Best Cruiser Helmet 2018 [Reviews & Comparison]

Long roads, long journeys, absolute freedom. That's the magic of motorcycling.

And if there is an specific kind of bike that is meant to be a reliable friend during a long riding odyssey, that is a cruiser. So getting the right cruiser motorcycle helmet is a vital matter.

Now let's be clear.

The act of cruising can be done with a Moped or with a RR motorcycle.

Cruising is when you take it easy, lay back a little and enjoy the scenery at a nice, chilled pace. If you go to see your buddy next town and you ride softly, enjoying sunset, you are cruising.

And when one lays back a little, being able to enjoy the road is the goal. The best cruiser helmet is the one that gives you comfort, maximum view field, and the feeling of the air in the face whilst still giving you the protection you need. 

Hard to find? Well, I've tested more than a thousand helmets and made a thorough review of my favorite 8. 

Cruiser Helmets Comparison Chart

Helmet

Type

Comfort 

Visibility

Air Flow 

Quietness

 My Rating

Flip-up

10/10

9/10

10/10

8.5/10

Open Face

9.5/10

10/10

9.5/10

8/10

shark raw front view

Open Face

9.5/10

8/10

9/10

8/10

Flip-up

8.5/10

9.5/10

8.5/10

8/10

Modular

8.5/10

10/10

8.5/10

7.5/10

Flip-up

9.5/10

8/10

6.5/10

8/10

Open Face

9.5/10

10/10

8.5/10

8/10

Open Face

8/10

9.5/10

9/10

8/10

Individual Reviews of the Best Cruiser Helmets

1. Shoei Neotec [Flip-Up]   Overall Best Cruiser Helmet

100 %
Comfort and Shape
90 %
Visibility
100 %
Air Flow
85 %
Quietness

Shape and materials.

On a simple look at this helmet we quickly notice the excellent build quality. Then, when we start playing around with it, we see how every moving part feels solid and working with precision. The flip-up is very precise and extremely quiet.

It uses very thick padding in the inside, that is shaped as an intermediate oval and slightly narrow (known as "Shoei fit") with enough room for cruiser or tourer riders that enjoy that extra comfort. The plush liner material give an all mighty "full face feeling" when close. Is funny how simple is this helmet yet how well made it is. 3 different shell sizes and thick EPS liner make it feel tailor made.

Shield and visibility.

The faceshield comes with pinlock antifog system. It also features an internal sun visor that rotates internally that unlike most visors, isn't intrusive or distracting and can lock mid-way just to dim the sun if you don't want the full shade.

The rotating flip up visor is smooth and makes no noise at all.

Ventilation and Noise.

Ventilation wise, we find one simple airport that is on-off on top and one on the chin that are incredibly good designed and provide with better ventilation than any other modular helmet and better than most full face helmets. Features a chin curtain that extends quite largely, even touching the chin itself (which may be perhaps what makes it so effective)  

shoei neotec

Safety Ratings:

  • DOT: YES
  • ECE: YES
  • SNELL M2015: Not tested
  • SHARP

93% of impacts the faceguard remained fully locked.

Final thoughts.

With the superior aerodynamics and thick padding, the helmet is the quietest flip-up on the market. It doesn't look like ready for a Bluetooth intercom but the ear pockets are cut for speakers.

Weights 3.88lbs with an average weight balance, so it is not the lightest of the pack.

Things We Liked

  • Excellent quality on materials and build.
  • Ventilation is top of its class.
  • The internal sun visor is flawless.
  • One of the most comfortable helmets we've tried.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Price.
  • Heavier than ideal.

 2. Nolan N104 [Flip-Up]          Great Value For Money

85 %
Comfort and Shape
95 %
Visibility
85 %
Air Flow
80 %
Quietness

Another reference in flip-up helmets. Released first in 2012, the N104 was Shoei Neotec's biggest competitor. It is 100% made in Italy. 

Shape and materials.

The overall quality of build and materials is outstanding. All moving parts have a very smooth and precise feeling, nothing bulky or rough.

Only two shell sizes, which helps keeping the cost of this helmet down but won't feel as "tailor-made" for everyone as the Neotec would.

The helmet has a neutral towards slightly narrow shape inside, or "Intermediate Oval". You may find your chin just touching the chinbar depending on the shape of your face.

The interior liner is antibacterial, removable and washable and it is claimed to accomodate eyeglasses, although we've found that very round head shapes will struggle to fit them nicely​

The earpockets are quite large and fitting speakers is an easy task. The neckroll is removable although we see no reasons you would want to since it will significantly increase the noise levels.

Shield and visibility.

A super-wide eyeport, easy to remove faceshield and superior adjustment of all moving pieces make us give this helmet an outstanding 95/100 on visibility.

It also comes with a sunshield that is spring-loaded that is only on-off (unlike the Neotec that has an intermediate stop) and although it comes down enough to be out of the eyesight, the large nose cutout gets into your eyesight and is somewhat distracting.

Nolan n104

Safety Ratings:

  • DOT: Yes
  • ECE: Yes
  • SNELL: No
  • SHARP: 

100% of impacts the faceguard remained fully locked.

The flip-up is also spring loaded and easy to operate. It is dual homologated so you can safely ride with it either closed or with the visor raised

Ventilation and Noise.

Ventilation on the top of the helmet is superb and the top port is very easy to operate. You push it once and the vent opens, you push it twice and a brow vent opens and the air flows like inside a tube (unlike the Neotec where we feel more like a thin flow of air only).

The chin vent is adequate yet not providing as much airflow as the Neotec and the paths for the air inside the helmet seem a bit complex and unefficient. Aerodynamics are superb and the exhaust ports work perfectly and are nicely integrated on the back's design. It also uses a large chin curtain for extra comfort and quietness. ​

It doesn't reach the levels of quietness of the Schubert C3 (but being just a fraction of the price we have nothing to complain about​) yet is still a quiet helmet, above average in all senses.

Final thoughts.

It weights 3.76lbs, which is reasonable for a modular helmet. Overall we think this is an excellent helmet. Manufacturer gives a 5 year warranty that covers the helmet for its whole operational life. The chin strap retainer is Microlock type.

Things We Liked

  • Great build quality and materials.
  • Ventilation on top of the head.
  • Visibility is outstanding thanks to the huge eyeport.
  • It is priced reasonably for the amazing helmet it is.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Spring-loaded sun visor is slightly distracting
  • Doesn't match competitor's quietness.
  • Ventilation on the chin is a bit dissapointing.
  • Padding is a bit thin on larger sizes.

3. Shoei J Cruise [Open Face]        EDITOR'S CHOICE

95 %
Comfort and Shape
100 %
Visibility
95 %
Air Flow
80 %
Quietness

This is an absolute exception on the open face segment. Usually, 3/4 helmets give up quite a lot in quality of build and protection vs full face helmets. But Shoei has produced a 3/4 that feels exactly as a full face in terms of integrity, with the exceptionally good airflow system that we already know from the Neotec or the GT-Air. 

Shape and materials.

Once again we find the "Slightly Narrow" Intermediate Oval shape, also known as Shoei Fit. Great news for those with a narrower head but won't be very comfortable for more rounded heads.

The Multi-Piece EPS liner is incredibly well made. Fully removable and washable, with nice round ear pockets that feel really comfortable. Is very easy to fit eyeglasses. The overall comfort feeling in this helmet is outstanding.

Shield and visibility.

Visibility is one of the main factors that can make us go for an open helmet. In this case, it is virtually unlimited. One is able to see everything in front and below, great news for cruiser owners with the speedometer and other instruments on the fuel tank.

The visor absorbs 99% of UV rays and provides near full-face coverage, with the bottom of it nicely ending just after the chin. The wind and debris protection is superb. The visor removal system is very easy to operate.

shoei j cruise

Safety Ratings:

  • DOT: Yes
  • ECE: Yes
  • SNELL M2015: Not tested
  • SHARP:  Not tested

The sun visor is nicely fitted in a way that doesn't affect the density of the EPS liner in the forehead area. It is friction based, meaning you can push it as far below as you want, stopping at any point. It is optical grade quality and it is noticed as soon as we push it down, leaving all other sun visors ever seen looking extremely cheap in comparison.

Ventilation and Noise.

The ventilation system of this helmet is, for a change, what you would expect for the price. Awesome. Is surprising how many helmet brands get this wrong. But Shoei uses a big vent on top, that is designed alongside with the liner flow channels, and the result is that the air coming from the top nicely goes the whole way down through the helmet. On cold weathers you will have to close the top vent or you'll freeze.

Ventilation on the chin-face area is as good as we can expect from any 3/4. But with the visor down, is actually a bit less, somewhat what we would find on a full face helmet, since the visor is that long. 

Noise levels are below average for an open face helmet, thanks the same large visor. Some engine "echo" can be heard​ and the air noise on the chin is obvious. The vents are extremely quiet which is a plus. Overall good rating on this section.

Final thoughts.

The helmet weights 3.75 lbs, which is quite a lot for a open helmet. The density of the padding has a lot to do with this and the sun visor also increases weight. The balance is perfect. As every Shoei, it comes with a 5 year warranty from sale date or 7 years from manufacture, whichever comes first. The retention used is double D rings and the padding on the chin strap is comfortable.

All in all we could say that "you pay what you get"  since it is quite an expensive helmet but obviously Shoei knows they made the best open face helmet to date, and they priced it accordingly.

Things We Liked

  • Outstanding overall quality.
  • Ventillation is excellent.
  • Outstanding quality and operation of the internal sun visor.
  • Reduced Noise Levels
  • Feels like a full face helmet
  • Extremely comfortable.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Expensive. 
  • Not a good fit for rounded heads.

4. Nolan N44 Trilogy [Modular]   

85 %
Comfort and Shape
100 %
Visibility
85 %
Air Flow
75 %
Quietness

The N44 is a true modular helmet. That is, a helmet that can be transformed by adding or substracting different modules.

It can be used as a full face, a jet or in off-road style. It allows up to 6 different configurations although we are not sure that every rider will ever use all of them.

Shape and materials.

The shape of this helmet is of an intermediate oval, that will fit round heads just fine. Inside liner isremovable and washable. The Nolan "Clima-Comfort" fabric is antibacterial, antifungal and moisture-wicking. (wow) It provides greater comfort and a smooth touch.

We don't like the feeling of the liner around the earpockets. It feels a bit loose and doesn't give much room to accomodate eyeglasses.

Shield and visibility.

This is a true modular helmet that allows multiple configurations to best adapt at the needs of the rider. Although we think that the N44 will be probably most worn as a full face helmet with the chin bar in place, we want to to explain the functionalities and uses of the faceshield and chinbar. In this image courtesy of Nolan USA you can see every combination.

nolan n44

Safety Ratings:

  • DOT: Yes
  • ECE: Yes
  • SNELL M2015: Not tested
  • SHARP:  Not tested
Nolan n44 possible configurations
  • 1. Jet style. All components off.
  • 2. Jet with Peak on.
  • 3. Full Face, no shield on.
  • 4. Off Road style. Peak and Shield on.
  • 5. Jet with faceshield on.
  • 6. Full Face with Shield on.
  • But sadly no Dual-Sports option. The peak and the Shield can't be fit at the same time.

The chin bar attaches to the shell with stainless steel latches. When it is installed, the N44 meets the ECE for full face helmets.

The face shield is very easy to remove and install and has 3 dents or positions. It is UV400 and pinlock inserted.

The N44 also comes with a rotating internal sun visor that uses just one button to operate. When wearing gloves it is a bit hard to locate. The overall visibility of this helmet is the best.

Ventilation and Noise.

The N44 comes with a very large and unique ventilation system. The top intake has three different ports and the liner is designed for better airflow. Chinbar has a big on-off port that gives massive ventilation for the face and works nicely for defogging. 

Overall the helmet has excellent ventilation and when on full face mode it has a well above average airflow compared with full face helmets.​

It mounts dual neck roll sealers to help reduce noise levels. However, between the thin padding and the complex forms, we find that the N44 falls slightly in the loud part of the spectrum. Quieter than most convertible and flip ups, but louder than the average full face.​

Final thoughts.

Weight is contained for a helmet with so many functionalities and is just 3.6pounds. The chin strap retainer system used is the Microlock2 that uses nice padding. Nolan provides 5-year warranty for this beauty. Overall an absolutely great helmet with the biggest visor in the market and really multi-purpose.

Things We Liked

  • Outstanding overall quality.
  • Ventillation is excellent.
  • Massive face shield and eye port. 
  • True Modular with 6 possible configurations.
  • Priced very reasonably

Things We Didn't Like

  • Can't use the peak and the shield together as a dual-sport helmet
  • The liner around the earbuds.
  • Louder than expected.

5. LS2 Strobe [Flip-up]            Best Bang For Your Buck

95 %
Comfort and Shape
80 %
Visibility
65 %
Air Flow
80 %
Quietness

The manufacturer LS2 comes with the FF325 Strobe, a flip-up helmet that won't break the bank yet offers great features and comfort. This is the helmet chosen by Law Enforcement Officers in Spain, its origin country.

Shape and materials.

The Strobe comes on two different shell sizes. The padding shape is of a long oval. The liner is fully removable and washable, so are the cheekpads. Overall feel is nice and snug and really comfortable.

Fitting in a Bluetooth communicator may be a bit of a challenge since the earpockets are small, but is definitely possible.

Shield and visibility.

On the left hand side of the helmet we find a lever that activates the sunshield, which isn't intrusive and works good although a bit hard to operate. The adjustment of the front shield is good. Operation is easy with just a button to open and another to close.

It will leak water inside under heavy rain if the top vent ports aren't closed.

​Removing the visor is extremely easy.​

The viewfield and the addition of a sunshield are great​, there is however one thing related to this helmet's ventilation that stopped us from giving this helmet "Visibility" score a 90%.​

Ventilation and Noise.

This isn't a field of excellence for the Strobe. In general, flip-ups rarely have great ventilation unless you go for Tier 1 helmets (Like the Nolan N104 or the Neotec) but this helmets are 2-3x the price. Guess we can't have it all at the same time.

ls2 strobe

Safety Ratings:

  • DOT: Yes
  • ECE: Yes
  • SNELL M2010: No
  • SHARP: 

100% of impacts the faceguard remained fully locked.

​The chinbar vent is where this helmet disappoints. ​Ventilation is insufficient and this tends to lead to heavy fogging, forcing us to open the visor a bit to counter it.

It has a double vent port on top that works just fine. No massive airflow on the top part but it isn't poor either.

Good thing is that the vents are very easy to operate, even if you are wearing thick winter gloves.​ Noise levels are average.

Final thoughts.

All in all a great flip-up helmet for the money. There are better, like the Shoei Neotec but under 200$ this is the best flip up. The weight is 3.95lbs on L size and the retention system is Microlock.

Things We Liked

  • Amazing value for money.
  • Operation of all moving parts super easy.
  • Extremely comfortable.
  • Price

Things We Didn't Like

  • Could do with some weight loss.
  • Water leaks if top vents are open.
  • Ventilation is poor.
  • Closing the front shield requires a bit of "slamming"

6. Shark RAW [Open Face]

95 %
Comfort and Shape
80 %
Visibility
90 %
Air Flow
80 %
Quietness

One of the best looking helmets ever made, the Shark RAW. It is available in a lot of color and design combinations and will surely get you all the looks. We know it does. 

Shape and materials.

The helmet comes in two different shell sizes which will help fitting and keeping the helmet proportionate avoiding the Astronaut look. Inside shape is a round oval and the overall feel and comfort is great.

However it isn't all good and the materials used for the facemask specially the connectors are a bit flimsy so we'll dig into that into the next section.

Shield and visibility.

The greatest downside of this helmet is the feeling and overall quality of the facemask and the goggles. The shape and fit of the goggles is the average one would find on motorcycle goggles. The gasket around isn't what we would expect of a helmet this price.

The facemask uses 4 molded pins to connect with the goggles. The quality isn't superb and is easy to bend them if you are not careful. If you know this beforehand and do it gently, you should do fine as we did with the 2 that we own. 

Visibility is slightly above average (using goggles) as they always reduce peripheral vision.

Ventilation and Noise.

Ventilation in this helmet is massive as it is in most 3/4 helmets. Surely the facemask and goggles reduce it although there are mesh-covered vents on top and bottom.

shark raw

Safety Ratings:

  • DOT: Yes
  • ECE: Yes
  • SNELL2010: No
  • SHARP: Not tested

The top vent uses a rubber plug that attaches by friction to close it. We recommend having it on in winter and off in summer. Controlling how much air flows through the helmet isn't possible.​

For a 3/4 it is a surprisingly quiet helmet, even quieter than some full face helmets that have bad aerodynamics. The goggles help greatly reduce noise levels.

Final thoughts.

The RAW is the perfect helmet for those who want to get all the looks. Ideal for cruising in hot/warm months of the year. It is quite light, weighing only 2.61 lbs. It uses Double D rings chin strap system. 

Things We Liked

  • Lots of graphics and colors.
  • Badass looks.
  • Very quiet for a 3/4.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Quality of the facemask.
  • Rubber plug for the top vent.
  • Overpriced for the features. 

7. Bell Rogue [Half Head]

80 %
Comfort and Shape
95 %
Visibility
90 %
Air Flow
80 %
Quietness

Shark Raw or Bell Rogue, the "Most Badass Helmet" award goes definitely to one of this two. This is quite a particular helmet. It is originally a half helmet, but it incorporates a lower section made of foam that extends until the upper neck.That is where the muzzle attaches to the helmet. This is a love it or hate it helmet.

Shape and materials.

This peculiar helmet has a round oval shape and overall just above average comfort feel. The padding and liner used are good although nothing like what we would find on a Shoei or Arai. Liner is removable and washable.

The earpockets are big enough to fit most intercoms and are nicely padded. Fitting eyeglasses or goggles is very easy.

The lower section of the helmet is made of foam and although hard, it won't offer as much protection on impact as a traditional 3/4 helmet would as it doesn't have a hard outer shell. It does reduce the noise a lot vs a traditional half helmet so that's an advantage.

The muzzle isn't intended to provide protection on impact. It does offer protection agains debris, wind, sand etc. It incorporates a layer of removable padding that attaches with Velcro to the muzzle. Four of us tested the helmet and found that it touched our noses in a very annoying way so being able to remove it is great. Once removed, the helmet is very comfortable.

The attachment system is made by Fidlock and is magnetic. It won't stand a big hit but for riding at any speed is safe.

Visibility.

bell rogue

Safety Ratings:

  • DOT: Yes
  • ECE: Yes
  • SNELL M2010: No
  • SHARP: Not tested

Visibility in this helmet is very good. The muzzle does interfere a bit in the field of view although not as much as we would find on a full face helmet. Peripheral vision is maximal.

Ventilation and Noise.

Ventilation on the face area is maximal, the muzzle reduces slightly the face-hitting part. On the top of the head, it is another story. No ventilation ports keep the outer shape undisturbed but the head will get warm on really hot days.

Noise levels are the average for a open face helmet, and much less than what we would have on a half helmet thanks the lower part on the back. We would expect the muzzle to add noise although it isn't the case which is great. 

Final thoughts.

This badass helmet seems like the wet dream of a designer that somehow made into production. You do pay for the exclusive looks and that's the only thing that explains the price. For the overall quality and comfort, it is overpriced but that's what exclusivity costs. It weights 3 pounds, uses double D rings as a chin lock system and the manufacturer offers 5 years warranty. 

Things We Liked

  • Pure Badasserie.
  • The Muzzle. 
  • Quieter and more comfortable than most half head helmets
  • Quality of build

Things We Didn't Like

  • Plugging the Muzzle is complicated the first times.
  • The padding on the Muzzle tends to be uncomfortable.
  • Price
  • No ventilation on top

8. Biltwell Bonanza [Open Face]                 

95 %
Comfort and Shape
100 %
Visibility
85 %
Air Flow
80 %
Quietness

This is the best option if you only have around a hundred bucks to spend on a helmet and you want the awesome, lean, retro looks of this helmet. The bubble shield is sold separately so we are only going to review the helmet as it comes (although we have tested it with and without the bubble

Shape and materials.

The Bonanza’s interior padding is shaped as a Round Oval and  features a custom-shaped EPS safety shell and a hand-stitched liner, with moisture-wicking Lycra panels and foam padding for breathability and comfort.  The overall feel is really comfortable and the liner feels real good.

Ventilation and Noise.

Ventilation is what we can expect from any open face helmet. Just massive amounts of air hitting our face. No top vent so that is a minus as there is literally zero control on how much air we get.

There is less noise as in most open face since the aerodynamics are quite good and the padding absorbs a lot of noise.

Final thoughts.

This superlight helmet will delight both cruiser and cafe racer rides alike, with its only 2.43lbs, it is very comfortable and for the price, we can hardly think of any better open face helmet.. It uses Double D rings chin strap system. 

bilt bonanza

Safety Ratings:

  • DOT: Yes
  • ECE: Yes
  • SNELL2010: No
  • SHARP: Not tested

Things We Liked

  • Huge range of colors and graphics.
  • Prices very low for the quality of build and looks.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Shield sells separately.
  • No top vent.

What do we call a "Cruiser Motorcycle" anyways?

indian cruiser motorcycles

While this might sound a bit of a dumb question for some of you, there is some confusion around what is a cruiser and what is a custom or a bobber or a chopper, and I often find people asking me about that, so I thought a simple clarification would be helpful.

Boiling it down to the very essential, cruisers are motorcycles that have this strong american flavor from the 30's to 60-70's. Big, bold machines that typically mount V engines and are meant for easy rideability. Best possible brand examples are Harley Davidson and Indian. (Japanese powercruisers are a story for another day)

Now at some point people started getting all excited modifying their big cruisers into something more personal. That's how custom motorcycles were born. "Custom" is now used as a commercial term but describes nothing new. HD was the first brand to use it as a commercial catchy name with their 1971' SuperGlyde, where they combined the fork from a Sportster with the frame and engine of a big twin Electra Glide.

Bobbers and Choppers are subtipes of Custom Motorcycles (and so are Cafe Racers and Scramblers to name some others but the base frame used isn't a cruiser frame), that are born from factory cruisers depending on what the modifications are, we could end up with one or the other.

The main difference, again keeping it simple, would be that bobbers are built over the original, unmodified frame, whilst choppers usually involve some "chopping" on the frame (mindblowing). That is used to get longer frames, and forks that have wider angles so the front wheel is further ahead of the rest.Some of the most famous names in the chopper scene are Orange County Choppers and West Coast Choppers.

bobber modified cruiser motorcycle

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