The Best Motorcycle Helmets You Can Buy Under $200

John Burns
by John Burns

Here’s a dirty little secret: The typical motorcycle journalist rarely pays for a helmet, which is the reason

Here’s a dirty little secret: The typical motorcycle journalist rarely pays for a helmet, which is the reason we’re seldom seen with our heads shoved in anything less than the latest luxurious offerings from Shoei, Arai, AGV, etc. Were we doing this on our own dime, believe me, you’d be seeing us in a lot more of the helmets on this list. And truthfully, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Though the expensive lids are definitely the Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes of the helmet world, we know from experience you can have just as much fun flogging a nice Mustang or last year’s Corvette. Maybe more, since you’re less concerned with scratching them up. What you’re paying for in the high-end stuff is exemplary fit-and-finish, top-shelf materials and graphics, prestige – and sometimes hand assembly by old-world craftsmen. That’s all great if you have $800 to drop on a helmet.

But the number-one thing that defines a great helmet, in the end, is how it fits your head, and there are a surprising number of helmets in the sub-$200 category that will ensconce your skull very nearly as comfortably as the expensive imports. Well, they’re mostly imported also, often from places where labor is cheaper, but you get the picture. Buying a helmet is best done at a brick/mortar store where you can wear the thing for 10 or 15 minutes to see if your head begins to throb – and just about all bike shops still standing will match your online price if only you ask. If you’re buying online, be sure to check the return policy of the seller.

Then there’s the whole safety component of the thing, of course, but every helmet here carries at least an official DOT (Dept. of Transportation) sticker that means it’s passed USA safety tests. Some take it further by going above and beyond to meet the voluntary (and controversial) SNELL standard: It’s really going to be up to the consumer to decide which safety standard they’re compatible with. Anyway, with no further ado:

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Pick: Icon Airform Rubatone

The Icon Airform Rubatone combines a little bit of sport and a little bit of sport-touring into one affordable helmet. Injection molded polycarbonate forms the outer shell while air channels built right into the EPS liner keep air moving around your head. An internal sun visor eliminates the need to carry extra faceshields around, and the main faceshileld itself features a fog-free coating and can be popped on or off without any tools. Internal speaker pockets inside the sweat-wicking liner make it easy to install a comm system if you want.

  • Head shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Safety Standards: DOT, ECE, PSC

Shark Ridill Nelum

The Shark Ridill Helmet is a no-frills do-it-all kind of lid. The shell is made from a light and strong resin. Inside you’ll find a moisture-wicking liner that’s also removable and washable. An internal sun visor is easy to use, keeps the sun from hurting your eyes, and removes the need to carry extra faceshields or wear sunglasses under your helmet. It’s also Pinlock-ready (sold separately).

  • Head shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Sizes: XS, M, LG, XL
  • Safety Standards: DOT

LS2 Breaker

The LS2 Breaker helmet brings a host of features at a great price point. Three different sizes of its Kinetic Polymer Alloy shell keep it light, and a wide eye port increases peripheral vision. To keep things cool the Breaker has two closable air vents up front and one open vent in the rear. LS2 uses its Fog Fighter shield on the Breaker to prevent fogging, and the helmet also includes a drop down sun visor. A nice feature not found on many helmets regardless of price point is the quick-release ratchet closure system which allows you to get the helmet fastened or removed quicker than using the typical D-rings. The Breaker comes in a host of graphics, all of which are available for well under $200; that’s the Breaker Pinball Glow in the Dark shown.

  • Head shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
  • Safety Standards: DOT, ECE

The HJC i10 is another helmet that is offered at a great price point. It pushes the limits of a polycarbonate shell to create a full-face helmet with a light aerodynamic shell and a price tag that isn’t too heavy either. ACS (Advanced Channeling Ventilation System) ventilation channels vent from front to back working to keep cool air flowing through the helmet as heat and humidity are exhausted. The chin bar vents direct air to the face shield to help prevent fogging. Inside, the removable liner is also washable so things don’t get funky. HJC is known for its little details like the dedicated groove along the temple to relieve pressure while wearing glasses. The i10 is also ready to accept comm devices, if that’s your thing.

  • Head shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL, 5XL
  • Safety Standards: DOT, SNELL (3XL-5XL are DOT only)

Bilt Vertex

The BILT Vertex is a full-face, injection-molded helmet with all the features you expect from a sport-focused helmet. It’s designed to be aerodynamic in a tuck, which also means its top vents will pull air through the channeled EPS liner and help keep you cool. There’s a quick-release face shield, double D-ring fasteners, eyeglass-compatible cheek pads, and built-in speaker pockets for your communicator.

  • Head shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXL
  • Safety Standards: DOT, ECE

Bell Qualifier DLX Blackout

The Bell Qualifier was already an excellent helmet coming in at a great price point. But what you get with the Qualifier DLX Blackout helmet is all of those great features at an even lower price. How? With the simple black colorway.

In case you forgot, the Qualifier features a lightweight polycarbonate shell. In fact, three different shell sizes are used depending on the size of the helmet, ensuring a much better fit for the wearer. There’s an adjustable ventilation system, a padded wind collar to reduce wind and road noise, a moisture-wicking, removable and washable liner, quick-change faceshield (that’s also fog-free), and a five-year warranty – just to name a few of its features!

  • Head shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXL
  • Safety Standards: DOT, ECE

Biltwell Gringo

Ah, the Bitlwell Gringo. The Gringo comes without a shield unlike its more expensive S compatriot. The Gringo is slightly rounded in its head shape. Biltwell helmets are fairly devoid of extra features, focusing more on the simple styling cues of days gone by, along with plenty of interesting color options for the Gringo, which makes them a favorite among the hipster set. Jon Langston reviewed the Gringo for MO a few years back, and that can be found here.

  • Head shape: Round Oval
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Safety Standards: DOT

Scorpion EXO-R420

The Scorpion EXO-R420 isn’t some half-baked race-inspired helmet. This is the real deal, with an advanced LG polycarbonate shell that is SNELL approved. The Ellip-Tec 2 face shield pulls the shield snug, making the EXO-R420 aerodynamic. Cheek pads have an emergency release system and are washable if needed. Take the Scorpion EXO-R420 to the track or to the twisties.

  • Head shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
  • Safety Standards: DOT, Snell

What safety standards of motorcycle helmets are there?

There are many different helmet standards used around the world, so you’ll want to do some research to find out what is required in your neck of the woods. Here in the States, helmets must meet DOT standards. Generally, DOT, ECE, and SNELL are the standards seen on helmets in the U.S.

How do I choose motorcycle helmets?

Fit is the most important factor to a helmet being able to do its job properly in an unfortunate circumstance. It’s always best to try a helmet on either at your local shop or from an online retailer that offers returns. Not only does the helmet need to fit your head properly, but it also needs to fit your budget. Motorcycle helmets come in a wide range of prices with the products above landing on the more reasonable end of the scale. Lastly, it has to look cool! With so many brands out there, you’re bound to find a helmet that speaks to your personal style.

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2 of 10 comments
  • Joe Gresh Joe Gresh on Apr 18, 2021

    I've been beating on a Speed & Strength for years, like 7? It's getting pretty tattered but it's so light and it fits so well I hate to give it up. The original shield is not so clear any more but a good coat of wax helps.

    I don't remember the model name, maybe "The Doomsday" or "Street Hero". Speed and Strength has some daddy issues I guess. Great helmet though.

  • StreetHawk StreetHawk on Aug 10, 2022

    SO just how does one test for quietness without actually going for an 80 mph ride and smearing it all over with bugs ? Stores aren't gonna let you test ride it and online won't accept such returns.