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When you're riding long distance on a motorcycle, you want to feel safe and comfortable. Here are seven motorcycle helmet reviews to help you choose the best motorcycle helmets for touring:
1. The Arai Vector Phil Read Replica is a stunning helmet — which it should be, as the most expensive helmet in our sample. We’re impressed by the gorgeous paint and the comfortable, high-quality interior, though we have mixed feelings about the visor snap lock. It’s breaking in, but the lock forces you to put a twist on the entire visor before the latch allows the visor to open. The Aria RX-7 Corsair we tested had the same lock; it became easier to use with time but has always been a little fidgety. The Vector features a complex laminate construction fiberglass shell with a removable liner and cheek pads, an optically correct and fog-resistant visor, and a removable breathguard. Snell and DOT approved. Price: $505.75.
2. The Shark S650 is a step down the ladder from the Shark RSX we previously tested. It doesn’t have the 3mm-thick visor that we loved on the RSX, but it does share many of the RSX’s other features, and at less than half the price. The S650 is available, like all the helmets here, in a variety of single-color finishes (for a bit more than the multi-colored S650 Link shown here). With an injected thermoplastic resin and an anti-scratch 2.2mm visor, the S650 feels like a much more expensive helmet. Though size medium helmets normally fit both Editors Backus and Hall perfectly, the Shark medium is always the tightest of the bunch. Try one on before you buy it to guarantee the right fit. DOT and ECE 22-05 approved. Price: $142.92
3. The HJC FS-10 features HJC’s integrated SunShield, which we found to work better on some bikes than others. The shade was great when riding bikes with a forward-leaning seating position, like Backus’ Laverda RGS1000. But on bikes with a more standard “sit-up and beg” riding position, we often found ourselves having to tilt our head up or down to see over or under the bottom edge of the shade, which quickly led us to retract the shade and put on a pair of sunglasses. We enjoyed the helmet otherwise, finding it to be of good construction, fit and finish. The FS-10 features an anti-fog face shield, tool-less shield removal and a moisture-wicking interior that is removable and washable. Unless you ride something with low bars, we’d step down a notch to the HJC CL-SP, which starts at $152.99 and skips the added price of the sun shade. The FS-10 is DOT approved. Price: starting at $224.99.
4. Another nice, affordable helmet is the Fulmer D4. We found the fit to be snug but not tight (much like the Shark S650), and though the interior padding is a bit stiff at first, it should break in nicely. This is another you’ll want to be sure to try on before buying. Fulmer helmets are only available through dealers, so try on several sizes at your local shop to determine which is best for you. The D4 features a quick-release shield system, a plush removable, washable interior, and a breath spoiler. DOT approved. Price: starting at $99.95.
5. We’re big fans of Z1R’s affordable helmets; several of us around the office regularly wear Z1R Strikes and recommend them to our friends. The Strike was recently replaced by the Phantom, which we plan to try in the future, but for this round we decided to sample the Z1R Eclipse, Z1R’s modular full-face helmet. If you prefer a modular helmet to a regular full face, Z1R’s Eclipse is your most affordable option here. Though not as plush or feature-laden as the Nolan and the Shoei, it is a sharp-looking piece of gear. The quick-release, no-tool shield is scratch resistant and optically correct, and it features a fiberglass composite shell. While the Eclipse offers a comfortable fit, its latching mechanism for the chin bar feels slightly flimsy, and the lever action of the shield on ours is requiring a bit of break-in. DOT approved. Price: starting at $199.95.
6. The Shoei Multitec is probably our favorite helmet here. Although it’s one of the most expensive, its quality is obvious the minute you put in on: The latching mechanism on the chin bar is absolutely top notch. We wish the visor action was a bit smoother for this price, but it works well, with a nice lock that doesn’t impede opening and closing the visor. It also allows the widest range of peripheral vision of any modular helmet we’ve ever tried (though the Nolan’s a close second). Cheek pads are available in a variety of thicknesses to provide the best fit. This is a truly lovely helmet. DOT approved. Price: starting at $434.69.
7. The Nolan N103 N-Com is everything a nice modular full-face helmet should be: comfortable, well made and easy to use. The interior is removable and washable, and the helmet features an optically-correct, tool-less, quick-change Lexan face shield that accepts an included antifog insert. It also has a chin curtain and Nolan’s adjustable Microloc chin-strap system, along with an internal sunscreen much like the integrated SunShield on the HJC, except the sunscreen in the Nolan works well. The shade comes down farther, putting the bottom edge of the screen below your line of sight, even on a standard-style motorcycle. The Nolan also comes ready for the optional N-COM communications system. DOT approved. Price: $295.95.
Read more motorcycle helmet reviews:
• Eight Road-Tested Motorcycle Helmet Reviews
• Six Retro Motorcycle Helmet Reviews
• A Closer Look at Standard Full-Face Motorcycle Helmets
• Seven General Motorcycle Helmet Reviews