Buyers Guide & Information

Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmets Reviewed

Find a high-quality retro or classic model with this review guide.

Every motorcycle enthusiast relishes the feeling of roaring through the streets on their bike. Be it the well-conditioned leather, the glistening chrome coated body, or the well-engineered engine; there's no greater feeling.

But if there's one thing that can complete your look, it's a vintage helmet.

Whether you're looking to pair it with your magnificent machine or simply add a vintage-retro touch to an otherwise modern bike, a vintage helmet is a solid option.

In this post, we've researched, analyzed, compared, and handpicked some of the best vintage motorcycle helmets on the market, so you can spend less time worrying about helmets, and more time out on your bike.


Preview

Product

Shell Material

Type

Weight

Check Price

TORC T5020PCH24 unisex-adult open-face style...

TORC T50

Route 66

ABS Shell

3/4 Open face 

3.2 pounds

TORC T1 Unisex-Adult Retro Full-Face Style...

TORC

T1 RETRO

Fiberglass Tri-Composite Shell

Full face 

4.84 pounds

BELL Custom 500 Helmet (Streak Gloss...

Bell

Custom 500

Fiberglass Composite

3/4 Open face 

2.4 Pounds

Woljay Leather Motorcycle Goggles Vintage...

Woljay

Vintage Leather

ABS Shell

1/2 Open face

NA

HCI Open Face Fiberglass Motorcycle Helmet...

HCI

Vintage

Fiberglass Shell

3/4 Open face

Lightweight

Biltwell Gringo Full Face Helmet

Biltwell

Gringo

ABS Shell

Full face 

3 pounds

NENKI 3/4 Vintage Retro Motorcycle Helmet...

NENKI

NK-628

Advanced fiberglass composite shell

3/4 open-face 

2.6 Pounds

Helmets: Safety & Style

With great power comes great responsibility, especially on a motorcycle. The importance of a well-made helmet cannot be overstated.  Protecting the head and face could literally be the difference between life and death should you find yourself in an accident.

In fact, studies have shown that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and death by 37%. They are an integral part of the motorcycle experience, and if you spend a little time picking a helmet to complement your style, helmets help to complete the entire look.

If you are vintage-retro aficionado looking for a helmet to keep you safe but keep you looking dapper, you've come to the right space.


Vintage Motorcycle Helmet Buyer's Guide

Helmet Type

  • Open Face Helmets
    Open face helmets are the epitome of vintage, protecting the top, back, and side of your head.Although you can buy modern versions of the open face helmet, many manufacturers offer helmets in a vintage style, usually with a lower profile.Of course, the downside is that there is a higher risk of injury to the face and jaw should you be involved in an accident.
  • Full Face Helmets
    Full face or close-faced helmets include a chin bar and cover your entire face, neck, and head, offering the ultimate protection.Although much safer, the downside of full face helmets is that they reduce peripheral vision and restrict ventilation, which is especially noticeable in the summer months!
  • Modular Helmets
    Modular helmets bring along the best of both worlds as they are a combination of open face and full face helmets. Modular helmets usually come with detachable chin bars, which can be flipped up and out of the way to create the look of an open-faced model.

Helmet Shell Construction

A helmet’s outer shell is arguably the most important feature, as it provides physical protection to your head from shock or abrasion.

The most common materials used in a helmet shell are:

  • Polycarbonate (PC)
    This type is made up of injection-molded, reinforced plastic. It’s tough yet lightweight and also budget-friendly. 
  • Fiberglass
    More expensive than polycarbonate, but also stronger and lighter. Fiberglass is usually made up of a composite of Kevlar, organic fibers, aramids, and sometimes carbon.
  • Carbon Fiber
    The most expensive option is carbon fiber, a blend of materials, and carbon that offers extreme protection in high-impact situations.

Helmet Weight & Size

A helmet's weight and size will ultimately depend on what material it's made of and what type of headgear you decide to choose.

  • Weight
    Average helmet weight is between 3.25 -  3.5 pounds
  • Size 
    Varies from extra small (XS) to extra-extra-large (XXL)

Check out our size guide below to find your size and choose the right helmet.

Road Safety Rating

Safety ratings are important when deciding on your vintage helmet, by offering you the peace of mind that it adheres to the strictest safety standards.

Some of the most common safety ratings include

  • Department of Transport (DOT)
    The US Department of Transportation is a good starting point when picking your new helmet.  Be aware that the DOT doesn't test individual helmets. Instead, they provide their rating to the manufacturer.  On that basis, some DOT approved helmets could be safer than others.
  • ECE
    ECE is the gold-standard for ratings in the European Union.  Standing for the Economic Commission of Europe, ECE approval is considered more thorough and stringent than DOT standards, so it should be your first choice if you are based in the EU.
  • SNELL 
    A vintage helmet that obtains SNELL approval meets the most stringent safety standards and offers the most rigorous testing out of all 3 levels.Prioritize a SNELL approved helmet if you want to ensure you are optimally protected on the roads.

Comfort & Fit

Comfort and fit are crucial when picking your vintage helmet. Spending a little more money on a helmet that offers superior comfort levels is especially important when wearing the helmet for extended periods.  We shouldn't need to tell you the importance of ensuring your helmet fits correctly.

A helmet that is adequately ventilated will keep you cool on the hottest of days. At the same time, the inner padding will help cushion your head from the hard, helmet shell.

Removable padding helps keep your helmet nice and clean, simply remove and wash to remove any sweaty odors.

Visibility & Protection

However cool a vintage helmet might be, it's never wise to pick form over function. A helmet should provide perfect visibility for the rider while protecting your head.  Visors come with a variety of different options, including clear, tinted, or with an anti-scratch surface.

Helmets with visors also help to keep any debris and dust out of your eyes while cruising.

Price & Warranty

When it comes to price, you can find a perfectly good vintage helmet to suit most budgets.  Naturally, as with most things in life, increased quality, features, and enhanced style often attract a higher price tag.

The length and extent of the warranty depend on the brand of helmet you buy, so double-check this first to make sure you are aware of what the warranty covers, but most importantly, what it doesn't.


7 Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmets Reviewed

1. TORC T50 Route 66

best vintage motorcycle helmet

Shell Material

ABS Shell

Helmet Type

Open face (3/4) helmet

Weight

3.2 pounds / 1.45 kg

Sizes

XS  to XXL

Safety Rating

DOT certified

Our top pick for stylish yet practical vintage helmets, the TORC T50 Route 66, is, in our opinion, the best ¾ vintage motorcycle helmet your money can buy.

Exceptionally well designed with an ultra-comfortable fit, what's not to like? This helmet is an excellent addition to riders who aren't looking for full coverage, yet are unwilling to compromise on safety.  This DOT certified helmet is comfortable and affordable.

TORC T50 Route 66 helmets deliver that old school relaxed Americana vibe that comes in a choice of two eye-catching shell graphics.  Even though these helmets are lightweight, they are robust with premium build quality.

Since it's open-faced, it's incredibly easy to wear and remove.  A nifty feature is the removable 3-snap sun-visor, which helps keep the sun out of your eyes on those hot, summer days.

Comfort is second to none, with an extremely luxurious faux-suede inner lining to ensure wearing the helmet won't feel like a burden.  The inner material features moisture-wicking abilities, absorbing the sweat from your head and keeping you fresh and cool.

We honestly love the look of this helmet, keep it on your shelf when not in use as it's an equally attractive focal point in your home. Don't forget to pick up a lock to keep this helmet nice and secure when you're out and about.

Pros

  • Stylish vintage look
  • Light-weight - perfect for long trips
  • DOT certified
  • Easy to wear and remove
  • Antimicrobial sweat-wicking faux suede liner.

Cons

  • The size can run a little small relative to other helmets
  • No full-face protection

2. TORC T1 RETRO

best retro full face motorcycle helmet

Shell Material

Fiberglass Tri-Composite Shell

Helmet Type

Full face helmet

Weight

4.84 pounds/ 2.19 kg

Sizes

XS  to XXL

Safety Rating

DOT and ECE certified

This retro full-face motorcycle helmet has a real, unique, vintage vibe to it.  If you're after a fine-looking full face helmet, this is our top pick.

TORC T1 helmets come in an array of designs and colors, from matte black to a glossy finish, you're bound to find something to suit your style. The DOT and ECE approved helmet has a fiberglass tri-composite shell, plus a faux-suede interior which adds comfort to the premium build quality.

The inbuilt ventilation by way of the chin and rear exhaust vents helps to keep the visor fog and mist-free, helping to keep your head cool during those hot summer days.

Weighing nearly 4 pounds, it's definitely on the heavier side, so keep that in mind if you plan on using this on long trips. But hey, if it gives you an excuse to pull off the road and take in the view, it's well worth it. The D-ring closure makes the helmet uncomplicated to wear, while the detachable visor is easily operated with a lever to ensure you can flick it down with ease.

The helmet is comfortable, looks elegant, and has a great field of view. But be mindful of the chin-bar, which may hinder peripheral vision.

Keep in mind TORC helmets run a little large, but if you've got a round head and have been struggling to find a suitable helmet to fit, the TORC T1 might just be the one for you. It's a little on the expensive side, but you're worth it.

Pros

  • Fiberglass tri-composite shell
  • Front Chin Vents with Metal Mesh Intake and Exhaust Vent
  • Anti-Fog & Anti-Scratch Shield
  • DOT & ECE Certified

Cons

  • The T1 model runs on the larger side, so size up!
  • A little expensive
  • Heavy

3. Bell Custom 500

best vintage open face motorcycle helmet

Shell Material

 Fiberglass Composite

Helmet Type

Open face (3/4) helmet

Weight

2.4 Pounds

Sizes

XS  to XXL

Safety Rating

DOT and ECE Certified

This helmet is a throwback to one of the very first designs by Bell, which he named the "500."  If you want to take a nostalgic trip back in time to the '70s, the Bell Custom 500 is a solid option, especially if you favor an open faced design.

With both DOT and ECE certification, the BELL Custom 500 motorcycle helmet cuts no corners for safety.  Bell aims to give the rider a custom, personalized fit with their 5 shell size offerings. With a tonne of graphic shell options, there is something for everybody in this line.

On the inside, the multi-density EPS inner liner is antibacterial and keeps the helmet snug on your dome. The padded chin strap with D-ring closure and strap keeper ensure the helmet stays secure.

With a low profile, you can pair this comfortably with goggles or your favorite sunglasses.  We also found the Bell Custom 500 extremely comfortable, even when wearing headphones. If you'd prefer a visor, simply attach your own using the simple 5 snap pattern for aftermarket shields and visors.

One of the downsides is that the interior padding is relatively thin, so when riding on those uneven roads, you may find it a little uncomfortable.  Still, I'm just nitpicking on what is an excellent product, and most importantly, it doesn't compromise the stability of the helmet.

All Bell models come with an extended 5-year warranty for the ultimate peace of mind.

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear with sunglass and ear-phones
  • Antibacterial lining
  • 5-year warranty
  • DOT and ECE certified

Cons

  • Doesn't include a visor (but attach your own one easily)
  • Runs a little small

4. Woljay Vintage Leather

best vintage leather motorcycle helmet 

Shell Material

ABS Shell

Helmet Type

Open face half helmet

Weight

Not available

Sizes

One Size

Safety Rating

DOT certified

Digging the old-school pilot look? The Woljay Vintage Leather Motorcycle Helmet is for you!

This helmet truly is a statement piece and gets a lot of compliments. It looks just as good off of your head than it does on.  This half helmet is perfect for scooters and light cruising.

The chin strap has a one-touch buckle for removing and securing, so it's super convenient and straightforward to use. A neat addition to this helmet is the UV sun visor, which keeps your eyes protected from the sun and free from the dust from the road.  Although it's a little flimsy, it can be replaced quite easily with something more solidly built.

The Woljay comes with DOT certification and comes in several different color options, so you can match it to the color of your scooter or bike.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the leather used is artificial, so it's cruelty-free and incredibly stylish – what more could you ask for?

The best part? It's one of the cheapest options on our list.  Who said looking stylish had to break the bank?

Pros

  • Unique and eye-catching
  • DOT certified
  • Artificial leather
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • No ECE approval
  • Flimsy visor (easily replaced)

5. HCI Vintage Open-Faced Motorcycle Helmet

best vintage option for women

Shell Material

Fiberglass Shell

Helmet Type

Open face (3/4) helmet

Weight

Lightweight

Sizes

S  to XL

Safety Rating

DOT certified

This smart sea-foam green helmet from HCI is the best vintage option for women. It also comes in a bunch of different colors if green is not your thing.

The HCI open face retro motorcycle helmet is ideal for daily usage as its both lightweight and comfortable. The fiberglass shell is a sturdy build, and the high-quality paintwork gives it a flawless, glossy, and beautiful look.

The lightweight helmet ensures minimum strain on your neck and shoulders to be worn for extended periods with minimal fuss.

Having adjustable top vents makes sure the helmet is well-ventilated, so staying cool is literally a breeze. The visor is a sleek addition, aiding in protection for your eyes when you're out on the road. The helmet can be removed quickly and easily through the handy quick-release mechanism on the chinstrap.

This HCI is incredibly inexpensive and comes with DOT accreditation, so you can have the added reassurance that your helmet meets the strictest of safety standards.

The helmet makes a great, uber-stylish gift for the female motorcycle fan in your life, but it's equally universal and can be worn by men too.

Sizes range from XS to XXL, but they tend to fit a bit snug. Check out our Helmet size guide for help in determining the right helmet size.

And if this isn't your bag, you can always check out our complete guide to women's motorcycle helmets for more inspiration.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • DOT certified
  • Adjustable air vents to keep you cool

Cons

  • Runs a bit snug

6. Biltwell Gringo Full Face Helmet

best rated retro-inspired option

Shell Material

ABS Shell

Helmet Type

Full face helmet

Weight

3 pounds

Sizes

XS  to XXL

Safety Rating

DOT certified

Biltwell Gringo is a firm favorite amongst motorcycle aficionados, so if you're looking for a helmet favored by the community, look no further.

The full face design ensures a quiet ride with minimal outside noise interference, and you can easily fit an internal Bluetooth speaker to communicate with fellow riders on the go.

Gringo comes in 4 primary colorways: black glossy, black matt, glossy vintage white, and titanium. If you're into the whole café racer aesthetic, the Gringo should be your helmet of choice.

The outer shell is injection molded ABS providing maximum rigidity and impact protection while being light in weight. The interior is made up of a hand-sewn, lycra liner with diamond-stitched quilting providing the utmost comfort.

The chinstrap includes a flat, adjustable D-ring fastener making it incredibly easy to put on and whip off again. The downside of the Gringo is that it doesn't offer any ventilation, so things can get a bit stuffy.  Still, for those hotter rides, flip up the visor for a breath of fresh air.

Although it's a little pricey, with 2 years limited warranty and DOT certification, GRINGO is well worth the cost and is an excellent choice for a low-profile, full-face helmet.

Pros

  • Favored by the motorcycle community
  • DOT certified
  • Uber comfortable interior cushioning

Cons

  • Lack of ventilation
  • Fairly expensive

7. NENKI NK-628

best retro 3/4 motorcycle helmet

Shell Material

Advanced fiberglass composite shell

Helmet Type

3/4 open-face helmet

Weight

2.6 Pounds

Sizes

S  to XXL

Safety Rating

DOT certified

Last but by no means least is our top retro inspired 3/4 motorcycle helmet: the NENKI NK-628. The NENKI has a super cool appearance and is a real crowdpleaser.

The fiberglass composite construction of the outer shell makes it lightweight while ensuring maximum safety, while the weathered paint job gives an impressive vintage aesthetic. This helmet weighs just 2.6 pounds, which makes it incredibly comfortable on longer rides.

The interior is made of faux leather with velvet lining making it cozy and breathable. The triple-layer foam padding on the outer rim adds to the comfort while assuring a snug fit. The Stars and Stripes American Patriot design feature is a real attention-grabbing highlight. You won't go unnoticed wearing this, that's for sure.

A bonus is that the NENKI comes complete with a removable mask and goggles in the same patriotic paint job. The benefit of this helmet is that it is exceptionally versatile and can be worn for motocross, skiing, or snowboarding.

The mask and goggles are detachable and equipped with anti-fog, iridium red lens which protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and keep your vision clear when you drive. Ventilation is lacking, but for those hot days, simply remove the mask and goggles for added comfort.

Pros

  • Lightweight fiberglass composite shell
  • DOT certified
  • Comes with detachable goggle and mask
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Lack of ventilation
  • Design may not be for everyone

Vintage Motorcycle Helmet Size Guide

A good fit of the helmet is an important factor for safety and comfort even when considering a vintage helmet for that retro-cool look. Below are a few simple steps that you can take to determine the right helmet size for you.

Measurement

Most brands will provide a size chart for their helmets, often in inches/centimeters. Usually, you'll be able to find this on the retailers' website.

Before you begin, read a few reviews of your desired helmet, to check whether they run small or large, as you may need to size up or down, depending on the general consensus. The helmet measurement is obtained by taking the circumference of your head just above your eyebrows.

To start, you'll need a flexible measuring tape.  Place the tape measure slightly above your ear and completely circle your head, bringing it across to the forehead an inch above your eyebrows. If you don't have a tape, a piece of string can be used instead, which you can then measure against a ruler to get the right size.

The measurement can then be cross-referenced with the manufacturer's datasheet to find the right helmet size. If a measurement falls in between two sizes, we would always suggest choosing the larger of the two.

Try it For Size

The first thing you do once you get your hands on the helmet is to try it on and check if it fits you. You'll want to ensure there is little movement when you tilt or turn your head.

In case of a slightly loose fit, you can add extra padding to the cheek and scalp area for an extra snug fit and increased comfort.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are vintage motorcycle helmets expensive compared to non-retro models?

This is a difficult question to answer, as it really depends on the brand you buy, the materials used, the design, and a whole host of other factors.  If we had to give a general answer, vintage motorcycle helmets do come at a small price premium over non-retro models. Still, there are a ton of helmets available in all price points, so we are confident you can find something to fit your budget and style.

Are vintage motorcycle helmets safe to use?

Vintage or retro helmets do not mean they are built by old-timey standards. Every one of the listed helmets is DOT certified, and each helmet is guaranteed to provide you with an adequate level of safety.
The only exception is buying a second-hand helmet, where you can't guarantee that it is free from internal structural damage.  For that reason, we would always suggest buying a brand new helmet for added peace of mind.

How do I clean a vintage motorcycle helmet?

In our experience, the best way to keep your helmet looking shiny and new is by using a microfiber cloth along with a mild cleaning agent.  Using a damp cloth, you can clean the visor as well as the outer shell of your vintage helmet. The inner padding can be rinsed in water with mild cleaning detergents and air-dried. Some can even be machine washed, but always check the manufacturers' instructions before doing so.

How long do vintage motorcycle helmets last?

Vintage motorcycle helmets, just like regular helmets, are built to last. But, over time, they will begin to show signs of wear and tear. One major factor affecting your helmet's longevity is the amount of use, maintenance practices, and initial build quality. A well-built, well-maintained vintage helmet will last you years and maybe decades. But a general rule of thumb is to replace a helmet that's been used for 5 years or more. This is entirely down to your discretion but is a best practice we generally encourage to all our customers.

What are the safest motorcycle helmet brands?

All of the helmets featured on our list meet strict safety standards and are either DOT or ECE certified, or both, so the choice truly is yours when deciding which brand to go for. Don't forget to check the manufacturers' details to determine precisely which level of certification your helmet has. Provided your desired helmet has the necessary safety approvals, you can be confident it is safe to use and will protect you in a worst-case scenario.

Where can I buy vintage motorcycle helmet stickers?

Amazon is one of the best market places to buy vintage stickers and jazz up your retro motorcycle helmet. There you can find a wide selection of stickers at reasonable prices. One of the things we love to do is pick up stickers from places we travel, to add a lasting memory to our pride and joy!


Conclusion

The TORC T50 Route 66 vintage motorcycle helmet is the clear front runner for the best vintage motorcycle helmet. Striking an excellent balance between style, practicality, and cost, you can't go wrong with this retro-cool headgear.

The TORC T50 Route 66 delivers everything you need and more. Like the folks at TORC would say, you cannot spell "motorcycle" without TORC!

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