There are more ways to get scammed buying a cool motorcycle helmet than there are CCs in your liter bike.
I’m here to help you avoid falling for them.
There are PLENTY of totally epic motorcycle helmets on the market from reputable brands. Can’t find what you want? There are infinitely more ways to customize your own helmet to build exactly the right look without compromising on safety.
Don’t buy some crap like this ‘DOT approved’ Halo helmet.
Your head is valuable. Let’s keep it in one piece. But also make sure it looks badass out on the road.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through where to buy cool motorcycle helmets – whether online or in person. I’ll also give you some tips for fitting the perfect helmet and vetting brands. And finally, I’ll tell you what to look out for so you don’t end up with a lemon.
Let’s get into it.
Buying a Graphic Helmet Online
Lots of helmet manufacturers and retailers carry helmets in two striking colors: black and matte black.
Why? Because most people are boring, and they just want black.
But not you. You want a skull with flames coming out the eyes, or a giant grin of sharp teeth, or a trippy Shamhbala pattern that will pacify nearby drivers.
Where can you find these?
First, check out Revzilla. Here’s a link to all their graphic helmets. You can’t filter for this on their site, and I can’t remember how I found it. But I saved it for you, because that’s what I do.
Filter that page down by the type of helmet you’re looking for: full face, open face, half helmet or whatnot. You can even filter by brands, only choosing the ones worthy of your head.
You’ll find retro-inspired patterns, bold and colorful designs, as well as understated and sleek looks. Revzilla carries some of the sickest graphic helmets out there. And they’re a motorcycle retailer, so you’re unlikely to find them selling crappy lids. You can be sure you’re getting something that will keep you safe when you buy from Revzilla.
They also have a no hassle return and refund policy which I’ve been very happy with. They give you 90 days to return an unused product.
Do the good people at Revzilla a favor and don’t order several sizes to try them all. Use our Helmet Size Calculator to narrow down your choices, then talk to an expert at Revzilla to get the right fit. If you’re not happy with a helmet’s sizing, just exchange it!
Buying a Graphic Helmet in a Gear Shop
Helmets are a tricky purchase. Everyone’s head is different, and we want to protect it justttt right. That’s why I’m glad stores are still around (until Bezos wipes them out).
Pop in a brick and mortar store like Cycle Gear (hey, they’re part of Revzilla!) or any motorcycle dealership to see what they have. Try on as many as you like.
The staff at these stores are usually very knowledgeable. Every Cycle Gear I’ve visited was staffed by people who clearly would rather be riding than behind a shop counter. Ask them a question and they will GUSH with information.
They are trying to live vicariously through you. Have some mercy and hear them out. They will be able to figure out your head shape and point you towards brands that will naturally fit you better. Tell me a website that can do THAT!
TIP: A new motorcycle helmet should squeeze your cheeks pretty hard. Like, chipmunk hard. As in, you should be biting your cheeks with your back teeth. Cheek pads will wear in quickly (2-3 weeks) and loosen up significantly.
You want to avoid helmets that put pressure on your temples or the top and crown of your head. Pads in those areas are thinner and won’t compress over time as much. That pain will stay with you. Learn from my mistakes.
Of course, the downside of a store is limited stock. You might drive around all day just to find the only graphic helmets in your area are hot pink Barbie lids. Call ahead and find out what they have in stock.
A visit might still be worth it just to learn from the staff and try on helmets from a bunch of brands.
Custom Painters and Designers: Premium and Perfect
Maybe you have a very specific design in mind, and nothing online or in store is cutting it.
If you have the money (or time) to spend, you can take your helmet to the next level with a custom design.
There are several amazing customizers I recommend that many of my friends have used to get epic skull designs and other bespoke graphics.
I’ve listed all of them out with details here in my article on helmet customization. My two personal favorites are Airgraffix and Blaze Artworks. They offer some super unique designs and from what I hear, their craftsmanship and attention to detail are second to none.
If you want full customization without the $500+ price tag, check out Helmade or Veldt. Both use their own premium in-house helmets as a base, and allow you to design whatever you like on top. They support a ton of graphics and color schemes (metal flake paint too). You can play around with their online tools to see what’s possible.
Customizing Yourself: The Budget Option
Of course, if you’re feeling crafty, you can always try customizing your own helmet. Check out my article on DIY helmet customization for some tips and inspiration.
Just remember to do it safely. Use materials that won’t harm the shell of the helmet. Don’t obscure your vision while riding. And don’t add elements that might cause your helmet to shear or snag in a crash. Or else you might end up with a helmet that’s more dangerous than protective.
Customizing yourself with paint, a wrap or just stickers is much cheaper than commissioning a helmet from a customizer. However, the quality of the finished product is all on you.
There are lots of DIY helmet painting tutorials online (like this one), and with a little bit of time and effort, you can create a helmet that’s truly one-of-a-kind.
Don’t Make These Cool Helmet Mistakes!
Now, let’s talk about where NOT to buy a cool motorcycle helmet. Many motorcyclists fall into these traps, and I don’t want you to be one of them.
There are lots of custom helmet shops on Etsy that make some pretty cool looking helmets. Be careful. Even if they say DOT or ECE approved, you never know! There’s very little oversight when someone is selling a helmet out of their home.
eBay is another one to be careful with. You’ll see a lot of suspiciously low priced high-end helmets supposedly from brands like Shoei and Arai. They’re often fake! And even if they are genuine helmets, many times you’ll find a “lightly used” helmet was actually smashed into the pavement on the highway and now provides about as much protection as a baseball cap.
Retailers that don’t specialize in motorcycle gear, like Walmart and Amazon, will often let super low quality products hit their shelves or site. They aren’t the worst places to buy a helmet, but you need to know what you’re looking for and what brands actually carry a good reputation.
I need to talk about DOT certification as well. Lots of totally junk helmets brag about being DOT certified, meaning they’re at least legally considered ‘helmets’ for riding motorcycles in the USA. However, DOT certification means basically nothing.
DOT certification is kinda like saying, “If I tapped on this helmet with a hammer, it wouldn’t hurt that much.” Plenty of completely unsafe helmets like these beanie helmets are DOT approved. Don’t think just because the seller says “DOT certified” that you’re getting a safe lid.
For that reason, no matter where you buy a helmet or what the seller says about it, stick to reputable helmet brands. Make sure the manufacturer has done rigorous crash testing to ensure their helmets will protect you in case of an accident.
You can also look up the SHARP rating for any helmet to get a good idea of how well it will protect you in a crash. SHARP is an independent helmet testing company that has rigorously tested a lot of the lids on the market.
Here’s a list of some of the most reputable helmet brands, to help you out:
Helmet Brands, by Reputation
Absolute Best, Tip Top, Race-Ready Helmets
Budget, But Not Bad
Oh, and one last thing – always read the reviews! Don’t just look at the star rating, read the comments too.
This will give you an idea of whether to size up or down, or where you might feel pressure in this helmet. You might also see some photos from customers, so you can see what the helmet looks like in natural light (instead of the retailer’s studio!)
Finding a cool motorcycle is a fun task. Like hunting for a gemstone in a pile of matte black dirt. Enjoy it, and ride safe, my friend!
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