Motorcycle riders can be called many things, but inconspicuous is not one of them. Aggression is an important element of the riding culture, and it represents a visual and aural embodiment that summarizes the very essence of motorcycling.
Freedom, speed and passion, accompanied by a brutal roar from the exhaust and eye-popping design is certainly something that cannot go unnoticed among the spectators, as well as fellow riders.
All of those elements are there to separate the riders from the masses. It’s about being different. And since people receive about 90 percent of the information through visual stimulus, it is only logical to start being different by looking different.
For most, the choice of a fitting helmet is something you should put some considerable thought into. You should choose your helmet not only because of how it fits you, but also how it fits your bike. Otherwise you might end up with a spectacular visual mess. For example, if you ride a chopper, bobber or a café racer, choosing a helmet like Shoei RF-1200 might make you look like a Power Ranger. The RF-1200 is one of the best helmets out there, no question about it, but it seems more fitting to pair it up with a super bike or something similar. If you are riding something like an old Triumph, you might be better off with a vintage helmet.
Retro seems to be a thing nowadays, and one can only applaud the re-emergence of vintage motorcycle helmets among the riders. Vintage helmets look damn cool, and not surprising to see that they are gaining in popularity these days. It’s true that many motorcycle riders don’t want to be bullied into wearing helmets with DOT, ECE or other scary acronyms, knowing if they don’t, their heads will fall off as soon as they start the engine. Having a true vintage helmet is awesome, but well-preserved vintages are very rare and can reach a pretty hefty price. So what are your choices?
Luckily, there are numerous companies on the market which design new helmets that are made to look vintage. Also, they incorporate modern safety features into these vintage-inspired helmets. No matter how cool, you never want to skimp on safety. There are 5 names currently leading the way when it comes to vintage motorcycle helmets: Bell, Ruby, Fulmer, Daytona and Biltwell.
Most of these helmets are in-fact DOT-approved, although the Snell foundation strongly recommends that you replace one of these helmets after 5 years. The reason for this is due to the fact the materials used in helmet manufacturing can affect the properties of the inner liner material, which is usually styrene, because of its ability to absorb energy. Hair oils, hair products and sweat can cause the liner to deteriorate over time, in addition to the expected wear and tear of everyday exploitation. But, who cares about that when they look so good?
Let’s take a look at some of the best vintage motorcycle helmets currently available on the market.
For more information, click on the helmet name.
Sporting an incredible paint job, the Bonanza ¾ DOT LE Racer successfully marries the ’70s design with the safety and comfort of the 21st century. Tasteful incorporation of graphics makes it one of the best-looking vintage open-face helmets out there. You can choose between 4 solid colors and two limited-edition graphic solutions.
Its interior features an EPS safety shell and a hand-stitched liner which is completely removable and helps to get rid of excess moisture while providing comfort. Biltwell offers a variety of sizes on this helmet, anywhere between XS to XXL. Meet DOT safety standard. Uber cool…
The Biltwell Bonanza goes for about $130 online.
You can’t get more vintage than the Fulmer V2. Looking and feeling like something that came straight out of the sixties, especially with the stars-and-stripes finish which brings “Easy Rider” to mind, the V2 is a comfortable and secure helmet. Fortunately, thanks, to the relatively thin padding, the V2 sits comfortably on your head without making you look ridiculous.
We could go on about how it features a DOT safety certificate, a three-snap visor, or a UV clear coat, but we’re not going. Just look at it. Also available in gold, silver, blue and red.
The Fulmer V2 averages about $125 in most stores.
You can’t beat an original. The Bell Custom 500 open-face helmet, with its iconic design, has the vintage factor in spades. But, Bell doesn’t stop there, as they have implemented modern technology and materials, so that the Custom 500 can meet the DOT safety standard.
Custom fiberglass shell and a new EPS foam layers keeps the weight down, and allows for a lower profile, which makes for a fantastic overall look. Add in the custom graphics, chrome trim and a quilted liner, and you’ve got yourself a modern classic. Comes with a five-year warranty.
You can find the Bell Custom 500 for about $120 online.
A lightweight Daytona Cruiser is unique because it’s the smallest ¾ open-face helmet ever made to feature a DOT safety certificate. Featuring a strong, light fiberglass shell, available in three different sizes to fit anyone’s head, the Daytona Cruiser brings the vintage flavor with the classic metal-flake finish, with UV ClearFinish coat, for additional protection.
Each and every one of the Cruiser helmets is custom-designed and features an airbrushed paint job that varies from helmet to helmet. Comes with a free head wrap, a draw-string cloth bag and a removable, gloss black bubble visor.
You can grab the Daytona Cruiser for about $80 online.
Considered by many to be the Rolls Royce of vintage motorcycle helmets. The Pavillon is Ruby’s flagship model and it incorporates all the best ingredients to provide you with a perfect vintage helmet. The Pavillon, like all Ruby helmets, is made out of carbon fiber, which makes it extremely light and strong. The high-tech luxury is present on the interior, as well, like Nappa lamb skin which is used for lining, and which provides a staggering level of comfort.
The paint job, the details and the craftsmanship present in every aspect of manufacture and design is simply mind-blowing. Unfortunately, most of us will be left drooling once we see the price. We’re talking a cool $1000 on average for one of these baby’s. Ay Caramba!
My advice? I’m a little more partial to an Arai Corsair V Race Carbon myself, but on those days when I would opt for a trendy vintage lid I’d probably go for the Biltwell Bonanza. Ride safe people…