Riding a motorbike is pretty damn cool. Wearing a couple of pounds of plastic and foam on your head while doing it? Not so much.
Motorcycle helmets are a vital piece of safety equipment – there’s a reason motorcycle helmet laws exist in many places you’d want to hit the road in. A proper full face helmet is best for protecting your head in a crash, but there’s nothing wrong with looking for the best low profile helmet that’ll keep the weight off and your brains on the right side of your skull.
Low pro DOT helmets comply with the law while reducing bulk on the rider’s head. They keep you on the right side of road-legal without cramping your style, limiting your vision, or dampening cruising experience. We’re going to check out:
- The best-looking low profile helmet
- The beanie helmet with the best fit
- The helmet you’ll barely notice on your head
- The breeziest skull cap helmet
Plus we’ll look at some low profile helmets that aren’t half-helmets but are still barely noticeable. If you’re interested in adding a communications system to your half helmet, check out our review of all the best communication systems for half helmets.
What is a Low Profile Helmet?
A low profile helmet – often called a shorty – is usually a half helmet that sits above your ears. As well as being as small as possible, you can expect a beanie helmet to be light so you barely notice you’re wearing it.
In terms of how you can expect your helmet to look, you want it to have style and be slim – no one likes the mushroom-head look.
Probably the most important feature of a low profile helmet is safety. You should always look for a helmet that’s DOT-certified. Put simply, helmets meeting DOT standards are a legal obligation for driving your motorcycle on the road in states of the USA that require helmets.
A helmet that’s not DOT-certified might be lighter or look better, but if you get pulled over and the officer sees you’re not wearing an approved helmet, there’s trouble ahead.
The best you can expect for a low profile motorcycle helmets is that they’re DOT approved. Other certification standards like ECE, Snell, and FIM don’t certify this type of helmet ever, due to safety concerns. Snell and FIM don’t even certify modular helmets, half helmets have no chance!
This is the typical idea of a skull cap – one that’s barely there in terms of coverage. Low profile can also mean your motorcycle helmet feels lightweight and barely there – we’ll check out some low profile open face and full face helmets before the end, too.
The Best Low Profile Motorcycle Helmets
The particular helmet that fits you best will depend on your own personal preferences and style, so we’re going to look at a few of the best low profile motorcycle helmets that cover different styles.
Harley Davidson Curbside – Coolest Shorty Helmet
When it comes down to it, you’re looking for a low profile helmet to get the look. You want the smallest helmet that’s DOT approved and you want to look cool.
We could argue the definition of cool motorcycles and cool gear all day, but Harley Davidson is definitely going to be part of that conversation. The Harley Davidson Curbside helmet is the low profile, beanie style you’re looking for.
- Is super lightweight, weighing in at 2lbs 3oz or just 993 grams
- Comes with an integrated sun visor with 95% UV protection in case you forget your sunglasses
- Is made from thermoplastic
- Has a double-D ring strap
- Is DOT-certified
Did we mention it’s Harley Davidson branded? It’s not super flashy – just a flat black logo embossed at the front, so you know this is the style that Harley cruisers wear.
The eye shield is easy to adjust with one hand so there’s no fiddling around when you’re on the road.
You can pick up this helmet in sizes XS to XXL. People who’ve bought the helmet give mixed reviews on the sizing – some do say that the sizing runs small because of the removable antimicrobial liner (1).
This is a great helmet to look your best and keep your full face open to elements as you head out on the road.
Bell Scout Air – Best Fit for a Low Profile Helmet
This lid is somewhere between a half helmet and an open face helmet. The shell comes down over your ears and is a little lower on the back than the others we’re going to look at.
The features include:
- Being only 800 grams, or 1lb 13oz – you’ll barely notice it
- Two clip-in sun visors which come in the box
- A fiberglass shell
- A double-D ring strap
- DOT certification
What makes this the best fit for a beanie helmet is the shell sizing. The Bell Scout Air comes in XS to XXL and across those six sizes there are five shell sizes, keeping the thickness down and definitely keeping the mushroom head look at bay.
One recent reviewer wrote, “Excellent helmet, well made and very comfortable, lightweight so it hardly feels like you’re wearing it, low profile compared to other open face helmets so doesn’t look as odd on larger heads” (2).
Our favorite thing about this low profile motorcycle helmet is the shape that covers your ears. In that space, you’ll find a recess that’s perfect for your Bluetooth headset speakers, so you can still use your intercom and listen to music in a half helmet.
AFX FX-200 – The Lighest Half Head Helmet
At just 1lb 12oz, or about 795 grams, this is one of the lightest, DOT-approved half helmets you can wear. It even comes with ear pockets so you can still add in your Bluetooth speakers, too!
Buying the AFX FX-200, you get:
- One of the lowest profile, road-legal helmets we’ve found
- Two integrated visors – smokey for sunshine and clear for night rides
- A fiberglass reinforced plastic shell
- A double-D ring chin strap
You can pick up this skull cap helmet in sizes XS to XXL and with an advanced Conehead EPS (3) foam, you can be sure of a close fit and no bobble or mushroom head issues. A buyer commented, “Love this helmet. Great color, fit, comfortable, light weight, appropriate coverage for style” (4).
With this helmet, you get low profile, style, and the convenience of the dual visor, all for less than $100. We think it’s a bargain.
Scorpion EXO C-110 – Best Airflow
This chopper helmet goes the extra mile to keep you and your head cool. Not only do you get the wind in your face like all half helmets, you also get a ventilation system that most in this style lack.
Along with the cooling air vents, you also get:
- A 2lb 7oz or 1.1kg helmet, which isn’t the lightest of motorcycle helmets, but it’s still not giving you neck ache
- An integrated sun visor that you can easily retract with one hand
- A polycarbonate – or plastic – shell
- A double-D ring chin strap
- DOT-certified safety levels
Fitted into the retention strap, there are also popper buttons for removable speaker cups so you can still take calls and listen to music when you’re riding. It also comes in sizes XS to 3XL which is a broader range than most helmets that tend to go up to 2XL.
The twin air intakes at the front are vented out the back – something that features rarely on these types of helmets. Bikers in hot climates are sure to appreciate a cooler head.
Quite a few people commented about the bulgy sides giving the mushroom head feel, and more than one person echoed the sentiments of a reviewer who said, “Look like one of the toads from Mario but it protects me well. The visor is nice” (5)
We appreciate the removable sweat wicking liner, this is definitely built for long, hot, hot summer rides and does the job well.
Fly Racing Street .357 – The Best Value Protection
When you don’t want to spend too much on a new half head helmet but want to stay on the right side of the law, check out the Fly Racing Street .357.
This helmet comes with:
- A total weight of 2lbs 3oz, or 992 grams, making it pretty lightweight
- A retractable sun visor attached, plus you can buy more visors of different shades from the manufacturer
- A thermoplastic, poly alloy shell
- A double-D ring retention strap
- DOT approved status
It’s a simple helmet – you’d not expect the bells and whistles that other shorty helmets on our list have. It’s going to do the job of keeping your head covered and your cruise road-legal with no crazy financial outlay.
VCOROS Motorcycle Half Helmet – The Best-Looking Motorcycle Helmets
Looks count when you’re choosing your next skull cap and not everyone is down with the plain black matte or shiny look. To get something a little different on your head that doesn’t look like it’s from a novelty store, check out VCOROS’ collection.
With each helmet, you get:
- A 2.4lb helmet that’s not exactly lightweight but it won’t break your neck, either
- An integrated, drop-down, removable visor
- A quick-release chin strap
- A helmet that meets DOT standards
You can choose from 11 design options that are generally black and gray, and for extra style the fabric around your ears and your chin strap come in a dark brown color.
People who buy this helmet seem to really love it, with one person saying, “Helmet is more stunning than in the pictures. Brown leather edging and straps are comfortable. Quick release works great. The sizing chart was spot on. Love this purchase” (6).
For a good-looking helmet to suit the bike you pour so much effort into, this is a great option.
Best Low Profile Helmets in Other Styles
A lot of riders will think of the skull cap-style helmet when they think “low profile”, but there are other low-profile motorcycle helmet styles for your head. The ones we look at are light and thin – they’ll go barely-noticed on your head, avoid the mushroom head look, and offer more protection for your face.
AGV K6 – The Lightest Full Face Helmet
It’s pretty pricey, but the AGV K6 is probably one of the lightest full-face helmets ever. You can buy it in four different shell sizes so it should fit the shape of your head perfectly.
- A 2.95lbs or 1.33kg helmet
- A five-density EPS padding and removable liner
- A Pinlock ready face shield with Pinklock in the box
- Five active front vents to keep you cool
- A double-D chinstrap
- An ECE and DOT-certifed lid
It’s a high quality helmet and you’re barely going to notice when you’re riding your motorcycle.
Bell Broozer – Lightest Modular
Still want the wind in your face at least some of the time? The Bell Broozer modular helmet is possibly the lightest modular helmet ever made.
The Broozer gives you:
- A super light 3.2lb or 1.45kg motorcycle helmet
- A UV protected, integrated, drop-down face shield
- A padded, quick-release chin strap
- A removable chin bar to take it from a full-face helmet to a half-face
It’s really light for this style of motorcycle helmet. The compromise here is how thick it is. A sleek beanie it is not – you’re going to get the mushroom head look, but how much do you care when you can’t feel it on your head?
What is a low profile helmet?
Low profile helmets are onee that you barely notice on your head. You’ll see it called a beanie, shorty, or skull cap as well. It’ll generally have a not-so-thick layer of padding and you’ll tend to see them on a biker riding a chopper or other cruiser motorcycle.
Are low profile or beanie helmets safe?
Low profile or shorty helmets offer less protection for your head than a full-face or half-head helmet. The padding isn’t as thick and doesn’t cover as much of you, plus the retention straps are longer so you have to take more strain if you do have an accident. Some ultra low profile motorcycle helmets won’t even meet DOT standards, and are of little more use than a baseball cap in the event of a crash.
Be sure to wear beanie helmets that meet DOT standards – features like padding for protection are more important than factors like being lightweight or a cool, novelty shape.