Race helmets are designed with a lot of focus on safety, aerodynamics, ventilation, and comfort. But if each one is meant to be the best, how do we know which is the best? To find out, we tested many different racing helmets on the road with high-quality measuring equipment.
We have collected data from the 10 best helmets to give you a complete overview before we go deeper into all our helmets’ specifications and a brief explanation of how we collect our data.
We attached a thermometer to our bike that shows the inside temperature of the helmet. We also attached a decibel meter connected to a microphone near our rider’s ear.
This registers the noise as our riders hear it. And finally, we attached a telephone displaying the wind speed and the outside temperature. This is connected to a device that measures wind speed mounted on our motorcycle.
Which Are The Best Motorcycle Race Helmets?
Table of Contents
First up, we’ll be taking a look at these helmets’ materials. We ranked these helmets according to the outer shell material and how many shell sizes the helmets come in for this category.
This important part is often overlooked because the amount of shell sizes contributes to comfort and safety.
Starting with the EXO-R1 Air Carbon, the helmet is composed of carbon and is available in 3 outer shell sizes. This means that the EXO-R1 Air Carbon earns itself a great 4 stars.
In contrast to the Scorpion, the Bell Race Star DLX also comes with a carbon shell but has 5 outer shell sizes, which is exceptionally good, earning it the full 5 stars.
The Shoei X-Spirit 3, HJC RPHA 1, and the Arai RX-7V Evo obtained 4 stars thanks to their fiberglass shell and 4 shell sizes.
So, in terms of material, the Bell Race Star takes the lead, but we still have many categories to go, so let’s quickly move on to the next part.
Next up is the weight of the helmets. We weighed all of our helmets using a medium-sized helmet on the same scale, and we ranked our helmets according to our matrix bands.
The lighter the helmet, the more stars it earns. We have placed all of our helmets on a chart giving us a clear overview.
The most notable helmet is the Roof RO 200, with a weight of 1104 grams, making it the lightest racing helmet.
Roof beats the most well-known racing brand by a serious margin. This was very interesting to see.
Looking further, we see the newcomers. The Arai RX-7V and the HJC RPHA-1 are coming in at 1557 and 1511 grams, earning both helmets 4 stars.
We then get the Bell Star DLX and the Shark Race R Pro in the middle, weighing between 14-1500 grams.
But when we come to the Scorpion EXO R1 Air Carbon, X-Lite x-803 RS, and the Shoei X-spirit 3, we get some fantastic results at around 1300 grams, earning themselves the full 5 stars on weight.
The heaviest helmet we came across was the Icon Airframe Pro, with a weight of just under 1700 grams, which is disappointing for a racing helmet.
Helmets can earn points on several different components. Examples are whether or not it is pinlock lens or tear-off prepared and if these are included with the helmet.
Also, the visor mechanism is an important point, and with an extra visor included, they can also earn some extra points. So, let’s have a look at the results.
The Scorpion EXO R1 Air and the Bell Race Star DLX both coming Pinlock prepared with the insert in the box.
In addition, these two helmets include an extra dark smoke visor in the box, which earns both helmets 4.5 stars.
The Shoei X-Spirit 3 scores an equal number of stars of 4.5 but owes its points mainly to the high-quality visor mechanism, which is very well constructed, and the extra pinlock lens in the box.
The RPHA-1, X-Lite X-803 RS, and the Arai RX-7V Evo are also pinlock lens prepared, and the lenses are included in the box.
This earns them a nice 4 stars, but these three helmets’ visor mechanism is less refined than the Shoei X-Spirit 3.
We see that the Icon Airframe Pro only gets 1 star for its visor. But, again, here we saw a relatively simple visor mechanism, the helmet was not pinlock prepared, and it lacked all kinds of options that we did see on the other top helmets.
A small note is that race helmets are not necessarily designed to be quiet, especially on the track, as most riders wear earplugs while riding on the track.
But since these helmets are still mostly worn on the road, we want to know how they perform on noise. Each helmet can score a certain number of points depending on the number of decibels we measured.
All our helmets have been tested at a speed of 130 km an hour on long straights on the highway with a windspeed fluctuating between 110 and 130 km an hour.
Based on this information, the average number of decibels for each helmet was calculated, and we gave them stars based on our sound matrix.
First, we have the Shoei X-Spirit 3 and Bell Race Star DLX with a value of 103 decibels, and this is an average result for a racing helmet that earns the Shoei and Bell 3 stars.
The HJC RPHA-1 and the Arai RX-7V Evo came in at 100 decibels, which is a good result for a racing helmet earning 4 stars.
The quietest helmet we measured was the Scorpion EXO-R1 air Carbon with a value of 98 decibels, which is exceptionally quiet for a racing helmet.
But, again, these are results you normally only see in touring helmets specifically built to be quiet.
A difference of 2 decibels may seem like nothing, but this is a very noticeable audible difference. So with that in mind, we can say that Scorpion did a great job.
Another special helmet was the AGV Pista GP RR, and The Pista came in with a value of 107 decibels which is extremely noisy.
This explains why the helmet is included with earplugs. Our test rider said this was the only helmet you could not wear without earplugs.
Despite its streamlined design, the helmet is extremely loud, which is a bit of a setback in this price segment.
We understand that a racing helmet is not supposed to be super quiet, but a score of 107 decibels is disappointing.
The X-Lite X-803 RS, The Race-R Pro, and the Icon Airframe were other noisy helmets. So we get a better impression of how the helmets compare to each other, and now we can quickly move on.
We ranked our helmets based on the difference between the inside and outside temperature, as this gives us a good idea of how the ventilation is doing its job.
Our chart shows that we measured little difference between the inside and outside temperature for most helmets.
The only 2 helmets that were 1-degree cooler on the inside than the outside temperature were the Bell Race Star and the Icon Airframe Pro, and this earns both helmets an outstanding 5 stars.
This is very impressive when you consider that the Icon Airframe Pro has been very disappointing so far, so Icon did a neat job on ventilation!
You can see how important ventilation is in racing helmets of all the tested helmets.
Almost all manufacturers did this exceptionally well. Especially when you compare these helmets to more mid-range helmets, you rarely see this kind of result.
The helmets that stood out negatively were the X-Lite X-803 RS Ultra Carbon and The Roof RO 200. These helmets were 3 degrees warmer than the outside temperature on the inside.
And that earned both helmets a disappointing score of 2 stars.
Comfort is the only part of our data test where we look at more than just hard numbers. For this part, we lean on our test rider’s experience.
Our rider has over 15 years of riding experience, and he is also the one who tested all the helmets we have mentioned so far, so he can make a good comparison of the helmets like no other.
Although we call this criteria comfort, we pay attention to much more than comfort.
For each helmet, our riders evaluate different components such as the quality of the lining, binding materials, wind resistance, how the helmets behave on the road, the bulkiness, and much more.
We see that many of the top helmets, including our newcomers, the Arai RX-7V Evo and the RPHA 1, achieved a score of 4 stars which is a great result.
But, of course, you would expect this because we are talking about the very best racing helmets available today.
Our rider gave the X-Spirt 3 the highest possible score for comfort. He mentioned that extra soft material is placed near the ear for an extra great feeling while riding.
This extra soft material is an example of Shoei’s eye for detail. But above all, how the helmet feels at a higher speed was a feelable difference.
This is a direct result of the extensive research and development using a wind tunnel that Shoei uses for its top helmets.
Thanks to its aerodynamics, excellent ventilation, and customizable lining; the AGV Pista GP RR has also been an ideal track helmet.
The Scorpion EXO R-1 Air scored excellently on almost every part but scores less well for comfort with only 3 stars.
Our rider found the inner lining to feel a bit cheap, was noticeably less comfortable, and of lower quality materials than the other top helmets. This was somewhat disappointing for Scorpion.
The disappointing other helmets were the Roof and the Icon, which we see at the bottom of the list.
Unfortunately, we found the Icon again at the bottom of our ratings, which offered some additional options.
So instead, we see the Shark, the Scorpion, and the Roof not far above the Icon. But, again, these helmets had very basic features.
They lacked features you do see on other top models. Then we have the X-Spirt-3 and the Race Star DLX, which score 3 stars. Both these helmets have a Quick Release and are wind tunnel tested.
The three helmets that scored very strongly on this part are our newcomers: The RPHA 1, the RX-7V Evo, and the AGV Pista GP RR.
All thee helmets were wind tunnel tested, had a quick release, and are FIM certified. So they ticked all the options that most of our customers asked for.
On the other hand, the helmet that scored surprisingly weak was the Scorpion EXO-R1 carbon, which was not winding tunnel tested, was not FIM certified, had no additional security options, and was poorly equipped in the liner. This sadly offsets the strong scores that we saw earlier.
Looking at each helmet’s performance by category, we better understand how each one compares. What stands out is that the Shoei X-Spirit 3, Bell Race Star DLX, Arai RX-7V Evo, and the HJC RPHA 1 are very all-round helmets and have very strong performances across the board.
The Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Carbon was strong on almost every measurable part and performed worse on comfort and features. The AGV Pista GP RR had a particularly weak
performance on noise isolation and the visor wasn’t exactly super either.
In this overview, we can see that the Icon Airframe Pro and the Roof RO 200 are no longer competing for the title of a best race helmet.
There are too many parts where they came up short of competing with the absolute best.
But we are not finished yet; with these results, we get a good picture of their performance, but there is one more imported aspect missing: the price.
Value For Money
Despite helmets scoring well, price is an important factor in their overall score. Because if two helmets perform the same, but one of them has a lower price, it will score better in the end.
This is where we calculate the price per earned star rating, which allows us to determine which helmet performs best on price/quality.
Based on their price/quality, they earn stars for the final part. We then used the price/quality scores in our ranking to assign these helmets additional points that will be factored into our final result.
This is also influenced by the number of helmets we compare. This score gives us a much better idea of how these helmets compare and how effectively their price correlates with their performance, So let’s have a look!
At the very top, we see the Shoei X-Spirit 3 with the highest price-quality bonus of 4.3 stars. The helmet from Shoei has recommended retail price of £518 and an average of 4.1 stars.
The Shoei X-Spirit 3 is followed by the Bell Race Star DLX with an average of 4.1 stars and has a recommended price of $819/$649, which gives it 3.8 stars for price/quality.
These two helmets have the same score where the price was the deciding factor in favor of Shoei.
Another striking result was the AGV Pista GP, which scored a nice 3.6 stars on average, but with its extremely high price of $1499/£999, the helmet is overpriced for what it offers.
So it does get left behind a bit on this part for that price. This earned the Pista only 0.9 stars for price/quality.
The lowest-priced helmet we tested for this segment is the Scorpion EXO R1-Air carbon.
This helmet has a recommended retail price of $549/£324 with an average star rating of 3.9. So you can see that the quality does not have to be far apart, but there can be a huge difference in the price you pay.
So, with all our data taken care of and factored in, it is time to look at the final score to see which helmet comes out on top.
Now that we have calculated our final scores with our price, we can announce the winner, but to keep it interesting, we will start at the bottom, and in the 10th place, we have the Roof RO200 with a final score of 6.5.
However, this helmet has taken the title of the lightest helmet, which is quite special. In the 9th place, we have the Icon Airframe Pro with a final score of 6.5, but it had a slightly better average score than the Roof.
In 8th place, we see the Shark Race-R Pro Gp with a final score of 6.9. Again, the Shark did well on weight, ventilation, and comfort but has a hefty price tag and scored weakly on noise and features.
In 7th place, we have the X-Lite-X-803 RS Ultra Carbon. This helmet was rock solid on weight, material, visor, and comfort but scored very weak on noise and ventilation.
Then in only the 6th place ended, an unexpected helmet: the AGV Pista GP RR. This helmet is often praised because Rossi Rode with it.
But if we look at the results, 6th place is rather disappointing, especially if this was the most expensive helmet on the list. The helmet scored 7.4 and did well on material, weight, comfort, ventilation, and features.
But in contrast, it scored poorly on the visor and even dramatically on noise. Combined with the price charged for it, this helmet, unfortunately, fell outside the top 5.
We have arrived at our top 5 for today, and I can already tell you that it is very close. In 5th place, we see the Scorpion EXO R1 Air Carbon.
This helmet scored very well on material, weight, visor, and noise isolation but left a bit on comfort and features.
Despite missing some points on those parts, it has a very good price/quality score pushing the AGV Pista GP RR from the top 5. The Scorpion EXO R1-Air Carbon has a final score of 8.1
Then in 4th place, we encounter our first newcomer: the Arai RX-7V Evo. Without exception, this helmet scored strongly on all components.
This helmet is extremely consistent and all-around compared to the helmets we have mentioned. The newcomer from Arai can therefore note an excellent score of 8.2
We have come to the 3 very best helmets. And in 3rd place, the other newcomer, the HJC RPHA-1. Like the RX-7V Evo, the HJC RPHA-1 scores 4 stars on every part, making it a very consistent and all-around helmet.
But the RPHA-1 has a better price and thus scored more points on price/quality. This made it possible for the RPHA-1 to be in the top 3 with an excellent final score of 8.4.
We have come to the burning question: which helmet is the best racing helmet overall? The Bell Race Star DLX of the Shoei X-Spirit.
In the 2nd place, we have the Bell Race Star DLX with a final score of 8.6, which means that the Shoei X-spirt 3 is at the top with an average score of 8.6 and may call itself the same best performing race helmet thanks to a better price.
Looking at all the data we have collected, we can say that the Shoei X-Spirit 3 and the bell performed equally, but a not too big price difference makes the difference.
So this was it. We have collected numerous data, added them, and processed them into clear graphs.
This allows us to state, based on our criteria, that the Shoei X-Spirit 3 is still the very best helmet in the market, but the difference is extremely small compared to its competitors.
What is particularly interesting is that the different helmets perform strongly or not on very specific parts.
The Purpose of our data is to make the differences between these helmets more visible, and the primary goal of this review is to present honest, objective facts that will help you in your buy process.
We are especially interested in satisfied customers who buy a helmet that suits their personal preferences, and the 6th place shows this for the most expensive helmet.
Hopefully, we helped you choose a helmet more easily from all these top helmets.
Where To Buy
We have chosen what we think are the best motorcycle gear online retailers for you to choose from. They both ship worldwide but you may like to order from one or the other depending on your location.
One supplier might have a sale so it’s always best to visit both suppliers to see what deals are available.
|Sports Bike Shop
|1. Shoei X-Spirit
|2. Bell Race Star DLX
|3. HJC RPHA-1
|4. Arai RX-7V Evo
|5. Scorpion EXO R1
|6. AGV Pista GP RR
|7. X-Lite-X-803 RS
|8. Shark Race-R Pro Gp
|9. Icon Airframe Pro
|10. Roof RO200