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?

Shoei X-Spirit 3
Tested by Dan Sutherland for 1,000 miles across four motorcycles

The best all-round sports bike helmet
Shoei X-Spirit 3
Amazon

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A lot of money but it's a lot of helmet. Developed on the racetrack, the X-Spirit 3 is Shoei's flagship sports helmet, with a shell design intended for the full-on sportsbike riding position and has generous room around the mouth to allow easy breathing. It has chin, forehead and top vents and spoilers to improve stability and aerodynamics at high speed and the visor is ready for both internal Pinlock anti-fog inserts and external tear-off protectors. It has adjustable, emergency-release cheekpads but no drop down sun visor, though replacement tinted visors are available. SHARP rating - 5/5

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.

Shark Spartan GT
Tested by Saffron Wilson for 6 months, 2,279 miles
Quality 4/5, Value 4/5

Shark Spartan GT

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After living with the Shark through the winter, the biggest win with this helmet is the comfort – you can have it on your head for hours and still be smiling. The shell isn’t fully carbon, but instead made of fiberglass finished with a carbon skin so don’t expect the lightest lid on the market, but at 1550g it’s not bad going. Inside, the lining is plush, fits well, is easily removable and can be washed. It’s worth mentioning that the liners have emergency removal tabs too which I’m thankful I didn’t need to use when I had a small off.

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.

Arai Quantic
Tested by Ben Clarke for 2 months, 1,500 miles
Quality 5/5, Value 4/5

MCN Rated Best All-rounder sports bike helmet
Arai Quantic

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This Arai Quantic looks on the face of it like a pretty normal helmet. The design looks good but is nothing to write home about and there's a new forehead vent combined with the Arai badge but other than that it looks quite unremarkable.

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 RX-7V Evo

Arai RX-7V Evo side

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Arai's updated flagship model RX-7V Evo is the Japanese manufacturer's second helmet to be certified under the new ECE 22.06 regulations. It still features the distinctive and proven R75 rounded shell shape and VAS V Max-Vision visor, whilst the already excellent ventilation system has been further improved for even more airflow. Read our full review on the RX-7V Evo here.

Viper RSV95

The best sport bike helmet for colour choice
Viper RSV95
Amazon

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The RTSV95 is an aggressively styled helmet that is available in a range of colours and designs, including solid white and black. It is ACU Gold approved for track use and features a scratch-resistant visor with Pinlock posts (for the base 30 Pinlock only) and a drop-down internal sun visor. It comes with vent options including and chin and two forehead vents with an aerodynamic spoiler on the rear which appears to include exhaust vents to draw warm air out. SHARP Rating - N/A

LS2 Challenger

LS2 Challenger
Amazon

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Available in both HPFC (High Performance Fibreglass Composite) and carbon, the Challenger has apparently been designed using information gleaned from the racetrack. A square, chunky helmet, it comes in three shell sizes for a good fit and has chin, top and (switchable) rear exhaust vents formed in stabilising spoilers. It also has a drop-down sun visor and an optically correct main visor which is ready for the Pinlock Max Vision anti-fog insert. SHARP Rating - N/A

Caberg Drift Evo

Caberg Drift Evo

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Caberg has always had a reputation for performance and value and the Drift Evo, its sporty helmet, is no exception. Formed in composite fibre, it comes in two shell sizes and has effective vents in the chin and on top of the head. It features a drop-down sun visor and the main visor is ready for the (included) Max Vision Pinlock insert, though the visor itself is tricky to remove and refit. The rear spoilers help with stability and the shaped base section allows the chin-up sports riding position. SHARP Rating - N/A

Agrius Rage SV

The best value sport bike helmet
Agrius Rage SV
Amazon

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Ridiculous price for a helmet that has been awarded four stars by SHARP. It uses a polycarbonate shell that helps keep strength up and it comes with a detachable visor and a drop-down internal sun visor. The main visor is ready for a Pinlock anti-fog insert (which incidentally costs almost as much as the helmet!) and the lining is completely removable for cleaning. We've tried this and it is incredible value; vents aren't particularly effective but it is fairly quiet and comfortable. Definitely worth a try for that money. SHARP rating - 4/5

AGV K5-S

AGV K5-S
Amazon

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Surprisingly not available in a carbon finish (unusual in this company though carbon is included in the fibreglass shell for strength), the K5-S is AGV's street sports helmet and certainly cuts a dash. It has a very contoured front end, narrowing around the mouth, though it still manages to fit vents either side of the chin. The top vent is placed directly in the flow of air for maximum cooling and to avoid interfering with the drop-down sun visor and exhaust vents allow warm air to escape. SHARP rating - 4/5

HJC RPHA 70

HJC RPHA 70
Amazon

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The sports-styled RPHA 70 from HJC comes in a range of materials and finishes, as does the rest of the expansive HJC range but it's this carbon version, at £479.99, that caught our eye. The bare carbon weave is supplemented by red striping and the result is a light, strong shell. A chin vent and dual-purpose top vent admit (and remove) air while rear spoilers promote stability. There's a drop-down sun visor, quick-release main visor and emergency-release cheekpads in case of an accident. SHARP rating - 3/5

Scorpion Exo 1400 Air Carbon

Scorpion Exo 1400 Air Carbon
Amazon

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The Scorpion Exo1400 Air is available in a range of carbon-fibre finishes, including this plain carbon and two with additional colour but when you're wearing carbon, you want to show it off. It's light and strong and comes with a Pinlock Max Vision-ready visor and internal drop-down sun visor. It uses Scorpion's AirFit system, with inflatable cheekpads for an optimum fit and there are stepped vents to promote cooling air flow, as well as a rear spoiler to help with stability and reduce lift. SHARP rating - 4/5

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