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What’s the Best Noise Canceling Helmet? Our Top 3 Picks

What’s got you looking for a noise canceling helmet? Is it the whistling of wind through your helmet? The screech of your uber-expensive Vance & Hines pipes? Or just the desire to actually hear your music while you ride?

I’m Derrick, and I’ve been there before. With all three.

Even had a brush with death once as a result. Too much wind noise in my helmet and I didn’t notice a semi-truck bearing down on me late at night until the last minute.

This list of noise canceling and quiet helmets is for those of you who don’t want to get pancaked by stupid drivers.

Harley riding next to graffiti
Nothing like a Harley pipe to put a damper on your hearing. Photo by Harley-Davidson on Unsplash

Before you go all Bandidos and Cossacks in Waco on me, screaming at the top of your lungs with a beer in hand, “Derrick, how is a noise canceling helmet going to help me stay aware of what’s on the road?!”

Noise canceling helps because it tunes out the routine noises that deafen your sense of hearing, like your tires on the road and the wind rushing over your helmet.

That actually makes it EASIER to hear cars passing you, horns and other out-of-the-ordinary noises. Sure, they will likely be quieter than before on an absolute, decibels basis – but they will be louder than other distracting noises.

So for this roundup of helmets, I rode around with a couple friends to chat about their experiences with noise in different helmets. We came up with:

  • The best noise reducing helmet on the market (for half the cost of high end lids)
  • The best helmet with active noise cancelling (and its hidden features)
  • The quietest modular helmet (not what you expect)
  • Other noise canceling and quiet creating solutions (good for the penny pinchers)

Let’s get into it. 

Shoei RF-1400 – The Best Motorcycle Helmet for Wind Noise Reduction

Throw out your beloved Shoei RF-1200. With the release of the RF-1400, the wizards at Shoei made the 1200 look like an old bucket in your garage. While the 1200 was already quiet, you could wear the 1400 in a Category 5 hurricane and get the best sleep of your life.

In fact, if you have young kids, you might want to wear this to bed too. How do I know?

While the RF-1400 isn’t an active noise cancelling motorcycle helmet, I have a crazy friend that has put it to the test.

Shoei RF-1400 Profile shot
The sleek Shoei RF-1400 in black. Image Source: Shoei

Why the Shoei RF-1400 is So Quiet

A friend of mine with low regard for his own life donned this lid and ripped up to 120mph. When he hit that speed, he moved his head all around while chatting through his Sena headset with us humble folks rolling at highway speeds.

Not only did he say he could barely hear the wind even at 120, we could hear him clear as day over the intercom. Nothing short of zen.

Twist that throttle to align your chakras and enlighten yourself in to a new two wheeled state of mind, bro.

The RF-1400 is one of the quietest motorcycle helmets ever to grace this Earth. Shoei knocked it out of the park with the RF-1200, so they eeked out a 4% improvement on drag and 6% less lift with the RF-1400 in their wind tunnels.

Why do you care? That’s less turbulence for you, meaning less strain on your neck and less wind noise.

Back to my friend’s ‘daredevil test’ – did I forget to mention he ripped that run a second time with all five vents open? The RF-1400 has a chin vent about the size of the Joker’s smile, and three across the brow that give BMW’s latest front grille a run for its money in size.

God I wish this was a meme. Source

A tight neck roll that curves in at the front to fit to the rider’s jaw and a nice big chin guard to seal wind noise out from below. The visor seal is, in classic Shoei fashion, incredibly well sealed. You couldn’t fit a razor blade anywhere in between the seal and the visor (do not try this at home!)

Still not convinced? A couple other benefits:

  • Lightweight Helmet (for a full face): Weighs just 3.56 lbs or 1,616g in Medium
  • Ear Cutouts for Added Comfort: Not only is it quiet in there, Shoei made little lounges for your ears. No padding squeezing them in, and space for speakers from a Bluetooth headset.
  • Better than Average at Absorbing Impacts: Using Shoei’s AIM (Advanced Integrated Matrix +) material – a fiber-reinforced plastic (1) – the RF-1400 one-ups all the polycarbonate brain buckets out there without entering the stratospheric price range. It’s also Snell certified!
  • Comfortable fit for Everyone’s Head: Even if you came off a spaceship, the four shell sizes covering XS to 2XL mean no matter your head size, this helmet will fit snug. That means quieter too.
  • Easy Visor Operation with Gloved Hand: My 120mph friend could even crack the visor 1/8th open with a gloved hand, using the huge lip in the center.
The inside of the Shoei RF-1400
This neck roll redirects wind like Obi-Wan redirects stormtroopers. “This is not the rider you will bother,” it says. Source: Shoei

Seal Out the Bad, Keep the Good

Sure, the Shoei RF-1400 doesn’t have active noise cancelling. It’s quiet, and that’s what really matters. The brilliant design in this helmet’s shell and padding make it one of the quietest helmets on the market. Shoei has noise reduction down to a science.

Recent reviews speak for themselves:

  • “Awesome Helmet. Very light and great aerodynamics. Great vents and noise protection.” (2)
  • “This helmet dampens sound better than my other helmets. I wear earplugs and still hear some wind noise, but the snug fit and chin curtain helps a lot.” (2)

Pick it up in classic glossy or matte black, blue, grey, or even hi-viz yellow.

Sena Momentum INC – Best Active Noise Cancelling System in a Helmet

This second pick for quietest helmet is the only active noise canceling helmet that ACTUALLY WORKS.

This isn’t from some rinky-dink company with a slick Squarespace site and $10,000 of mom’s money in the bank. This one comes from Sena, a storied company in motorsports with a reputation to uphold.

The Sena Momentum INC
Plain on the outside, high-tech on the inside. Image Source: Sena

A well-designed composite fiberglass shell helps with noise reduction in this helmet, but that isn’t the star of the show. Sena blocks out tire, tailpipe and wind noise with something much smarter.

The real star of this show is Sena’s INC, or Intelligent Noise Control.

INC listens to all the gunk noise around you, flips it audiologimagically, and spits it back at your ears. That ‘cancels’ the unwanted sound waves, just like in that algebra class nobody remembers from high school.

Say you pull up to a gas station and you actually want to hear what your buddy is saying? Tap a button on the side of the Sena Momentum INC to switch to ambient mode, where outside noises are amplified inside the helmet.

It’s like taking off your helmet with just a tap. Ironman-style.

Someday we’ll get this. Until then, we have Sena and Shoei.

Channeling the Ironman energy, this lid also packs a full Bluetooth comms system inside, with integrated microphone and speakers. The battery is hidden inside the shell too, meaning it packs a stunning 20 hours of talk time. That’s a good week-long trip without needing to plug in.

Pop this lid on and immediately chat with 7 other friends over Bluetooth, make phone calls, and listen to music.

All while tuning out the road and wind noise around you.

Sena Momentum INC side view
Sena packs a lot in to this shell, including a top-of-the-line Bluetooth and Mesh communication system. Image Source: Sena

Outside of its impressive noise reduction, this lid covers all the usual bases for a motorcycle helmet. All that stuff that doesn’t matter until you screw up: EPS foam, DOT certification, Pinlock visor in the box.

Getting the Momentum INC in 2023

Bad news first: The Sena Momentum INC has been discontinued. You can’t find it on Revzilla or Amazon anymore, though you might find it on eBay.

The good news? Sena replaced it with the much improved Sena Stryker, which lacks active noise canceling but improves on the INC’s design in other ways that make it equally quiet.

The Stryker has an even better integrated Bluetooth comms system than the INC with Harman Kardon sound.

And it has a TAIL LIGHT. On the helmet. Find me another lid with that!

The Sena Stryker comes straight out of Star Wars.

Grab the Stryker from Revzilla or Amazon below. I’ve linked to the listing for size L – just search for another size if L doesn’t fit you (Sena didn’t put all the sizes on one product page, weirdly).

Shark EVO One 2 – A Modular Helmet w/o Screaming Wind Noise

If you’ve ever worn a modular helmet on the highway, you might have experienced the famous scream.

Wind loves to terrorize your ears by exploiting that little crack for the chin bar.

Shark said NO MORE with the EVO One 2 (Apparently they said “Yes” to a strange name)

But that strange name fits the capabilities of this helmet, because it’s a transformer.

The Shark EVO One 2 looks like a normal full face. It has your run-of-the-mill thermoplastic resin shell lined with EPS foam. In a medium it weighs 3.75 lbs or 1,700g, average for a modular.

It comes with a Pinlock insert. And you can drop down a sun visor with a switch on the side.

It lives on Smith Street in the brick house with the white picket fence and the golden retriever.

So what is this little bugger hiding?

The Shark Evo One 2 with chinbar down
A quiet modular? Unheard of… Image Source: Shark

Flip the Script

The Shark EVO One 2 is not so much a modular as two helmets in one: a full face and a 3/4 helmet.

The chin bar doesn’t just lift up in to an awkward popped-up baseball cap brim like your average modular. It folds all the way over your head, becoming a spoiler of sorts.

Kind of like when your accountant neighbor opens their garage door to reveal a Ducati Monster.

Shark Evo One 2 with chinbar up
The chin bar on this helmet folds all the way over, making it resemble a 3/4 and reducing a lot of the wind turbulence created by a chin bar ‘sail’. Image Source: Shark

That means you can ride with the chin bar down or up, even at speed. The visor can sit over your eyes or flip up with the chin bar in either position.

Hold on, those gymnastics mean this lid has no chin guard or curtain. I can hear you now: “Derrick, all that wind coming up in my face is too much!”

Well, it isn’t. A recent review echoes what my friend Gaston has experienced, saying “After 3-4 rides I absolutely love this helmet. With the visor open, the noise isn’t bad at all; with it down, it’s quiet and comfortable” (4).

Shark managed to make a modular as quiet as a full face, and I think that’s worth an award – or at least some of your hard-earned dollars. If you want the convenience of a modular and the noise-cancelling effects of a full face, the Shark EVO One 2 is the one to buy. 

Adding Noise Cancelling to Your Current Helmet

Maybe a new helmet is not what you’re looking for. That’s cool – you can reduce noise with other cheaper fixes: Earplugs and noise cancelling headphones.

Earplugs

Earplugs are a lot cheaper than a top notch quiet helmet, but they’re often a pain.

For me, earplugs either fall out constantly or get uncomfortable after 10 minutes. It’s hard to find a set that does its job without feeling like a screw tightening in to my ear canal.

The solution for me was finding a set that molded to the shape of my ears, to stop vent noise and engine noise.

Decibullz are those plugs. They are moldable (and re-moldable) – drop them in boiling water, let them cool, and mold them to the shape of your ear. They have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 31 dB, taking motorcycle engine noise down to the level of normal conversation.

That means more awareness of the road around you and less chance of hearing damage.

Decibullz earplugs
Custom-fit earbuds offer a customized seal for every wearer. Image Source: Decibullz

Get fancy with the Decibullz that feature percussive filters. These special filters block out large spikes in volume, like say each power stroke flying out the back of your 2-in-1 pipe.

Again, less fatigue and lower overall volume means less hearing damage and a safer ride. Don’t be like me, almost getting run over by a semi!

Decibullz with Percussive Filters AND a cord – so you don’t lose your buds!!

Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Earplugs are indiscriminate. Like an electric fence, they will keep you out whether you’re a cow or a bumbling human.

But on the road, I’ll bet you want to hear your music, calls, and GPS directions clear as day while tuning out road noise.

Me too. That’s why I like noise canceling earbuds for reducing noise.

AirPods Pro are my go-to, as a member of Apple’s evil empire. Their active noise canceling is SO GOOD that I once though my bike broke down because of them.

Seriously. I fired up my supermoto in a parking garage once, put in the AirPods, and flipped on noise canceling.

Total silence.

I thought I had bumped the engine off switch.

AirPods Pro are a great choice for overall headphones, and they can double as ambient noise cancellation tools on the road.

If you use any phone that’s not Apple, for top-end noise-cancelling earbuds, go for the Sony WF-1000XM4s. They regularly top lists of the best earbuds and for good reasons. No unwanted noise is getting through these babies.

Sony Earbuds
Sony’s low-profile earbuds with snug-fitting foam tips. Image Source: Sony

At the cheaper end of the noise-cancelling earbud spectrum are the Earfun Air Pros. The noise-cancelling tech is more basic than other options, but then again they won’t have you cursing if one falls down the storm drain as you lift off your lid. 

FAQs

What’s the quietest motorcycle helmet?

The quietest motorcycle helmet is the Shoei RF-1400. There are other quiet helmets, like the Schuberth C4 Pro, but only the RF-1400 has both a DOT and Snell rating. 

How do I reduce wind noise on my motorcycle helmet?

There are lots of wind noise reducing options for your helmet, such as:

  • Wearing earplugs
  • Choosing a good riding position
  • Installing a windshield
  • Wearing a scarf or balaclava

Here’s our full guide to making your helmet quieter

What makes a motorcycle helmet loud? 

Motorcycle helmets are loud because the wind rushing into your helmet when you’re going fast is at a higher pressure than the air inside your helmet, meaning air tries to rush up into your helmet. This creates turbulence – like on a plane – and makes your helmet noisy. Engine and road noise sure don’t help either!

Derrick Saunders
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