Which is the best budget helmet?

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Written By Dominic Howard

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Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience, but safety should always be the top priority for any rider. A quality helmet is an essential piece of motorcycle gear that can protect your head and potentially save your life in a crash. If you’re looking for a helmet on a budget, you’ll be glad to know there are many options available under $200 that offer excellent protection.

In this detailed guide, we will discuss how to choose the best budget motorcycle helmet and review the top picks under $200.

What to Look for in a Budget Motorcycle Helmet

When shopping for an affordable helmet, you’ll want to make sure it meets a few key criteria:

  • DOT or Snell Certification – Only buy a helmet that is certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or Snell Memorial Foundation. These certifications mean the helmet meets safety standards for impact protection. Avoid novelty or non-certified helmets.
  • Proper Fit – The helmet should fit snugly all around your head without any pressure points. Make sure to measure your head and try on helmets before buying to get the right size.
  • Full-Face Design – Look for a full-face helmet that protects your entire head, face, and neck. This is safer than open-face or “half” helmets.
  • Ventilation – Proper ventilation allows airflow to keep you cool and comfortable. Look for vents in the helmet’s shell.
  • Weight – Lighter helmets are less fatiguing to wear for long periods. Look for weights around 3 pounds or less.
  • Visor – A visor can help shield your eyes from sun glare and debris. Make sure it is scratch resistant.
  • Removable Interior – Being able to remove the liner makes the helmet easier to clean and maintain.

While you’ll have to sacrifice premium features for a budget price, you can still get excellent protection if you stick to these guidelines when choosing a value-priced helmet. Now let’s look at some of the top affordable models on the market.

Top Budget Helmet Picks Under $200

Here are some of the highest-rated and most recommended budget helmets for under $200:

Bell Qualifier Helmet

One of the best-value motorcycle helmets you can buy is the Bell Qualifier. This DOT-certified helmet meets high safety standards but sells for only around $150. The polycarbonate composite shell provides good durability and impact resistance. It has a click-release shield system with NutraFog II anti-fog treatment. Rubber trim around the bottom creates a good seal. The Qualifier has excellent ventilation with metal mesh intake and exhaust vents to keep air flowing. Overall, it offers impressive performance and protection for the price.

HJC CL-17 Full Face Helmet

HJC is well respected for making high quality budget helmets. The CL-17 is one of their most popular models selling for around $150. This lightweight helmet weighs just under 3.5 pounds. It features an advanced polycarbonate shell with CAD technology for excellent venting and aerodynamics. The face shield has 95% UV protection and is Pinlock ready. Interior padding is removable and washable. Overall, the CL-17 provides full face protection that outperforms many lids costing much more.

Vega Helmets Warrior Motorcycle Helmet

For riders who want an aggressive sporty looking helmet on a budget, check out the Vega Warrior. It has an angular high-tech style but costs less than $100. The Warrior has a lightweight thermoplastic alloy shell and meets DOT certification standards. It comes with a smoke-tinted drop-down sun shield for eye protection. There’s also a removable/washable liner and chin curtain. For the low price, this helmet offers excellent safety and performance.

Typhoon Offroad Helmets Adult ATV MX Helmet

One of the top-rated budget helmets for ATV and dirt bike riding is the Typhoon Offroad helmet. It costs around $100 but offers full face protection for off-road adventures. The Typhoon has an aerodynamic thermoplastic alloy shell with high air flow from the adjustable vents. It comes with a removable visor to shield your eyes from dust and debris. The liner is anti-microbial and washable. Overall, this is a great pick for motocross riders who need good ventilation and eye protection on a budget.

1Storm Motorcycle Modular Full Face Helmet

For riders who like the convenience of a flip-up modular helmet, 1Storm makes a very affordable option. This full-face helmet converts to an open-face style with the flip of a switch. It has a lightweight alloy shell and is DOT certified. The flip-up chin bar makes it easier to talk, eat, or drink without removing the whole lid. It comes with interchangeable visor lenses for daytime and night riding. At around $80, this modular helmet gives you versatility and safety on a budget.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Budget Helmet

When trying to choose the best budget motorcycle helmet for your needs and riding style, there are a few important factors to keep in mind:

Intended Use

Think about the main type of riding you plan to use the helmet for. This helps narrow down the choices. If you mainly ride a cruiser on the streets, look for a classic open-face helmet with retro styling. Sportbike riders need a sleek, aerodynamic full-face helmet. Off-road and dual sport riders are better off with a motocross-style helmet with extended chin and visor protection. Make sure to get a helmet designed for your style of riding.


Even budget helmets come with a range of features to enhance safety, comfort, and convenience. Consider which features would benefit you most. Do you want a flip-up modular chin bar? An integrated drop-down sun shield? Extended rear protection? Ventilation and interior padding can also vary between models. Know which features fit your needs and priorities before you buy.

Size and Fit

Unlike shoes or clothing, you can’t just try a helmet on for size. Making sure a helmet properly fits your head is critical for safety and comfort. Measure your head circumference and compare it to the helmet’s size chart. Try the helmet on and make sure it feels uniformly snug, without any pressure points. The helmet should fit your head like a glove. Don’t size up thinking it will feel less constricting – that can compromise safety. Take the time to find your perfect fit.


While the graphics won’t affect safety, the visual style of your helmet is still important. It becomes part of your identity as a rider. Luckily many budget helmets come in a range of colors and patterns. Look for a graphic design that fits your tastes and personality. Just make sure to choose visibility and safety over flashy aesthetics.

With this criterion in mind, you can choose the ideal budget helmet that meets all your riding needs. Comparing brands and models using online research and real user reviews can help you make the best decision. Set your priorities, take the time to try on helmets, and you’ll find quality head protection without breaking the bank.

Pros and Cons of Budget Helmets

Just because a helmet is affordable doesn’t mean it has to be low quality. However, spending less on a lid usually means sacrificing some features and technology compared to premium helmets. Let’s look at the main pros and cons of going budget:


  • Great affordability. You can get DOT-certified protection for under $100.
  • Sufficient safety for street use. Budget helmets meet the same impact standards as pricier rivals.
  • Good ventilation and comfort features are still available. Many have intake/exhaust vents, removable liners, and decent graphics.
  • Ideal for new or part-time riders. Lets occasional riders get needed gear without overspending.
  • Allows buying multiple helmets. Riders can afford helmets for different bike styles or conditions.


  • Less advanced materials. Shells are usually polycarbonate instead of carbon fiber or composite blends.
  • Fewer high-end options. Won’t have features like Bluetooth, onboard cameras or head-up displays.
  • Less wind noise reduction. Budget lids won’t cut noise as effectively at high speeds.
  • Shorter product life. Cheaper components may wear out faster than premium brands.
  • Less fit and finish refinement. Cheaper look and feel compared to top helmet brands.

As you can see, budget helmets provide the essential head protection all riders need at an affordable cost. However, they do sacrifice some comfort, features and longevity compared to expensive models. Weigh these pros and cons to decide if a budget or premium helmet is the right choice for your needs and budget.

How to Get the Most from Your Budget Helmet

Once you’ve purchased an affordable helmet, you’ll want to make sure you use and maintain it properly. Here are some tips to help you get the most protection and value from your budget lid:

  • Follow the break-in period. Wear the helmet for short rides first to gradually shape the liner padding to your head.
  • Keep the shield clean. Dirt and smudges reduce visibility and scratch the lens over time. Use mild soap and water to clean.
  • Replace the shield if scratched. Deep scratches can be distracting and dangerous. Replacing the shield is cheap and easy.
  • Use the different shield positions. Fully closed, cracked open, and fully open give ventilation options.
  • Replace interior padding as needed. Sweat and oils break down the lining over time. Replacement pads are inexpensive.
  • Clean the liner regularly. Use mild detergent and water to thoroughly wash the removable interior padding.
  • Store the helmet safely. Keep it in a cool, dry place when not riding to prevent cracking or deformation.
  • Consider adding accessories. Some accessories like Bluetooth or tinted shields can enhance a budget lid.
  • Replace after 5 years. The materials degrade over time. Stick to the 5-year replacement recommendation.

With proper care and maintenance, even an entry-level budget helmet can provide excellent performance and protection for many seasons of riding.

Frequently Asked Questions

People shopping for an affordable motorcycle helmet often have many questions about finding the right lid on a budget. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

1: Are budget helmets safe?

A: Yes, budget helmets are safe if they meet DOT or Snell certification standards. These rigorous standards mean they provide ample impact protection for street use. Avoid any novelty or non-certified helmets.

2: Should I get a used helmet to save money?

A: No, you should always buy a new helmet. Used helmets likely have unseen wear, damage, or defects that reduce protection. The materials also degrade over time so an older helmet won’t protect you as well.

3: Can I add Bluetooth to a budget helmet?

A: Many budget lids have space to install Bluetooth communicator kits. Look for options that mention Bluetooth compatibility if it’s a desired feature for you.

Q: Do budget helmets have warranty coverage?
A: Most budget helmets come with a limited manufacturer’s warranty covering defects in materials and workmanship. This usually covers between 1-5 years.

4: Are modular flip-up helmets as safe as full-face?

A: Yes, flip-up modular helmets must pass the same impact safety standards as full-face lids. The flip-up portion won’t compromise safety when riding with it closed and locked.

5: Should I choose a lighter or heavier helmet?

A: A lighter helmet is generally preferable to minimize neck fatigue on long rides. But don’t choose an overly light model with thin shell materials that compromise durability.

6: How do I know if a helmet fits me correctly?

A: A helmet should fit snugly all around your head with no pressure points. It shouldn’t shift around easily or be too tight. Take measurements and try on several models and sizes to get the right fit.

7: Can I paint or apply stickers to my helmet?

A: It’s generally not advisable to paint a helmet yourself. Paints and adhesives can react with the shell material and potentially weaken it over time. Most helmets offer enough graphic designs and color options without needing to alter them.

8: Are race-style helmets good for the street?

A: Race helmets are designed for track speeds and crashes, not street use. They lack visors and interior padding that make helmets street-legal and comfortable for long rides. Stick to standard street legal models instead.


Finding the right motorcycle helmet on a budget simply takes knowing what features, fit, and certifications to look for. Focus on getting the protection you need for safe street riding while sacrificing some premium frills. With a plethora of affordable options from trusted brands, every rider can find a helmet to fit their budget and needs. Reference this guide, shop smartly, and enjoy the open road with peace of mind knowing your head is protected. Safe riding!

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