As a motorcycle rider, protection means everything to you. It's important to get a helmet that's safe and durable. Retro helmets offer a lot in the way of their quality, and durability. There are many helmet options out there, and you could spend a lot of time shopping around trying to find the right one. We've made the process easy by doing the research for you. Here are our reviews of the six best retro helmets on the market.
Bell Moto 3
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Scorpion EXO Belfast
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Bell Bullitt Helmet
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Bell Custom 500
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1 Bell Moto-3
If you're into throwback models, style and comfort, you're going to love the Bell Moto 3 in all its 70s glory. This iconic helmet is legendary in its own right.
If you're familiar with Bell at all, you know this is a review worth reading.
The Bell Moto 3 is nice and strong due to the polycarbonate outer shell material. It's available in five sizes, from XS to XXL, so anyone can wear it.
But if the size needs adjusting, the cheek pieces on the sides can be taken out to make it fit smaller or larger, whichever you desire. If you're not a fan of glares when you're riding, the plastic peak on the front will solve that problem.
The sides of the peak can be adjusted so that most of the sunlight is blocked. Visibility is great, thanks to the massive opening on the front of the helmet.
This helmet is the epitome of safety, and to top it off — it comes in a variety of colors.
The round shape that's advertised is more of an oval shape. That can be an issue for people with round heads.
The visor on the peak of the helmet can be a bit flimsy and lifts the faster you ride, which can be a bit discomforting. But this can be removed before riding by pulling it off the snaps.
There are no intake or exhaust vents for your head, so there's no way to receive cool air in, leaving your head sweaty on a hot day.
If you're looking for equipment for off-road use, this may not be the helmet for you. It's seen as more of a hybrid street helmet.
The Bell Moto 3 is DOT-certified and ECE tested and certified, meeting the mandatory safety requirements. It's also SNELL approved but has not been SHARP tested.
With that said, the Bell Moto 3 is durable and of premium quality.
2 Scorpion Belfast
The Belfast Helmet is a cross between classy and cool. If you remember the days of the cool Fonz in the black leather jacket, yeah, that's how Belfast makes you feel.
This handsome open-face helmet stands well against its competitors.
The hand-laid, multilayered, fiberglass outer shell on this helmet comes in four colors: Matte black, candy red, pearl white and metallic blue denim. The foam lining covers nearly your entire head and cradles it like a memory foam pillow.
Great visibility is what you get with the Belfast. The three-quarter, open-face is a great feature for the helmet, and it allows the rider to have good peripheral vision. And the SpeedView sun visor is an added plus.
There's little ventilation in the fiberglass shell, so heat and moisture will build up under the foam padding. Cleaning this helmet may be a challenge due to the foam. Part of the lining can be removed to clean it, but it is still difficult to clean through the foam.
As for certifications, the Belfast seems to have only the bare minimum, the Department of Transportation certification. But don't let that fool you.
This is overall a safe helmet, although it has not been tested against other major standards. You genuinely feel safe with the extra head protection, and the padding is low enough to give additional protection to the back of the neck also.
Once you're strapped in, it's a secure snug fit thanks to the double D-ring chin strap. That gives the helmet the right amount of adjustment you need to ensure it isn't going anywhere.
3 Biltwell Gringo
If you've ever wanted to take a step back into time, just put on the Biltwell Gringo, and you might feel like you are. The Gringo is sleek, it's practical, and it's safe. Everything you want in a helmet.
Let's look a little closer at it.
This simplistic style consists of a single shape with two holes. The exterior is rugged and dependable.
The helmet is a bit rounder than most models, which means it will most likely fit the average Joe a little better than most. It'll fit almost any head with sizes ranging from XS to XXL.
The Gringo isn't just nice to look at, it also feels good. The padding is soft and plush against your head. Even at high speeds on a bumpy road, you'll feel the comfort.
This helmet is customizable, as it has snaps that you can attach a sun visor to, which means you can swap it out whenever you want. Note that you will need to purchase your own visor.
The padding is also convenient because it's removable, which makes it easy to wash.
While the helmet feels good to the head, the neck strap is a bit abrasive. Fair warning, this could be a problem on long rides. That is something you will want to adjust as appropriate to make your ride as comfortable as possible.
Noise is also something you'll want to be wary of. With only one front opening and no vents, road noise is an issue.
Not having a built-in sun visor doesn't help in this regard; it only makes it worse, as there's likely to be a lot of wind in your ears.
Gringo has been certified and fully approved for the highway. It has the DOT certification and has been cleared for European roads and tested and rated by SNELL.
Between the ABS thermoplastic and the padding, you're pretty safe with this helmet. The D-ring strap adds a layer of snugness to help prevent slippage or shifting during your ride.
4 Bell Bullet
The Bell Bullitt is one of the newer helmets on the market. It's been around since 2012. You'll find there's a lot of versatility in this helmet.
Let's take a deeper look at this instant classic.
The Bullitt has a carbon fiber composite shell. That makes it extremely durable and protective.
Despite this durability, it weighs less than 4 pounds which makes it easy to carry. It's available in a range of sizes so it will fit anyone.
It's also available in an array of colors and designs. The inside material consists of hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial components.
The liner is removable and washable. You get a clear peripheral view due largely to the subdued chin guard. This improves your overall visibility.
With the Bullitt, plan for a noisy ride because it is loud. There were no thought processes here to include anything that might make the ride with this helmet a quiet one.
This helmet has great ventilation. It's among the few that offers options when it comes to what you need — heat or air. There are five front entry vents, and the front chin vent can be geared to fit your needs. You can open it on a hot day, or close it when there's harsh weather outside or when it's cold.
The Bullitt has DOT and ECE certifications and is available for use in the U.S., Europe and anywhere that accepts those standards. Even though it is not Sharp tested or Snell tested, the Bullitt offers substantial protection for any rider.
5 Bell Custom 500
The Bell Custom 500 is a no-nonsense helmet that's popular with many. It's a new take on an iconic helmet that has many heads turning.
Let's learn more about this iconic helmet.
The shape and style of this timeless creation have won the hearts of many. The outer shell is made of highly durable fiberglass.
The interior padding is a custom fit. The finishes aren't all that bad either. The finish is durable and is said to not show any ugly scratches or signs of fading for years to come.
This helmet is designed with the rider in mind. Your field of vision is unrestricted due to the lack of a face shield and chin bar.
Since the helmet is only three-quarters in size, there are no air vents. That can be a problem when it's hot. But when you want a nice quiet ride, it works out well since there are no air vents to generate noise.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that there are no vent ports on the helmet. Also, a lack of a chin bar does not sit well with many.
You would also need to purchase any add-ons like goggles, sunglasses or a face protector to protect against the weather.
The Bell Custom 500 is certified for use in all 50 states and Europe and has all of the safety certifications except for a SHARP score. Despite the certifications, there are concerns about not having a chin bar to protect against crashes.
6 Biltwell Bonanza
Minimalist in design and built for comfort, the Biltwell Bonanza is a modern take on a retro look and feel.
Did we save the best for last?
Let’s find out.
If perfectly round open-faced helmets aren’t your cup of tea, the Bonanza might be your best bet. Its low-profile ABS shell is more of a round-oval shape, making it less top-heavy and one of the most comfortable open-faced models on the market.
The Bonanza’s interior contains moisture-wicking Lycra panels along with foam padding, ensuring breathability and comfort. Since retro is the name of the game, this helmet has no vents, which does add to the noisiness, but the removable cheeks pads help to absorb a surprising amount of the noise.
You know what they say: “Variety is the spice of life,” and Biltwell did not disappoint here. This helmet comes in all sorts of colors, ranging from vintage white to gloss black to metallic champagne, which really completes the retro aesthetic. And we can’t say enough about the hand-painted finish.
Did we mention how comfortable the Bonanza is?
Lastly, it features a Double-D ring strap that pairs perfectly with Biltwell’s bubble shields and visors.
As mentioned, this helmet does score a little lower in the quietness department due to the absence of a top vent. But, this is really par for the course with any open-faced helmet.
In addition, riders might find that the Bonanza doesn’t fit as snugly as it should. Some have described a huge jump in fit going from a large to an extra large. Biltwell would do well to reengineer how their oval-shaped models fit in the future.
The Bonanza is both DOT- and ECE-approved and is available for use in the U.S., Europe and anywhere that accepts those standards. It is not, however, certified by Snell, nor has it been tested by Sharp.