A motorcycle helmet is an important investment for any rider. If you are looking to purchase a motorcycle helmet, it can be difficult to determine how much money you need to spend AND get the safety features you want in your corner in the event of an accident. Especially since a new helmet ranges from around $80 at their cheapest to over $1000 at their most expensive! Add in the issue that helmets have to be replaced occasionally, and this cost question becomes even more important all while you navigate helmet laws!
The average cost of a motorcycle helmet is $322. Analysis of the best selling helmets breaks down to the following average costs dependent on the type of helmet:
- Full face helmet: $260
- Open face helmet: $271
- Half helmet: $128
- Modular helmet: $361
The type of helmet is a factor, but more certainly goes into the price. Let’s dig into making sure you spend your money wisely while preventing head injuries!
What makes a quality motorcycle helmet? (as it relates to cost!)
Essentially, a quality helmet is one that blends solid safety features while also being comfortable. I analyzed the best selling helmets to help guide this conversation along with actual prices to show where safety and comfort features add to the cost. Keep reading as I share features that DO NOT seem to add anything significant to the cost!
In general, a quality motorcycle helmet is one that meets safety standards, fits your head well to provide adequate protection, and it should provide comfort in the elements of the ride.
What are the different types of motorcycle helmets?
Before deciding on what helmet to buy, we need to have a quick chat about the different types of helmets available. Generally speaking, on-road motorcycle riders can choose from three different styles of helmets: a half-helmet, open-face helmet, or full-face helmet.
Half-helmets protect the top of the head and is the least restrictive helmet in terms of comfort. They are also known as half shell helmets & are generally the cheaper helmets.
- The price range for a half helmet is $35 to $319 with the average at $163 for the best selling options.
- Click here to see the current price for the best selling half-helmet on Revzilla.
Open face helmets (sometimes called three-quarter helmets) provide protection to the sides and back of the rider’s head, as well as extending downward to provide some neck protection. With open-face helmets the riders face is the only part of their head left exposed.
- The price range for an open face helmet is $39 to $1500 with the average at $310 for the best selling options.
- Click here to see how much the best selling open-face helmet is on Revzilla as I write this.
Full face helmets have the same build as open-face helmets, with the inclusion of a built-in front visor and chin guard that completely encloses the head of the rider for maximum protection. Modular helmets fit into this category, but as they tend to be a much higher price point, I have separated out their price range.
- The price range for a modular helmet is $110 to $900 with the average at $471 for the best selling models.
- The price range for a full face helmet is $80 to $1700 with an average of $340 for the best sellers if you exclude modular helmets from the category.
- Check out this best selling full-face and this best selling modular helmet on Revzilla.
What this means is that if you are interested in a modular helmet, you’re likely to spend more than you would an open face. However, there is clearly a big range for each of the types of helmet options to match your budget and preferences while minimizing your risk of traumatic brain injury.
Safety and Helmet Cost
You may have guessed that helmet cost and safety increases based on the helmet type.
- Half-helmets are usually the cheapest available but offer the least protection for head injury.
- Open face helmets offer more protection than a half-helmet, but not quite as much as a full face helmet.
- Full-face helmets tend to be the safest as well as the most expensive. A modular helmet fits in this category but as a flip up helmet. This is basically a feature that make them consistently the most expensive helmet option.
There is an important factor that riders need to take into account when deciding on a helmet: safety certification. If you are looking for a helmet, chances are you want that helmet to offer protection in event of a fall or accident. Helmets in the US are tested by the Department of Transportation to determine if they are fit to be used on the road and protect YOU in the event of a motorcycle crash. This DOT certification is a basic level of safety standards, so don’t skip over this!
The good news is that most helmets are sold with this certification. Don’t take this at face value as you should check to be certain that the helmet you are purchasing is certified. There will be a sticker on the helmet itself indicating that it has passed certification, and on no account should a rider purchase a helmet that has not been certified for safety!
Surprisingly, the cost of certification does not represent a huge portion of the helmet price. Even full-face helmets are available for under $100 that provide the minimum protection as required by the DOT. I was surprised by that, and my first helmet was $110 that had an additional certification, as well, the ECE.
The 2 additional certifications you may see is the Economic Commission of Europe (ECE) and the Snell certification. Both are additional certifications that mean they have gone through a different set of tests. I like this rundown of the testing differences that BikeBandit.com put together if you’d like more information on the different tests helmets are put through.
After analyzing the best-selling helmets, the overall average cost of a helmet is $322. So that is essentially the DOT certified average regardless of helmet type. There are no ECE or Snell certified half helmet, so if I don’t take those into account, the average of the best selling helmets moves up to $371. The average helmet with an ECE certification is $348! The Snell average is $450, so if that certification for safety level is important to you, you’ll pay $180 over the average price.
Don’t let the certification talk run you off. Even if you are looking for the best value, you can find a Snell certified helmet for $150 and an ECE for $105.
How Does the Material a Helmet is Made of Impact the Cost?
Leaning on safety certifications glosses over the materials a helmet is made up of to provide that safety. There are a lot of nuances and scientific jargon, but essentially a helmet’s outer shell is made of polycarbonate, carbon fiber, and fiberglass. Often, they are made of a composite of multiple layers. The best helmets protect you by absorbing the impact into the shell versus letting that impact reach your skull. So there is a level of rigidity and ‘give’ required.
Polycarbonate helmets are the cheapest material that serves the basic function to protect your head. However, helmets with this exterior shell are not known to have as much of the ‘give’ to absorb the force of the impact FOR you. The average polycarbonate helmet in that best-selling list is $250, so it is a great choice if spending the least amount of money is a priority.
The next level up is the carbon helmet class that have an average of $534. Go up to what is considered the gold standard of fiberglass, and the average is $553. So if you have made the decision to move up from polycarbonate, the price difference between the fiber classes is not as significant. For the cheapest versions of both, you can expect to spend around $300. These materials are also nuanced into comfort as they add or take-away weight you have to fight the wind in.
I want to see you wearing a helmet. Period. BUT if at all possible, I’d love for you to approach the helmet price conversation with safety in mind first over price if it is possible. But seriously. Just wear a DOT level helmet, and you’ll never see me give you any side-eye! Oh & you’ll be in compliance for any motorcycle helmet laws in your area. Bonus! 🙂
The best motorcycle helmet is one you will wear!
Comfort and Helmet Cost
We began with safety, but we are not going to neglect comfort in this motorcycle helmet cost comparison! Rider comfort accounts for a large portion of motorcycle helmet cost. It costs significantly more to produce a vented, open-face helmet with a retractable visor than it does to produce a simple half-helmet with no additional features. Pretty obvious, right?
There are sooo many options available and they move around based on the helmet type. MOST helmets include some sort of ventilation and visor configurations (snap-on or built-in). I really assumed that the presence of these features would add to the cost, BUT THEY DO NOT! Beyond the fact that a half-helmet isn’t likely to have ventilation (it’s pretty ventilated already after all), the helmets come pretty standard to HAVE the features. The key seems to be in the type of features, so below is a list of features to look for with a cost component if I could isolate one.
- Moveable air vents to adjust airflow during rides. More & bigger vents with ease of operation tends to increase the price.
- Modular flip-up helmets definitely add to the cost. The average full-face helmet costs $340 whereas the average modular is $471.
- Retractable sun and bug visors along with components like fog & bug resistance.
- Quick-adjust and quick-release straps designed to be handled while wearing gloves. I was surprised how nice this is.
- Manually-operated wipers for cleaning the visor (on closed-face helmets).
- Electronic accessories such as built-in speakers and microphone or a heads-up display.
- Removable, anti-microbial, moisture-wicking interior components because they can get uncomfortable & gross! Check to be sure it is a removable and WASHABLE liner.
- Noise reducing components which coincides with the interior padding and ventilation, as well. This feature is definitely a cost add.
- Helmet shell material is also matters for comfort. The materials used in the construction have a direct impact to the weight you carry and catch wind with. You’ll definitely want to consider this if long rides are in your future.
The most expensive motorcycle helmets will have many of these features combined, but it is certainly possible to find a good motorcycle helmet for much cheaper. Even the cheaper full-face helmets have built-in sun visors and speaker inserts all with an extra ECE certification to boot for just over $100 for a solid affordable helmet!
However, if you’ve got the money to spend and want to take your ride to the next level you can choose any number of options to customize your helmet to meet your needs. The most expensive helmets available are generally the ones with built-in electronics with fancy helmet technology. If having a 21st-century ride is your thing these helmets are becoming more common and costs are dropping.
Even if you can’t drop a grand or more on a helmet with built-in GPS, there are several cheaper features that might be worth considering. For example, adjustable air vents are a long-standing rider favorite, and many helmets can be purchased with this feature at a reasonable price. Don’t be upsold on anything you don’t want, take the time to consider what features will best meet your riding needs.
It’s definitely a good idea to try on a helmet before buying it. If you can, visit a local retailer or shop that carries motorcycle helmets to try on a helmet for fitment before buying. Try it on, feel for pressure points and chat about the different fit options. They come in a variety of shapes, and while not all shapes work in all models, the shape of your head does NOT impact whether the helmet is an affordable price or not. Trying one on and walking around the store is really the only way to make sure a helmet is right for you.
That said, you can certainly buy a helmet online. You’ll just need to take a measurement of your head to get the right helmet. size Use a tape measure to measure around your head just above your eyebrows and use this length to check the size of the helmet you are purchasing.
Check out this guide I put together if you’d like more help figure out what helmet to buy now that you have your budget in mind.
Always wear the helmet off the motorcycle for a few minutes before taking it on a ride to make sure it is adjusted properly. If your helmet has features that are meant to be used while in motion, such as adjustable vents, be sure you are familiar with how to operate these features before you are out on a ride. Taking time to make all of the adjustments before heading out on your motorcycle can avoid the awkward discomfort or safety issue of a poorly adjusted helmet that falls out of place once you get moving on the road.