Wild & Weird: 10 Of The Coolest Motorcycle Helmets You Can Buy

Wild & Weird: 10 Of The Coolest Motorcycle Helmets You Can Buy

This article is the first of a number of pieces we’ll be doing on motorcycle helmets. Why cool motorcycle helmets specifically? The answer, as so many do, goes back to my childhood and my teenage years. As I mentioned in another post, I grew up with a dad who rode a bike every day. His spotless ’81 CB400N Super Dream was the faithful steed that ferried him to work and back, as well as to more exciting places. Sometimes he’d even take me to pre-primary (kindergarten) on the back of this magnificent beast. You can bet I felt like the coolest kid there. He wore a silver full-face helmet from the mid-80s onward, but my favourite helmet was the spare one: a cherry-red ¾ helmet with a black racing stripe down the centre.

Fast forward to my teenage years in the mid-90s, when I began to lust after a two-wheeled machine of my own. One day, seated in the back of the family cage (a trusty if dull cornflower blue VW Golf MKII), I watched a delivery rider speed past us. He was wearing the coolest motorcycle helmet I’d ever seen outside of a motorbike magazine: a gleaming black helmet with a fierce black panther emblem. I was decades ahead of the curve when it comes to the current Tiger King craze; I’d had a thing for big cats since early childhood. Once I got my grubby paws on a second-hand 125 at the age of sixteen (which at fourteen, seemed an eternity away), I’d get that exact helmet, I decided. On my smoke-belching 125 two-stroke, with my black panther-emblem helmet, I’d be the coolest kid in town, I figured.

Fast-forward to a few decades later. As you may have deduced from this website, I’m still bike-mad, and I wrote this article because I love looking at cool motorcycle helmets. Today, we’re going to be checking out some of the raddest, baddest designs on the market. Not only will they do a stellar job of protecting your melon in a spill, you’ll also look like a true badass in any of these marvellous creations. Be warned, though, that what we’re looking at in this article are helmets on the high end of the scale; if you’re in the market for a vivid new lid that’ll turn every head you whizz past, but don’t have a fat wad of cash to hand over for it, have a look at my article on Awesomely Striking (But Budget-Friendly) Helmets.

Shoei Power Rush

Shoe Power Rush
Shoe Power Rush

Anyone who’s even tangentially interested in motorcycles will have heard the name Shoei. They’re one of the biggest names in motorbike helmets in the world, and have been for decades. Shoei, a Japanese manufacturer, started making helmets in the late 50s, and by the 80s had developed a reputation as one of the best.
Their 2020 Power Rush features artwork in which a bright green (and very angry) rhino on a dayglo orange background smashes out of the helmet, breaking free of its cartoonish surrounds into the outside world. If there’s any animal that makes my heart sing in a design like a big cat, it’s a rhino. On style points alone this helmet is at the top of my 2020 wishlist.

The helmet shell is Shoei’s X-14, as worn by MotoGP rider Marc Marquez. If that doesn’t tell you that this lid is at the cutting edge of helmet technology, I don’t know what will. The blaze of lumo orange on the front and top of this helmet has the added bonus of making you ultra-visible on the road, which is of supreme importance when it comes to safety.

AGV Pista GP R Carbon Rossi 20 Years

AGV Pista GP R Carbon Rossi 20 Years
AGV Pista GP R Carbon Rossi 20 Years

Saying this design is retro-themed makes me feel a little old; I remember when the original sun/moon Rossi graphics were splashed across the garish pages of the latest motorcycle magazines, and its awesome design got my teenage pulse racing as quickly as if I’d been ogling a Sarah Michelle Gellar centrefold.
Based on the helmet Rossi raced under the Aprilia marque with in ’98 and ’99, the sun and moon emblems are identical, but everything else about the AGV GP Pista GP R Carbon Rossi 20 Years is brand-spankin’-new.

Featuring an ultra-lightweight 100% carbon fibre shell, as well as AGV’s in-helmet hydration system for racers, there are few helmets that can match this one’s performance on the road or track.

Arai Corsair X Pedrosa Samurai 2 Helmet

Arai Corsair X Pedrosa Samurai 2
Arai Corsair X Pedrosa Samurai 2

Japanese motorcycle helmet manufacturer Arai has a pretty colourful history. Named after company founder Hirotake Arai, they first made caps in the early 1900s, then military helmets from 1930 through to the end of WWII, and then they got into motorcycle helmets in the 50s. One of the most prestigious names in motorcycle helmet manufacturers, many of their lids are handmade works of art.

The Arai Corsair X Pedrosa Samurai 2 helmet features a design that is guaranteed to get the inner teenager and 80s action movie fan in everyone’s hearts excited: a samurai warrior striking a pose with his katana, silhouetted against the epic backdrop of Mount Fuji and a red sunset. Available in either a red, blue and white colour scheme or a black and orange one, this helmet will inspire you to ride with the raw courage and indomitable spirit of a true samurai. Oh, and it’s ridiculously high-tech in terms of specs too, with the highly aerodynamic shell being constructed from Arai’s own Super Fiber.

Shark Spartan Lorenzo Catalunya GP 2018 Replica Helmet

Shark Spartan Lorenzo Catalunya GP 2018 Replica
Shark Spartan Lorenzo Catalunya GP 2018 Replica

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been this whole 80s retro thing that has sprung up in pop culture over the last few years. For those too young to remember that strange and wonderful decade, all this 80s nostalgia probably seems at best kinda quirky, or, more likely, straight-up weird. However, those of us who grew up in or lived through the 80s as teens are loving it.

This trend has splashed over into the world of motorcycle helmet design (not to mention the revisiting and retro-modernising of many 80s-era motorcycles), and if you want a lid with a design that looks like a graffitied wall in the background of an 8-bit video game like Double Dragon, or an 80s vision of a near-future dystopia like Bladerunner, or perhaps an action movie of the period like Black Rain (featuring that famous scene in which a GSXR1100-riding Yakuza member decapitates Andy Garcia with a samurai sword, like some sort of psychotic cyberpunk cavalryman), look no further than the Shark Spartan Lorenzo Catalunya GP 2018 Replica helmet.

Featuring Streets of Rage-style graffiti and Japanese kanji characters in garish colours on a grey background, if you want to feel like you’re stepping into a Nintendo NES or Sega Genesis game every time you swing your leg over your bike (while making sure your head is superbly protected), you’re bound to love this wacky lid.

Icon Airframe Pro Barong Helmet

Icon Airframe Pro Barong
Icon Airframe Pro Barong

When it comes to funky and cool motorcycle helmet designs, American manufacturer Icon almost need an entire article to themselves. While they’re not at the absolute top tier in terms of build quality, like Arai, they nonetheless make excellent upper-and-mid-range helmets. It was a real struggle to pick my favourite Icon helmet design, but in the end I had to go with their Airframe Pro Barong helmet.

If you’ve never heard of the Barong, it’s a creature from Balinese mythology. The Barong is the king of the spirits, leader of the Army of the Forces of good – so, kinda like a weird monster cross Gandalf type of figure. You don’t need to know any of that to appreciate just how wild the Icon Barong helmet design is, though. Eye-catching doesn’t even begin to capture the intense detail and vivid colours of this helmet, which looks like something conjured up in one of Hunter S. Thompson’s legendary acid benders.

Dominated by bright reds and oranges, along with dazzling splashes of electric blue, inattentive cagers are going to see you coming from a mile a way in this glorious lid. Women will swoon, and small children will run screaming in terror from its majestic monster design. A flashy design isn’t the only thing this lid’s got going for it though; the ultralightweight shell is made of aerospace-spec carbon fibre, and is track certified if racing and track days are your bag.

HJC RPHA 70 ST Wolverine Helmet

HJC RPHA 70 ST Wolverine
HJC RPHA 70 ST Wolverine

HJC, a Korean manufacturer which has operated since the 50s, is one of the most popular brands of helmet in both the USA and Europe. They’ve earned a reputation for making high quality lids at affordable prices. If you’re a rabid Marvel fan, HJC’s superhero line of helmets is probably what you’ve been dreaming of for years. Their vividly coloured, comic-book-style artwork allows you to transform your dome into the head of Iron Man , Venom, Captain America, and my personal favourite, Wolverine.

In addition to being every Marvel fanboy’s (or fangirl’s) wet dream, HJC’s superhero line of lids provides impressively hi-tech protection at (the admittedly high end) of what’s nonetheless a mid-range price. There are also some HJC superhero lids available using a more budget-friendly but still safe-as-houses shell; the Hulk , Ghostrider and the Punisher coming in under $200, and the Flash just over the $200 mark.
Put your superhero lid on, hop on your bike and go fight some crime – just remember to ride safe while doing it.

AGV Pista GP R Carbon Winter Test 2018 Helmet

AGV Pista GP R Carbon Winter Test 2018
AGV Pista GP R Carbon Winter Test 2018

The second AGV lid on our list, the Pista Winter Test 2018, is a real work of art. With the graphics modelled on traditional Mexican artwork of the Huichol style, in which images are painstakingly created with hundreds of different coloured beads, this lid is a truly unique item, and you can be certain that there’s no other helmet in the world quite like it.

Beyond the stunning uniqueness of its artwork, this helmet also represents the very best in AGV’s helmet technology, and if it’s good enough for MotoGP racers, you know that when you don this beautiful helm, you’re giving your brain, skull and face the best protection money can buy.

Arai Quantum-X Oriental Helmet

Arai Quantum-X Oriental
Arai Quantum-X Oriental

Here’s another gorgeous Arai lid for all you helmet lovers to drool over. If you’re a fan of ink on skin, as many of us who ride bikes are, you’re bound to love the Arai Quantum-X Oriental helmet. With the design lifted directly from Japanese tattoo flash art, the surface of this helmet looks like the body of a senior Yakuza member, painstakingly tattooed by a master artist.

With coiled dragons, raging tsunami waves and a few flowers thrown in, the graphics on this lid are very pleasing on the eye, whether you’re a fan of ink or not. Under the paint, this helmet is right at the top of the list when it comes to technology and safety too.

Icon Airframe Pro Lucky Lid 3 Helmet

Icon Airframe Pro Lucky Lid 3
Icon Airframe Pro Lucky Lid 3

I said earlier that Icon needed their own article, with their huge range of mind-blowingly awesome helmet graphics, so I had to throw another Icon lid into this list. The moment you lay your eyes on the Airframe Pro Lucky Lid 3 helmet, you’ll likely start humming Motorhead’s Ace of Spades.

If a gambling spree in Las Vegas is on your bucket list, you could certainly do worse style-wise than rocking up in Sin City on your iron horse with this garishly coloured lid both protecting your melon and proclaiming your love of cards and dice to all.With the carbon fibre shell being lightweight (but incredibly strong) already, further weight reductions by way of design make this colourful helmet real easy on both the neck and the eyes.

Shoei X-14 Daijiro Helmet

Shoei X-14 Daijiro
Shoei X-14 Daijiro

I started this article off with a Shoei X-14, and I’m going to end it with another X-14. It’s a well-known fact that if you ride a motorbike on a regular basis you need eyes in the back of your head. With Shoei’s Daijiro, you’ll get a pair of eyes at the base of your skull, but unfortunately they won’t actually help you see anything behind you; you’ll still need your mirrors for that.

The design, funky and colourful as it is, with its two manga-style eyes glaring purposefully out from the back of the helmet, actually has a poignant origin; it’s a homage to Japanese MotoGP racer Daijiro Kata, who died after crashing in the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
As I mentioned earlier when talking about the Power Rush design, the Shoei X-14 represents the pinnacle of helmet technology, and this lid is one of the best – and coolest looking – money can buy; a fitting tribute to a legendary racer.

Summary

That concludes our list of wild, wacky, wonderful and weirdly awesome motorcycle helmets. If you’re lusting after more, check out this list of equally awesome and striking helmets priced in the more budget-conscious segment. Remember, you should be replacing your helmet every five years due to the slow but unavoidable degradation of the materials used in its construction, if you’ve ever dropped your helmet, and certainly if you’ve crashed in it, you need to get a new one right away.
You could certainly do worse than the ten helmets we’ve listed above. Take care and ride safe!

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