Old is gold, we have heard of the saying countless times and when it comes to motorcycle helmets, it is actually true!
Retro motorcycle helmets, also called vintage helmets, are generally open-faced since they are most similar to actual helmets from the time. Full-face helmets are rare and modular helmets are scarce too.
Though open-face helmets or half helmets are not the safest, especially for adventure riders or street racers, they aren’t all bad. They have a classic vibe, great ventilation and are a statement piece for every motorist’s protective gear.
In this comprehensive guide, we have covered all bases to help you pick the best retro motorcycle helmet, complete with reviews on 10 of the best ones available and pros and cons of getting one.
The 10 Best Retro Motorcycle Helmets
Retro motorcycle helmets are not exactly novelty pieces but they are inspired from old-school style helmets and are a classic item to add to your gear. Since they aren’t the safest for on-road use, we have carefully selected retro helmets that provide a secure fit, are durable against impacts and offer the best features. Here are 10 of the best available:
Editor’s Choice – Most Impact Protective
Inspired by the helmets of the 1970s, the BELL Bullitt full face motorcycle helmet is constructed with a carbon fibre shell making it extremely lightweight and airy.
It has a low-profile structure, especially appreciated by street racers, as it does not lift when speeding against the wind and looks classy. Also, the interior is a layer of EPS foam for protection and a leather lining which is fully removable and washable.
Impact protection and the fitting of the helmet is enhanced by contoured cheek pads that come with built-in speaker pockets, allowing riders the convenience of listening to music on-the-go or talking to friends.
In addition, the full face helmet combats heat exhaustion using plenty of mesh intake and exhaust vents, including a chin vent which helps circulate air around the rider’s head and dry out the sweat.
The BELL Bullitt motorcycle helmet is a modern take on vintage-styled helmets.
Value Choice – Most True to Size
The Vega X390 motorcycle helmet is an open-face, retro structure with modern features. Constructed of an ABS thermoplastic alloy shell, the helmet weighs only 2.5 lbs and feels like wearing air on the head.
The liner is made of a plush, wick-dri material that is moisture-wicking and keeps the riders dry and sweat-free in warmer weather. Also, the open face helmet attempts to improve impact protection, the rider’s viewing field and protect them from harmful UV rays by integrating an HD clarity drop-down sun shield.
The retro helmet is a classic design and securely fits on the head using a padded ratchet-style chin strap which hooks and unhooks easily, even while wearing gloves.
Though it can get noisy at high speeds, the open face helmet has sufficient removable padding in the cheek area which reduces wind turbulence and noise levels.
The Vega X390 open face motorcycle helmet is a retro-style helmet packed with features offering all the basics in less than $99.
Unique Choice – Most Aerodynamic
This half-helmet by Daytona is constructed with an ABS outer shell in a low-profile style for improved durability and impact protection of the head.
Since the Skull Crossbones is a half-helmet, it is extremely lightweight and best for daily wear. It is also true to size and comfortable to wear, especially in warm climates.
The chin strap has a Y-style, lock retention system that can easily be operated using gloves and adjusts using a slider for a personalised, snug fit.
The Daytona Skull Crossbones Half helmet exceeds expectations and offers great features under one umbrella.
Premium Choice – Most Durable
The BELL Broozer is a modular motorcycle helmet, made of a polycarbonate shell that protects the rider’s head from head injuries and fatigue.
It offers the freedom to choose between the security of speeding with a full face helmet and the convenience of riding slow and steady with open-face style.
The chin bar is easily removed, with and without gloves, by two levers on the underside. Also, the modular helmet turns weatherproof using an integrated visor which prevents water, dust and wind from fogging up the view.
The BELL Broozer helmet is an expensive purchase but it is worth every penny, providing safety and convenience in a retro-style helmet.
Stylish Choice – Most Lightweight
Composed in fibreglass composite, the ScorpionEXO Belfast open face helmet shell is lightweight, durable and has an attractive design.
The interior is made of a nylon, acrylic and polyester blend with a moisture-wicking plush liner integrated to keep riders comfortable and cool in the summers.
To protect against harmful UV rays, the open face helmet has a retractable, convenient SpeedView sun visor. Also, the chin strap is plush padded and has a buckle for easy open and shut.
A perfect mix of vintage design and modern technology, the ScorpionEXO Belfast open face motorcycle helmet ticks all the boxes and offers impact protection, UV proofing as well as a plush and comfortable lining for a smooth ride daily.
Under-Rated Choice – Best Value for Money
In less than $100, FUEL Helmets have managed to manufacture a full-face motorcycle helmet that is also DOT certified! If that isn’t one reason to get this helmet, the other may not sound well either.
Constructed of a lightweight thermoplastic shell, the full face motorcycle helmet keeps riders from damaging their head during accidents and prevents neck fatigue. Also, it is top-coated with anti-UV paint to keep it from heating up under the sun and raising temperatures inside the helmet.
The interior comes with removable cheek pads for convenience and vents on the chin and brow to keep cool in warmer weather.
This full face helmet by FUEL helmets is a one-of-a-kind, DOT certified structure with a double-digit price tag.
Best Overall – Most Convenient
The Bell Rogue Cruiser motorcycle helmet looks like a half-helmet but fits like an open-face, this is what gives it an edge among other retro-style helmets.
Made of a carbon fibre composite shell, the BELL Rogue helmet is lightweight and durable. It comes with a vented roost guard, convenient for riders looking for better aerodynamics in a half-helmet.
The interior liner is integrated with a flex energy management system which allows rotational forces upon impact to distribute evenly and cause minimal to no damage to the rider’s head.
The BELL Rogue Cruiser motorcycle helmet is heavily inspired by vintage style helmets and has a modern touch of convenience, safety and comfort for an all-in-one experience while riding speed.
Recent Launch – Best for Daily Wear
The Raider open face motorcycle helmet is constructed with a lightweight thermoplastic shell so riders can be secure and ride safely without feeling strain on the head.
It comes with a tinted visor that can snap on and off easily to protect against the harmful UV rays and provide easy access to medics when needed.
Also, it has a rubber bead trim, a classic retro look. Fitting of the helmet is true to size and is personalised using a double-d ring chin strap.
This open face helmet by Raider is an underrated piece of equipment, offering all the basics needed in a helmet at an affordable price tag.
All-Rounder’s Choice – Best Networking
The GLX M14 Cruiser half helmet is designed to maximise impact protection and comfort for riders. Constructed with an ABS shell, the helmet holds well against impacts and does not dent easily.
Also, the helmet protects the riders from harmful UV rays through an integrated sun shield and a smoke shield, claiming to ward off 99% of the sun’s glare.
In a whopping price tag of $60, the helmet also offers comm pockets and audio enhancement compartments.
The GLX M14 Cruiser open face helmet provides safety, durability and style along with the convenience of having communication panels, all of it in just $60. It is truly a must-have.
Recommended by Experts – Most Novel Pick
The SENA Momentum Inc. Pro full face motorcycle helmet is composed of a fibreglass composite shell to reduce weight and improve durability and style.
The interior, along with a layer of EPS foam, is designed with a quick dry, removable and washable liner for complete convenience. It also comes with intake vents at the top, in the chin and exhaust ports at the rear to keep riders cool in the summer.
Along with a pinlock face shield, a breath guard and a chin curtain, this $760 helmet comes with a QHD action camera built-in the centre of the helmet, powered by a single touch for easy access.
The SENA Momentum Inc. Pro full face helmet is an all-in-one, aggressively retro-looking helmet, perfect for adventure/dual-sport riders.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Purchasing A Retro Motorcycle Helmet
Every motorcycle comes with a list of pros and cons, it may work for one motorist and may not for the other. Retro motorcycle helmets have been criticised by many for their unsafe structure but despite it, there are advantages to getting one and in this list, we’ve highlighted it all. Have a look:
Since retro motorcycle helmets are half helmets, better known as open-faced helmets, they do not offer the best level of protection. The lack of chain bar and open sides make the rider vulnerable to having their face wounded during impacts or at least open to harmful UV rays, road debris, dust and rain.
Field of Vision
Despite the minimal protection, the lack of visors and chin bar allows riders a full view of what is in front of them and in their peripheral vision. This is especially advantageous to daily commuters who are not professionally speeding or travelling to the mountains through tough terrains.
Open face helmets also do not have much bulk going on in their structural design so they are quite lightweight and can be easily worn and removed, even with thick winter gloves on. Also, riders report less headaches and neck strain when wearing open face helmets.
Since the sides and front of the open face helmet are unobstructed, there is plenty of room for air to circulate around the rider’s head, keeping them cool and sweat-free in the summers. When the weather gets chilly, you can get cheek pads or mufflers to add to the helmet and be warm.
Unsurprisingly, open face helmets are quite noisy and there is little to no cancellation of wind turbulence. However, for regular commuters, this is particularly beneficial since they need to hear other cars driving by, motorists speeding or even a honk for trouble.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to buy second-hand vintage motorcycle helmets?
Since helmets need to be replaced every five years, it is best to stay away from purchasing second-hand helmets that have been worn for longer or have been involved in an accident. Unless they are a novelty piece and will remain shelved, buying second hand helmets is not recommended.
Are vintage or retro motorcycle helmets safe to wear on the road?
Yes, for riders looking for an open face helmet that looks cool, offers minimal to decent protection and ventilation, retro motorcycle helmets are safe for on-road use. Make sure they are DOT or ECE certified, it helps law enforcement officers know the helmet can be used legally in the states as well as Europe.
How should I clean my motorcycle helmet?
Motorcycle helmets are easy to maintain and unless they have been involved in an accident (in which case replace it immediately), cleaning dust, debris and grime off the helmet is a no-fuss job. Simply take a damp cloth and some soap to wipe it clean.
Retro motorcycle helmets have picked up pace in recent times and companies now offer at least one in their collection. Some motorists also keep a collection of helmets inspired from novelty pieces or trends like Marvel movies and such.
But before you zero in on one, it is important to know what entails, the highs and the lows so you are well-prepared for whatever comes. With comprehensive products and buying guides like these, you are well on your way to getting your first retro helmet.