Old motorcycle helmets just look gorgeous. Why is everything modern so ugly?
Thankfully for us, many of the top brands in motorcycle safety gear – including Bell, Arai, and Shoei – feel our nostalgia too.
They took classic designs and reinvented them with modern safety features from fiberglass shells to multi-density EPS. Earning a few a coveted spot on our list of coolest helmets for 2023.
As lovers of retro bikes ourselves, the team at Moto Gear Nuts and our friends put our heads together to create this list of the best retro motorcycle helmets money can buy. I’ve broken them down in to three categories: Open Face, Full Face, and Off-Road / Scrambler.
The retro helmet movement is here to stay, and at these prices anyone can afford to own a retro lid. Find what you like down below and shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wear any of these!
If you’re looking for other riding gear to complement one of these vintage motorcycle helmets, check out the review I did of two top-selling retro motorcycle jackets.
TIP: If you click on any helmet below and see it’s out of stock, try this! Search for the helmet’s name: there are often multiple pages for these helmets with different colorways and options. There’s almost always something in stock.
- The Best Vintage Open Face Helmets
- The Best Classic Full Face Helmets
- The Best Retro Off-Road Helmets
- Customizing your Own Retro Helmet!
- FAQs on Vintage Motorcycle Helmets
The Best Vintage Open Face Helmets
Looking for that Easy Rider vibe as you cruise down the highway? Or the cafe racer look as you dart through the tight streets of downtown London? These are the best retro motorcycle helmets sporting an open face style.
For when you want more than a half helmet, but still need the wind in your face.
Bell Custom 500 Helmet
Have you ever ridden with a motorcycle helmet that feels like a ball and chain on your head?
The Bell Custom 500 is the polar opposite of that. But why?
FIVE shell sizes. That means every helmet size fits perfectly. Most helmets use two or three shell sizes, so XLs get thin padding while Smalls make you a mushroom-head. Either ruining your comfort or your style. For classic helmets, you need a perfect fit no matter your head size.
This lid combines the safety of modern helmets with a retro look and low-profile fit. Just what we’re looking for.
The standard helmet shell is made of fiberglass, which has better impact absorption than the polycarbonate common on other helmets. And it’s lighter: this helmet is just 2.8 pounds. There’s an even better carbon fiber shell option too. Multi-density EPS foam is a nice touch for safety as well.
Inside is a nicely stitched breathable leather liner that will coddle your face like you coddle your bike. That liner is not faux-leather, it’s genuine leather.
Snap on visors or bubble face shields with the 5 snaps on the rim of the helmet. Adapt to any weather conditions, sun or rain. Since this is a Bell lid, there are TONS of aftermarket attachments for those snaps.
I still haven’t mentioned the best part: This baby is SO AFFORDABLE. It costs less than most plastic brain buckets on the market. And it comes in several matte or gloss colors and designs.
Cruise through the city feeling like Peter Fonda, and turn every head you pass. If you want to feel like a true rebel without sacrificing safety, the Bell Custom 500 is the way to go.
I have this helmet. It is the best fitting open face helmet I have owned in 40 years of riding. It fits like a rubber glove. Skin tight but comfortable. I love the way it stays put even as I sail past 150kmh on my 2013 Diavel. It looks classy. Has a nice finish. However it is the NOISIEST helmet I have ever worn…Bar none.One buyer’s thoughts
Arai Classic V Helmet
Is the Bell Custom 500 too common for you? Need something that stands out? How about an open face lid handmade by over 40 craftsmen in Japan.
That’s what Arai delivers with the Classic V. A throwback to the original Arai helmets from the 1970s, the Classic V will do a lot more to protect your head than the brain buckets from back then. At 2.63 pounds, it’s one of the lightest retro helmets on our list. (The absolute lightest is down below!)
The lightweight shell is handmade from SuperFiber and fiberglass, the same way Arai makes their race-ready helmets. The MotoGP riders with heads worth millions of dollars to their teams? They use this shell in their helmets. That might be why this helmet landed Snell M2020 safety certification, which is absolutely wild for an open face.
This helmet also stands out for its ventilation. Most open face helmets have no vents, so even though you look cool your hair stinks after a 20 minute commute in the summer.
Arai built vents into the outer shell and removable lining – 3 air intakes at the front and 2 rear exhaust ports – so the helmet retains its clean look while running cool air over your hot head. Pretty awesome.
You get 5 snaps on the front for a removable visor or one of my styles of face shields, as well as a goggle strap holder on the back.
Just treat yourself and pick this one up. Your scalp will thank you next time you ride on a ho summer day.
Biltwell Bonanza Helmet
Okay, this one is for those of you that spent way too much wrapping your hot-as-hell scrambler pipe and custom-painting your tank.
The Biltwell Bonanza is an absolute BARGAIN. Most half helmets with a thin plastic outer shell cost more than this.
If you’re looking for MotoGP level premium materials and Snell certification, this isn’t the helmet for you.
But if you want a classic look in a comfortable lid for a fair price, the Biltwell Bonanza hits the mark.
You get a hand stitched liner with Lycra panels to wick away moisture, plated steel D-rings (no corrosion like cheaper lids), and a padded chin strap. Three snaps on the front let you fit a peak or bubble visor of your liking. One visor is included in the box.
The Biltwell Bonanza comes in a variety of colors, from black and white to red, burnt orange, to irridescent looks. It’s a solidly-made, safe helmet for an incredibly price. And, there’s no branding on the outside. Truly vintage look.
These guys GET IT… sometimes you want more than a skull cap without going to a full face helmet.. THIS is the result… Perfect guys..! Thanks for steering me to just the right helmet… GREAT work!A clearly happy customer of the flat black Bonanza
LS2 Spitfire Helmet
If you think the price is right on the Bonanza but something else just isn’t clicking, take a look at the similarly priced LS2 Spitfire Helmet.
This retro motorcycle helmet gives you the classic bobber look that’s as badass as it gets.
But it’s not just about looks – this helmet has got some sweet features that you’ll definitely appreciate. It’s got a built-in ventilation system, so you won’t be sweating buckets in the hot summer sun. And when you need to get off your bike, the quick release chin strap makes it easy to take off.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about the sun blinding you while you ride, because this helmet comes with a built-in sun shield. No need for extra accessories or fussing around, just flip it down when you need it and flip it back up when you don’t.
Overall, the LS2 Spitfire helmet is the perfect combination of style and functionality. It’s got the classic look you crave and the features you need for a comfortable ride. And it’s priced around $100 in multiple colors and designs, from matte black to rust. Too cheap to pass up!
Shoei J·O Helmet
This lid from Shoei gives the Arai Classic V a run for its money. Premium to the nines… (and a little bit cheaper than Arai!)
This helmet is built to save your skull with Shoei’s Advanced Integrated Matrix helmet shell that’s designed to absorb impacts without weighing you down. Weighing in at just 2.2 pounds, this helmet is ultra-lightweight, so you’ll barely even feel it on your head. That’s lighter than most half helmets, and it’s the lightest lid on our list.
Like the LS2 Spitfire, this helmet also has a drop-down sun visor that you can adjust to 2 different positions to keep you seeing clearly on those sunny days. And with its Nubuck leather trim, this helmet doesn’t just look great, it feels great too.
L:eather soft meme
And if you wear glasses, no worries – the eyeglass compatible cheek pads mean you can ride with ease without having to take off your glasses.
Overall, the Shoei J·O is the perfect helmet for riders who want a high-quality, stylish, and lightweight helmet. Get your Shoei J·O today and never shop for vintage style helmets again.
The Best Classic Full Face Helmets
So you want to look like a F1 star from the wild west races of the 1960s? These are the best retro motorcycle helmets with full face protection.
Keep in mind you will usually get a bit more wind noise with these helmets than a modern full face, but those are the things we give up for fashion, right?
What I love about these retro helmets is that they’ve managed to combine their retro vibe with exceedingly good safety standards by using modern materials. Hell, many of these helmets are safer than your average modern helmet, due to advanced outer shell materials and multi-density shock absorbing EPS liner. I can get behind that.
Biltwell Gringo S ECE Helmet
First on our list is the well-priced Biltwell Gringo S ECE Helmet. Perfect for any vintage motorcycle.
They just had to brag about ECE, didn’t they…
But just look at that stunner! Inspired by vintage racing helmets from the ’60s and ’70s, the Biltwell Gringo S helmet does not sacrifice any safety standards you’d expect from a 2020s helmet.
Let’s start with the ECE safety certification. The original Gringo helmet didn’t have it, but Biltwell went through the painstaking design process necessary to ensure the Gringo S passes those multiple-impact and rotational force tests. That means you get retro styling on your motorcycle helmet without sacrificing modern protection.
Biltwell considered comfort too. The chin bar is cushioned, which is nice considering how close that chin bar is to your chin in vintage style helmets. The classic snap close visor gives you the look of a 70s F1 helmet and keeps wind out of your eyes. Plus, you get speaker pockets for Bluetooth comms equipment – talk about modern luxuries in a classic package.
With over 10 colors to choose from and at a very affordable price, you can find the perfect match for your style and bike (or even get TWO). Grab the Biltwell Gringo S ECE Helmet and get on your bike already!
The team at Revzilla knows their stuff when it comes to helmets, and this is one of their Staff Picks.
Bell Eliminator Helmet
Did Bell pick that name because this full face helmet eliminates everything else in the retro helmet category? Let me tell you why that might be true…
First, the shell sizes. This lid has three shell sizes, meaning no bobblehead look no matter your size. And it’s made of fiberglass, which is lighter and stronger than the usual ABS plastic. Plus, the 5 EPS liner sizes ensure that your head will be comfortable and secure while wearing it.
All that customization is probably why the Bell Eliminator is not just DOT certified, but ECE as well.
The Bell Eliminator also comes with a dual-paned ProVision face shield that means this helmet will never fog. No need to mess with annoying Pinlocks to get anti-fog protection. There’s plenty of airflow already due to holes at the top for ventilation. Don’t worry about rain – Bell sells a cover for those vents if you need it.
And if you prefer the old school style of wearing goggles, you can easily remove the face shield and pop on goggles. An eyeglass-friendly liner and speaker pockets make it easy to wear this lid with glasses or a Bluetooth headset.
The Bell Eliminator is a jack-of-all-trades: just as fitting for a scramble in the dirt as a cruise through the city on a cafe racer. All at a great price for a full face.
Bell Bullitt Helmet
The Bullitt almost doesn’t need an introduction. Just LOOK AT IT!
The Bell Bullitt is named after the iconic car chase movie “Bullitt,” which starred Steve McQueen as a San Francisco cop driving a Ford Mustang GT. McQueen’s character wore a Bell Star helmet in the 1960s film, which inspired the design of the Bullitt helmet.
The modern Bullitt helmet preserves the style of the Bell Star, but integrates the tech of today. You get an ultra-low profile fiber composite shell, making it lightweight and comfortable to wear.
The micro-suede inner lining with leather trim provides a luxurious feel with a classic look. The hidden ventilation system on the brow looks like visor snaps and keeps your head cool and dry. The snap-close visor is a throwback to vintage racing helmets and the big eyeport offers excellent visibility.
Starting to see a trend: the Bell Bullitt is another classic lid that’s ECE rated!
You’ll spend a bit more on the Bullitt than other vintage motorcycle helmets; but you get a more premium helmet with much bigger eyeport, soft interior, and iconic look. Pick this up and pull off like Steve McQueen.
If the Bullitt is a bit out of your budget, check out the Torc T-1 down below – it’s basically a cheaper version, but still ECE rated!
Simpson Ghost Bandit Helmet
Simpson is known for car racing helmets – but they did their homework on the Ghost Bandit and nailed the needs of motorcyclists.
The first thing I have to mention is the ECE certification. Given the rotational force tests (which are not part of Snell or DOT tests), it’s difficult for car helmets to pass. Motorcyclists crash in all different positions, whereas car drivers are usually stuck in one, banging their head repeatedly in one spot. Simpson getting ECE certification means they went back to the drawing board with this helmet. It’s not just a copy of a car racing helmet.
You basically get a modern, comfortable motorcycle helmet in a more aggressive and classic package. That means vents disguised all around the helmet to keep your head cool, and even a chin curtain to keep wind noise down – rare on a vintage helmet. At just 3.46 pounds, there’s no sore neck in your future.
Want an even lighter and stronger helmet? Go for the version with a full carbon fiber shell.
One of my friends is a huge Mad Max fan, and bought this lid to go along with his green bobber. Nice military-industrial look, suitable for any vintage motorcycle or a cafe racer.
If you’re reading this, Brian, tell us what you think!
TIP: Size up. This helmet tends to run small.
Biltwell Lane Splitter Factory Helmet
If you’re looking for a helmet that can keep up with your badass style, then you gotta check out the Biltwell Lane Splitter. This bad boy is the perfect combination of form and function. Let me tell you why.
First of all, the hand-stitched inner lining is not only dope as hell, but it’s also super comfy. You won’t want to take this baby off. And the large vents at the chin? Talk about keeping things fresh. You’ll be able to breathe easy, no matter how hard you’re pushing it.
But that’s not all. The face shield has accurate optics, so you won’t have to worry about any distortion messing with your vision. And the brass snap closure for the shield is not only sturdy, it looks super vintage and can be snapped when wearing gloves.
And if you’re all about that Bluetooth life, you can pop your unit’s speakers right in the ready mesh pockets. No more struggling to fit your buds in your ears with your helmet on. Just slide those suckers in and you’re good to go.
And to top it all off, this helmet is ECE rated – meaning it can take a tumble with multiple impacts while still protecting your head. The best part is this helmet is well priced for a vintage lid: great style with simple materials will do that.
Torc T-1 Helmet
The cheaper cousin of the Bell Bullitt. Less demanding on your wallet, but equally as satisfying to ride in.
A straight rip off the classic Bell Bullitt design, the Torc T-1 keeps the look but gives you some money back by swapping in a faux suede liner.
That’s about the only tradeoff. You still get a fiberglass shell, making it lightweight without sacrificing strength. You’ll stay cool with the chin and forehead vents, which don’t mess with the timeless look of the helmet. The face shield is still ginormous with anti-fog and anti-scratch coating.
And it’s still ECE rated!
And this one comes in a whopping 20+ colors, so you can match your outfit, your ride, your friend, your mom. Whatever you like. Even has a few that throw back to retro metal flake helmets from the 80s.
At a cheaper price than the Bell Bullitt, it’s a fantastic alternative that doesn’t skimp on style or safety.
TIP: The T-1 runs large, so you may want to size down.
AGV X3000 Helmet
You already know AGV is the bomb, making helmets for riders like the legendary Valentino Rossi. This ECE rated helmet is inspired by the helmet worn by racing legend Giacomo Agostini. It’s a must-have for anyone looking for a retro lid that still brings the heat.
With a fiberglass shell in three sizes, you get a snug fit that will keep your noggin safe without feeling like a bowling ball on your neck. The genuine leather and suede interior is as soft as a baby’s butt and can be removed for easy cleaning.
The snap-down visor and D-ring chinstrap keep your melon secure while doing homage to the ’60s race helmets.
Finally, I have to mention that the inspiration for the X3000 is not just a gimmick. Ago cut down the chin bar so he could hug his tank tighter when he was winning 15 World Championships back in the day. That’s why the chin bar on this helmet gently curves up.
Feel like a real racer from the golden years on your vintage motorcycle and riding gear. Get your AGV X3000 now and channel your inner Agostini!
TIP: Be sure to size up since this baby runs small.
Shoei Glamster Helmet
Despite having possibly the worst name for a helmet ever (is it for a Barbie doll?) the Glamster was one of the most anticipated retro helmets when it was released in 2020.
Let me tell you why.
Riders were not just itching to hit the road since everything else was shut down in 2020. The Shoei Glamster is one of those gems that combines Shoei’s incredible safety record with impeccable retro style.
If you’re looking for a helmet that blends safety and style, look no further than the Shoei Glamster. With Shoei’s patented AIM shell available in three different sizes, the Glamster fits all sizes closely to the dome while being both lightweight and protective.
The Glamster doesn’t just have standout looks, it’s super comfortable as well. The huge forehead vent doesn’t look out of place, and neither do the four chin vents. Each of these feed dedicated channels in the EPS foam with cool air, keeping you comfortable even on a smoking hot day.
Don’t settle for a helmet that sacrifices style for safety or comfort. The Shoei Glamster combines the best of both worlds, so you can hit the road with confidence and style.
It’s worth nothing this lid is ECE approved, but only available for the European market. It is not DOT approved!
The Best Retro Off-Road Helmets
Do you live in the metropolis but still like to play in the dirt on the weekends? Any of these helmets below will suit you both when you’re weaving through traffic on your cafe racer and when you’re hitting trails on your scrambler.
That means big eye ports to accommodate goggles, long peaks to protect from sun and flying mud, and tough chin bars to take those full-frontal impacts like a champ. You also need a lightweight helmet with removable cheek pads that you can wear all day and clean out thoroughly when you’re done.
I’ve picked only the top three vintage helmets with modern features that fit those criteria. Let’s get into it.
Bell Moto-3 Helmet
Like the Custom 500 and Bullitt, the Moto-3 is not a new helmet trying to act like a vintage one. It’s a helmet with a long heritage, spanning sixty years of Bell’s design expertise.
Modern protection with classic styling for those of you who like to get messy in the dirt.
Crafted with a tough fiberglass shell, this helmet is built to withstand whatever obstacles you might encounter on the road or the trail. And with three shell sizes and four EPS sizes, you’ll get a perfect fit that’s tailored to your head size. Most motocross helmets can’t say the same.
A nice touch on this helmet is the EPS lined chin bar. Whether you go headfirst in to a cab or a tree, the fiberglass and EPS foam will soak up the impact.
And when things get dirty, no worries: the terrycloth liner is washable. And you should wash it right after a long day in the mud. Don’t leave ANY dirty helmet in your 300 square foot apartment for a whole hot summer week. Take it from me; my girlfriend almost dumped me over that stench.
The Bell Moto-3 comes with a peak, too, so you can keep the sun out of your eyes while you’re tearing up the dirt. It’s the perfect combination of street style and off-road functionality.
Just one helmet for all your rides lies within the Moto-3.
AGV X101 Helmet
Another lid from the legendary AGV, this time in an off-road style.
Only a tad more expensive than the Bell Moto-3, the AGV X101 brings a similar style with AGVs reputation for quality and safety.
Crafted with a fiberglass shell with three different shell sizes, the AGV X101 provides superior protection and comfort for riders whether you wear a Small or an XL. Plus, with chin vents featuring protective metal grills, you can ride without worrying about flying debris ending up in your mouth.
The AGV X101 comes with a removable peak, making it perfect for both on-road and off-road riding. Plus, with a big eye port, you can wear sunglasses in the city and googles in the country.
But the AGV X101 isn’t just tough on the outside – it’s also a comfort powerhouse. The eco-leather and suede interior (read: faux) will keep you comfortable on even the longest rides, and it’s completely removable and washable for easy cleaning.
From what I’ve heard, this helmet is comparable to the Bell Moto-3 in every way that matters. Just pick the style you like most and get off the computer!
Shoei Ex-Zero Helmet
This is the cream of the crop if you want a lid that will work just as well in the dirt as on the road. Mainly because of one feature that I’ll get in to…
The Ex-Zero’s unique look is a nod to the classic 80s EX model, with the long chin bar and ‘ducktail’ at the rear. However, the Ex-Zero has modern upgrades to keep you riding safe while you’re looking sharp.
The lining and visor area of the helmet are edged with Nubuck leather, which not only looks premium but doesn’t reflect light in to your eyes. The helmet is also built with Shoei’s patented AIM shell, which provides top-notch protection against knocks.
And don’t worry about getting too hot under the collar, because the helmet has convenient chin vents to keep you cool and collected. Plus, it comes with a handy clip for goggles, so you can easily switch up your look and stay comfortable no matter where you’re riding.
What’s that one standout feature? The drop-down internal visor. Perfect for high wind situations or highway riding, the visor protects your eyes when you need it and tucks away, hidden from view, when you don’t.
Best of all, Shoei offers Personal Fitting to get this helmet perfectly molded to your head. That means a safer and better looking lid.
The Shoei Ex-Zero is the best you can get for a retro city + off-road lid for any scrambler rider.
Keep in mind this lid is unfortunately not available in the USA! If you’re in Europe or elsewhere, click the link below to pick it up.
Customizing your Own Retro Helmet!
If you want a totally custom, retro-style helmet, check out Helmade.
I can’t vouch for the safety on the lids they make, but the style possibilities are endless. From what I hear, their lids are well built. Check out Helmade.
FAQs on Vintage Motorcycle Helmets
Is a 10 year old motorcycle helmet still good?
It is almost always a bad idea to wear a 10 year old motorcycle helmet. It might look great, but the foam has almost definitely degraded – providing zero protection from impacts. Even if the helmet is still intact, it’s using old technology and won’t protect you nearly as well as a modern helmet. Keep your classic helmets on the shelf and pick up a retro lid from this list.
How much should I pay for a good motorcycle helmet?
There’s no one right answer to how much you should pay for a helmet. Helmets can range from $50 to $1000, and the price doesn’t always reflect the quality. Your head is probably your most valuable body part, so don’t skimp on protecting it. Choose a lid from a reputable manufacturer like AGV, Arai, Shoei, HJC, Shark, or Bell for example. This is one area where you don’t want to skimp.
Is there a helmet that doesn’t mess up your hair?
While there’s no helmet that won’t mess up your hair at all, there are some that are better than others. Helmets with a closer fit to your head won’t pull your hair around, so look for lids with multiple shell and EPS sizes. You can also try wearing a hairnet or skullcap under your helmet to help keep your hair in place. A few of the Bell helmets on our list of retro helmets are a good place to start looking for a close-fitting helmet.
Why do motorcycle helmets only last 5 years?
The reason helmets only last five years is because the protective materials inside (EPS foam) can degrade over time, even if it’s not being used. Exposure to heat, cold, and UV rays can take a further toll on the helmet’s ability to protect your head. So, it’s recommended that you replace your helmet every 5 years, even if it hasn’t been in an accident.
Either that, or helmet manufacturers just want us to spend more!
Is it OK to buy cheap helmet?
Well, the short answer is no. While it’s tempting to save money, a cheap helmet might not provide the same level of protection as a higher quality one. Cheaper helmets use less protective materials (i.e. ABS plastic instead of fiberglass or carbon fiber shell) and they tend to skimp on quality when it comes to anti-fog, airflow and other comfort items that can become safety issues.
You only have one head and you’re not going to have a very happy life without it – so spend well when protecting it.
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