What is a Beginner Helmet?

What makes a helmet ideal for new riders?

Bell Bullitt
Leticia Cline in the Bell BullittStaff

When a new rider is looking at getting into motorcycling, they're mainly going to be focused on the price of the bike that they have been thinking of purchasing, and not the cost of the gear required to ride that motorcycle safely. A good helmet can cost you upwards of $600, which is enough to pick up a half-decent project bike. But what if you're new to the sport, want to keep your head protected, but also not sure how much time you'll spend on the road? Or if you're going to end up upgrading from that 250cc cruiser to something a little beefier and that little half-head won't do the trick anymore? When looking for a helmet as a new rider, you want to make sure it isn't super expensive, it fits well, and has all the necessary safety features you need while trimming out the luxury features that someone who spends 20+ hours a week in their helmet may need.

bell adventure
Bell's MX-9 Adventure helmet looks great, fits well, has MIPS safety system integrated-- all for under $200.Ryan Struck

The most common helmets I see among young beginner riders here in SoCal are the Bell Bullitt and the Biltwell Gringo. The Bullitt can cost you anywhere from $200-600 depending on the construction, paint and finish you prefer and compared to many helmets with this look, is a darn good one. The Biltwell Gringo is right around $200, and is so close to the Bullitt that the price drop makes the Biltwell a solid choice. Most riders that go this way are either buying their first full face helmet to step up from an open face, or buying their first helmet in general. These are a great choice, but are undoubtably putting form above function.

The other option that I see, more with older people that are new to riding, is the Fuel, Fulmer or generic $50 helmet. These helmets scare me a little bit. I have pulled my head into one or two just to see what it's like, and it was rough and uncomfortable. I could feel way too much of the impact foam, the shape of the interior wasn't quite right, it just felt cheap. Sure, this is a decent option if you just need something to wrap your head in to get home, but I would never really trust a helmet like this for extensive use. Especially considering that for just over $100, you can get yourself a much better option that should actually last you a few seasons of riding.

Sticking to the established brands that know what they're doing is almost always a safe bet. It's like buying a Sportster because you can't afford a Fat Boy yet, you get the same high quality that you would expect from a reputable company but at a lower price point with a few of the luxury features trimmed out. A perfect example would be Bell's Qualifier helmet, available in a range of colors for $110, but made with the quality that Bell has been known for for over 60 years. HJC, AGV, Speed and Strength all have good options for right around $100.

In short, going too cheap will result in the need for a quick replacement and a likely disdain for helmets in general. Choosing something right for you make take a little more shopping and cost a little more money, but in the long run the comfort of a good helmet and not having to buy a replacement too soon will save you some bucks.