If you ride a motorcycle, you’ll know there’s discord between full-face and open-face advocates. Proponents of full-face lids disavow anything that doesn’t provide complete protection, and often quote studies like the 1981 Hurt Report—which suggested that 34% of motorcycle accidents involve an impact in the chin, mouth or nose area.
The open-facers fire back with gusto. Motorcycle riding is dangerous and, to a degree, that risk needs to be accepted by the rider. Who should be free to wear whatever gear he or she wants, as long as they understand the potential for injury.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I have both full-face helmets and 3/4 motorcycle helmets, and I’m tolerant of people’s safety choices. (Except for cowboys who wear bandanas whilst hammering down the highway at 80mph: Those people are halfwits.)
This selection of eight full-face motorcycle helmets represents the collection I’d like if I had the necessary space. Not to mention the ability to convince the Mrs that helmets make far better living room decorations than a three-years-old’s finger paintings. Or those crystal Swarovski animals with the creepy little eyeballs.
Tachibana GT-750 Grand Prix A design instantly reminiscent of the classic Bell Star II. For those who want a properly retro full-face helmet to match their bike, the Japanese Tachibana is probably the best choice. The only problem is the difficulty you might encounter when trying to buy one: There aren’t many international suppliers, so you may have to order directly from Japan. Which means it’s very important to get your sizing information correct. And in case you’re wondering if it’s a ‘novelty’ helmet, the ¥30,000 ($320) GT-750 has been certified with the Japanese SG safety rating, which is similar to both the ECE and the DOT ratings. [Buy]
Shoei Neotec Like Arai, Shoei owners are passionate advocates of the brand. The quality of Shoei’s helmets is widely respected, but it’s a surprisingly small company—with just over 500 employees. This is the Neotec modular helmet, costing from $580-680 depending on model, and designed for long tours. It has ample venting, a built-in sunvisor and an impressive noise-reduction system. [Buy]
Icon 1000 Variant Battlescar The Variant series has become hugely popular since its release last year. The helmets are an interesting hybrid of motocross and street design, with a little Halo Master Chief influence thrown in for good measure. As with Icon’s other helmets, this one scores heavily on safety. It’s ECE, DOT, SG and SAI certified, making it a good choice for the safety-conscious. The $400 Variant also boasts a ‘Hydradry’ wicking liner and a very wide yet distortion-free shield, complete with an anti-fog coating. Making it perfect for heavy traffic, inclement weather, and off-road riding. [Buy]
Schuberth S2 This German company is best-known for making the helmets worn by F1 drivers Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. And Schuberth has worked closely with Schumacher to create helmets for his automotive and motorcycle racing activities. From a technological perspective Schuberth is ahead of the game: the $700 S2 was developed in a wind tunnel, and is fitted with two antennas and optional communications equipment. Handy if you need to make calls on the go. [Buy]
Roof RO21 Panther The French company produces slightly unusual-looking motorcycle helmets with a strong following in western Europe—although they’re not so well-known in the US. The curvaceous Roof Panther was designed with a ventilation-first approach, making it ideal for warmer climates. Costing £249, it’s available in seven sizes and four colors—with add-on visors available for customization. [Roof]
Bell Revolver Evo As far as DOT-certified modular helmets go, the $200 Revolver Evo by Bell is one of the best examples I’ve come across. You can ride with the front up or down, making it a convertible of sorts. And it comes with an internal flip-down sunvisor for those occasions when you ride over the brow of a hill and cop a face-full of direct sun. [Buy]
Arai Corsair-V Arai helmets seem to have an almost pathological following. They’re worn by MotoGP racers and Formula 1 drivers, and the company has come out on top in all thirteen J.D. Power motorcycle helmet ‘Satisfaction Studies.’ The Corsair-V (‘Mamola-3’ model shown above) is built to the Snell M2010 safety certification which, depending on who you talk to, is either far better or nowhere near as good as DOT/ECE. Priced from $600 to a dizzying $3,600 for the Race Carbon model. [Buy]
Les Ateliers Ruby Castel The €930 Castel is the French company’s first foray into the world of full-face protection. The design seems to split opinion, with a minority hating it and most people wanting to sell an organ to buy one. Each Castel has a carbon fibre shell, a Nappa lamb leather interior and front mounted vents—and can also be customized with a series of OEM visors. You can choose between yellow, black, grey and white—though there isn’t yet a fire-engine red option. Which I really think Ruby should add.