The Best Half & Open Face Helmets You Can Buy [Updated Q2 2021]
Open-face helmets are popular options for riders who want increased airflow, unobstructed views, and moderate protection. Unlike full-face helmets, they won’t offer all-around protection and will leave areas of the face and skull vulnerable in the event of an accident, however, the majority of models are designed with your safety in mind.
Even so, we’ve put together a list of our favorites, separating the wheat from the chaff, with a goal of matching you with the best open-faced helmet for your needs.
But how do we decide what makes the list and what doesn’t? Well, a good open-face helmet will offer the best level of protection possible. It should also offer distraction free-riding without any annoying whistles or loose hardware.
And it shouldn’t pinch or hurt anyone wearing it! Of course, different budgets can afford different levels of quality, but we always ensure that our selections offer the best return for your investment, whether you’re spending a hundred dollars or a thousand.
So without further ado, let’s look at the best open-face helmets you can buy this year!
The Biltwell Bonanza is a cheap open-face helmet that offers DOT-approved protection with a price tag that literally anyone can afford. It’s a no-frills open-face lid that ticks the right boxes and features a few nice features to elevate it above the really cheap models. If budget is your primary concern, this is the helmet for you. It just happens to offer decent protection too.
So why do we recommend it? Because if you’re going to buy a cheap open-face, you might as well buy one from a reputable manufacturer that knows how to make a great value-for-money product. Biltwell is a name that we trust, and even these cheaper helmets are made to a respectable standard. The shell, for example, is made from a tough molded ABS material and paired with a custom-shaped EPS inner shell. It even has a hand-stitched inner liner with Lycra paneling.
For a product with such a low price tag, you get a good return on your investment. The Bonanza is comfortable to wear, looks cool, and performs its primary function well enough. It has plenty of positive reviews that support those claims. But even if you’re left disappointed by it, it only cost a hundred dollars, so you can’t really complain!
The LS2 Verso is an affordable open-face motorcycle helmet that’s ideal for lightweight touring and commuting. Comprising of a Kinetic Polymer Alloy shell and tough EPS liner, the LS2 Verso is DOT-approved, offers a comfortable snug fit, and has a surprising number of plus features that give it great value for money.
The Verso uses a full-face shield to keep riders comfortable. As standard, it ships with a fog-resistant shield, with an air diffuser that’s designed to help combat fogging-up and provide adequate ventilation. This helmet also includes a drop-down sun visor too, though it’s not as effective as it could be and has an annoying habit of retracting when you lift the main face shield. It can also cause a whistling noise at speed too.
That being said, this is a budget helmet, and you do get an excellent return for your investment, minor quibbles aside. The build quality is excellent, it’s comfortable to wear, the airflow is great, and the addition of a quick-release chin strap and drop-down visor elevates this helmet above the usual budget products. You get a lot of helmet for not a lot of money.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and inexpensive retro-themed half-face helmet, then the Bel Custom 500 has long been an obvious choice. It’s smart, stylish, comfortable, and well-made—all for an affordable price tag.
The latest version of the legendary Bell Custom 500 has a number of new improvements over its already successful predecessors. It now features a new headform for a closer and more comfortable fit. The new shell sits lower on your head. And thanks to a selection of shell and EPS sizes, it’s easier to get a better fit than ever before. Still, it’s worth mentioning that those with larger and rounder heads might find the Custom 500 line to be too uncomfortable, and tight in all the wrong places.
However, if you’ve got a narrower oval head, the Custom 500 should fit like a glove. The helmet includes a strong multi-density EPS liner, a padded strap with a stainless steel D-ring closure, a leather D-ring pull tab, and a five-year warranty. Plus, this helmet comes in four different color options: black, matte black, white, and silver flake.
Next up, we have another Bell model. This time, it’s the Bell Mag 9 Sena helmet. The Mag 9 has been on the market for quite a few years now, and it’s always receiving great reviews. Not only is it a strong, secure, and comfortable open-face helmet, but it also features bold styling and the ability to accommodate a Sena SMH 10 Bluetooth Stereo Headset and Intercom device.
The Mag 9 features a tough but lightweight polycarbonate ABS shell, a choice of visor and shield options, a unique design that sets it apart from the crowd. The helmet can be worn with or without the visor, and with or without the face shield too. On the inside, it boasts a practical drop-down sun shield, contoured cheek pads, an antibacterial microfiber liner, and comfortable airflow thanks to the use of velocity flow vents.
Why most riders recommend this helmet is the fact that it accommodates Sena’s communication technology. It saves the hassle of having to adapt a helmet to use third-party equipment or pay inflated prices for a helmet that can only use a company’s own proprietary system. As you can guess by the price tag, the Sena SMH10 has to be purchased separately. However, the Bell Mag 9 is a cool and inexpensive helmet even for riders who aren’t looking for Bluetooth tech.
The Nolan N21 is a safe and secure helmet with a very stylish look. It’s compact and lightweight without compromising its safety rating or integrity. The N21 uses a wide shield that covers the face whilst offering a wide field of vision, making it an ideal choice for commuters and city riders. Featuring a polycarbonate shell, a snug interior with a removable and antibacterial lining, and a smart micro lock retention system, the Nolan N21 is the full package.
You’re either going to love or hate the VPS sunscreen. It’s quite cool that it retracts into a special recess on the helmet, but some riders simply prefer wearing sunglasses instead. However, if you like the look of this Nolan, we recommend leaving your sunglasses at home because you’ll have a hard time getting them to fit on your face with this helmet.
The only real negative point is the lack of ventilation. Though, on an open-face helmet, it’s not such a big deal. However, a vent or two would have been a nice addition. Still, that’s hardly a complaint because apart from that, this helmet is one of our favorites.
The Schuberth M1 Pro is a premium open-face helmet. As Schuberth is a German company, you can rest assured that no feature was left untested in the development of this helmet. It has been wind-tunnel tested, aerodynamically sculpted, and designed to provide a luxury fit at a mid-range price point.
The shell is constructed using Schubert’s Direct Fiber Processing technique, an innovative process that uses glass fiber and resin with a heated mold to create a strong but lightweight shell. It features a tough and secure inner shell, and a high-quality and allergen-free removable antibacterial liner. The M1 Pro has good airflow thanks to a rear vent but without too much noise thanks to the helmet’s optimized aero acoustics.
Other cool features included a visor peak, an integrated sun shield, and the option to upgrade to a Pinlock-ready face shield. It does have space to accommodate Schuberth’s own proprietary microphone and audio system (SC1M) but it’s not universal. If it could use third-party Bluetooth technology and come with a Pinlock shield as standard, this helmet would be almost perfect.
At the premium end of the open-face helmet spectrum, we have the Shoei J-Cruise. The most up-to-date model, the J-Cruise II, is one of the most advanced open-face helmets on the market. Using Advanced Integrated Matrix technology, the shell is compact and lightweight without compromising its overall strength. It also uses a multi-piece EPS liner to assist cooling whilst offering optimum protection.
The inside of the J-Cruise II is made up of a 3D Max-Dry washable interior liner and cheek pads made using a five-layer foam construction. The Pinlock- ready face shield is made with a scratch-resistant coating with a wide, cured construction for increased peripheral vision. The helmet also uses an inner sun visor that blocks up to 99% of harmful UV rays.
It’s a comfortable helmet and one of the best on the market. Riders love the fact that it’s compatible with Shoei and Sena’s SRL Bluetooth Headset, and because it comes with an industry-leading seven-year warranty. Available in a range of shell sizes and color options, if you’re looking for a premium open-faced helmet, start your search here.
If money is no object, then the Arai Ram-X is worth looking at. Yes, it is expensive for an open-face helmet but it is DOT and SNELL certified, packs some of the most advanced technology in the segment, and will give you the best protection possible from an open-face lid. They call this one a premium open-face touring helmet, and for good reason.
Built around a Z-compound enriched Super Fiber Laminate shell, the Arai Ram-X is both tough and lightweight. Inside, the helmet boasts multiple-foam interiors, removable and replaceable cheek pads, and a practical VAS-Z Pro Shade sun shield. Ventilation is provided by Arai’s celebrated Corsair X ventilation system, complemented with side cowl exhausts for optimized airflow.
As a premium option, we do with that Arai would consider branching out into using more advanced construction and safety methods, such as a MIPS system. Still, Arai is one of the most reliable names in the business with years of experience making quality helmets, so they do know what they’re doing. No matter which way you look at it, the Arai Ram-X is an advanced helmet that offers a premium riding experience to anyone who wears one.
If you absolutely need to have a half helmet, then Bell has you covered. The preferred skid-lid of many a cruiser rider, the Pit Boss has been around in one form or another for decades, as it is one of the original shapes that Bell started to make back in the 1960s. Fret not that this helmet is made out of the 1960s materials, however.
This lid is made out of what Bell labels as TriMatrix material: Fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar. It has a flip-down sun visor hidden behind the peak, and even includes speaker pockets in the ear guards so you can fit a comms device to the helmet.
Even better, in terms of ergonomics, Bell’s SpeedDial system lets you put the helmet on slightly loose, and then twist the dial to tighten it snug to your head, making sure that it fits perfectly every time. If it gets a little cold, a neck curtain comes with the helmet that fits easily into a pocket or backpack and attaches in seconds.