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The problem of helmet choice.
Choosing a motorcycle helmet would be so much easier if it was just a size and color, but it isn't. There's not only quite a few different brands, but different safety ratings, aerodynamics, venting, graphics, visor choices... We could go on, but you get the idea. For this, we're going to focus on the most prevalent and safe iteration of motorcycle helmet: The full face.
Why? Well, not only is it the safest kind of helmet you can cover your noggin with, but it's also nice not dealing with bugs smacking you in the face and having wind flapping your cheeks around like a bulldog. Plus, they won't let you on the track with a half-shell and some tracks won't even let you on with a modular helmet! But, in the end, we want what you want: Safety and good looks.
Weighing your options.
Arai is an excellent place to start, with 13 straight years of JD Power awards for best Helmet, you know you're getting something special. Arai, which is a third-generation family company, takes great pains to make sure each and every motorcycle helmet they make is built, painted and thoroughly inspected by human hands rather than a machine. The results of this unerring dedication are obvious from their most affordable Arai Vector 2 helmet all the way up to the Arai Corsair V. With amazing fit and finish, not to mention low wind noise and adjustable cheek/temple pads, Arai is a great choice.
Bell Helmets, founded in Bell, California in 1954, is one of those companies that you just know. We all remember our first helmets and most of them had the oval Bell logo right above the visor. Nowadays, Bell is one of the leaders in helmet technology, supplying their protection to Motorcycle racing, Formula 1, World Rally Championship and countless others. From the low priced Bell Vortex helmet that features a polycarbonate shell, removeable cheek pads, and the ClickRelease shield latch to the top-of-the-range Bell Star Carbon Helmet that features a lightweight 100% carbon fiber shell and a super stable aerodynamic profile to minimize buffeting and lift, Bell helmets is a company at the top of its game.
Shoei helmets have been around as long as the other guys, but with an unquenchable thirst to keep themselves at the forefront of helmet technology while staying a relatively small company, they really do make some of the best helmets out there. However, it costs to have the best. The entry-level Shoei Qwest helmet has a starting price of just over $300, but for what you get, it's quite a deal. A shell that is so strong it can only be cut with a laser, a proven 2.2db reduction in noise from the last model, an incredibly wide field of vision and safety features usually reserved for the higher levels of racing, you definitely get what you pay for. At the top of their range, the Shoei X-12 helmet takes that and expands on it, providing a refined look, excellent aerodynamics and a high level of safety and quality that only a Shoei can provide.
Icon is often overlooked in the world of serious sport/track riders, having made a huge name for themselves in the stunting community with over-the-top graphics and insane styling. But, here's the secret: They shouldn't be. For the past few years, Icon has been slowly rebranding themselves as a maker of incredibly high-quality motorcycle gear with an abundance of safety features while still managing to have the edge that got them where they are. Take their entry model, the Icon Alliance Helmet; it meets or exceeds the US, European, Australian and Japanese safety standards while still having a lightweight shell that was tested and refined in a wind tunnel. Same goes for their top of the range Icon Airframe helmet, which comes in a huge swath of colors and graphics, including a raw amber weave (Icon Airframe Construct) and a high-spec carbon fiber (Icon Airframe Carbon Lifeform). Despite what you may think, Icon isn't a brand to be scoffed at.
Wait, there's more?
AGV Helmets are also up in the ranks as a contender to rival the top dogs, with amazing offerings like the AGV K3 and the limited edition Valentino Rossi replica AGV Grid & AGV GP-Tech helmets, along with replicas from racing greats Barry Sheene, Giacomo Agostini and the ever-incredible Marco Simoncelli. Scorpion helmet is another option to look at, with low-price, high-quality offerings like the Scorpion EX0-400 up to the Scorpion EXO-R2000, which both come in a huge number of graphic/color combos.
In the end, though, the choice is ultimately up to you. We just hope we've shone some light on your path to finding your perfect helmet.