Does wind noise bother you on your motorcycle? As you well know, wearing a helmet is important for safety, legal reasons and added comfort.
Aside from protecting your head and neck, a helmet can also protect against excessive wind and road noise. Don’t underestimate this danger, because noise above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Take into consideration that as you reach high speeds on a bike, it can easily go over 100 dB!
However, it can be difficult to compare the noise protection provided by each helmet just by looking at them or trying them on for a few seconds in a store. It’s important to test them out on the road, and that’s why I felt this article could help many of my fellow bikers.
These 4 helmets were tested by my pal Tommy and myself. He recently purchased a barely used Kawasaki Z650 and has been happier than a kid watching Grinch for the first time. Since he was eager to get a new helmet that would allow him to do voice recordings without wind noise getting in the way, it was the perfect opportunity to do a small sound experiment:
He ordered 10 best selling helmets that many reviewers have claimed to be really quiet. We tried them out for a week and compared the quietness, comfort and other features and wrote down the things we liked and disliked. We were really happy with 4 out of 10 helmets and these are the ones that made it on this list. Now, all Soundproof Advice readers can benefit from the fruits of our labor:
The #1 quietest (and overall best) helmet is…
Shoei Men’s Rf-1200 Full Face Helmet!
I was kinda surprised at this result. Why? Because SO MANY reviewers have claimed it’s the quietest helmet that I was somehow expecting we’d prove them wrong. But it seems that this high-end, aerodynamic helmet is the best choice after all.
It’s lightweight (weighs only 3.46 lbs) and is super comfy. It also has solid airflow thanks to properly positioned and slightly larger vents than other helmets we’ve tried.
The center pads of the helmet are shaped in 3 dimensions. This allows you to adjust it to fit well regardless of the size or shape of your head.
It holds well against wind noise, but you still hear events on the road well, making it a really safe choice for less experienced bikers. On top of that, there are some useful features like the advanced anti-fog system (which actually works unlike many others we’ve tried), and also a quick release system which in case of an emergency allows paramedics to access the head more easily.
Here’s a great pro review of this helmet from RevZilla:
The only downside with Shoei RF-1200 can be the price if you’re on a low budget (see the current price on Amazon).
In the end, this was the helmet that Tommy decided to keep after weighing the pros and cons. But there were 3 other helmets that made the mark. So if you’re looking for something more affordable or different, the following helmets might be a better fit:
#2 HJC 980-614 IS-MAX II Modular Helmet – Best Affordable Helmet
A whooping $300 cheaper than Shoei RF-1200, this HJC helmet is surprisingly our number two choice. How did this happen? Because we care about performance, not the price tag. This helmet is very similar to other helmets on this list while being way more affordable. Here are some main features to consider:
First of all, it’s very similar in quietness to Shoei. It’s thicker and heavier (5.35 lbs) so this definitely plays a part. But it’s also well designed and the extra weight is easy to adjust to. However, it was noticeable when switching from one helmet to the other.
A pretty cool feature is the single button chin bar and face shield release. Kinda makes it high tech/power rangery if you will. It looks that way too! As the manufacturer points out, the faceshield has 95% UV protection. There’s also an adjustable, smoke-tinted “Sun Shield” with three 3 different stages available.
Another thing we really liked is the ventilation system which goes from front to back and reduces excess heat all across the head space. I had a cold and clogged nostrils while trying out some of these helmets, and noticed the ventilation as being a standout factor with this one.
The only real downside I could point out is the weight when compared to Shoei, which is really lightweight. It’s like switching from light running shoes to heavier regular shoes.
Overall, this is a quiet helmet with many great features. The smaller price tag is a bonus and not an indicator of lower quality. To demonstrate this further, it has over 75 percent 5 star reviews on Amazon, one user even writing how it saved his life in a crash. With 6 different colors and 9 different sizes to choose from, it’s easy to find one that fits. We ordered a “large” and found it pretty comfortable. I think this size will fit most men properly, while most women should probably go with the “medium” size.
#3 Bell Bullitt Full-Face Helmet – Best Quiet Retro Helmet
The interior is made of real anti-bacterial leather which feels really nice and smooth on the skin. This leather can be removed for washing when needed. However, I’ve seen one user commenting that the liner from the strap on the forehead irritated his skin and he had to return the helmet. I’m not sure about that, but this wasn’t my experience or Tommy’s, and I had it on for an hour long ride across town. Even in that case though, this helmet has a 5 year warranty so any issues of that sort can be resolved without too much fuss.
Moving forward, there are 3 shell and EPS sizes for adjustment. The ventilation is also spot on, with metal mesh vents for air intake and exhaust, which lower the noise to some degree due to their close-knit design. On top of all this, there are integrated speaker pockets for communication. I didn’t get the chance to use them, but according to other reviewers they are up to the standard of 2018. communication devices.
The main downside when compared with the Shoei helmet is the weight. It’s a bit lighter than the previously reviewed HJC helmet, but it’s still 1.5 lbs heavier than Shoei. I’m not sure how much of a role that plays for you, but it’s worth pointing out.
Having said that, this Bell Bullitt helmet is considered to be the safest retro helmet on the market. Coupled with significant noise reduction I would say it’s the best helmet if you want that old-school biker look. Furthermore, there are 15 different designs of this helmet available on Amazon. There’s also a significant discount at the moment of writing so I suggest taking a peak if this review has peaked your interest.
#4 Scorpion EXO-AT – Quiet Versatile Sports Style Helmet
This helmet has an awesome sci-fi look to it and both of us had a good time reviewing it. It’s main components, as stated by the Scorpion team are:
- Advanced LG Polycarbonate Shell
- Dual Density EPS
- Aero-Tuned Ventilation System
- Ever Clear No Fog Face shield
- Over-sized Eye port
Now let me say a few things about each of those. First of all, the shell feels preetty high quality, and it’s thick enough to have quiet rides even at high speeds. Not as quiet as Shoei, but quiet enough. It was pretty similar to Bell Bullitt in terms of noise reduction.
The ventilation system is again spot on. We decided to exclude 2 helmets from this list because they had poor ventilation so you can be sure that all 4 of these have good ventilation. I simply can’t stand stuffy air in my helmet.
Having said that, the face shield is great and can be easily removed for off-road, but as far as “no fog” face shield is concerned it’s not completely true. Tommy noticed that at higher temperatures it did fog a little.
The over-sized eye port is indeed over-sized to our great pleasure and the visibility is the best out of all the other helmets we’ve reviewed because of enhanced peripheral vision and downward visibility.
The coolest thing about this helmet is that it can be used as a full face ADV helmet with the external peak visor attached, OR it can be used without the peak visor. Then you have an aerodynamic touring helmet. The versatility doesn’t stop there however, because while the face shield is the default option, it can be easily removed. Then this becomes a dirt helmet with goggles.
There’s also the internal sun visor that can be dropped down or pulled up as needed as a bonus which we found to be pretty useful.
This is an awesome sports motorcycle helmet and it’s really under-priced being under $300. Especially when you consider that it can be used as a standard full face helmet, and an off road helmet as well.
Extra tip for reducing wind noise:
What if you’ve got an old helmet that’s still pretty good? Or you want make sure that your new helmet is definitely quiet enough to do voice recording and communicate comfortably? Or at the very least to not have to use ear plugs at high speeds? To further reduce the noise, my best advice is to attach a helmet wind blocker.
This is like a light-weight extra that you cover your main helmet with. The base is made from rubber that can be stretched so that it really fits well even on large helmets, and because of that it covers any gaps through which wind noise would otherwise fall through. It also becomes an additional line of defense, so instead of the wind blowing directly on the helmet, it gets deflected by the blocker.
Many bikers have had great experiences with this addition. So much that some have simply upgraded their old helmet with the wind blocker and they could finally record their voice without wind being a problem. Others however didn’t find it to be as useful, and they found it annoying because it can limit some features of the original helmet. So overall, it’s a mixed bag, but it’s worth considering.
If you think it could help in your situation I suggest giving it a shot, especially since these are really affordable. The most popular wind blocker on the market is Windjammer 2 (shown in the photo). It fits all modern full face helmets, and costs less than 20 bucks at the moment of writing.
Final Word on Quiet Motorcycle Helmets
I’ve had a lot of fun with this review project, and I stand by these reviews wholeheartedly. It was a tough decision eliminating 6 other helmets from HJC, Scorpion and other big names.
All of those helmets also had a ton of positive reviews, but we found them lacking in some key areas. For example, some were simply louder than the ones that made it on this list. Others were not as comfortable, while one helmet had poor ventilation, and I noticed it just 10 minutes in. We also eliminated more expensive helmets which didn’t offer any improvements over the more affordable helmets.
So overall, we hope these recommendations will narrow your list a bit, and help you make the best choice for your riding pleasure.