Hey Y’all,

I’m going on a ride with my Harley buddies and they are all about interstates and speed. It’s super uncomfortable over 65 with my 3/4 goggle rig (seen above). My helmet lifts. I need a great full-face that’s QUIET. Suggestions?

Jayson Smith

Dear Jayson,

Indeed, if you’re going to be going cross-country and making more excellent films like this one we shared on MO two years ago, it’s time to step up to something quieter and more noggin-friendly. Rather than a full-face, though, may we suggest something in a modular? We’re all big fans of the flip-front here at MO, simply because they offer nearly all the protection and quietness of a full-face when you’re making time, along with the ability to go open-face when you’re sniffing along at a more contemplative pace. Modulars are also great for shooting photos en route, exchanging repartee and swilling beverages at gas stops without having to remove your helmet every time. You can ask people for directions without scaring their children.

Shoei Neotec modular helmets

A pair of Shoei Neotec modulars in the wild.

As for quiet, I’ve never worn a helmet quiet enough to cause me to forego my earplugs. Lack of planning means I wear the disposable foam jobs you buy in bulk at the drugstore, and I never go more than a mile or two without them, but a MO search of “earplugs” will turn up several superior, higher-tech alternatives.

The Shoei Neotec tested here is probably the Cadillac of modular helmets, but you’ll pay top dollar for the privilege of ownership. Not quite as much as the Schuberth E1, though, which is more like the Mercedes S-class of modulars. For under $250, I couldn’t be happier with my new HJC IS-MAX II modular. If you’re still attached to your old goggles, you might like the adventurey Scorpion EXO AT-950 we reviewed here.

Dunno why you’d run goggles with your Scorpion EXO AT-950, but you could.

Dunno why you’d run goggles with your Scorpion EXO AT-950, but you could.

God knows how many more modulars are out there. With helmets, though, it’s all about the fit. If you can find an actual store or stores that stock a few of the helmets you’re interested in, it’s an excellent idea to try them on – and keep them on for a few minutes – before you settle on the one that fits your head and your needs. For sure, though, nobody here at MO would ever set out on a ride of more than a half day in a helmet we didn’t have complete faith in. Life is both too short and too easily ended.

Good luck and send more movies! For anyone unfortunate enough to have missed it the first time around, we’ve placed the marvelous road-trip film below.

Learning to Fly from jayson smith on Vimeo.

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  • Paragon Lost

    Enjoyable video that Jayson did. Thanks for posting it MO. Btw I’d say go Modular helmet. If you wear glasses it’s just the easier choice.

  • Old MOron

    Plus one for ear plugs. The squishy drug-store variety work fine for me.
    Be sure to squeeze them down, pull on your ear to straighten the canal, and insert fully.

  • Born to Ride

    Shoei GT air. Do it.

  • Gee S

    Actually, modular helmets are, because of the details of their construction — large moving shell parts, big seams, lack of close fitting padding in areas in front of one’s ears to accomodate a) and b) — among the noisiest helmets available. For quiet, you NEED a full face. If a helmet is loud enough to require use of plugs, I look for another helmet.

    For low noise levels in helmets, these are the things to look for:

    1) Chin Curtain — a major percentage of noise is caused by turbulent air moving between one’s Leno Bits and the front of the helmet. Closing that area off makes a HUGE difference.

    2) Well made visor. Sufficient material thickness and a structure that can’t vibrate in turbulent air equals low sound pressure levels.

    3) Well designed and properly assembled visor seal. When closed the seal should be in solid contact with the visor around the entire opening of the helmet. I’ve seen well designed seals that were junk as delivered — loosening the mechanism and aligning it properly also made a HUGE difference.

    The type of bike and or bodywork on same can make a bigger difference than any of these. Some combinations – like KTM Adventures and anything without a dirt beak — do not work.

    I’ve tried lots. My Shoei Quest is as quiet a helmet as I’ve ever used, passes all of the SHARP helmet tests with 5 stars (The GT Air doesn’t) and won’t break the bank.


    • cc65

      I have to disagree. My HJC-BT01 modular was way quieter than my Givi full face with sunshield. The Givi is a lot lighter on long rides, though.

  • Michael Turner


  • David Anderson Law

    My Shoei X11 is the quietest helmet I’ve used in 50 years of sportbike riding. I still wear custom ear plugs whenever I ride. I’m planning on buying the Neotec for my upcoming ride to Skagway Alaska from SoCal…

  • Bob Dragich

    Revzilla has a rating system for a number of helmet features including how quiet each one is based on customer reviews. While it probably doesn’t cover every head in every helmet, it might be a good place to start. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e1fa90109f4589ae5c14e71a99a9c396a4988dc537a115490d14740176a6eabb.jpg

  • mugwump

    Schuberth and EAR Classics.

  • Douglas Landin

    No such thing as a quiet helmet. I have an Arai, Schuberth and Shoei in my garage and have to wear earplugs regardless. What’s needed is “noise canceling” helmets. I took a short ride with my Bose noise canceling headphones on to see how it sounded. Amazing. I reached out to Sena and they said their noise canceling helmet will be available later this summer. I’m a buyer.

    • Paragon Lost

      Great point on the noise canceling headphones. I also wear earplugs with my modular helmet. Can’t wait for the reviews on the Sena helmet.

  • Brett Lewis

    He seems to go without a helmet every chance he gets…

  • kenneth_moore

    Mr. Burns, your tip on the Neotec was probably the best advice on gear I’ve received. I couldn’t imagine that spending ~$700 on a helmet would really be worth it. It is. It was hard to rationalize spending so much on what is ultimately a consumable item of apparel, but I have no doubt that I’ll buy another like it when this one wears out.

  • Dmitrii Kilishek

    Shoei RF-1200 definitely a quiet one.