Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmet – Our Top Picks
Vintage motorcycle helmets are the most prized collectible for any bike aficionado. These classic head gears give a major throwback to the bygone era, believed as the golden age of biking by many. British helmet models from 50’s and 60’s have a stark difference from the modern helmets we have today, both by stylistic and safety standards. Retro helmets that we have seen our fathers and brothers showing off in their youth were made to provide a mere superficial protection against abrasion. They were poorly padded and the components were not adequately developed to prevent the head from a potential collision.
But that doesn’t put a bike-savvy from drooling over classic, old-school motorcycle helmets. Adorned with goggles and chin strap, painted with whacky graphics, vintage helmets are like memories that still keep us celebrate a cultural renaissance that took place decades ago, when we were perhaps not even born. The highly furnished, feature-packed helmets of today’s era somehow can’t replicate the raw and rebellious spirit of vintage helmets. A rare breed of bike accessory manufacturers are making an attempt to revive that spirit, the retro aesthetics and syncretise it with modern technology. If you want to own a helmet that reflects the undying spirit of yore, while featuring all the security essentials of current age, you’ve come to the right place.
Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmets in Our Opinion
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ARROW AV-84 Vintage Deluxe
Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmets to Acquire
TORC vintage helmets remind us of the glorious past of café racing and motocross. It is a reconditioned version of its ultra-lightweight open-face models. T50 is also reasonably comfortable on head, the ABS, leather rolled shell displays a minimal design which can be appealing those desperate to avoid quirky motifs. The interior is laden generously with a quality suede liner that reduces maximum pressure from your head and helps keeping the inside breezy in hot weather by absorbing the moisture (read sticky sweat).
Planning a long road trip with your co-wolfpackers on a bright sunny afternoon? Experience a journey like never before with a protective sun visor that fine-tunes the environmental light to the optimal comfort of your eyes. Like a top-of-the-line, pricey modern helmet, it cancels the outside noise incredibly well. The leather rolled exterior has a cool retro vibe to it. That’s not all, the model can be customized with interior speakers to play some Steppenwolf and Byrds while you’re amping things up on the wheels. As far as the safety element is concerned, thankfully, it meets the basic safety standard set by DOT.
Biltwell because it’s a reminiscence of your youth, Biltwell because your childhood heroes showed it off proudly, Biltwell because you want to look like a badass racer. It comes in two basic hues-white and black, not to mention both are a class of their own. It has the essence of retro imbued in it alongside the consciousness of the current age’s security perspective. The modern tribute to this 70s classic has its interior nicely lined with sewn brushed Lycra for great comfort, snug fit and sweat control.
The shape is an unconventional cross between round and oval. However, this could be added as a positive because it facilitates a great adjustability and fitting to any head shape. The chin straps keeps it stay firmly on your head. The absence of vents put me into doubt initially but after I used it for a whole week, I simply had no qualms over its ventilation as the air passes unobstructed from the bottom of the helmet. There’s an optional Gold Mirror flat Shield which can be attached to the front with a little bit of effort.
You’re bidding your cash on a vintage model because you just love the design. This typical retro motorcycle headgear adorned with goggles and ear flaps is a treat to the eye. Even though the name implies that it’s a leather-made model, it is not. The premium wind and impact-resistant fiber has the glam look of a leather material. The 1.8 lb. weight doesn’t feel like a burden over the head after prolonged tripping.
To ensure the helmet doesn’t pop out in high speed, a chin strap has been also included in this quintessential open-face vintage helmet. Retro-type goggles have been provided to keep your eyes protected from harmful UV rays and weather elements. The earmuffs are easily detachable.
Arrow AV-84 is a step ahead of typical vintage style helmets with minimal padding and coverage. It perfectly captures the renegade panache of the bygone era and amalgamates it with the best-in-class safety features of this technologically superior age. AV-84 passes through the tough safety test by DOT and ECE before reaching to their customers. Arrow has used UV resistant coating on the thermoplastic shell for excellent durability and sun ray protection.
The dual certification voices the ability of the helmets to safeguard your head section against every type of conceivable road accident. Helmets that come off easily or squeeze your head are the worst distraction on a two-wheeler. Fortunately, Arrow AV-84 is a tad above the ordinary in every aspect. It engineers 3D lining for optimum fit and freaking good comfort. Cruising around your favourite weekend getaway on your chopper all day feels smooth as ever with Vintage Deluxe, a cool retro jacket and boots.
Bell is a brand vintage helmet aficionados swear by. The open-face design draws its inspiration from German military style helmets. The light ridge devised at the front and back performs excellently like a shield against wind and road debris. The modern twist in the equipment lies in the adjustable muzzle with Fidlock magnetic attachment that makes on and off a cinch. Moreover, the interior contains a removable liner to keep the inside fresh and airy under the most humid circumstances.
Cut to the ergonomics, the matte black composite shell one devil of a wind cutter. If you are not somebody to compromise with the safety, here’s an absolute badass DOT approved retro model to spice up your road trips. The only thing that let me down a bit was the lack of any noise-cancellation system. The vibration and road noise are the worst distractions when you’re on a solitary ride. Bell Rogue is not the cheapest of the lot, but for owning a memoir of a rich legacy, it's worth the price.
Nolan is a master craftsman of motorcycle helmets of every style, be it devil-may-care sort of full-face models or exuberant retro pieces. At the very first glance at the helmet, you’ll be amazed with the sensible design aiming to deliver all-round protection to your head and neck section. The DOT certification qualifies it as a helmet for the raunchy street racers, whereas most vintage shorties are okay for light cruising only.
The solid polycarbonate shell has an incredible shock resistance. The metallic plates fitted on the sides give it a slightly modern touch. Despite of the sturdiness, it’s so lightweight that you feel you’re actually wearing a helmet. The paintwork on the shell is something retro lovers would swoon over. The quickly adjustable sun visor permits crystal-clear visual of the road ahead.
Shopping for a vintage helmet is slightly a different experience from buying a standard helmet. Your prime focus automatically shifts to the aesthetics. The invention of motorcycle helmets dates back to the time of World War II. Half helmets, infamously also known as “Shorty” today was the rudimentary design for bike helmets. With minimal foaming and no shield, these helmets could hardly reduce the impact. With the advance of time and technology, the design went through a series of changes.
It’s only between 50s-60s when the helmets started looking like actual protective gears, with the inclusion of a visor. In the late 70s, full face and 3/4th style helmets, models inspired by military helmets first appeared in the market. Finally, there was a full-proof solution against every type of bike accidents. If you’re aiming at purchasing a helmet in its original condition, I’d recommend you to refurbish it. Unless you’re a pro, you should handover the job to a professional bike modifier who’ll tweak the interior foaming, lining and shell paintjob, ending up with a brand new model retaining its soul.
Full-face helmets from 1970s are auctioned frequently in flea markets as well as online. People who want to experiment with graphics and paintwork may consider the fluorescent, psychedelic motifs of 80s.No matter how fantastic it appears, it’s strictly advisable not to wear them on road without refurbishing. The antiquated shells naturally lose the strength over the course of years. It would fail to resist the impact in case you lose balance on two-wheeler.
Internet is certainly the most favourite place of our gen-next customers to grab the best deal. Various e-commerce sites give you easy access to a whole new world of vintage apparels with attractive discounts too. Buying online has another advantage too, you can compare the credentials and prices of several products without irking the annoyance of the dealer, read customer reviews for a more concrete idea on the products. If it’s solely for collection and not at all for on road use, there are a number of sites that auction rare vintage collectibles made or used by iconic personalities of the yesteryears.
Online shopping is fun and easy but the nothing compared to trying it manually. E-commerce sites may give you eye-popping deals, but visiting a local flea market (especially if you know the right place) will absolutely blow your mind. You can try products of your choice to get a right fitting one for you. Purchasing one from somebody who’s a collector himself is also a brilliant idea. It’s a sheer honour and a delightful experience to have a true-blue vintage helmet enthusiast sharing his knowledge with you. It’s a priceless experience and helps you know many unknown and rare facts about the history of helmets.
What makes Your Vintage Headgear Safe on the Road?
The story always begins with a detailed examination of the shell. It has to be produced from a durable and sturdy material, strong enough to resist lethal shock. Many traditional models are made from leather. Although it is not as effective as carbon fibre or polycarbonate in preventing injuries, it has that retro nod to it which might be exactly what you’re dreaming of. Moving onto the interiors, cast a glance over the inner lining, quality of padding and number of air vents, stressing on the last feature is more important if it’s a full-face model.
Always try getting your hands laid on a full-face helmet if you’re intending to do motocross, off-road racing or bike stunts. You won’t have worry about ventilation with half-face and 3/4th models. Dirt and grime is a part and parcel of biking. In order to maintain proper hygiene inside the gear, the pads should be removable and easily washable. And finally, we consider the appearance. Be it Italian, German or American, humble 60s or the revolutionary 80s, each country and each century has a vibe of its own that should recognised and appreciated.
The Final Word
Helmets with old-school, retro style exterior packed with modern protective features much more than just a biking accessory, it’s a gem of a collectible. Riding wearing a vintage helmet takes you back to the golden age when motorcycle riding was an expression of freedom vintage helmets are timeless beauties. Helmets made in each era have a dash of novelty, a bit of uniqueness because they reflect the culture, the aesthetic sense of that time. Imagine yourself whizzing past the breathtaking beautiful roads of the countryside on a sunny Sunday noon, I can visualise the scenes of Easy Rider while writing these lines.
Not that I’ve any intention of dragging you down from your fantasy world, but giving you a reality check is my responsibility. I know vintage gears can’t be judged by how sensibly they’re build, they have a timeless appeal. But you shouldn’t forget for a single moment the primary function helmets serve. If it isn’t amply padded or well ventilated, putting it on for a long ride can be life-risking. You won’t even remember how cool you’re looking when a serious head injury occurs to you. So, put safety at the top of your priority list while shopping for the best vintage motorcycle helmet.