In a world where the most serious hog rider or Ducati jockey can find any helmet they want with just a few mouse clicks, an increasing number of people are showing their love of the retro-world by selecting helmets from the bygone days of motorcycling. Each one of these throwback hard-tops is not only a stylish piece of the past, but many manufacturers are using older styles to craft new helmets that have a look reminiscent of any era, from the swingin’ ‘60’s, to the patriotic days of The Great War, or driven by the opulent flash of the greed-fueled Reagan era.
Whether you want something that is truly taken out of time, or just an item that looks that way, complete with modern safety features and ventilation, you’re sure to find it among the 15 best vintage motorcycle helmets.
Foundation: There isn’t much to see here, but like vanilla ice cream it’s nearly as old as motorcycles themselves. Don’t be misled by the price, it’s DOT certified and the smallest ¾ helmet to earn that honor. A bubble visor comes standard if you want it, but with the smooth snaps lining the face, you can accessorize to your heart’s content.
Hanmi Half Helmet
Aviator: Sometimes you just need to get dressed up in your Baron von Richthofen finery and let your scarf blow in the wind. As far back as you can get, this conjures up a time when cars and motorbikes putted along at 30mph. Though it looks like a dangerous classic, it bears a quick release chin-strap, year-round ear flaps, and a zippered pocket on the sides. It also isn’t leather but impact-resistant ABS that will keep your brain where it belongs.
GM65 Full Dress Half Helmet
Straight Edge: A nice half face helmet, the GM65 conjures up images of the 40’s, only without the agonizing discomfort. You’ll get plenty of ventilation from the open bottom, plenty of protection from the top, and the UV400 sun shield retracts or detaches should you so desire. A Coolmax sweat-wicking liner and internal speaker pockets complete the ensemble.
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The Kylo Ren Collection: Matte black polycarbonate gives this a badass look that is also light as exhaust smoke, complete with an antibacterial sweat-wicking liner. The additional visor and smoked sun shield allow for longer rides or bad weather, but quickly disappear to open your face to the elements for hot summer runs on the PCH.
Freedom Fighter: After you escape from The Thunderdome and head out into the sand wastes, you’re going to want something that will keep dust out of your grill and protect your pearly whites from bugs as you bury the needle. The composite build of the Rogue cuts down on wind shear and the muzzle detaches or re-attaches magnetically for swift switching.
Biltwell Gringo Flat
Crowd-Sourced: The Gringo was created before anyone was trying to recreate vintage helmets. It’s made by suggestions from actual asphalt fiends who had been redesigning old helmets by hand. Biltwell listened, and out this came. Inside is lycra from Lululemon that wicks away sweat, and on the outside is injection molded ABS that keeps your dome hermetically encased.
AGV Diesel Hi-Jack
Evac: Instead of drawing their inspiration from ordinary sources, AGV looked to the skies. Modeled after a chopper pilot’s helmet, the Hi-Jack uses a low profile top to reduce weight and drag. Fiberglass throughout and capped with a visor that’s easily operated on the go while wearing gloves, it’s a little slice of heaven come to Earth.
Shoei RJ Platinum-R
Breathe Easy: There’s a single complaint about most vintage helmets: They don’t ventilate worth a damn. That’s not true of this cafe-racer crossover. It looks like any other basic cap from the mid-1900’s, but it has a scoop vent on the front and release in the rear that allows air to flow in, through, and around this DOT and SNELL certified darling, keeping you cool mile after mile.
Premier Jet Vintage Helmet
Light Looker: You might never be a fighter pilot, but pair this with a Vincent Black Shadow or an old Indian and you’ll get as close as a terrestrial being can. Exceptionally light at a paltry 900 grams thanks to a carbon fiber shell beneath the giant star, and given a retractable sun visor that is completely integrated, the only trouble is import costs.
Bell Bullitt TT
Tales from the Wayback: Originally designed by Chad Hodge and named after the film of famed motorcycle enthusiast Steve McQueen, the Bullitt is everything great about the past and all things good in modern manufacturing. A carbon fiber shell hides 3D cut cheek pads, a Magnefusion shield closure, and an EPS liner with variable density for extreme comfort. Don’t forget the 5 intake vents; those are desperately useful.
Disco is Dead: An almost satirical look at the age of the Atari, the 80’s will give you a chuckle until you realize it’s made by military-supplier Blauer. The shell uses carbon, dyneema, and triple composite aramidic to create an unbreakable frame that cradles your head in pliable Epoxy Resin Fabric.
Tachibana GT-750 Grand Prix
Strange Bedfellows: Tachibana’s bread and butter comes from making jet helmets that are on the bleeding edge of both style and technology. The Grand Prix is an odd labor of love that combines fiber reinforced plastic with a multi-layered laminate able to take hard hits at high velocity. As a Japanese helmet, it bears an SG rating which is similar to ESE or DOT, proving it’s safe as houses.
Nexx XG100 Muddy Hog
Ridin’ Dirty: The underbite look of the extended jaw helps catch more sludge and muck before it blasts onto your visor, allowing you to ride longer before wiping the filth off your face. Fiberglass is used on the entire frame for a light and flexible feel that can still take loads of punishment without breaking down. DOT and ECE certifications round out the rugged package.
BMW System helmet 6 EVO
Stand Aside, Citizen: The EVO is plastic reinforced with glass fiber for a level of durability that you’ll only see in the higher echelon of motorcycle helmets, vintage or otherwise. A quadruple joint system allows the faceplate to open easily for quick ventilation while the DuPont Coolmax interior look like leather but breathes like gossamer. Comically, we don’t believe BMW meant for this to be a vintage Robocop helmet, it just happened.
Beastly Beauty: We expected Paris, the heart of fashion, to call forth a few helmets of great beauty, but we did not foresee that they would also be capable of making a vintage piece that was also so impervious to harm. A carbon fiber shell beneath any number of glorious colors and styles keeps the weight to a minimum while giving you aerospace-grade protection complete with Nappaskin leather lining.