Touring connotes long days in the saddle, and that means long days with your head inside your helmet. Fit, then, is going to be of utmost importance when it comes to selecting a touring helmet. A helmet that gives you a hot spot might not be a huge deal when youâ€™re only wearing it for 45 minutes. Over the course of days, though, like an annoying travel companion, an ill-fitting helmet will grow to be a thing you loathe.
Traveling to a brick and mortar store to try helmets on is the best thing you can do, and if thatâ€™s not possible then finding an online retailer with a generous return policy is the next best way to go. When you try a helmet on, keep it on for a while too. Minor annoyances that grow large over time can take a while to show themselves.
Anyway, here we scratch the surface with eight touring helmets weâ€™ve either sampled or that come highly recommended from our friends. (Some of our favorites are modulars, or flip-front helmets, but those will be covered in a separate article.)
Bell Qualifier DLX $149.95 – $249.95
The DLX packs a lot of the features from Bellâ€™s more expensive Stars into a ridiculously inexpensive lid â€“ ridiculously inexpensive mostly because it comes standard with a Transitions faceshield, which sells separately for around $130 if youâ€™re lucky enough to wear a brand that even offers one. When youâ€™re riding all day and half the night, nothingâ€™s more convenient than not having to change faceshields all the time. Among most of the features you expect, the Qualifier also comes rigged for Sena and Cardo Bluetooth stereo headset and intercom systems, with integrated speaker pockets. If the DLX fit, you must admit.
AGV Veloce S (Sole Luna graphic shown) $389 – $399
This Italian stallion melds features from AGVâ€™s Pista track helmets with touring functionality. Big airflow from a track-developed ventilation system doesnâ€™t interfere with a quiet, comfortable ride. Four sizes of the carbon/aramid/fiberglass shell keep it compact and aero. The quick-release face shield is fitted with a swivel mechanism which provides a perfect seal with the shell, a Pinlock lens is included, the interior is, of course, plush and removable â€“ and the Valentino link is unmistakable. Unless you just want a solid color.
HJC RPHA 70 ST (Grandal graphics shown) approx. $410
HJC is a Korean manufacturer thatâ€™s been in the skidlid business for 47 years, and every time we stick our head in one lately, weâ€™re pleasantly surprised by a level of fit, materials, and lightness that belies the price point. This oneâ€™s lightweight carbon fiber/ carbon-glass hybrid fabric shell takes on an intermediate oval shape (Araiâ€™s most popular in North America), and aims to â€œbridge the gap between sport riding and touring.â€� It comes with an anti-fog internal sunshield and an antifog insert.
Shark Spartan $369 – $450
If you like CitroÃ«ns, foie gras, and baguettes, youâ€™ll also dig Sharkâ€™s line of helmets Francais. The Spartan gets great reviews for its lightness and smooth-running aerodynamic shape. â€œLarge ram-air intake vents located on the chin bar and crest channel cool air in while hot air gets expelled out via the venturi created by the twin spoiler design. Your vision will be clear thanks to the MaxVision anti-fog system. Your hearing will be acute since Shark takes a full-system approach to sound damping. Your neck will not strain since the Spartan is both lightweight and volumetrically optimized for drag reduction.â€�
Scorpion EXO-ST1400 Carbon (Antrim graphic shown) $429.95
Scorpion makes pretty nice helmets in that midprice range, too. In addition to its light and aero-sculpted carbon shell, the EXO comes with all kinds of features including an internal sun visor and Pinlock insert, as well as at least one thing you wonâ€™t find anywhere else: the â€œAirFit cheek pad inflation system allows you to obtain a personalized fit by pumping the air inflation ball located at the chin bar or near the rear of the helmet. To release the air, simply push the quick-air release. AirFit makes it easy to create a truly tailored helmet fit.â€�
Schuberth R2 (Traction graphic shown) $419 – $569
You know how the Germans are. This oneâ€™s got â€œperfected aerodynamics for high-speed stabilityâ€� and is constructed using an innovative proprietary method called Direct Fiber Processing (DFP), yielding a shell of superior strength that is no thicker in any one area than it needs to be. Inside, weâ€™re inherently antibacterial, washable, and fast-drying, with a seamless headliner and integrated spectacle channel. Further, the R2 is ready to accept the plug-and-play SCHUBERTH SC1-System (sold separately), with integrated antennae, pre-installed speakers and microphone. Pretty cool, really.
Shoei GT-Air 2 (Conjure graphics shown), $599
Shoei and Arai are the two premium Japanese-built helmets widely available in the US, and both brands enjoy impeccable reputations for quality and comfort. While Arai offers a bunch of different shapes, Shoei somehow provides many of us an outstandingly comfortable fit with its typical longish-oval shell shape. The new GT-Air 2 is SHOEIâ€™s premiere full-face touring helmet. It features â€œa lengthened internal sun shield for optimal sun-glare protection, an all-new â€˜first positionâ€™ shield opening for advanced ventilation and defogging, enhanced aerodynamics and noise-reduction technology, and the ability to seamlessly integrate with the all-new SENA SRL2 Communication System.â€�
Arai Corsair-X RC (Racing Carbon) $3,595.50
Light weight is an important consideration when your neck is holding a thing up all day, and there probably arenâ€™t many helmets lighter than Araiâ€™s carbon-fiber Corsair, which the company says uses â€œthe same CF found on the newest generation of commercial airliners, combined with Araiâ€™s own resin plus Zylon reinforcement.â€� If you canâ€™t spend $3600 for a helmet, though, the non-CF shelled, highly evolved Corsair is available in a slew of paint schemes, beginning at around $750.
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