Best Motorcycle Helmets for Harley Riders

John Burns
by John Burns

Look good, be safe

If you don’t understand, we can’t explain it to you. But you know who you are. It’s not a universal rule, but for many, many motorcycle riders, it’s Harley or nothing. For many of them, the best Harley helmet has to continue the theme that often but not always includes the leather vest, the chained wallet and the tattoos. For even more Harley riders, a good helmet is a good helmet. In truth, everybody’s skull is basically the same shape, on the outside anyway, so the best motorcycle helmets for Harley riders are still great helmets no matter what you ride. But there are definitely variations that make some of them the best motorcycle helmets for Harley riders. And away we go…

Table of Contents

Harley-Davidson Pilot 3-in-1 X04

Does anybody who rides a Harley need to be told Harley-Davidson sells a huge line of gear and accessories? And most of them already have a bar and shield or Harley ID on them. The Pilot 3-in-1 XO4 is a best-seller, since it can be a half-helmet by removing the face mask and rear comfort sleeve, a ¾-helmet by adding just the rear comfort sleeve, or a full-face by adding the face mask and rear comfort sleeve. Its retractable sun shield gives 95% UV protection along with an anti-fog coating and anti-scratch coating. Safety-wise, this one’s made by Scorpion for H-D, a very well-respected helmet maker. But, and it’s a big but, only the half shell meets DOT safety standards; the face mask and comfort sleeve “are for comfort only and do not provide any safety features.”

Bottom Line

  • Official H-D Stamp of Approval

Arai Ram-X

If you’re not going far or fast, if riding is more about socializing, then the open-face helmet has a lot to recommend it, and the recently reinvented Arai Ram-X is one of the finest. Alternatively, if you’re sat behind the windscreen on a big touring bike shielded from the worst the road will throw at you, open face is also a good thing – though please be advised that a full-face helmet offers the most protection to your chin and face in case of a crash.

In any case, the Ram-X represents the latest evolution of the helmet Arai has been building by hand in Japan since 1988. Its intermediate oval shape fits many North American heads best, and custom interior pad thicknesses make it one of the most comfortable, lightest, breathable open faces on the market. We reviewed the Ram-X here when we first got our hands on one in 2019.

Bottom Line

  • Super-premium, super-comfortable open face

Shoei RF-1400 Dedicated 2

For the ultimate in safety for your entire noggin, you really can’t beat a full-face helmet, and if we’re talking “Best,” then Shoei is in the top two or three manufacturers in the world. Shoei produced its first RF in 1984, and the latest, the RF-1400, was just introduced in 2020 – lighter, quieter, and more comfortable and aero than ever. We’ve also noticed many Harley riders love to display their patriotism, and Shoei acknowledges that yet again via its Dedicated stars and stripes version pictured here (one of many solids and graphics). Our 2020 RF-1400 review is here.

Bottom Line

  • Top-line comfort, protection and patriotism


We couldn’t help noticing over the years that lots of Harley people have outsized personalities and like to express themselves in their apparel. HJC offers some truly interesting graphics, especially in its premium RPHA 11 line, including the “Joker” shown here. These are made in Korea, and offer about 90% of the quality, detailing, and plush comfort of super-premium brands such as Arai and Shoei for quite a bit less money. The 11 Pro was originally designed for racing, so it has a bigger-than-usual eyeport, slippery-quiet aerodynamics, and a really light and strong carbon-fiber hybrid shell. We reviewed the RPHA 11 Pro here.

Bottom Line

  • Super nice helmet, completely different

7. Daytona Helmets Motorcycle Half Helmet German, Dull Black

We really encourage you not to, but since half the people we see rolling around on Sportsters are wearing German army replicas anyway – we can only beg you to make sure whatever  you choose to display on your head at least has an authentic Department Of Transportation sticker on back of it. And since those are easily faked, please look inside the helmet to make sure it has a thickish polystyrene liner to absorb shocks, and not just a thin layer of cheap foam.

The liner inside this Daytona half helmet, sort of like styrofoam, is what’s going to get crushed to absorb an impact, if you’re lucky, instead of your skull. The hard plastic on the outside is more for show, and on its own isn’t nearly as effective at protecting you. Meanwhile, the moisture-wicking fabric that covers the liner keeps your head cooler and more comfortable, and Daytona throws in a head wrap (‘do rag!) and drawstring bag. Far better than nothing, until you’ve taken enough bugs and rocks in the kisser to move onto something higher up the helmet chain. Good luck on your ascent.

Bottom Line

  • Better than no helmet

Shoei Hornet X2

Now that Harley is making a premium adventure motorcycle, you’ll be needing a premium adventure helmet, and Shoei’s Hornet X2 is still tough to beat. Adventure motorcycling involves long days on the road and off it, and the X2 gets a big eyeport that’ll accept goggles if it comes to that, but also offers more breathing room inside and better air circulation. All without sacrificing really smooth aerodynamics in high-speed cruising mode. Your AIM+ (Advanced Integrated Matrix Plus Multi Fiber) shell is lighter, more compact, and comes in four sizes to encompass six helmet sizes from XS to 2XL. A dual-layer multi-density EPS liner uses varying densities of foam in key impact areas around the head for enhanced comfort and impact absorption, while the 3D Max-Dry System II interior is three-dimensionally shaped to conform to your head, for a comfortable but snug fit. Beyond that, the list of luxury features is long, and we’re Snell 2015 and DOT approved too. Read our review here.

Bottom Line

  • A true Adventure Hero


What kinds of helmets do Harley riders wear?

Since Harley produces all kinds of motorcycles (especially with the introduction of the adventurous new Pan America) its riders wear all kinds of helmets, from old-school half-helmets to full-face race-style ones and now dirt-bike inspired adventure helmets. For more social short-hops, open-faced helmets are more comfortable but provide less protection. On long rides at higher speeds, modular and full-face helmets are preferred to increase protection and reduce fatigue. The main thing long-term Harley riders all have in common is that they wear some kind of helmet.

Are Harley-Davidson helmets any good?

Some are better than others. Harley’s helmets are all produced by respected outside suppliers, and H-D identifies the manufacturer of most of the 155 helmets on its website. All of them are DOT-approved, which means they meet federal safety standards. Once you have a helmet or three in mind, the best way to tell if it’s “any good” for you is to wear it for a while. Fit is critical to comfort, and having a comfortable helmet can be the difference between a great ride and a headache. If your Harley dealer has what you want in stock or can order it, it’s a great excuse to stop by. If buying online, be sure to check the return policy in case you’re not happy.

Which type of motorcycle helmet is safest?

Full-face helmets are obviously going to protect your face in addition to the rest of your head; half helmets offer the least protection, but they’re far better than no helmet when it comes to protecting your skull. The modular, or flip-front helmet is an excellent compromise, combining the freedom of an open-face helmet with the safety of a full-face when you’re cruising the freeway at speed.

Recently updated April, 2023:

Shark EVO One 2 (out of stock) and AGV X3000 (discontinued) both removed

Additional resources

The 10 Best Motorcycle Helmets You Can Buy Today

MO Tested: Arai Ram-X Review

MO Tested: Shoei RF-1400 Review

MO Tested: Shark Evo-One 2 Modular Helmet Review

MO Tested: AGV X3000 Review

HJC RPHA 11 PRO Helmet Review

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John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 11 comments
  • Tech Tech on Sep 13, 2023

    I take it since Harleys are ultra-noisy, the helmets tested are quieter than any others. LOL

  • Michel Garneau Michel Garneau on Sep 14, 2023

    I was under the impression most Harley guys thought they were too cool to wear helmets...