Making things sweet on the inside are a full removable and washable moisture-wicking 3D Max-Dry liner, ventilation developed in the wind tunnel and tuned to allow plenty of air with less noise, an internal sun shield which is easily deployed and retracted, and a breath guard and chin curtain which can each be installed when needed. And, there is much more, up to an including the fact that the Shoei GT-Air is DOT safety certified.
Best 2013 Shoei Helmet
Shoei RF-1200 Helmet – Dominance
Shoei managed to get a second motorcycle helmet on this list, and once the RF-1200 motorcycle helmet is seen, there is no question why. The RF-1200 stands as the culmination of Shoei’s 50+ years of helmet manufacturing expertise.
Developed by the company’s top engineers and designers, and then driven through one of the industry’s most intense quality assurance processes, this lid has been made to be the best. The shell is made from Shoei’s proprietary AIM+ composite, and is crafted to be aerodynamically as perfect as possible thanks to its shape, very compact dimensions, and in-house wind tunnel testing.
Continuing the look at the outside, the face shield is a wideview 3D-shaped and firmly closing CWR-1 model, which is affixed using Shoei’s adjustable Q-RE baseplate system for easy changes. Inside the RF-1200 is a fully removable and washable moisture-wicking liner 3D designed for the perfect fit which covers the dual-layer, multi-density EPS protective foam that is channeled for ultimate ventilation. Of course, a removable chin curtain and a removable breath guard, along with removable ear pads, are included – and, the RF-1200 carries both DOT and SNELL certifications.
Best 2013 Shoei Helmet
Written By: JC Current