When it comes to motorcycle riding, one of the most essential accessories is the helmet.
However, while you want something both safe and reliable, there’s no reason to spend a fortune if you don’t have to.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of the best cheap motorcycle helmets so that you can make an informed choice for your next ride.
All of these models are highly rated without breaking the bank, so you can bike with confidence. Let’s see what they have to offer.
|1. Bell Qualifier Helmet
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|2. ICON Alliance Helmet
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|3. ICON Airmada helmet
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|4. HJC FG-17 Helmet
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|5. AGV K3 SV Helmet
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|6. HJC CL-Max 3 Helmet
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|7. GMax GM11 Adventure Snow
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|8. Bell Custom 500
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|9. Bell Pit Boss
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|10. LS2 Citation
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1 Bell Qualifier Helmet
If you’re familiar with motorcycle helmets at all, the name Bell should sound familiar. This brand has been around for a long time, and it’s one of the most respected in the industry. The Qualifier helmet is a perfect example of Bell’s attention to detail and high-quality features.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this helmet is the weight. At just over three pounds, it won’t feel heavy on longer rides. The lightweight design means that the Qualifier works well for both longer rides and everyday commuting.
Even though it’s so light, the shell is made of polycarbonate and ABS plastic, which are excellent at protecting your head in a collision.
As far as safety goes, the Qualifier is highly rated. The helmet is cleared for both the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Economic Commission for Europe.
Since the ECE has stricter regulations, you can feel good about wearing this helmet in all situations. Also, the Qualifier has a three-star rating from SHARP, an independent testing organization.
When it comes to airflow, this helmet is better than most. With four exhaust vents and multiple intakes on the front, you can stay cool in most weather. Riding in the summer heat can be challenging, but the Qualifier will help you remain comfortable.
Unfortunately, the ample airflow does create one minor setback: road noise. While most Bell helmets are relatively quiet, the Qualifier can be quite loud when you kick up the throttle. We highly recommend wearing earplugs most of the time to make the experience more tolerable.
The visibility of this helmet is excellent, although it doesn’t come with a pinlock visor. So, if you ride in conditions that can create fog, be aware that the inside of the helmet can get misty. Otherwise, the peripheral vision is wide enough, and the tinting helps reduce most of the sun’s glare.
2 ICON Alliance Helmet
Another well-known motorcycle helmet brand is ICON, and the Alliance is one of the better entry-level models out there. If you’re not a heavy rider or you don’t need a high-performance product, the Alliance is an excellent choice.
There are two versions of this helmet: the regular and the GT. Both options are great, but the GT comes with a drop-down sun visor. If you plan on riding in bright weather, this model may be a better choice.
One element to consider when shopping for a motorcycle helmet is the shape of the shell. The Alliance is designed for oval heads, making it feel a bit tight if you have a rounder skull.
However, those with a narrower face shape will appreciate the contours of the Alliance. This helmet is a bit heavier than others in its class, but the additional ounces won’t make too much of a difference unless you’re on a long-distance trip.
If you’ve purchased ICON helmets in the past, you may be familiar with the Hydra Dry interior lining. This component hasn’t changed much over the years, mostly because it was practically perfect when it first came out.
The lining does an excellent job of wicking away sweat while being soft and comfortable against your skin. Compared to other helmets at this price point, the Alliance is one of the better options available.
As far as disadvantages go, this helmet doesn’t have as much ventilation as it should. So, on hot summer days, you’ll feel the heat while riding.
That being said, a lack of vents does make the helmet quieter, so it’s a bit of a trade-off. We recommend using the Alliance in cooler temperatures as much as possible. Fortunately, because it’s so affordable, you can probably buy multiple helmets for different purposes.
3 ICON Airmada helmet
While the ICON brand is known for making high-quality entry-level helmets, the Airmada adds something unique to the company’s lineup: killer design graphics.
If you’re looking for a helmet that will help you stand out from the pack, the Airmada is an excellent choice. It has one of the broadest selections of colors and designs available, so no matter your style, you can find one that fits.
When comparing different cheap motorcycle helmets, one element to pay attention to is the size of the shell. For the uninitiated, the shell size refers to the outer materials.
Typically, manufacturers make one or two shells for their helmets. To accommodate a more extensive selection of riders, they either add or remove the interior liner.
What sets the Airmada apart is that it comes with four distinct shells. This means that your size will be more precise, which can make a difference if you’re ever in a collision. The right shell will absorb impact better and transfer less of it to your skull and neck.
Interestingly, even with more shell sizes, the Airmada only has a two-star rating from SHARP. However, it is cleared for both the DOT and ECE, so you should feel confident about using it for everyday riding.
The likely reason for the low SHARP score is that the shell is made of polycarbonate, which is not as resilient as other materials. Overall, this helmet’s safety rating is adequate for its price point.
One of the best features of the Airmada is ICON’s proprietary Hydra Dry liner. This material is soft against your skin and helps wick away moisture while you ride. Compared to other helmets, you’ll feel extra comfortable with this model.
When it comes to ventilation, the Airmada is better than ICON’s other affordable helmet, the Alliance. However, more air does come at a price - this unit can be loud while you’re on the highway. A couple of earplugs, though, should help minimize the road noise.
4 HJC FG-17 Helmet
For most riders, safety is a top priority. However, in many cases, it can be tough to balance affordability with high safety ratings. A lot of motorcycle helmet brands trade one for the other, so it’s challenging to find a well-rated model that won’t hurt your pocketbook. At least, it would be if HJC didn’t offer the FG-17 Helmet.
When looking at the safety credentials of the FG-17, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the brand got the price wrong. However, it is both affordable and highly rated, giving it the best of both worlds.
Not only is the FG-17 cleared by the Department of Transportation and Economic Commission of Europe, but it has ratings from both SNELL and SHARP.
Since most helmets can’t stand up to SNELL’s rigorous testing, the fact that this model has the organization’s seal of approval means a lot. You can ride with supreme confidence, knowing that the FG-17 can take a beating.
Fortunately, this model isn’t just safe; it’s comfortable too. The EPS liner is coated with HJC’s patented Silvercool material, which feels great while wicking away sweat.
Even better, the ventilation on this helmet is excellent, so there will likely be less moisture while you ride anyway.
Another top selling point of the FG-17 is its wide field of vision. Best of all, it comes with anti-fog, anti-scratch, and UV-resistant coatings so that you can ride under any conditions.
The quick-release mechanism makes it easy to swap visors if you need something that can better block out the sun.
The only significant downside to this helmet is the road noise. While it’s not the loudest model we’ve seen, the sound can be off-putting.
However, if you wear earplugs or headphones while you ride, you can minimize this problem well enough. Overall, the FG-17 is one of the best helmets available at this price point.
5 AGV K3 SV Helmet
Since AGV is known for making racing helmets, you may be wondering why the brand is featured on this list. However, the K3 SV is much more affordable than you might think, all without sacrificing the quality present in other models.
That being said, you can spend even less and get the original K3, which has many of the same features. However, since this upgrade doesn’t cost that much, it’s worth it.
The K3 SV is a round helmet, making it ideal for those with round or slightly oval heads. If you have a narrower skull, you may not fit snugly inside, making the fit relatively uncomfortable.
The liner is shock-absorbing polystyrene, which is excellent for safety purposes, although not as soft as other liners we’ve seen.
One of the best reasons to buy the K3 SV is its safety rating. SHARP is a trusted third-party testing organization, and it gives this helmet four stars.
Considering that most other models in this class get three or two (if any), we have to give the K3 SV extra credit. Additionally, it’s rated for both the DOT and ECE, which should make you feel confident about riding with it.
As far as ventilation goes, the K3 SV is one of the most well-ventilated options available. It has intakes on the chin and forehead and plenty of exhaust vents to ensure optimal airflow.
What makes this feature even more impressive is that the extra ventilation doesn’t add much noise. Usually, a better airflow creates a louder helmet, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. We’re not saying the K3 SV is quiet, but it’s much better than you might expect.
The visibility of this helmet is also incredible, thanks to its wide field of vision and high-quality visor. Considering that this is technically a racing helmet, the high visibility makes sense. You need to be able to make snap decisions on the track, and you can do so with the K3 SV.
6 HJC CL-Max 3 Helmet
Although full-face helmets can be excellent for safety ratings and wind protection, they can also be somewhat cumbersome when you’re not on the road. To help get around this problem, you can buy a modular helmet.
These models are designed to open up in the front, enabling you to have much more versatility and flexibility without sacrificing quality. One of the best affordable modular helmets on the market is the CL-Max 3 from HJC.
One relative downside of modular motorcycle helmets is that they aren’t as highly rated for safety as full-face models.
The reason for this is because the mechanism that allows you to lift the front does compromise the structural integrity of the shell. So, even though the CL-Max 3 is certified by both the DOT and ECE, it won’t pass SNELL or SHARP testing.
Modular helmets are great for casual riding and commuting, but they can be somewhat risky for high-speed or long-distance traveling.
If you decide to take a long road trip with this helmet, you’ll be pleased to know that HJC cut spaces for Bluetooth headsets. This way, you can listen to music along the way without having to punish your ears.
Another benefit of the CL-Max 3 is the opening mechanism. Not only is the motion smooth and fluid, but you can operate it one-handed, even with gloves on. Since the modular design is meant for convenience, this feature can come in handy a lot.
There are a few downsides to this helmet, though. First, the ventilation isn’t that great, although a low airflow is a problem that plagues many modular designs.
The second disadvantage is the noise. Again, most helmets like this have a sound problem, thanks to the large slit along the edges. However, if you’re used to riding with a modular unit, this problem shouldn’t be too distracting.
Overall, the CL-Max 3 isn’t any better or worse than other models we’ve tried.
7 GMax GM11 Adventure Snow
For those who like to take their bike off-roading from time to time, a dual-sport helmet is a perfect accessory. Dual-sport models come with a visor and a wider field of vision so that you can handle rough terrain more easily.
If that sounds appealing, then you’ll appreciate this affordable helmet from GMax.
Because of the way dual-sport helmets are made, the GM11 comes with many different inherent benefits.
First, the peak (visor) helps shield your eyes from the sun, making it an ideal accessory for summertime riding.
Second, the visor gives you more visibility, both on the sides and from top to bottom. Plus, if you prefer to use goggles while hitting the dirt, you can remove the visor as necessary.
Another distinct advantage of the GM11 (and dual-sport helmets in general) is the ventilation. Since off-roading can make you work up a sweat quickly, you need a helmet with excellent airflow.
Fortunately, this model will keep your head cool, whether you’re on the dirt or the road. Not only that, but the interior liner is the proprietary Coolmax material, which absorbs body heat and moisture better than most alternatives.
If you like to ride with music on, you’ll appreciate the internal cutouts of the GM11. These spaces enable you to wear Bluetooth headphones, which can also be useful if you ride with others while off-roading. Without these insets, your ears would be sore after an hour or so on the trail.
As far as disadvantages, the GM11 doesn’t have many. Our most significant complaint is that the interior can be noisy, particularly at high speeds.
The sound does get worse if you wear goggles since there is no barrier against the wind. However, considering that this problem affects most dual-sport helmets, it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.
8 Bell Custom 500
When it comes to casual riding, nothing beats an open-face helmet. Whether you’re cruising around the city or heading out into the countryside, these helmets give you adequate protection with exceptional freedom and versatility.
Bell is one of the top brands making three-quarter helmets, and the Custom 500 is one of the most affordable options available. Also, considering Bell’s unique design, this model is fairly stylish. It has a sleek, retro appearance that will turn heads when you ride past.
One outstanding feature we noticed immediately was that the Custom 500 has five different shell sizes. Rather than using interior liners to make the helmet tighter or looser, Bell has crafted individual shells for each rider.
The primary benefit of having a custom shell size is that it will protect your head better. Even though three-quarter helmets are not as safe as full-face models, the Custom 500 offers excellent protection.
When it comes to internal comfort, the liner of the Custom 500 is both soft and plush. The surface is a woven fabric, so the helmet feels better than most other models out there. Underneath, Bell uses EPS foam, which absorbs impact if you’re ever in a collision.
One issue that plagues many three-quarter helmets is visibility. On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about a limited field of vision as you would with a full-face model. On the other hand, if you’re facing the sun, it can be incredibly hard to see.
Thankfully, the Custom 500 comes with a detachable sun visor. Best of all, the visor can flip up so that it’s not in the way while you’re not on the road. With so many designs and color options, you can look even more stylish with this helmet.
9 Bell Pit Boss
If you’re looking for something lightweight, casual and easy to use, the Bell Pit Boss is an excellent choice. Because it’s a half helmet, it’s one of the simplest models you can find. It looks and works much like a bicycle helmet, except it’s rated for motorcycle use.
Bell is widely known for making high-quality half and three-quarter helmets, and the Pit Boss is a perfect example. Not only does it incorporate Bell’s unique style, but it offers supreme comfort and versatility.
As far as protection goes, the Pit Boss uses a high-quality polycarbonate shell. The material is interwoven for better resilience against impacts, so you can feel confident while riding. Also, this helmet is cleared by both the DOT and ECE, so you know that it’s been rigorously tested.
Although the Pit Boss does have excellent safety certifications, be aware that half helmets are less safe than full-face models. Since most of your head is exposed, you want to be hyper-aware of your surroundings. A high-speed collision can be even more dangerous.
To help protect your head and make the Pit Boss more comfortable, Bell has installed soft side straps that cover your ears. The interior liner is also plush and comes with a woven covering that caresses your skin.
Visibility is always excellent with a half helmet, but Bell takes things a step further by offering a drop-down sun visor. This way, if you’re riding into the sunset (or sunrise), you won’t get blinded by the light.
If you wear glasses already, however, the visor can be a pain. This happens because it sits close to the face, pushing your lenses against your nose the whole time. However, if you don’t have glasses, you may appreciate the wider field of vision offered by the visor.
10 LS2 Citation
When talking about motorcycle helmet brands, LS2 hasn’t been around that long. However, the company has been making a name for itself by producing many high-quality racing and full-face models. The Citation is a decent offering that won’t break the bank, making it ideal for riders on a budget.
One of the primary selling points of the Citation is its lightweight design. You can choose between fiberglass and carbon fiber shells, and both materials are much lighter than polycarbonate.
Although the weight of the helmet may make it seem flimsy, many riders prefer these materials. Both fiberglass and carbon fiber can absorb impacts at high speeds, making them an ideal choice for motorcyclists of all skill levels.
Another benefit of the Citation is its visibility. You may be familiar with the pinlock visor, which helps reduce fog inside the helmet.
LS2 has a proprietary version of that, which is called the fog fighter system (FFS). So, if you don’t want to have to buy a pinlock separately, this helmet will be much more convenient.
Beyond its anti-fog capabilities, the Citation does offer a wide field of vision that works in most environments and situations. You don’t have to worry about many blind spots while you’re zipping down the highway.
As far as safety ratings go, this helmet is a little above average. It’s certified by both the DOT and ECE, and it has a three-star rating by SHARP. While this score isn’t that high, many helmets at this price point have no SHARP rating at all.
If we had to pick a significant downside to the Citation, it would be the noise factor. However, considering that it comes with adequate ventilation, we would expect it to be relatively loud.
Compared to other models in its class, the Citation is average, so the noise shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.
Order Your Motorcycle Helmet Today
If you’re ready to hit the open road, you need a high-quality helmet. Contact us today to place an order, and you’ll receive your model in no time. When it comes to the best cheap motorcycle helmets, we have you covered.