Updated: Aug 15, 2020
The motorcycle helmet is the most important accessory purchase every rider will make; and because it protects your head, it may be a good idea to stretch the limits of your budget. Touring riders, due to the extended amount of time spent taming the open road, will want to pay extra attention to a helmet’s expanded comfort and functionality features (for a list of touring helmet evaluative criteria, please read this article: “Touring Motorcycle Helmets: How to Properly Evaluate”).
While the old adage, “You Get What You Pay For” is true in the case of touring helmet purchases, there are a many sufficient quality helmets available at every price range. Below, is a list of Touring Booster’s top 2-3 touring helmet picks in the Economy ($100-299), Medium ($300-599), and High ($600-850) price ranges:
Economy Helmets: $100-299
The Bell Qualifier DLX helmet is a decently crafted helmet for the price tag. As you can see, it adheres to 6 out of 8 of our recommended attributes. The aerodynamic profile reduces of drag forces, allowing for a smoother ride. This helmet is also packed with the following function-enhancing attributes:
3.4 pound weight – enhancing comfort on longer rides
Internal liner inclusive of contoured cheek pads, chin curtain, and breath deflector (preventing fog build up)
Face shield: anti-scratch, anti-fog, UV protected, click-release
4 Intake vents: 2 top, 1 chin, 1 brow; 4 exhaust vents
We also want to point out that this helmet also includes an integrated communications port for the Sena SM10 and Cardo Bluetooth devices (please note that the port is NOT compatible with other devices), and has speaker cutouts in the liner.
Does not carry the Snell safety rating (DOT & ECE only)
Polycarbonate (plastic) material – not as strong and durable as carbon fiber
Scratchy internal comfort liner
Easily scratched due to the flat black finish
The Bell Qualifier DLX MIPS helmet has roughly the same functional attributes as the base Qualifier DLX model, but with the following additions (that account for the ~$110 increase in price):
Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) – a layer of hard plastic added between the comfort liner and the EPS, allowing the EPS to move semi-independently of the outer shell, thus reducing rotational forces arising from certain impacts that can cause brain, skull, and neck injuries.
Transition photochromic face shield (gets darker as the sun hits it)
Same as the Bell Qualifier DLX base model
Medium Range Helmets: $300-599
The HJC RPHA 70 ST is a recommended choice of helmet for those looking to invest slightly more that our economy models. The bulk of the added investment is attributed to the outer shell material. It is comprised of a carbon-fiber/carbon glass hybrid, which offers higher strength and durability without compromising on weight and flexibility. The HJC RPHA 70 ST adheres to most of our recommended attributes – see the pro list below for a more detailed breakout:
Outer Shell Material: Advanced Premium Integrated Matrix Plus (PIMS) – carbon fiber/glass hybrid
Multi-density EPS with 4 available shell/foam liner sizes
Only 3.5 lbs
Double D-ring retention system
Comfort Liner: moisture wicking, quick drying, multi-cool; includes chin curtain, removable cheek pads, and emergency cheek pad removable system
Face Shield: Anti-fog, UV protection, Center Locking, drop-down sun visor
Vents: Advanced Channeling Ventilation System – superior performance in both the upright touring and tucked sport riding positions; 6 intake and 2 exhaust vents; rear vent switch for better control of airflow
No Snell safety rating
No mention of communication cutouts for speakers and wires
The Scorpion EXO-SST1400 Carbon also stands out in the medium price range category, where the added investment is, again, attributed to the outer shell material – 3K Carbon fiber, a resin-infused composite weave. This material allows for the helmet to maintain an extremely high level of strength and durability, while being incredibly light weight. This will allow the touring rider to reduce fatigue on those longer road trips. For an expanded list of this helmet’s positive attributes, see below:
Outer Shell: Carbon fiber, available in 3 shell sizes (allowing for sizes ranging from XS-XXL)
Weight: 3.2 pounds – lightest helmet on this list
Comfort Liner: In addition to being antibacterial and antimicrobial, the liner is equipped with sculpted, inflatable pump cheek pads that add expanded fit customization; also it includes the emergency quick release pad system
Face shield: In addition to the anti-fog system, features included are a center locking mechanism, city position adjustment for added airflow (stop & go riding), a drop-down sun visor, and 2 included face shields.
Ventilation: Includes an aero-tuned, venturi-effect channeling system, adjustable duel ram air intakes, spoiler integrated exhaust, and an adjustable bar vent
Safety Rating: DOT & ECE only – this is mostly due to the inclusion of the drop-down sun visor
High Range Helmets: $600-850
The Shoei RF-1200 is one of the best-selling helmets in this class (and overall). The Shoei brand is internationally recognized and synonymous with high quality – and this model illustrates this fact. As you can see, all the Touring Booster recommended attributes are check-marked, and while this range of helmet is slightly more expensive, the quality delivered definitely justifies the added expense.
Outer Frame: Fiberglass and organic carbon fiber composite – optimal balance of strength, durability and low weight; also available in 4 different shell sizes (XS-XXL sizes available)
Weight: 3.5 lbs – helps to reduce touring rider fatigue
EPS (shock absorbing inner layer): Dual layer multi-density – adds enhanced impact absorption as well as allowing cooling air to travel unrestricted through EPS tunnels, enhancing ventilation
Inner liner: In addition to the anti-bacterial, antimicrobial features, it offers a 3-dimensional shape (matching the rider’s head contours), a cheek pad cooling system, and emergency release cheek pads.
Face shield: In addition to the UV protection, it includes a fog resistant system and a shield locking mechanism.
Ventilation: Includes 3 upper intake vents and 4 exhaust events
Price: The $500 price tag is definitely a drawback. It’s also a little disappointing that this helmet does NOT come standard with either an extra face shield or a transitional photochromic face shield.
The Shoei X-Fourteen is a Touring Booster favorite (I have personally owned the prior versions, X-Twelve and X-Eleven) Basically, it is a “steroid-enhanced” upgraded version of the RF-1200. The added functionality is related to its advance aerodynamic features, inner-liner features (more adaptable for added customization and comfort), and ventilation. In reality, this helmet is designed for high-speed track riding, but its design also makes it exceptionally suitable for upright seated position of touring riding. See an expanded list of features below:
Same features of the RF-1200
Expanded Ventilation Features: 6 Intake exhaust vents; 6 exhaust air outlets for hot air expulsion; wind tunnel optimized to excel in both tucked and upright positions
Standard Rear Flaps can be replaced with optional, narrower flaps to customize aerodynamics depending on rider preference and track demands
Strategically placed ridges along the top shell and chin bar reduce turbulence and drag
Removable lower air spoiler reduces buffeting and drag
Price: At $682, the investment is significant; and the extra expense doesn’t provide the rider with an additional darker face shield.
Weight: While exceptionally optimized to provide maximum strength, it weighs in at ~3.9 pounds, which is heavier than the RF-1200. This could add extra strain on a longer tour.
The Arai Quantum X and Signet X are basically the same helmet with one exception: the Quantum X is designed for a rider with a round-shaped head and the Signet X is designed for the rider with a long-oval shaped head. It is essential that the touring rider attain the correct shaped head, so as to minimize the fatigue that arises as a result of unnecessary pressure points. Like Shoei, the Arai brand carries with it equal, if not superior quality. The added expense, again, is mostly due to the highly customizable comfort liner and the advanced ventilation system. See the expanded details below:
Outer Shell Material: Carbon fiber, aramidic and organic resigns
EPS: 5 density
Comfort Liner: In addition to the standard antibacterial, antimicrobial features, there exist multiple customization options, emergency release cheek pads, chin curtain, mouth guards
Face Shield: In addition to the UV protection, there is an anti-fog system, and a face shield locking system.
Ventilation: Duct ventilation system for better flow performance; Intake vents on the forehead, sides, mouth and eyebrow; Exhaust vents on the top rear and side rear
Price: At $830, this is the most expensive helmet(s) on this list.
Weight: While exceptionally optimized to provide maximum strength, it weighs in at ~3.7 pounds, slightly heavier than the RF-1200. This combined with the added expense might make this choice less than optimal for the touring rider.