The best budget motorcycle helmets: tried and tested

A quality helmet doesn’t need to cost the earth. All of these retail for less than you would expect, making them excellent value for money as well as safe and secure.

Person on motorbike wearing helmet

by Justin Hayzelden |

Keeping your head well protected is critical on a motorbike, however it can also be a costly process, depending on your budget, with some manufacturers charging serious money for the best range-topping motorcycle helmets.

Wallet friendly alternatives such as the lids below are far from a compromise; many offer the same level of features as far pricier examples, they just may lack the famous racer’s graphics on them.

If you want a quality helmet from a recognised brand name you don’t need to spend the earth as there is a fantastic array of choices out there. MCN's expert testers take the pick of the sub £300 crop to task, plus we've added some essential buying information and handy tips.

1. Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS


Tested by Emma Franklin over four months, 2000 miles. Quality 4/5, Value 5/5. This

Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS

2. Givi X.23 Sydney


Tested by Mike Armitage over twelve months, 2000 miles. Quality 4/5, Value 5/5. Whoever is

Givi X.23 Sydney

3. AGV K3 SV-S


Tested by Ben Clarke over 3 months, 1000 miles. Quality 3/5, Value 4/5. Nothing much


4. Shark Ridill 1.2 Phaz Mat KRW


Tested by Gareth Evans over 600 miles. Quality 5/5, Value 4/5. This lid is seriously good

Shark Ridill 1.2 Phaz Mat KRW

5. LS2 Challenger C GT


Tested by Michael Guy 20 months, 1,700 miles. Quality 3/5, Value 5/5. This is the first ever

LS2 Challenger C GT

Also consider these

6. HJC CS-15


Polycarbonate composite helmet with advanced air channelling system and washable Nylax liner

HJC CS-15 - Naviya Pink

7. Nolan N87 Arkad N-COM


Considering its very low price, the N87 is full of clever features and is designed so that its

Nolan N87 Arkad N-COM

8. Shark Spartan 1.2

Shark Spartan 1.2

9. Arai Debut V


Arai is one of the most famous names in motorcycle helmets and while they have some very pricey

Arai Debut V

10. LS2 Storm FF800


The LS2 Storm FF800's shell is constructed from Kinetic Polymer Alloy (KPA) technology which

LS2 Storm FF800

11. HJC i70 Eluma Pink


Replacing the popular IS-Max, the i70's shell was reduced in size to create a compact and

HJC i70 Eluma Pink

12. Shoei Ryd


The Shoei Ryd delivers delight as soon as you open the box to see a separate chin skirt and small

Shoei Ryd

13. Agrius Rage SV

Agrius Rage SV black

14. SHARK Skwal 2.2


[We've given the SHARK Skwal 2.2 a full

SHARK Skwal 2.2 Hallder

The important questions

Is it road legal?

To conform to UK law a helmet must either:

Reach British Standard BS 6658:1985 and also carry the BSI Kitemark.

Meet UNECE Regulation 22.05

Meet a European Economic Area member standard equivalent of BS 6658:1985 and also carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.

Most lids will have ECE 22-05 printed on them, usually at the back of the lid.

Is it SHARP rated?

SHARP’s five-star safety rating is an independent helmet testing scheme ran by the Department of Transport. You can see which lids have been tested at SHARP’s website.

Is it ACU gold-approved?

An ‘ACU Gold or Silver’ sticker means that the lid is approved for use in motorcycle sport by the Auto Cycle Union in the UK. Some trackday organisers insist on you wearing an ACU Gold-approved helmet.

Does it have a Pinlock insert?

One of the best anti-fog inserts on the market, many lids come with a Pinlock included in the box while others simply have its fixings and you need to purchase the Pinlock itself separately. If you need to buy it, factor this extra expense into your buying decision.

How much does it weigh?

A heavy lid can put extra strain on your neck, leading to fatigue when worn for a long period of time, so a lightweight lid can be an advantage when it comes to touring.

Is the lining removable?

Helmets get sweaty and removing the lining and cleaning it thoroughly is the best way of reducing smells and keeping it nice to wear. If you cover a lot of miles in all weather conditions it is a good idea to get a lid with a removable lining.

Is the visor easy to remove?

A fiddly visor removal system can be very annoying when it comes to removing the visor to give it a good clean and remove and stuck on flies. Look for a well-designed system that will allow you to quickly remove the visor with minimal effort or use of tools. Some overly-complicated visor release systems result in broken side-pods or a damaged mechanism and that could mean a lengthy delay while you await spare parts.

Does it have an integrated sun visor?

A ‘flip-down’ sun visor is a really handy addition for when the sun is out as it means you can simply flip it down while on the go rather than stopping to fit a pair of sunglases.

What is its ventilation like?

A hot head is an uncomfortable head, so see if the helmet has vents and if they are easily operated by a gloved hand. The more vents, the cooler your head will be, however they can create extra wind noise.

Is it ready for a communications system?

Many helmets are ‘communications ready,’ which means they are designed with extra recesses around the ear areas so that you can insert headphones for a communications system. Without these recesses, the headphones can press irritatingly on your ears.

Is it designed for glasses?

If you wear glasses, a lot of helmets have special areas in them to allow the glasses’ arms to sit comfortably between the lining and your face, stopping them pressing on you or getting deformed and also making them easy to remove and put on.

What kind of strap fastener does it have?

There are two general types of helmet strap fastener – a D-Ring and a ratchet-style. The D-Ring requires manually threading and then tightening the strap where a ratchet-style system is a simple push-fit. It is a matter of choice with some riders preferring the ease of the ratchet-style and other opting for the secure feeling offered by a D-Ring.

Can I buy a dark visor?

Legally a visor must allow a light transmission of 50%, which means most dark visors are ‘for non-road use only.’ This doesn’t stop riders wearing them and if you want to have a dark visor, always check that one is readily available for the helmet you are looking at.

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