The 7 Best Full Face Motorcycle Helmets – [2021 Reviews]

Get maximum protection on the road, we examine this year's top full-face motorcycle helmets

Our Editors independently research, test, and rate what we feel are the best products. We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

In this article we give you our picks for the top-rated best full face motorcycle helmets for the money. Also find some background and technical information that’s helpful when choosing the right motorcycle helmet for your specific riding needs in our How To Choose The Best Full Face Motorcycle Helmet section.

Best Full Face Motorcycle Helmets

 Bell Qualifier DLXShoei RF-1200HJC CL-Max III
editors choice
TypeFull Face Full FaceFull Face (Flip-Up)
Ventilated YesYesYes
Built-in Sun Visor

Also See: Full Face Motorcycle Helmets Comparison Table

Quick Answer: The 7 Top-Rated Full Face Motorcycle Helmets

  1. Bell Qualifier DLX Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
  2. Shoei RF-1200 Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
  3. HJC CL-Max III Full Face Flip-Up Motorcycle Helmet
  4. Bell Qualifier Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
  5. HJC CL-MAXBT II Full Face Flip-Up Motorcycle Helmet
  6. BILT Fusion Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
  7. ILM Full Face Motorcycle Helmet

Full Face Motorcycle Helmets Reviews

Bell Qualifier DLX Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet
Bell Qualifier DLX


Features of the Bell Qualifier DX:

  • Lightweight polycarbonate shell
  • 3 shell sizes and 6 fit sizes
  • Includes the Transitions Adaptive Shield
  • Ventilation and padded wind collar
  • Padded wind collar drastically reduces wind and road noise
  • ClickRelease for the fastest, easiest, tool-free shield changes ever
  • NutraFog II superior anti-fog, anti-scratch and UV-protected shield
  • Accepts Bell Sena SMH10 and Cardo Scala Rider Q1/Q3 Bluetooth stereo headset and intercom (sold separately, separate mounting plate required)
  • DOT/ECE – certified and 5 Year Warranty
  • 3.5 lbs.
  • Detailed Manufacturer Specifications

Since the 1950’s Bell Motorsports has been a highly-respected maker of great racing helmets for all types of motorsports from amateur Sprint car racing and Pro Street drag racing to Formula One and Indy cars.

There’s a strong tradition at Bell and the DLX carries it forward in the full-face motorcycle helmet category.

The combination of comfort, quality, light weight, road noise abatement and a transitional face shield make the selection of the Qualifier DLX as our #1 pick hard to dispute.

At Outside Pursuits the price/value analysis has relevance to all of our product reviews, as well as the selection of our top-rated picks.

Bell Qualifier DLX review

So it’s especially nice to have all of these features packed into a DOT/ECE full-face motorcycle helmet. For this reason the editors of Outside Pursuits believe that the Bell Qualifier DLX is the best motorcycle helmet under $300.

The patented Transitions photochromatic face shield gives DLX owners the flexibility to ride day or night without a shield change. Here is some video footage of the Qualifier DLX featuring the Transitions adaptive shield.

It’s hard to overlook the growth in demand for motorcycle helmets with bluetooth. The Qualifier DLX can house the SENA SMH-10 or a Cardo Scala Rider Q1/Q3 Bluetooth unit with earphone recesses and accessible side-mount cavity.

It was truly a pleasure to be a participant in selecting the Bell Qualifier DLX as our #1 pick for the best full face motorcycle helmet and the Editors Choice among strong competition.

#2 Shoei RF-1200 Full Face Motorcycle Helmet

Shoei RF-1200 Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet
Shoei RF-1200


Features of the Shoei RF-1200:

  • AIM+ Patented Light-Weight Multi-Ply Shell Construction
  • Superior Design Air Ventilation System – (4 vents)
  • 3D Max-Dry System II Interior absorbs and dissipates sweat
  • Q.R.S. (Emergency Quick-Release System) allows emergency medical personnel to easily remove cheek pads from an injured riders helmet
  • Shield locking mechanism ensures shield stays locked at high speed
  • Dual-layered window beading ensures windproof/waterproof seal
  • Unique shield ribs at top and bottom eliminate shield bending in high speed during opening or closing
  • Safety Certification Standards: Snell-M2010, DOT
  • 3.46 lbs.
  • Full Manufacturer Specs

Shoei is a Japanese motorcycle helmet manufacturer founded in 1958. Since the formation of the company Shoei helmets have been designed and manufactured in Japan. Today they are distributed and sold all over the world.

Despite their worldwide success, Shoei has stayed true to their roots and remains a small company, dedicated to making only the highest-quality motorcycle helmets.

The Shoei RF-1200 helmet definitely keeps to tradition delivering a lightweight, quiet and performance-oriented helmet built from superior materials.

The fabrics and plastics used in fabricating the RF-1200 are a slight cut above anything else we reviewed.  However, this premium manufacturing comes with a price which may not be inline with the functional gains of the helmet.

Shoei RF-1200 review

If price and ancillary features were not factors the Shoei RF-1200 wins this review hands down. But the RF-1200 lacks an adaptive shield and the Bluetooth-readiness of our Editor’s Choice.

There are so many patented design features to this model that we could see immediately the singular focus that Shoei possesses toward motorcycle helmets. Four intake vents and uniquely positioned upper exhaust outlet vents make it the best ventilated motorcycle helmet.

Lots of wind tunnel testing has been applied to the design to cut wind noise at high speeds without blocking necessary road noises.  Four shell sizes, three-dimensionally-shaped center pads and cheek pads ensure a really personal, nearly custom, fit.

Overall we agreed that the RF-1200 was the safest motorcycle helmet primarily due to its attention to size and fit customization.  So it is also considered the best fitting motorcycle helmet in our review.

Thus, the RF-1200 is the best choice as a helmet to be used in a racing environment,  or if you plan on pushing the envelope with more extreme and higher-speed riding.

This distinction leads some enthusiasts to the conclusion that it’s generally the safest motorcycle helmet.

Features of the HJC CL-MAX III:

  • Advanced Fiberglass Poly Spectra (Composite Weave) Helmet Shell
  • Lightweight Space-age Polycarbonate Chinbar
  • Bluetooth-ready with aerodynamic exterior module recess and ear speaker recesses.
  • Accepts ChatterBox XBi2-H Bluetooth Wireless Intercom unit
  • Convenient Single-Button and One-Handed Chin Bar Release
  • “ACS” Advanced Channeling Ventilation System
  • Full Front to Back Airflow Flushes Heat and Humidity Up and Out
  • Three-position Shield – Multiple Positions with Locking Mechanism
  • Tool-free Shield Swap System
  • Multiple Optional Face shields and SunShields Available
  • Meets or Exceeds D.O.T. Standards
  • 5.2 lbs.

HJC has specialized in manufacturing motorcycle helmets since their formation in 1971. Their innovation, style and reasonable pricing have resulted in HJC’s success in selling motorcycle helmets all over the world.

You may notice a number of HJC “knock-off models” appearing due to the worldwide popularity of their products.

According to Motorcycle Industry Magazine HJC eclipsed all other helmet makers in 1992 in both volume and revenue making them the #1 helmet brand in North America.

HJC takes pride in the amount of design testing that they perform and they’re one of the very few helmet companies that are equipped with its own state of the art wind tunnel testing laboratory to test for aerodynamics, ventilation and noise.

HJC CL-MAX3 full face motorcycle helmet

As flip-up helmets go there are a few trade-offs regarding convenience and safety. We left the debate over whether to go flip-up or not out of this review.

Instead, we selected what we considered to be the best full face flip-up motorcycle helmet in the HJC CL-Max III to pair with the two full-face helmets selected above.

As the name implies the CL-Max III is a twice-improved version of a flip-style helmet that HJC released some years ago. The new patented ventilation/cooling design is the most significant improvement.

The CL-Max III had the best ventilation we observed from all of the helmets.  A 3-position locking shield and Bluetooth-ready recesses all make the CL-Max III a very capable all-around helmet and our #3 overall pick.

#4 Bell Qualifier Full Face Motorcycle Helmet

Bell Qualifier
Bell Qualifier
Features of the Bell Qualifier:

  • Polycarbonate and ABS for Lightweight Shell Construction
  • Shield has Click Release for simple and shield replacement (no tools needed)
  • NutraFog II anti-scratch and anti-fog w/ UV light-protective shield
  • A good sized padded wind collar to reduce noise
  • Interior padding is removable and washable. Cheek pads are fitted
  • Integrated speaker cavities for Bluetooth 
  • Padded chin strap with D-ring closure
  • 5 Year warranty

The Bell Qualifier full-face helmet is an entry-level helmet from a top-rated maker. As full-face motorcycle helmets go, the Qualifier is quite popular. It lacks some of the features (like Bluetooth-readiness and transitional shield) of its big brother, The Qualifier DLX.

bell qualifier full face helmet review

The Qualifier has a lightweight shell made from Polycarbonate/ABS and a tool-free shield replacement feature. Also includes the NutraFog 2.0 anti-fog and anti-scratch shield with UV protection.

This helmet packs an incredible value at this price and comes with a 5-Year Warranty.

#5 HJC CL-MAXBT II Full Face Flip-Up Motorcycle Helmet

HJC CL-MAXBT II Modular Motorcycle Helmet
Features of the HJC CL-MAXBT II:

  • Advanced Lightweight Injection-molded Poly Shell –   w/ One-Button Chin Bar Release
  • Superior Fit and Comfort Using Advanced CAD Technology
  • Bluetooth-ready (uses interior recesses and speaker cavities)
  • Faceshield has 95 percent Protection for U.V. sun rays 
  • Tool-less Shield Replacement (patented Quickslide)
  • ACS – HJC-invented “Advanced Channeling System” for ventilation – provides full front to back airflow while removing heat

When considering the factors that make the best motorcycle helmets in any category the manufacturer’s reputation and longevity in the industry has big significance.

For an entry-level flip-up helmet the HJC CL-MAXBT II is clearly a recommended helmet at its price point. And it’s  made by a highly-respected manufacturer.

HJC CL-MAX BT II full face motorcycle helmet review

With a polycarbonate shell and single-button chin bar/face shield release this model has all of the basic functionality of most higher-priced flip-ups and therefore we rated it the best motorcycle helmet under $200.

It is Bluetooth-ready and has HJC’s tool-less shield replacement system. And HJC’s patented Advanced Channeling Ventilation System (ACS) provides full front-to-back airflow and hot air exhaust.

#6 BILT Fusion Full Face Motorcycle Helmet

BILT Fusion Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet
BILT Fusion
Features of the Bilt Fusion Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet:

  • Injection molded polycarbonate shell
  • One-piece shell for full-face protection 
  • Strap uses familiar Double-D ring retention 
  • Comes with clear shield fitted as standard w/ quick release 
  • Two slide-opening forehead vents for airflow

BILT is a house brand for lots of motorcycling accessories and rider apparel.  They have a pretty good selection of helmet types from half helmets to dual-sport models.

Bilt hangs in the low to mid-range helmet market, but delivers quite well on basic features and functionality.

The bilt Fusion has a hinged clear shield and two slide-opening forehead vents.  The Fusion is as basic as it gets and is the best budget full-face motorcycle helmet.

It comes in 3 colors: Black, White and Matte Black.

#7 ILM Full Face Motorcycle Helmet

Features of the ILM Full Face Motorcycle Helmet:

  • DOT Approved – Meets or exceeds DOT requirements
  • Fiberglass-reinforced w/ ABS plastic thermal shell, with Composite Impact Foam (EPS)
  • One-Button Flip-up allows for access by rider open face when talking or drinking 
  • EZ Open Air Vents are Durable and Functional and provide maximum circulation
  • Retractable and easy-to-use Inner Sun Visor

The ILM Full Face’s fiberglass-reinforced thermal plastic composite shell and EPS impact absorption liner make it a legitimate helmet for motorcycle-speed head protection.

We chose it because it doesn’t skimp where DOT-certification is concerned.

There’s an inner drop-down visor and easy-open air vents for circulation.

Overall, the ILM Full Face is the best full face motorcycle helmet under $100.

Full Face Motorcycle Helmets Comparison Table

  TypeBluetooth ReadyVentilated Sun Visor
Bell Qualifier DLX Full Face Motorcycle HelmetFull FaceYesYesYes
Shoei RF-1200 Full Face Motorcycle HelmetFull FaceNoYesYes
HJC CL-MAX 3 Full Face Flip-Up Motorcycle HelmetFull Face Flip-UpYesYesYes
Bell Qualifier Full Face Motorcycle HelmetFull Face NoYesYes
HJC CL-MAXBT II Flip-Up Motorcycle HelmetFull Face Flip-UpYesYesYes
BILT Fusion Full Face Motorcycle HelmetFull Face NoYesYes
ILM Full Face Motorcycle HelmetFull FaceNoYesYes

How to Choose The Best Full Face Motorcycle Helmet

With so many manufacturers and options available in the marketplace, it can be a daunting task to decide how you’ll spend your hard-earned money to buy the best motorcycle helmet for your needs.

best motorcycle helmet


The use of motorcycle helmets dates back to 1914 when motorcycle racers at the Isle of Man (a British dependency off the coast of Great Britain) were suggested to wear them as a protection against head injuries including concussion and even death.

The story behind the original use of motorcycle helmets is quite interesting. Motocycle riders owe a lot to Dr.  Eric Gardner who originated the idea of a helmet made of canvas and shellac. He introduced  the invention to racers at the Isle of Man in 1914. You can read more about the origins of modern motorcycle helmets here.

Early on it was apparent that helmets reduced the number and severity of head-related injuries and were soon adopted as standard equipment.

The very earliest helmets were crudely made of canvas heavily covered with shellac to form the hard outer shell.  Technology and advancement have brought about better-fitted and more durable helmets over the decades since.

Motorcycle Helmet Types

In this short video tutorial Ryan discusses the major type of motorcycle helmets and their differences.

Types of Motorcycle Helmets

full-face motorcycle helmet

Full Face Helmet

As the name suggests a full-face helmet covers the entire face in addition to the entire head and skull.  A large cutout area in the front allow for visibility and may be covered in clear or tinted transparent plastic shield.

Because they are so enclosed, full-face helmets have air vents on the top and/or chin bar portion of the helmet allowing for ventilation and cooling.

Some riders have a “claustrophobia-like effect” when wearing a full-face helmet and for that reason opt for another less constrictive type of helmet.  Nonetheless, full-face are considered to be the most effective at protecting riders of all other helmet types.

Full-face helmets have been in use since the early 1900s and represent the status quo for many riders.  And for these reasons the racing communities and high-speed non-professional applications predominantly utilize full-face helmets.

Flip-Up Helmet

A Flip-Up helmet was originally referred to as a “flip-up” or “flip-face helmet. It is essentially a full-face helmet that can be opened to convert to an open-face helmet.  This hybrid design has been the subject of some debate in regards to the pros and cons.

Many have said that flip-up helmets are easier to remove in an emergency and thus making it easier to access the rider’s face in an emergency.

The flip-side of the argument says that the chin bar portion of the flip-up helmet can open inadvertently or even be broken free from the helmet during an accident.

There is definitely a convenience to be had with a flip-up helmet. It can be opened to talk, eat or drink quickly during a ride. For instance motorcycle-mounted law enforcement use flip-up helmets to more easily converse with drivers in a traffic stop.

With today’s materials and technology the flip-up helmet is nearly as protective as a full-face. (Note: While no studies exist to compare full-face vs. flip-up helmet efficacy, a safety study by a consumer group showed that 35% of all crashes showed major impact on the chin-bar area).

So whether you’re riding with a full-face or a flip-up helmet you’re taking the extra precaution to protect the face and chin area. It should be noted that riding with a flip-up helmet that is open can add significant wind drag and can also increase the risk of neck or back injury during an accident.

A good rule-of-thumb is to only ride using a flip-up helmet for riding while in the closed position.

open face motorcycle helmetOpen Face Helmet (3/4 Helmet)

The open face, or “three-quarters”, helmet covers the top and back of the head as well as the ears, but lacks a chin bar like that of the full-face helmet.

Some of these type helmet include a removable sun visor that snaps on and off.  This feature helps block sun glare from the eyes and also shades the face.

Open face helmets provide the same rear head protection as that of a full- face helmet, but little to no protection for the face.

Separate eye protection from glasses or goggles is a necessity with open-face helmets and is also required to meet most state and local riding laws

At high speeds the smallest of bugs can be painful and hazardous.  Dust and wind to the face and eyes can cause rider discomfort, distraction and possible injury.  So it is common (and as stated above required by local laws) for riders to wear goggles or sport-style sunglasses to provide some level of eye protection when riding with open-face helmets.

And there is also a variation on open-face helmets that adds a snap-on full-face clear or tinted plexiglass shield.   While these cannot compare to a chin bar for protection they can stop insects or debris from hitting the rider’s face.

half helmetHalf Helmet

The half helmet has been referred to as a “brain bucket.”  This reference comes about on account of the helmet meeting the very minimum requirements for helmet laws requirements.

While this style offers the least amount of rider protection, it offers the rider the most freedom, and the least amount of constraint.  Half helmets became popular In the UK and with road racers of the 1960s in the British Isles.

As with the open face, it is a requirement to use eye protection such as goggles or wrap-around sunglasses with a half helmet.

Despite meeting most local and state regulatory requirements for motorcycle head protection,  most Motorcycle Safety Foundations do not endorse their use.

motocross helmetMotocross Helmet

The motocross-style helmet has an extended chin bar to allow for maximum airflow during physically challenging off-road and track riding.

Air can flow unhindered through this chin bar to the rider’s mouth while still protecting the mouth and chin. The chin bar is also lengthened to accomodate full-sized foam goggles which block debris and dust from the rider’s eyes.

The enlarged visor on motocross helmets blocks sun and stadium lights from hindering rider visibility.

Using a modern motocross helmet with chin bar combined with proper goggles can provide nearly the same level of protectiion as that of a full face street helmets.

dual-sport helmet Dual Sport (Adventure) Helmet 

A fairly new category of motorcycle helmet has emerged from the advent of dual-sport or “adventure” riding.

In this style of riding it may be necessary to ride on highways or improved roads for long distances and then go off-road to unimproved roads or trails on the same ride.

These helmets combine the aerodynamics of a clear flip-up shield like a full-face helmet with the visor and extended chin bar of a motocross.

There is typically also a tinted drop-down eye visor like modern full-face helmets.

This features makes it possible to have eye and sun protection without the need to periodically engage and remove tinted goggles or sunglasses.  It’s a quick and simple single release button to engage and disengage the drop-down eye visor.  This helmet type is gaining in popularity as dual-sport and adventure bikes grow in popularity.

Motorcycle Helmet Construction

Motorcycle helmets are generally constructed from various grades and formulations of plastics. There are a range of density and strength compounds from which various parts are constructed. These varied material types have a bearing on overall construction costs of a helmet.

Outer Shell (Crown)

Premium-priced helmets use plastics that are high in tensile strength, adequately flexible as needed, while remaining lightweight.  The outer shell (or crown) of premium-priced helmets use composite materials made of plastic combined with fiberglass, Kevlar and/or carbon fiber to strengthen and to reduce weight.

Inner Shell (Core)

The inner shell or (core) is generally a combination of fabric and foam. These materials are selected for #1 protection and #2 comfort.   The inner shell elements are constructed from EPS  (aka Expanded Polystyrene Foam) and an outer shell to protect the EPS.


The overall thickness and density of these materials is formulated to lessen the impact of an accident so as to avoid particular penetration of the skull and thus reducing head injuries.

Helmets can be with different thicknesses and densities to offer enhanced protection form high-speed or racing environments. The outer shell of the helmet might be made of a variety of plastics or fiberglass-type materials.  To varying degrees the plastics offer protection from penetration.


For example, Lexan which you may recognize as bulletproof glass will not crush when impacted.  Therefore, the outer shell will look undamaged but the inner EPS will be crushed. Fiberglass is less expensive than Lexan but is heavy and very labor-intensive.


Fiberglass or fiber shells will crush on impact offering better protection. Some manufacturers will use Kevlar or carbon fiber to help reduce the amount of fiberglass but in the process it will make the helmet lighter and offer more protection from penetration but still crushing on impact.


Thanks for reading The 7 Best Full Face Motorcycle Helmets.  We hope that this article gave you all the information you needed to select the brand and type of motorcycle helmet that is right for you.

If you’re a motorcycling enthusiast here’s our some more of our product review articles:


How We Researched

To come up with the top full-face, modular motorcyclehelmets, we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as Motorcycle News, REI, EVO along with our own personal experience.

We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.

With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The staff authors have a wide and varied background in motorcycle touring and offroading as well as motorcycle mechanics. They are eager to share their knowledge with readers.

To help narrow down the selection we used personal experiences along with recommendations from fellow motorcycle-enthusiasts and industry experts.

After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.


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Richard Moore

Richard is a co-founder of and major contributor to Outside Pursuits. He has trekking and survival experience throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Richard contributes his extensive travel and outdoor experience to the editorial topics and content on Outside Pursuits including outdoor gear, motorcycle accessories, auto/4x4 accessories, and tools. In 1998, he survived in the wilderness for over a week without food or specialist equipment. He was stranded on the northern coast of Honduras following Category 5 Hurricane Mitch.
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