Some people say you're sick in the head for riding a motorcycle. I say you're sick in the head if you're wearing one of these motorcycle helmets. And I mean it in the very, very best sense of the word. Here are my picks for the 10 Coolest Motorcycle Helmets. (Note: All items' prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.)
Bell Bullitt Retro Helmets. $400 & up. Bell hasn't been making helmets for quite as long as people have been smashing their heads open as a result of not wearing one, but 60+ years is still a landmark achievement. The company released its first Bell Star helmet in 1954. In the honor of the original, they've created this modernized throwback called the Bullitt. With full-face protection, a calibrated fit, and a 3-shell/3-EPS foam lining system, the Bullitt evolves a 1950s aesthetic into a 2010s means of averting brain injury.
Icon Airframe Pro Ghost Carbon Helmet. $600. An upgrade of the Icon Airframe Ghost, now available for about $100 less. Cross-terrain functionality from a hand-laid composite shell (fiberglass, Spectra, carbon fiber), low-profile shell vents, fog-free Icon Optics shield, and sculpted neck roll. What's missing? The bells and the bulk. No graphics or logos, just a smooooth design, with all elements, from eyeport to aerodynamics, optimized for an aggressive sportbike riding posture.
MOTOSPARTA. $655 & up. Composite structure, Kevlar reinforcement, nylon crest, warrior genes. This helmet from Nitrinos can be custom-painted and styled to customer requests. No word on safety provisions. I wonder how many Spartan soldiers tested their helmets for impact and trauma durability before heading into battle.
Duke DK-120 Matte Black Motorcycle Helmet. $100. A bargain for a simple, sleek look with highly positive reviews to back it up. Several reviewers have even included crash stories and photos of Duke's DK-120 in action. All walked away in one solid piece. Of course, maybe the ones who didn't just have other things on their minds besides writing an online review of their bike helmet.... Aerodynamic and lightweight. Liner and cheek pads are machine washable.
Skully AR-1 HUD Helmet. $1,499. The AR-1 features a Synapse-integrated HUD system brimming with navigation, statistical, and blind spot data. A 180-degree rear view camera feeds video to the front, while built-in Nav displays GPS mapping and point-to-point directions before your eyes so you can keep them on the road. The helmet also syncs with riders' smartphones via Bluetooth pairing and voice control. This enables music selection, text messaging, phone calling, and destination changes in Skully Nav with entirely hands-free, vocal commands. DOT/ECE-certified. The downside: still on pre-order, despite an anticipated 2014 release.
LightMode Bike Helmet EL Kits. $69 to $72. With a little elbow grease, the coolest helmet could be the one you already own. LightMode DIY kits include the tools and materials needed for riders to wrap EL wire around their headwear for 360-degree visibility, and a rave on wheels.LightMode kits come in styles Electron and Proton. The primary difference between the two is the length of EL wire and EL Tape included. Since bike helmets have an array of unique features and contours, EL Tape may not suit a desired design, so while the Electron kit contains 3 meters of wire and 50 cm of tape, the Proton kit has 4.5 meters of wire and no EL Tape.
Batman Motorcycle Helmet. $325. It seems to me that if someone threw out the general suggestion, "Hey, why don't we put some ears on these bike helmets?" he would be permanently exiled from the motorcycle universe. But somehow this actualized vision of Bat ears, or rather Batman ears, manages to circumvent the perceived lameness of the term "ears". Helmet Dawg adopts the least likely accents of awesome in its Dark as Night head shield. DOT-approved.
Bell Rogue Helmet. $250. They say Bell's Rogue motorcycle helmet looks kind of like a cross between Darth Vader and Mad Max. And even if you disagree, you can make the comparison true with a paint job and a few mods to the helmet's smooth, surface-rich composite shell. See: directly above for inspiration. The Rogue consists of a lightweight helmet base with a plush interior liner that's removable and washable when it starts to smell like you've been wearing it on the wrong end. Also removable is the adjustable muzzle, which attaches and detaches with a FidLock magnetic connection.
Masei 610 Iron Man Helmet. $229. DOT- and Avengers-, but not EC-approved. And Captain America is still bragging that he's got the better gear with his full-on motorcycle suit. Oh well. Even Tony Stark can't win 'em all. In addition to this very loud red and gold version, the Iron Man-esque helmet also comes in more subdued black and stylized silver colors, and some mid-range.
Predator Helmet. $700. Since the original Russian version debuted (and feel free to fight amongst yourselves about whether this one or this one is the original/real/legit/non-crappy one) riders have seen emerge a ton more options for cruising around protected by Val Verde's finest. The one shown above is handmade and DOT-approved in sizes S through XL.