Best open-face motorcycle helmets

For many, an open-face motorcycle helmet is the ultimate in wind-in-the-hair riding.

Motorbike rider with open face helmet

by Jim Blackstock |

We’ve all seen plenty of movies and TV shows – most notably from across the Pond – where bikers' wear open-face motorcycle helmets and are bathed in glorious warm sunlight as they ride care-free along billiard-smooth tarmac, often with a rolling ocean over their shoulder. But while a Tuesday commute into Swindon may not be quite so romantic, an open-face helmet can make a day-to-day ride a bit more enjoyable.

In a full-face helmet, your head obviously has the best protection possible; it is completely encased within the material of the helmet and with the exception of the visor aperture, there is no way any foreign material can enter. However, you are completely insulated from the outside world and for some, this is a step too far.

A flip-front helmet adds a degree of flexibility, in that you can open the flip when stopped to have a drink or a bite to eat or simply for a bit of air and some allow you to also ride with the flip open (if they are dual – P and J – homologated). Look for a tab on the chin-strap to be sure.

Shark’s Evo line (and latterly, LS2’s Valiant model) take this one step further, with a folding chin-bar that rolls all the way over the top of the helmet to the back, effectively turning a full-face into an open-face (or more accurately, a ‘Jet’-style – an open face helmet with a full visor, popular on the Continent particularly for commuters.)

Related: Best urban motorcycle boots

But if you want the genuine impression of the wind on your face, then an open-face motorcycle helmet is the way to go. Generally, these will be particularly well suited to classic or retro-style motorcycles, as trying to get into hyperspace on a superbike or going off-road on an adventurer is likely to be a fairly uncomfortable experience.

You need to be aware that you are far more exposed in an open-face than a full-face or flip with the front closed. Your chin and face are uncovered and this is why they are generally used for low-speed riding. You also need to include some form of eye protection – little will ruin a ride more than hitting a wasp head-on at 50mph or a bit of grit kicked up from the road landing in your eye.

Like any helmet, all open-face (or Jet) lids should conform to ECE22.05 though you are unlikely to see them rated for safety by SHARP, the UK government testing scheme, since they do not protect the chin. However, if you want to get your motor running and head out on the highway, then one of these open-face motorcycle helmets may suit.

Made by Viper, who produce some decent kit at great value, this basic open-face helmet is

Viper Slim Fit

Available in a range of cool colours and starting at £299.99 for the base colour and going up to

Shoei J.O

It features a classic America design with straight sidelines and it comes with a manually-adjustable visor to protect the eyes. It also has a goggle loop at the rear and the lining is removable for washing.

This open-face from French manufacturer Shark has a bit more of a modern design to it, with the

Shark Heritage

It is formed with a fibreglass shell in two sizes and comes with an interior made from bamboo. It has a clear drop-down visor for protection and uses a double-D ring fastening to ensure the right fit every time. It will also accept the Sharktooth communications system.

You don't get much more retro than a black open-face helmet with flames painted on it. Yet you

HJC FG-70s

The cheek and crown pads are removable for washing and there is a pull-down sun visor to protect the eyes. There is also a goggle loop at the rear for those who prefer them and there are poppers located on the front for an aftermarket peak for the full scrambler effect.

The LS2 Bob takes retro styling and brings it bang up to date, with this carbon-skinned open-face

LS2 Bob Carbon

It comes with a pull-down sun visor and is supplied with a peak, which can be removed and re-attached using the poppers. It has a double-D ring fastening and a goggle loop as well.

Hailing from the Mod era (if you don't know what that is, ask your dad), this open-face-design

Duchinni D501 Garage

It uses a seat-belt-style buckle and there is a pull-down sun visor to protect the eyes though there is also a loop to retain goggles for those who prefer them. The lower sections of the sides protrude slightly further forward than traditional open-face helmets to offer a little more protection to the chin and it’s finished in black and green or black and orange.

The Le Mans from MT Helmets is another classic open-face helmet that is available for less than

MT Le Mans

It is made using ‘Standard’ fibre construction – Arai’s Fibre Complex Laminate Construction (FCLC) and has a triple density liner for safety and comfort. The interior features genuine leather for a more authentic retro look and feel and there is a standard or a sun-visor peak available as an option. It has a goggle loop at the back and fastens with a double-D ring.

There are five sizes of shell and five inner liners, creating a perfect fit without the helmet becoming too large and it is certified to both the DOT (American) and ECE (European) standards. It also comes with two snap-in visors to create a more ‘Jet’-style helmet for protected use.

The Shark Street Drak is an aggressive open-face helmet aimed at riders of 'streetfighters' and

Shark Street Drak

This allows the addition of top vents in the thermoplastic shell for a cooler ride and with two shell sizes, it should be easy to get the right fit. It uses a microlock buckle and is ready for the Sharktooth communications system.

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