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

It can get noisy out there on the road, so a noise-cancelling motorcycle helmet seems like a sensible choice to protect your hearing. 

The wind pressure against your helmet going up against the still air inside creates turbulence and therefore noise, which ain’t fun on long, highway rides. Making your motorcycle helmet quieter is one option, but if it’s time for a new lid anyways, we’re looking at the best noise-cancelling helmets on the market. 

We’ll be looking at:

  • The best noise reducing helmet on the market
  • The best helmet with active noise cancelling
  • The quietest modular helmet 

Let’s get into it. 

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

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

The old Shoei RF-1200 has been much-loved, but Shoei found a way to improve it when they launched the RF-1400 at the end of 2020. It’s marginally improved on the sound front, making it the quietest motorcycle helmet you can get.  

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

Helmet Credentials

The RF-1400 is both DOT and Snell 2020 certified and weighs in at 1,616g for a medium making it one of the lightest as well as quietest helmets. Here are the features you need to know about: 

  • The shell is made from Shoei’s own AIM+ (Advanced Integrated Matrix +) material – a fiber-reinforced plastic (1) – and comes in four shell sizes covering XS-2XL.
  • It’s made from multi-density EPS foam, with extra padding around the jaw compared to the RF-1200.
  • The liner is fully removable with quick-release cheek pads in case of an accident.
  • You get cutouts for speakers for a comms system that you can buy separately. 
  • The visor comes with Pinlock in the box and has a chin-mounted release button – a little fiddly to release and lift up wearing gloves.
  • You can buy a photochromic face shield that changes tint as the light conditions change. 

Noise Credentials

The Shoei RF-1400 has everything you’d expect in a good, mid-priced helmet. What makes it so quiet, though? 

  • The shell is aerodynamically designed and wind tunnel tested; it has 4% less drag and 6% less lift than the old model.
  • Vents on the chin and forehead are easier to open and close, giving you more control over airflow.
  • An increase in the thickness of the neck roll reduces the wind coming in.
  • You get a removable chin curtain to reduce noise even further. 
  • The seal on the face shield is really tight – you can’t even get a Post-it through there.
The inside of the Shoei RF-1400
A tight neck roll keeps wind noise out of your ears. Image Source: Shoei

Our Assessment

It’s tough for a company to improve on a classic. The Shoei RF-1400 seems to have managed it, keeping the noise down for a comfortable ride – recent reviews say it all:

  • “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)

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

Active noise cancellation in a helmet means a system of mics and earphones that control how much of the noise around you makes it to your ears. There aren’t a whole bunch of helmets with this tech yet, but the Sena Momentum INC is the best active noise-cancelling helmet available. 

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

Helmet Credentials

As you’d expect from Sena, the Momentum INC comes with integrated Bluetooth comms. It uses Bluetooth 4.1 and pairs with your phone for calls, music, and GPS or you can intercom with up to eight Bluetooth-equipped riding buddies, no matter the brand they use.

What else does this lid offer? 

  • Made from composite fiberglass, it’s only DOT-certified, and comes in just two shell sizes covering XS to 2XL. 
  • It’s lined with EPS – as you’d expect from any decent motorcycle helmet.
  • The liner is fully removable and washable, plus there’s a chin curtain included.
  • The visor is Pinlock ready with a lens included in the box, but it doesn’t have any locking positions – it’s either open or closed with no notches to let in a bit of wind on hot days.
  • Chin and forehead vents can be opened and closed reasonably easily, even with gloves. 
  • At 1,900g, it’s pretty heavy, even for a helmet with integrated Bluetooth.
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

Noise Credentials

This helmet is all about the INC – Intelligent Noise Control. You get two settings; ambient which amplifies noise around you, so you can hear your passenger or the gas station attendant; and INC which should reduce all external noises.

Reviews are mixed, but on the whole, it seems to work well as an active noise cancelling helmet for the city, but not so well for the highway. As one reviewer puts it: 

“Unfortunately, at Highway speeds during long trips, there is little benefit. The airflow was disappointing and I needed to crack the visor.

I will use the momentum for city driving at lower speeds where the INC can keep up to the noise levels” (3)

Using these settings also eats into the battery, which should give you 20 hours of talk time. It’ll be closer to the standard 10 hours you get with the Sena 20S this model is based on when using Bluetooth and INC together, says one reviewer. 

Our Assessment

This helmet is definitely quieter than helmets without an active noise cancelling system, in our tests. However, the Sena Momentum INC uses speakers instead of in-ear earbuds, so it doesn’t measure up to earbuds with active noise cancelling, which we’ll be looking at in a moment. 

Shark EVO One 2 – Quietest Modular Motorcycle Helmet

Modular helmets have slightly less chance of being quiet in general, with more seals and mechanisms to let the wind through. The Shark EVO One 2 is a valiant effort and the quietest modular motorcycle helmet at the moment. 

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

Helmet Credentials

DOT and ECE-certified, the Shark Evo One 2 is made from injected thermoplastic resin and lined with EPS foam. Both are materials you’d expect at this price point. It weighs 1,700g, which is nothing out of the ordinary for a modular lid. You also get:

  • Sizes from XS to 2XL – sometimes noted as KS – across two shell sizes
  • An antibacterial lining that’s fully removable and washable.
  • A chin bar that lifts all the way over your head and becomes a spoiler rather than sitting awkwardly around your forehead.
  • A Pinlock insert in the box, ready to attach to a visor that moves with the chin bar when you raise it as well as moving independently when the bar is fully flipped. 
  • An integral sun visor on a slider rather than a spring, which should make it more durable. 
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

Noise Credentials

Although it’s missing a chin curtain, the helmet shape is aerodynamically designed and runs noticeably quiet. A recent review echoes other sentiments, 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).

Our Assessment

As modulars go, this is innovative in its shape and quieter than others with the rising chin bar. 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

Is wind noise starting to get to you but don’t want to buy a whole new helmet? You can increase the noise protection on your motorcycle helmet with a couple of simple hacks. 

Earplugs

The best earplugs are the ones that mold to your ears to stop errant sounds from getting in. 

Decibullz is 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, but they don’t come with a cable to attach them so they’re a little easy to lose. 

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

One step up from the standard Decibullz are the ones with percussive filters. They have technology that blocks out louder noises and still lets through ambient sound. 

Decibullz with Percussive Filters

Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Earplugs work when you want to get rid of all noise, but what if you want your tunes, calls, and directions coming through? Earbuds will cut out outside noise so you choose what you hear. 

For iPhone owners, AirPods Pro is the go-to for active noise-cancelling. These small earbuds are packed with technology to optimize your audio experience, detecting noises around you and adjusting what you hear accordingly. They’re small enough to not create a pressure point in anything but the tightest fitting lid. 

One of our writers thought he accidentally shut off his tuned up supermoto when he turned on noise cancelling on his AirPods Pro with the engine idling. 

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 still effective and 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
  • Riding in a good 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!