Eight Road-Tested Motorcycle Helmet Reviews

Motorcycle helmets you'll want to wear

1Davida

The Davida Jet helmet

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Price and availability confirmed at time of publication. Subject to change, please visit the product website for the latest prices and availability. 

Riding safe with a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet is a good idea. Some think a do-rag is enough, and while we would strongly argue otherwise, we’re not here to preach. We gathered the motorcycle helmets featured in these eight road-tested motorcycle helmet reviews because we’d heard positive things about them (the Shark, Fulmer, Z1R and HJCs) or just thought they were neat (Davida, AGV and Nolan) — and because they’re all safer than a handkerchief:

1. We get letters wanting to know about the Davida Classic half-helmets used in some of the photos of our magazine, and, while cool, they don’t conform to any safety standards. We recommend the Davida Jet, as it integrates the finest features of the traditional open-face helmet into a modern product. Along with its DOT rating and quilted leather interior with a satin crown, it features a fiberglass shell and a goggle retainer. We also ordered a pair of Aviator Pilot T1 goggles in a chrome finish to complete the package. They really complete the look, and have a curved body and frame for wide peripheral vision. A handy carrying case is included. Price: $315.00 (helmet) and $135.00 (goggles). 

2. We ordered a Fulmer AFD4 after hearing good things about it from several sources. The lid features an EPS padded chin bar, a quick-release shield system, a plush removable/washable interior, Fulmer’s Air Channel Technology vent system, a padded D-ring retention system, adjustable chin and top vent, rear exhaust vents and it is DOT approved. Though we ordered ours in a Joust Red design, it also comes in a variety of solid colors. Price: $109.95.  

3. The Z1R Strike is an office favorite. Editor Backus and publisher Bryan Welch have been wearing theirs for over a year and have no complaints other than wind noise. It has features you’d normally find on more expensive models, including chin venting that helps prevent shield fogging, an advanced ABS/Polycarbonate alloy shell that passes DOT standards, and a venting system with two closeable forehead intakes and rear exhaust ports. Also available in Rubatone (rubberized paint) finishes. The Z1R Strike has been discontinued. Visit Z1R Helmets to view their other options. 

4. The Shark RSX Initial SLM is one high-class piece of gear. Its shell is made from Carbon/Aramid multi-directional composite fibers. It features integrated ducts, a dual treated (anti-scratch/anti-fog) Total Vision 3mm visor with a quick-release system, Touch One flush rapid-opening ventilation, a removable and washable interior made of Coolmax fabric, ergonomic cheek pads, a D-ring chin strap, plus an industry-leading five-year warranty. Price: Starting at $349.95.

5. The Nolan X-1002 is a comfortable lid of advanced construction: Its shell is a combination of carbon, Kevlar, Kural, and fiberglass. It features an articulating chin bar opening system and a Smartlift latch system allows both one and two-handed opening. The VPS sun shield is easy to remove when it isn’t needed, the liner is removable for washing, and it also has a pinlock anti-fog insert and a tool-less quick-change Lexan face shield. Its adjustable Microlock retention system is fast and reliable. There’s also a great venting system and a deluge-proof face shield gasket. Price: $357.00.

6. The AGV Dragon has menacing looks and features a thermoplastic shell, a clear anti-scratch polycarbonate shield and it also comes with an additional tinted shield in the box (shown). Other highlights include a Dry Comfort, hygienic treatment liner, a three-snap tinted removable peak, and a quick release buckle we just love. DOT certified. Price: $119.95. 
 
7. We’ve put more miles on our HJC CL-33 than any of the other helmets here (mainly because we’ve had it longer), and we still love it. Its full-length flip-up shield offers protection from bugs and more, but it never gets hot and stuffy like a full-face can in the warmest of temps. It’s DOT approved with a polycarbonate shell, adjustable forehead ventilation, a brushed nylon interior and an integrated quick-change shield system. Price: Starting at $94.99. 
 
8. The HJC CL-Max is on the affordable end of the flip-up helmet scene, but it’s also one of our favorites. With an injection-molded thermoplastic shell, it’s DOT certified and features a single button release mechanism, along with two adjustable upper forehead intake vents, two venturi exhaust vents, a three-position adjustable chin-bar vent, and removable, washable cheek pads and upper liner. Price: Starting at $179.99.
 
Road Test: The right lid for your noggin 
The Davida Jet is the one we kept bugging the mail room guys about, because we thought they were cool the first time we saw one. We loved the rich smell of its leather and satin lining, and wearing it with the Aviator goggles proved to be even more fun, though we found the goggles limited our peripheral vision a bit more than we would have liked. We loved it in town, and while it was comfortable, we would have to add one of the available screens to cover any long distances with it.
 

We enjoyed the stealthy fighter pilot look of the AGV Dragon, and found it to be another fun in-town helmet. We immediately added the tinted screen when it arrived, and worn with a pair of clear glasses underneath, it’s nice to have the option of riding with the shield up, or, if it’s sunny, pulling it down for its shade and added wind protection.

We’re still wearing the HJC CL-33 three-quarter helmet we featured in the July/August 2006 issue despite the abuse of some newbie around the office, and it’s still one of the simplest and most useful alternatives to the standard full-face helmet we’ve found. The full screen keeps your eyes debris-free, while allowing a huge field of vision and plenty of breeze when its warm out.

We also got our hands on a Z1R Strike in a fetching Rubatone flat black hue so the rest of us could give this sweet lid a try without having to wear editor Backus’ well-worn (i.e., smelly) example. For the price, you just can’t beat it. It’s a comfortable hat with decent ventilation, and though it’s a bit noisy, earplugs fix that easily (and some of us wear them all the time anyway).

The Shark RSX Initial is probably the fanciest of the lot. It’s one of the most expensive here, but it’s also the quietest on the road. It also has the most padding (some of which we’re hoping will soften up as it breaks in).

We love the 3mm thick visor, which doesn’t flex when you flip it up and down, and its mechanism is the smoothest you’ll ever use. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny.

We ordered our Nolan X-1002 in a size XL for head honcho Bryan Welch, who found it perfect for his big head (his words, not ours) and a high crown. He’s now hooked on wearing a flip-up, though he complained about more wind noise than expected between 40mph and 60mph. Above 60mph, it was no noisier than the Z1R he normally wears. He’s found the vents to be effective and easy to use, the chin warmer to be nice when it’s cool and the flip-down sunshade to be a great addition. Being the king of modesty, Welch notes, “Also, I look fantastic in it!”

Editor Backus’ new favorite is the HJC CL-Max. He loves the fact you can open the face at stops, at the tollbooth, when filling up, or whenever you need to talk to someone. His only complaints about it are that the chinstrap could use more padding, the range of movement on the visor seems limited and the visor mechanism seems a little on the cheap side.

The Fulmer AFD4 is another impressive-yet-affordable helmet we’ve enjoyed wearing. It’s relatively quiet, has good ventilation, a sweet ratcheting visor mechanism, is well made and it’s comfortable regardless of your speed.