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 helmet has to continue the theme that often but not always includes the leather vest, the chained wallet and the tattoos. In truth, everybody’s skull is basically the same shape, on the outside anyway, so a great helmet is still a great helmet no matter what you ride. But there are definitely variations that make some of them the Best Harley Helmets. Here we go.

 

Harley-Davidson Sport Glide 3-in-1 X07

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 Sport Glide 3-in-1 is a best-seller, since it can be a half-helmet by removing the face mask and rear comfort sleeve, a ¾ 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. Tunes-wise, you’ve got compatibility with Harley’s BOOM Audio 20S Bluetooth Helmet Headset. Safety-wise, this one’s made by Scorpion for H-D, a 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 Stamp of Approval

Arai Ram-X – $680

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 last year.

Bottom Line/Super-premium, super-comfortable open face

Shoei RF-1200 Full Face Motorcycle Helmet Dedicated TC-5 Matte Grey/Black Large – $470

For the ultimate in safety for your entire noggin, you really can’t beat a full-face helmet, and if we’re talking “Best,” Shoei is in the top two or three manufacturers in the world. The RF, it says, is “the pinnacle of perfection,” and “represents the culmination of 56 years of helmet heritage. In fact, Shoei’s RF1400 just superseded the RF1200 a few weeks ago, but it’s not yet available in a Dedicated, Stars and Stripes graphic; Harley riders love their flags and badging. And though the new RF1400 is a bit more refined, the RF1200 is still a super-premium helmet with the added benefit that it will no doubt be on sale at some point. Here’s a review of the 1200 from 2014.

Bottom Line/Top-line comfort, protection and patriotism

Shark Evo One-2 – $400 - $470

The modular, or flip-front helmet, provides the best of all worlds: open-face stylishness when you need to see and be seen, along with full-face protection, comfort, and non-recognizability when you want that. The Shark Evo One-2 isn’t quite our favorite modular (that title is held by the more-expensive Shoei Neotec 2), but it might be the coolest: That’s because it’s the only modular whose chinbar rotates all the way back and behind, giving its wearer a clean, “no-I’m-not-a-cop” look, and also allowing it to be worn in open-face mode at speed without acting as a sail. Like all good modulars, it also has a retractable sunshield to provide some eye protection when worn with the faceshield open. And, Shark says it’s the only modular that passes DOT safety tests in both open and closed positions. Slasher Matt graphic shown. We jumped the Shark here last year.

Bottom Line/Ultimate flexibility for all kinds of riding

AGV X3000 – $245 - $280

Retro is big with lots of Harley riders, and AGV’s retro X3000 is one of the nicest, most comfortable of the retros we’ve sampled. Whether you’re into roadracing or not, you can appreciate that the X3000’s based on AGV’s first full-face helmet, the one worn and partially designed by legendary motorcycle racer and current GOAT, Giacomo Agostini, in 1969. Although the shape is old school, the materials are anything but. The X3000’s shell is made from AFC (Advanced Composite Fiber) fiberglass, and the interior liner is made mostly of microsuede and leather. The X3000 is available in many cool graphics (Nieto Tribute graphic shown), and it’s the nicest feeling, best-looking retro helmet on the market, with an attention to detail most retro helmets lack.

Bottom Line/Cool as Ago

HJC RPHA 11 Pro – $536

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 new Joker shown here. These are made in Korea, and offer about 85% of the quality 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

Daytona Helmets Motorcycle Half Helmet German, Dull Black – $55 - $72

We really encourage you not to, but since half the youngsters we see rolling around on Sportsters are wearing Nazi replicas anyway – might we beg you to make sure whatever ill-considered thing 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 crush to absorb an impact, 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.

Bottom Line/Better than no helmet

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