Let’s face it: sport bike riding gear that makes you look like a Power Ranger just doesn’t seem right on a cafe racer. During the past decade, riding gear manufacturers finally figured this out—and started producing retro helmets to meet the demand.
Naturally, if you ride a cafe racer, these are the helmets that you will undoubtedly gravitate towards—but not all retro helmets are created equal. In a bid to separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve picked out our favourite new helmets to create this list of the Best Cafe Racer Motorcycle Helmets in 2023.
What Is a Cafe Racer Helmet?
In our opinion, any motorcycle helmet that the manufacturer labels as ‘retro’ or ‘classic’ could suit your cafe’d ride. Some are based on models straight out of a manufacturer’s own history books; while others lay claim to possessing the spirit of times gone by.
Thankfully, despite looking like the brain bucket your grandfather once wore, these helmets all utilize the latest in safety technology to keep your melon safe. Getting the right look (in most cases) means sacrificing a few of the features you’d find by default on modern helmets. However, what these helmets lack in features, they make up for in good looks.
Of course, these helmets aren’t just aimed at the cafe racer crowd. They’ll look great on all manner of custom bikes from Scramblers to Bobbers—and even the occasional chopper. They’re also the perfect pairing for a restored classic. So, if your motorcycle falls into any of those categories, then these helmets are ideal for you too.
Cafe Racer Helmets Under $300 USD
“How much is your head worth?” It’s a statement thrown around by opinionated riders when asked how much one should spend on a helmet. In most cases, price is a good indicator of quality, but there are exceptions to the rule.
These cheap motorcycle helmets offer exceptional value without scrimping on safety or style. So if you’re on the lookout for a retro motorcycle helmet and your budget is limited to under $300 USD, you should definitely check these out…
Bell Custom 500 Riff Helmet
Take one of the most iconic helmets of all time and add in retro colorways and you’re left with the Bell Custom 500 Riff helmet. The Custom 500 is a legendary ¾ jet helmet with impeccable style that was inspired by Bell’s first production helmet in 1954.
Bell has recently reworked the Custom 500 to fit better and look smaller on your head. The thin profile helmet comes in 5 different shell and EPS sizes, but customers warn that it runs slightly small.
The integrated 5 snap pattern allows you to pair this helmet up with numerous aftermarket shields and visors. For an even more retro-inspired look, we recommend pairing the Bell Custom 500 with a Bubble Shield.
Features: DOT & ECE certification /5 shell and EPS liner sizes / Padded chin strap with D-ring closure / 2.16lbs
California’s Biltwell Inc. is a pioneer of the retro helmet movement. Their roots lie in the chopper and bobber scene, but their riding gear will look right at home on your cafe racer too.
The Lane Splitter is the latest addition to Biltwell’s helmet offering. With its hard-edged, angular chin bar, the Lane Splitter looks like it means business, and its technical features back that up.
The Biltwell Lane Splitter is available in numerous colorways for 2023, but all of them come with that classic 1970s stig styling made popular by riders like Rusty Butcher. In fact, there’s even a signature Rusty Butcher Lane Splitter helmet on the market, featuring graphics inspired by the famous hooligan racer.
Biltwell’s Gringo is somewhat of a grandad in the retro helmet market. It’s been around longer than most of the motorcycle helmets on this list. Still, a lot has changed since the Gringo was first released, and the latest update came with the addition of the S model.
The Biltwell Gringo S features an ABS shell and EPS liner that earns it both DOT & ECE certification. The helmet’s hand-stitched lining uses a specially designed Bio-foam to keep nasties at bay, and there’s space inside for inserting your Bluetooth comms equipment.
The Gringo S also comes with an integrated, interchangeable visor and a wide range of colors to choose from.
The latest iteration of the Gringo S—the Biltwell Gringo S Spectrum—features graduated pinstripes on a gloss black shell. The look is reminiscent of the paint schemes seen on Harley fuel tanks during their time under AMF ownership.
Combining ‘70s F1-inspired geometry with this classic paint scheme makes the Gringo S Spectrum an affordable and undeniably cool retro motorcycle helmet.
You’ve been living off instant noodles and instant coffee for months. Now it’s time to put your savings to good use and splash out on a top-of-the-line brain bucket. These are, in our opinion, the best of the bunch when your budget for a cafe racer helmet exceeds 300 bucks.
BSMC x Hedon Heroine Club Racer Carbon Edition
Our friends at Bike Shed London have their finger on the pulse of the custom motorcycle scene. Part of their business model involves selling a range of BSMC gear.
That also includes products they’ve developed with a few reputable riding gear brands. The Heroine Club Racer Carbon helmet is their latest collaborative effort and was designed in conjunction with UK helmet company Hedon.
The Heroine is Hedon’s full-face offering, and this is the first carbon fibre version they have released. With this in mind, it makes sense to celebrate all that stunning carbon by exposing it under a deep glossy clear coat. Adding to the premium look is a bold gold speed stripe that wraps around the chin and tapers off at the back of the helmet.
To complement the classy exterior of the helmet, the lining is a mix of plush Merlin anti-bacterial material and perforated black calf leather. Both the eye-port and base of the helmet are also finished with black leather trim.
A gold print at the top of the interior celebrates BSMCs involvement in the design and adds a touch of class to this limited edition helmet. The gold theme continues with a brass Hedon logo on the forehead, brass discs on the visors hinge, and a brass D-ring chinstrap.
Be warned: the BSMC Heroine Club Racer Carbon is the most expensive helmet in the Hedon range, and the price is not for the faint-hearted.
The Shoei Glamster is a newcomer to the cafe racer helmet market. This doesn’t make it any less appealing than its competitors, but its cheesy name might (for some, anyway). Forming part of the new Shoei neo-classic range, the Glamster taps into the company’s long history of manufacturing racing helmets.
The Glamster boasts a sleek, retro aesthetic, and features the very latest in Shoei’s AIM (Advanced Integrated Matrix Plus) safety tech. This equates to 5 layers of composite and organic fibres and a multi-density shock-absorbing liner. As a result, the Shoei Glamster effortlessly passes international safety certifications.
Other unique features—such as a quick-release chinstrap and emergency quick-release padding—add even more safety to this offering.
Despite the Glamster helmet’s minimalist appearance, Shoei hasn’t scrimped on comfort features. Unobtrusive vents in the chin and forehead channel air through the helmet and out the base. This removes the need for additional vents at the rear and keeps the shell looking clean. The Glamster also comes with a multi-density liner that is removable and washable, and the helmet’s visor is 100% optically correct.
For 2020, the Shoei Glamster comes in 4 basic colourways (black/white/matte black/grey/blue) and 3 ‘Ressurection’ racing striped variants. Our pick of the bunch would have to be the understated Basalt Grey option.
Features: AIM shell design / ultra-compact design / pin-lock visor / super light construction / 2.65 lbs
The XG100 line of helmets by Nexx is hard to beat. With countless retro-inspired colorways, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something you don’t like. Each lid takes classic 70’s styling and brings it into the 21st century with modern materials and construction.
We’ve singled out the Racer Motordrome helmet because of the included face shield and striped colorways. Don’t be mistaken – these helmets only look vintage. Everything else about them is comparable to the latest and greatest in the industry.
The X-MATRIX Shell is composed of multiaxial fiberglass, 3D organic fibers, special aramid fibers and carbon reinforcement. It is available in 2 shells across 6 sizes with a moisture-wicking X.MART Dry liner.
Bell appears a few times on this list, and it’s not too hard to see why—the brand is notorious for making high-quality motorcycle helmets that exude retro charm from every inch of their surface. But the Flow variant of the phenomenal Bell Bullitt (reviewed in detail by webBikeWorld here) stands out even further from the brand’s other offerings, thanks to a triple-stripe design that winds around the front of the face to give off a distinctly 1970s–1980s vibe.
This helmet doesn’t skimp when it comes to its build quality, either. It offers excellent chin protection, while also managing to provide a phenomenally wide field of view that will almost make you forget you’re wearing a full-face helmet if you put the visor up and wear a pair of goggles instead. But if you are using the visor, you’re in for a treat: it’s fog, scratch, and UV-resistant.
Features: EPS Protection / DOT and ECE approved / built-in flip-up face shield / interchangeable cheek pads
Nexx helmets need to be on the must-check out list of every Cafe rider. Nexx is a Portuguese company with a well-deserved reputation for making top-shelf helmets and the X.G20 lineup is a great example.
Nexx elevates the 3/4 helmet to a whole new level with its stunning fusion of classic and modern vibes! For great protection and comfort, the multi-composite fiber shell is combined with an incredibly soft X-Mart Dry fabric liner. You are guaranteed to be in the shade thanks to an interior drop-down sun cover. A helmet as distinctive as you are is created by fusing traditional design elements with contemporary technology and materials.
Features:retro modern/adjustable padding and removable lining / 2.9 lbs
If you’re the kind of rider who enjoys the wind in your face and the taste of bugs in your mouth, check out these open-faced helmet options. Rest assured, our selections won’t leave you looking like a bobblehead—and they are all properly safety certified.
Arai Classic-V Helmet
Similar in style to the Bell Custom 500 is Arai’s Classic-V helmet but at a much steeper price point.
What makes this helmet worth so much more? How about 3 air intakes strategically positioned across the front forehead liner, as well as 2 rear exhaust ports. If that wasn’t enough, how about a Snell M2020 certification? If there’s anything worth forking over extra cash for, it’s protection.
There is much more to the Arai Classic-V than the eye can see. For example, the shell is constructed out of PB-cLc – an exclusive technology that was born from Arai’s Formula One technology. 5 snaps across the opening allow for an optional face shield. If that’s not your style, riders may make use of the included goggle strap holder instead.
Features: 6 PB-cLc shell sizes / faux leather edge trim / hidden interior ventilation / 5 snaps for face shield / Snell M2020 & DOT Certified / 2.65 lbs
The Schuberth M1 Pro is an undeniably modern helmet. It’s packed with amazing tech and safety features, but that didn’t deter us from adding it to this retro-skewed lineup. Any open face helmet has an air of classic styling to it, and the M1 is no exception.
Schuberth pulled out all the stops when developing the M1 Pro. Utilizing their own in-house wind tunnel, they developed a unique shell shape. They then combined it with an aerodynamic face shield to keep wind drag and buffeting to an absolute minimum.
On the inside, they also installed a luxury liner to push comfort levels even higher. The M1 Pro also boasts pre-installed speakers and a microphone to integrate with an optional Bluetooth SC1M unit that mounts directly into the rear of the helmet.
Add to all that an integrated sun visor and a wide choice of colourways, and you’ve got yourself one seriously feature-packed open faced helmet.
Features: integrated sun visor / integrated audio system / optimised aerodynamics
Classic 1970’s design meets modern technology with the Simpson Outlaw Bandit helmet. This blast-from-the-past lid is packed with added features to make it more aerodynamically stable, as well as comfortable to wear.
The redesigned shell has a wider field of view, as well as minimizes helmet lift. The chin bar of the helmet has plenty of vents for tons of airflow while riding. Needless to say, this helmet isn’t just all talk no action.
Features: Improved aerodynamics reduces lift / Wide field of view / Chin bar ventilation and cooling liner / Snell M2015 & DOT Approved / 3.53lbs
Simpson helmets are best known for being the manufacturer of the helmet worn by Top Gear’s Stig. Their helmets feature a unique, angular and overtly aggressive style that is sure to grab peoples attention out on the street. Simpson also has a long history in automotive racing, so you know you’re buying a helmet that’s benefitted from years of track experience.
The Simpson Mod Bandit helmet takes one of their most popular designs, the Simpson Bandit, and adds a host of new features. Aimed at touring riders or those who like the option of occasionally freeing their face, the Simpson Mod Bandit functions as a modular helmet.
This means that the entire chin bar can be slipped up to convert the helmet into an open face configuration. What is most impressive, though, is that Simpson has managed to do this in a design that shares the same profile and dimensions as the non-modular alternative.
Additionally, the Simpson Mod Bandit comes with an integrated internal flip-down visor, internal pockets for comms equipment, tool-free shield removal, loads of free-flowing ventilation, and removable nose and chin air dams for winter riding.
Features: unique styling / low weight for a modular / comms ready / 3.73 lbs
One of Bell’s latest modular helmets, the Broozer has proven to be a huge hit. The styling is tough and unique, the graphics are bold, and the price point is just right. At a touch under $230, this is a great-value, feature-filled design that will be the go-to helmet for riders of all styles of custom motorcycles.
The dual-certified (DOT & ECE) Bell Broozer helmet features a removable chin bar rather than a flip-up design for a more traditional open face look. This, of course, means you’ll need to stow the chin bar in a backpack, but that’s no deal-breaker for us.
The Broozer’s main visor is integrated into the forehead of the helmet. This gives the helmet a more traditional appearance when it’s up, but when circumstances change, the visor drops down in seconds to keep your eyes safe.
Constructed from polycarbonate ABS, the Broozer tips the scales at a mere 2.97 lbs. Its visor is anti-fog, anti-scratch, and UV protected, and can be easily swapped out for a tinted option. The lining is machine washable, and it uses a quick-release ratchet-style closure for improved convenience.
Colour options are limited to different black finishes or one matte metallic grey option. Our pick of the bunch would be the lightning bolt Broozer Arc or the skull-look Broozer Cranium.
These retro helmets aren’t as readily available as the others on this list, but that doesn’t make them any less appealing. So if you’re looking for a helmet that’s as rare as hen’s teeth, but still looks and functions as it should, one of these could be just the ticket.
Peruna 2.0 Helmet Sunset Yellow
Roeg is a Dutch motorcycle lifestyle apparel and riding gear brand. Their products are inspired by “the custom motorcycle industry and other adventurous outdoor activities,” as they put it. Among their offerings is the MX-inspired Roeg Peruna 2.0 helmet.
The styling twists distinguish the Roeg Peruna 2.0 from its MX-styled competitors. Consider the snap-fit visor on the helmet. Instead of using opaque plastics like other brands, Roeg has used transparent plastic to create stylish sun visor peaks in a variety of bright colors. The Peruna’s viewport and chin guard are shaped differently, and the helmet lacks vents, leaving the shell strikingly simple.
As for safety, the Peruna 2.0 offers ECE R22.05 rated protection. Available in a few colorways, I am loving this Sunset Yellow version.
Premium French retro helmet brand Ruby Helmets entered the scene back in 2007. At the time, they were the coolest helmet brand around. Along with having a look that was unlike anything else available back then, they were built to the level of quality you’d expect from high-end fashion and automotive brands.
This, of course, all came at a price—and if the lack of a visor didn’t make your eyes water, reflecting on the cost surely would. Owning any Ruby helmet requires a hefty investment, and you won’t be seeing any change from $1000 USD for even their cheapest helmet.
However, if you’re willing to spend the money, rest assured you’ll be riding around in a premium helmet that’s rarely seen in the wild.
Sure, the full face Ruby Castel helmet’s extravagant price tag is partly due to it being a premium brand, but the finish on these helmets will not disappoint. From the metal, resin-filled Ruby emblem on the brow to the colour matched fasteners, hand-sewn, quilted sheepskin liner, and jewel-like embellishments, the Ruby Castel oozes high-end craftsmanship.
Every Ruby helmet is also constructed from carbon-fibre and all the paintwork is done by hand.
The Ruby Castel Shibuya is a nod to Japan’s Rising Sun flag—and, more than likely, to its many incredible motorcycle manufacturers. The hand-painted red and white stripes wrap boldly around the entire carbon fiber shell, giving it unmistakable presence.
Ventilation comes via the wide viewport and mesh filled vents in the chin bar. To finish things off, the Shibuya is lined with stylish and luxurious sheepskin leather.
If you’re looking to make a statement out on the street, the DMD Rocket Golden helmet won’t let you down. The eye-catching design leverages a mix of matt black and vibrant gold finishes that divide the shell clean in two. To top it off, DMD’s Rocket helmet has the kind of 1970s racer styling that’s all the rage right now.
The DMD Rocket Golden isn’t just a show pony. Under that slick paint scheme, you’ll find a carbon kevlar shell that’s ECE approved. The oval viewport is covered by a retro clear visor that secures with period look press studs. Peer inside and you’ll find a luxurious removable/washable liner and a padded D-ring closure chin strap.
As with most helmets that aim to authentically recreate vintage styles, the DMD Rocket Golden lacks the ventilation you’ll find in modern sports bike helmets. But let’s be honest: feeling cool will be the last of your worries wearing a lid this groovy.
If you haven’t heard of Blauer, that’s probably because you’re not in the US military or police force. Blauer has been producing technical wear for those industries for years, but in the motorcycle scene, they’re relatively unknown.
This doesn’t mean they don’t produce a good product, though. Blauer applies the same approach to creating motorcycle riding gear as they do their tactical wear.
As hinted by its name, the Blauer HT 80s takes styling cues from 1980s racing helmets. The full-face helmet features a slightly squared-off jaw, oval viewport, and a clasp secured visor, all of which distinguish it from other helmets on this list.
The Blauer HT 80s achieves an ECE safety rating, thanks to a Tri-composite shell made from a mix of Dyneema, Carbon, and Aramid Fibres. On the inside, Blauer has also utilized varying densities of EPS foam to offer optimum protection against impacts.
Along with its unique shape, what makes the Blauer HT 80s so appealing is how it’s finished. Available in either a white or metallic grey base color, the helmet features a trio of speed stripes that really drive home its 80s vibe.
Despite its awesome look, this helmet’s button-down visor won’t be for everyone, as it can be a tad fiddly to operate on the move. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.