First Things First: About Adventure Helmets
Helmets are the most expensive item in our motorcycling gear – and for good reason: our brains are priceless. We won’t drop facts and stats about how helmets help to save countless lives or educate you on wearing helmets. You already know that. An adventure motorcycle helmet takes safety and comfort to the next level with its purpose-built design, features, and style over other types of motorcycle helmets.
The best ADV bike helmets are characterized by extended chin bars, peaks, wider view openings, can take goggles and visors, and numerous ventilation slots. Those features all combine to create a safer helmet suited to the various rigors of adventure motorcycle riding. Plus, their aggressive styling also looks badass!
In this article you will find out which are the top rated adventure motorcycle helmets for you, what you should look for in selecting the best model, and we’ll narrow your shopping list with the 5 best motorcycle helmets for adventure touring on the market today.
Why Choose an Adventure Motorcycle Helmet?
In terms of styling, adventure motorcycle helmets don’t seem all that practical. The peak can sometimes catch the wind and the extended chin bar makes winter riding a little uncomfortable with colder air rushing into the helmet. Despite those design elements, when you’re enjoying your adventure motorcycle on a weekend away, you’ll be glad you have a proper adventure motorcycle helmet with peaks, extended chin bar, and ventilation, and wider view openings.
The extended chin bar will prove invaluable when you’re riding off-road. Maneuvering your 450 lbs.-plus adventure motorcycle is hard work and you’ll be gulping for fresh air, and that is when the added ventilation offered by the extended chin bar comes into its own. The peak is actually useful despite its tendency to sometimes catch wind at highway speeds.
They help to keep foliage away from your visor and they offer much better sun-blocking protection over internal tinted visors in removing glare from your field of vision. Peaks also help to protect your visor and goggles from roost, dust and stones that kick up when following other riders. Another advantage of the best adventure motorcycle helmets is that they are lighter than road-going versions so you’ll feel far less fatigued after a day behind the handlebars. Keep reading with us as we deep dive into the top options of what to look for when shopping for the best adventure motorcycle helmets.
Reviews: Best Adventure Motorcycle Helmets
- Value For Money:★★★★★
The Scorpion EXO-AT950 adventure motorcycle helmet is a flip-front helmet that comes in at a bargain price with a high-quality construction. It features a DOT safety rating, comes in 3 shell sizes, a 5-year manufacturer warranty, and has an internal sun visor.
The shell is made from polycarbonate for a lightweight helmet with a dual-density EPS liner and comfortable inner padding for the perfect fit. The main visor features an anti-fog coating on the inside and an anti-scratch treatment on the outside, while it also provides UV protection. This visor is removable to allow you to use goggles. The internal tinted visor features an anti-fog coating on both sides and higher levels of UV protection. The peak is adjustable and removable.
The internal padding and lining is removable and features moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial properties.
- DOT certified
- 4 lbs
- 3 shell sizes
- Value For Money:★★★★☆
The Arai XD-4 is made by one of the very best helmet companies in the world with a pedigree for quality and performance from street helmets to MotoGP and MX professionals. This is Arai’s top of the range adventure helmet and it doesn’t lack for features and quality. It features DOT, ECE and SNELL safety ratings. You can choose from a wide variety of designs and finishes.
This lid features excellent ventilation through the extended chin bar, brow/forehead areas, and the numerous large air vents on the front of the helmet as well as on the rear of the helmet too. All internal padding and liners are easy to remove and are washable. They feature moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties. The pads can be customized by either adding or removing certain 5 mm sections.
It features a floating and removable peak. The visor is also removable so that you can use goggles, too.
- DOT, ECE and SNELL certified
- 3.66 lbs
- Customizable inner pads and liners
- Value For Money:★★★★★
The Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS helmet offers the best blend of off-road and on-road adaptability and features for an adventure motorcycle helmet that can’t be beat for price, quality, features, comfort, and protection – even at higher price points.
It is constructed from lightweight polycarbonate, features DOT and ECE safety ratings, and weighs just 3.70 lbs. What sets this adventure motorcycle helmet apart from others is Bell’s MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology. It uses a leading slip-plane technology system inside the helmet that reduces the rotational forces from impacts to prevent further injury to the wearer.
The helmet also features an anti-fog, anti-scratch clear visor that pops off in case you would like to use goggles for off-road riding. The anti fog properties make this a great best adventure motorcycle helmet for cold weather as well as hot stuffy summer riders.
The ventilation system is one of the highest rated in the market, while the liner and pads are removable and washable. They also sport moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial properties. The peak is adjustable and removable. Adding another layer of peace of mind is that this helmet comes with a 5-year manufacturer warranty.
- DOT and ECE certified
- 3.70 lbs
- MIPS technology is a standout feature
- Value For Money:★★★★☆
The Shoei Hornet X2 is a high-quality helmet you’d expect to find from one of the biggest helmet manufacturers in the world. As their top-of-the-line adventure motorcycle helmet, the Hornet X2 has been shaped and designed in a wind tunnel to provide the wearer with a helmet shape that pushes air to the extended chin bar area for enhanced ventilation. This can be adjusted and even closed for road riding and to make for increased aerodynamic performance.
The peak is adjustable and removable, and it too has been tuned in the wind tunnel to provide as little wind resistance at high speeds as possible, while not compromising on its sun and roost protection. The Hornet X2 performs well under various riding styles from enduro to daily commuting on highways.
The visor offers UV resistant and anti-fog coatings. It is quick and easy to remove the visor without any special tools so you can use your helmet with goggles or to change the visor. Importantly, the visor provides a wind, dust, and waterproof seal when dropped down.
Those inner liners and pads are removable and machine-washable. You can also order additional 3D cheek pads for a better fit. The helmet’s ventilation system and aero-tuned shape means this helmet offers very little wind noise, road buffeting, and enhanced long-distance comfort you’ll appreciate. For this reason I rate this helmet as one of the best adventure bike helmets for wind noise reduction and high speed riding.
- DOT, ECE and SNELL certified
- 3.92 lbs
- Quietest adventure motorcycle helmet available
- Value For Money:★★★★★
The Klim Krios is the lightest helmet of its kind ever manufactured at 3.20 lbs thanks to liberal use of carbon fiber in its shell. Inside the helmet is a material called “Koroyd” that is also super light in its properties but also aids ventilation inside the lid to keep the wearer cool and comfortable. It’s ultra light-weight nature makes it the perfect adventure bike helmet for long distance touring.
It is also a tough and strong unit: it is both DOT and ECE safety rated. The main visor is constructed with photochromic lens technology that adapts to the light conditions. It turns dark when the light is intense and clearer in darker light conditions for enhanced visibility, making this a great ADV helmet for prescription eyeglass wearers.
In terms of ventilation, it boasts large air vents on front and smaller exhaust air vents on the rear of the lid. The liners and pads are moisture-wicking and have anti-bacterial properties. They are easy to remove and are machine-washable.
- DOT and ECE certified
- 3.20 lbs
- Lightest and strongest carbon helmet in its class
What you should know about the adventure bike helmets
Colours, style, and features play second fiddle to safety ratings for the best adventure motorcycle helmets. Make sure your potential new helmet has a DOT (US Department of Transportation) or ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) certification – these are required by US and European Union laws.
ECE is actually a more widely adopted safety rating as they cover over 50 countries and their tests are more rigorous.
Higher-end helmet models also offer SNELL rating, but these helmets are usually for professional racers as they are bulkier and heavier because they feature thicker EPS linings inside the shell of the lid.A newer safety certification is the FIM model developed for track use, but this won’t apply to adventure motorcycle helmets, but to dirt bike helmets and road bike helmets. If your helmet doesn’t feature a DOT, ECE or SNELL sticker, it is likely that the lid isn’t safe for use: they call these “novelty” helmets and offer no protection in the event of a crash or fall. In fact, they’re illegal to use for motorcycling.
Cheek pads, removable liners, and 3D support pads make the helmet comfortable to use for extended periods of time and many multiple back-to-back riding days. Not only do these internal liners absorb impacts, but they make for the perfect fit. These pads and liners are moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial. They mostly make them from polyester fabrics that offer breathable and moisture-wicking properties to keep your head cool and comfortable.
Each helmet manufacturer uses its own patented systems and materials, but for the most comfort ensure your helmet has moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial elements.
Size and Shape
Motorcycle helmets come in different shell sizes. The more popular shape of adventure motorcycle helmets is an aggressive dirt bike helmet style with a visor, but gaining popularity with adventure riders is the flip-front or modular style of helmets.
Fit of a helmet is important. If you’re buying a new lid online, ensure that the seller has a good returns policy that allows you to return the helmet if the size is too large or too small so that you can get the right fit. Your helmet must feel tight-ish on your head and not bob when you move your head, but it also mustn’t be so tight as to pinch your cheeks.
Weight of the lid might not seem that big a deal. Isn’t a heavier helmet supposed to be safer? Well, yes, and no. The advances in material technology mean that the best adventure motorcycle helmets are amongst the lightest helmet types available despite their added features.
Generally speaking, adventure riding takes place for extended periods of time over various terrains and conditions. The neck and shoulders can become fatigued and cause back and neck strains. The use of carbon fiber, fiberglass, polycarbonate resins, and polyurethane linings helps to make helmets much lighter than they were 10 years ago and even 5 years ago, while offering ever increased levels of safety.
The best adventure motorcycle helmets feature removable and adjustable peaks. This allows you to find the right angle for the peak for your riding style and allows you to adjust the peak on the move for enhanced sun protection. In many ADV helmets, the adjustability extends to the chin bar which allows the helmet to become open face or full face using a modular style flip up face.
Adjustable Ventilation Slots
Airflow is important to keep comfortable under your helmet. The best adventure motorcycle helmets offer high levels of ventilation and airflow. The largest vent is the extended chin bar, and most helmets have several additional vents on the front of the helmet with exhaust vents on the rear for air to flow out of the helmet.
Internal Sun Visor
Improving your vision when riding into the sunset or sun, flipping down an internal tinted visor will help you take the sharpest glare away from your eyes. The best adventure motorcycle helmets provide an internal sun visor.
The best adventure motorcycle helmets provide a chin skirt (also called a chin curtain) that attaches to the inside of the chin bar of your helmet to keep out cold air, wind noise and buffeting in the helmet when required.
Field of Vision
The varied terrain and conditions undertaken by adventure motorcycles means that riders need extra peripheral vision for improved visibility. Adventure motorcycle helmets feature even wider viewing openings than dirt bike helmets so that riders have a better field of view. Spotting hazards while riding on-road and off-road helps tremendously in enabling the rider to better pick alternative lines around obstacles.
Picking the best adventure motorcycle helmet is important not only from a safety perspective but from a comfort and features standpoint. Adventure riding isn’t only about riding on paved roads nor is it only about dirt road riding. It is a combination of both that requires a design that integrates both aspects into a helmet that offers superior ventilation, vision, and protection for the various riding conditions and terrain.
The adventure motorcycle helmets we’ve featured here offer excellent safety ratings, while also providing an extended chin bar, peak, visor, and more features to make them stand out from their rivals in terms of quality and function. Our pick of this review would be the Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS helmet.