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. Here we go.

 

1. 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-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. 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

2. 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 last year.

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

3. 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 last year – 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). Also, 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, and the RF-1400 review is here.

Bottom Line/Top-line comfort, protection and patriotism

4. Shark Evo One 2

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 tested the Shark here.

Bottom Line/Great flexibility for all kinds of riding

5. AGV X3000

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

6. HJC RPHA 11 Pro

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 85% 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 Nazi replicas anyway – we can only 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 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

FAQ

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 August, 2021: Shoei RF1400 replaces RF1200

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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