The best sports bike helmets

The sports motorcycle helmets you'll want to invest in, whatever your budget, picked by the MCN experts


by Jim Blackstock |

There are as many motorcycle helmets on the market as there are jackets, jeans, gloves or boots. And like other forms of clothing, helmets can be designed for a specific style of bike or riding; sports, touring, adventure, off-road; flip-front, full-face or open-face. We’re going to look at sport bike helmets here, designed for low-slung sports bike and going fast.

The first thing to understand is that they are typically designed for riders who will be in the racing tuck, i.e. feet high on the footpegs and leaning forward to grip low handlebars, with the chest on the fuel tank and the head low.

What to look for in a sports bike helmet

As such, the rider will typically have their head tipped back into the top of their shoulders and will be looking up out of the helmet. A sports lid will be designed to allow this so it might feel a bit strange when sat on a touring bike, for example, where the torso is much more upright and the visor aperture feels like it is in the wrong place.

A sports helmet may well be used on track – either for track days or even racing — so it will likely be light and have some form of aerodynamic stability, as well as vents to keep the rider’s head cool during strenuous riding. And to go on track, it will also need an ACU (Auto Cycle Union, the UK governing body of motorcycle motorsport) sticker to say it is approved.

You might also look for a drop-down sun visor in case you are going between light and dark situations (legal on the road) and replacement visors, in various tints or dark finishes (generally not legal for roads, for track use only). You probably also want to look for a helmet that has a removable interior and lining so you can wash it if you get hot and sweaty during riding.

Also look for a SHARP rating; this is a government testing and rating scheme that awards up to five stars for safety. Not all helmets are tested so if a lid doesn’t have a SHARP rating, it doesn’t mean it’s no good but a one- or two-star rating usually does.

What is the best sports bike helmet?

The best all-round sports bike helmet

A lot of money but it's a lot of helmet. Developed on the racetrack, the X-Spirit 3 is Shoei's

Shoei X-Spirit 3

Shop Shoei X-Spirt 3 on Sportsbikeshop

Even in its base colours, the Shoei X-Spirit III is an undeniably expensive helmet. However, after 1000 miles of spirited road riding, and a couple of stints on track, I can confirm that your sizeable wadge of cash buys a quiet, capable, and beautifully finished lid. Sure, this striking Daijiro Kato replica livery won’t be to everyone’s tastes and is sadly not available from Shoei directly anymore, but I think it looks fantastic and there’s a wide range of other colours to choose from – plus a removable, washable liner to keep things fresh between sweaty trackdays

Other features also include emergency quick release cheek pads, a tear-off and Pinlock-ready visor, plus multiple vents in the forehead and chin and a spoiler to the rear. I’d recommend factoring a Pinlock into your purchase as the visor will mist up quickly in colder conditions and at a standstill, despite featuring a snug built-in nose piece.

Another feature I took advantage of was the adjustable interior, opting for slightly different padding to cater for my cuboid head. Wearing a medium, the standard design caused me discomfort after around an hour in the saddle, but I cannot criticise it too heavily for this, as everyone’s head shape is different. With the adjustments made, it’s much more cosy, but can still sometimes ache on longer rides. Passing ECE22.05 standards, it’s also arguably not as advanced as the rival Arai RX-7V Evo, which now meets more stringent ECE22.06 regs however costs slightly more money in colourful designs.

Elsewhere, the field of vision is brilliant – allowing you to keep an eye on vehicles either side of you, as well as see ahead whilst tucked in on track. I always notice the bright yellow fasteners on the visor in my prereferral vision, but you soon get used to it. It’s also nice and light, with all vents easily accessed with a gloved hand – the base chin vent proving to be the hardest to operate and often confused with the larger one above it.

Those looking to make snap visor changes in pitlane will also be pleased to know it’s a doddle – removed using a simple lever on either side and pushed back into place with a satisfying pop.

After living with the Shark through the winter, the biggest win with this helmet is the comfort –

Shark Spartan GT

The only visible damage that came from the small accident was a chip out of the plastic at the front, by the vent switch which you hardly notice, so it seems to be hardwearing. It meets the ECE 22.05 standard and has a Double D ring fastening. Inside, there is an integral sun visor which has its mechanism on the top of the helmet. The sun visor itself is a good width and length, but I did find I caught the vent on top of the helmet when deploying it on occasion.

The main visor catch took a little getting used to as well, especially with bulky gloves in winter and towards the last few months of wear, the visor began to fog up which was rectified after a bit of Pinlock maintenance, but it’s just something to be aware of.

Verdict: All in all, it’s a hardwearing helmet that’s comfortable over long miles and has all the ventilation you need. The plain carbon option will set you back £449.99 (unless you find a deal) but expect to pay more if you want one with a more intricate design.

MCN Rated Best All-rounder sports bike helmet

This Arai Quantic looks on the face of it like a pretty normal helmet. The design looks good but

Arai Quantic

Where things get interesting, though, is with the ECE marking on the back (said no one ever but bear with me). That's because the Quantic was the first helmet to meet the new and updated ECE 22.06 safety regulation for helmets – although Shoei weren't far behind with the NXR2.

At 1600g (large shell size) it's not the lightest helmet out there but this isn't noticeable when you're wearing it. The new ventilation system works really well and keeps you cool even when it's roasting hot. I've used the Quantic on the road and track and it's really quiet, even at very high speeds. At £599, it's not cheap and it's £60 more than Shoei's NXR2.

Read what other MCN testers have to say about the Arai Quantic.

Arai's updated flagship model RX-7V Evo is the Japanese manufacturer's second helmet to be

Arai RX-7V Evo side
The best sport bike helmet for colour choice

The RTSV95 is an aggressively styled helmet that is available in a range of colours and designs,

Viper RSV95

Available in both HPFC (High Performance Fibreglass Composite) and carbon, the Challenger has

LS2 Challenger

Caberg has always had a reputation for performance and value and the Drift Evo, its sporty helmet,

Caberg Drift Evo
The best value sport bike helmet

Ridiculous price for a helmet that has been awarded four stars by SHARP. It uses a polycarbonate

Agrius Rage SV

Surprisingly not available in a carbon finish (unusual in this company though carbon is included

AGV K5-S

The sports-styled RPHA 70 from HJC comes in a range of materials and finishes, as does the rest of

HJC RPHA 70

The Scorpion Exo1400 Air is available in a range of carbon-fibre finishes, including this plain

Scorpion Exo 1400 Air Carbon

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