Motorcycle Helmets Under $150 Buyer’s Guide: Budget Protection

Motorcycle Helmets Under $150 Buyer's Guide HJC
HJC CS-R3

If you’ve been helmet shopping these days for a full-face street helmet, you may experience sticker shock. Prices north of $500 are common. That may not be in the budget, particularly for someone who spent just $1807 for a Honda Navi. When you combine that with the array of features, limitations, and technical jargon about helmet certifications, finding the right helmet on a budget can be a confusing headache. Welcome to our Motorcycle Helmets Under $150 Buyer’s Guide.

Motorcycle Helmets Under $150 Buyer's Guide: Scorpion
Scorpion Exo-R320

We took a look at the offerings of nearly 30 established helmet manufacturers and sellers to find out if they have any full-face street helmets priced at $150 or less. We are delighted at how many choices there are. Many come with features and multiple performance certifications while meeting or beating the $150 price point.

There was a time when an economically priced helmet might well be dismissed as “cheap” and probably not worth taking a chance on in terms of quality and performance. That is not necessarily so anymore. Advances in materials, design, and manufacturing techniques, in combination with intense competition, have allowed quality and features to increase, even as finished product costs decrease.

First, a little background on what we looked for, our criteria, and what we did not include. We included name-brand and store-brand full-face street helmets with an MSRP under $150. Closeouts, special sales, promotion, youth and women’s sizing didn’t count, though not every color or graphic scheme is under $150 for every helmet. Pricing data was obtained from each company’s website, when available. Other pricing data is from outlet/distributor sites when the brand’s site does not provide an MSRP.

Motorcycle Helmets Under $150 Buyer's Guide: Bell Qualifier
Bell Qualifier

Modular, adventure, off-road, half-helmets, 3/4-helmets, or helmets with removable chin bars are not included. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with those types of helmets. However, this story focuses on full-face models. Indeed, most of the criteria we mention and manufacturers listed make models in various configurations.

Helmets not bearing/claiming DOT FMVSS 218 certification or labeled as such are not included. Further, non-DOT helmets are not legal for sale as motorcycle helmets in the United States. However, if multiple certifications are claimed, such as Snell Memorial Foundation or ECE 22.05, the summary notes that fact.

We have not attempted to rate or rank the helmets we mention here. We have not done comprehensive reviews on any of these helmets, though we have tested more-expensive models from some of the manufacturers and sellers. We haven’t verified any claims or specifications claimed for the products by the brands. When buying a helmet, consider how much trust you have in the brand—you cannot evaluate the safety of a helmet on your own.

Icon Airform Motorcycle Helet
Icon Airform

Remember that no helmet can protect you in every crash, and different helmets have different strengths and weaknesses. We ride for a living, and we wear premium helmets. However, everyone has different standards and risk-acceptance levels.

Remember to replace any helmet after five years of wear or seven years after manufacturing, whichever comes first. If you fall and your helmet hits anything hard, replace it—helmets are single-use products in crashes. You are better off with a new helmet than one that has been compromised in a crash, regardless of its original price. Finally, get a helmet professionally fitted if you are not qualified to judge the fit for yourself. A helmet that is too tight or too loose compromises safety.

Here are some criteria you can use to compare helmets for purchase:

  • Shell: Materials used, trim items (spoiler, etc.) finish, color options, etc.

  • Weight: Total helmet weight in grams and/or pounds

  • Warranty: Length of warranty, exclusions, if any

  • Faceshields: Materials, tints, coatings, internal sunshield, shield options available

  • Ventilation: If equipped, inlet and outlet air-vents, number, location, fixed vs. closable

  • Comfort liner: Fabric/material used, anti-sweat, hypoallergenic removable for laundering vs. non-removable, neck padding, anti-noise features, chin curtain, fit adjustment features, removable breath guard, emergency quick-detach cheek pads, or similar

  • Retention system: Retention strap material, strap padding, buckle type (double D-Ring vs. quick-release)

  • Sizes: XS – XXXL, or metric and standard sizing information. Is there a sizing chart available online?

  • Special features: Additional special features, carrying bag, communications compatible, manual, tools, if applicable

  • MSRP: Retail price, plus costs of any available options and shipping

  • Links: Manufacturer/distributor home page, or a link to a specific model, if applicable.

  • Subjective: Customer reviews that may offer insight on noise levels, fit, finish, comfort, ventilation effectiveness, customer service, warranty.

LS2 Rapid Motorcycle Helmet
LS2 Rapid

Here’s what we found out there online to help get you started. We have included dozens of brands, of which over a dozen had helmets that met our pricing criteria as of January 2022:

  • 6D: None in the retail price range.
  • AFX: None in the retail price range.
  • AGV: None in the retail price range.
  • Arai: None in the retail price range.
  • Bell: Qualifier; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $120
  • Bilt: Vertex; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $100
  • CKX: RR619 Quantum; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $130
  • Fly Racing: Revolt FS; DOT, ECE, MSRP: $150
  • GLX: GX11; DOT ; MSRP: $90
  • GMax: FF-88 Precept; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $135
  • Harley-Davidson: Metallic Graphic Sun Shield M05; DOT; MSRP: $145
  • HJC: CS-R3; DOT; MSRP: $100
  • HJC; i10; DOT, Snell; MSRP: $150
  • HJC C70; DOT; MSRP: $150
  • Icon: Airform; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $139
  • Klim: None in the retail price range.
  • LS2: Rapid; DOT; MSRP: $110
  • Nexx: None in the retail price range.
  • Nolan: None in the retail price range.
  • Raider: Octane; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $110
  • Schuberth: None in the retail price range.
  • Scorpion: Exo-R320; DOT; MSRP: $110
  • Sedici: None in the retail price range.
  • Shark: None in the retail price range.
  • Shoei: None in the retail price range.
  • Simpson: None in the retail price range.
  • Speed and Strength: SS900; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $100
  • Torc: T-14; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $100
  • Torc: T-15; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $140
  • Typhoon: TH129; DOT; MSRP: $76.
  • Vega: V-Star; DOT; MSRP: $120
  • Vega: Holeshot; DOT; ECE; MSRP: $130
  • X-Lite: None in the retail price range.
  • Z1R: Warrant; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $110
  • Z1R: Jackal; DOT, ECE; MSRP: $140

There are many brands we didn’t include that have products that meet our configuration, certification, and pricing criteria. Amazon, for instance, sells brands we’ve never heard of—caveat emptor. In any case, we strongly recommend always wearing a helmet, with a full-face helmet being your best protection in a crash. Our prime recommendation, of course, is to stay on two wheels—you never want to discover a helmet’s capabilities the hard way.