Yes, those old-skool helmets look pretty cool. Especially in the summer time when it’s so hot even racing down the freeway at 70 mph feels like a hair dryer blowing on you.
The bad news is, they’re incredibly unsafe. Half-helmets, or shortys, are not approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). For one, these crazy-sexy-cool (albeit dangerous) lids fail to protect half of your face. So forget dying, this particular form of protection assures that you’ll just have a mangled jaw for the rest of your life.
We do feel you, though. Picture this: You’re touring through the Amalfi Coast on your brand new MV Agusta, and it comes time to stop and fill up. All of your friends are chillin’ with their modulars saluting high. Meanwhile, you’re suffocating in your full-face helmet. Fully. Enclosed. Helmet. To say you feel like the Man in the Iron Mask is putting it mildly. So to stay safe and cool, here are our choices for the top three flip up motorcycle helmets.
Schuberth supplies both the sport of Formula 1 and BMW with helmets, so it’s no wonder the company is at the top of our list. Founded in 1922, the German manufacturer boasts private tunneling facilities for designing and engineering the company’s protective helmets.
The C3 modular is extremely quiet, thanks to its integrated acoustic collar and anti-noise pad. Reducing noise levels, of course, helps keep those straddling the bikes riding as defensively as possible. This helmet’s unique ventilation design allows for almost two gallons of fresh air to be supplied every second when traveling at speeds over 60 mph.
For most enthusiasts, the Japanese manufacturer Shoei is one of the more familiar helmet companies. Its Neotec lid includes an enlarged lock release button that lets the user (complete with clumsy motorcycle gloves) tip up the front of the face without hassle.
This helmet is also designed with the company’s 360° Pivot Locking System, which includes high-tech stainless-steel components that ensure a secure closure when the Neotec’s chin bar is in the down, locked position.
Aerodynamic design on Shoei’s modular Neotec incorporates a spoiler right into the shell. This maintains the shell’s thickness consistency while reducing lift and drag during faster speeds. It is also equipped with a removable interior, so riders can wash and, if need be, replace the helmet’s guts.
Headquartered in Southern California since 1971, HJC is also equipped with its own wind-tunnel laboratory. The company crafts its RPHA-Max lid with a combination of carbon fiber, aramid, fiberglass and an organic non-woven fabric. The inside of this helmet lists lightweight, moisture-wicking, odor-free and anti-bacterial interior. If necessary, the shield can be swapped out, thanks to the Max’s “ultra-quick, tool-less removal and installation” setup.
Available in solid or two-tone designs, this particular HJC modular touts an easy one-touch locking system (as do the other helmets in this list), but the RPHA-Max also shows up to the party with an integrated sunshield. Also activated by the simple touch of one button, this feature quickly deploys a smoke-tinted sunshield that adjusts to three different positions via a sliding lever.