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 2022.
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 Moto 3 Fasthouse
“NOT RETRO. ORIGINAL.” The Bell Moto 3 is one of the few retro helmets on the market with 60 years of history behind it. Based directly on the original Moto-3 design, Bell has rejuvenated the MX styled helmet using modern manufacturing techniques.
The updated Moto 3 has been available for almost 4 years now, and for 2020 they’ve teamed up with MX riding gear brand Fasthouse. The Bell Moto 3 Fasthouse features a bold checkered design that’s been a staple of cafe racer style for decades.
The helmet shell is finished in matte black and includes a bold red visor that can be removed as desired. Just throw on a pair of riding sunglasses or goggles and you’re ready to rip.
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 2022, 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
AGV is another brand whose presence in the motorcycle scene goes back well before many of us were born. During the 1960s, AGV was heavily involved in motorcycle racing, and some of the sports top riders wore their gear. Amongst them was the legendary Italian road racer, Giacomo Agostini.
With an astounding 122 Grand Prix wins, Agostini is often considered the greatest Grand Prix rider of all time. In recognition of Agostini’s legendary achievements, AGV has released a special edition ‘Ago’ colourway of their retro-styled X3000 helmet.
The AGV X3000 Ago helmet has genuine 1960s Grand Prix styling. The design features a wide chin bar, large viewport, and a smooth profile. Achieving this look means scrimping in some areas such as ventilation, but that’s the cost one must pay to really nail this look.
Despite this, the AGV X3000 Ago still packs plenty of modern benefits. The AGV X3000 Ago is both DOT and ECE certified, thanks to its ACF (Advanced Composite Fiber) fibreglass outer shell. It’s available in 3 shell sizes for the right fit and has a premium leather and suede washable interior.
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
While the AGV K6 may not be our first choice on this list from a styling perspective, this helmet excels in all other areas.
Despite its modern appearance, AGV pitched its K6 helmet as being suitable for any motorcyclist—from riders of modern sports bikes to those who love the classics. This is due to the helmet’s aerodynamic properties, which have been designed to work in any riding position. As a result, the K6 lacks the hard edges you’ll find on sportbike helmets and ends up being a much more neutral-looking lid.
Another key feature of the K6 is that it’s very lightweight, which translates to improved, all-day riding comfort. This has been achieved using an outer shell design that’s constructed from carbon aramid fibres and minimal, lightweight hardware.
AGV also produces the helmet in 4 shell sizes to help you get the best fit. A moisture-wicking liner combines with 6 vents to keep you dry in the heat, and the price includes a removable breath guard for cooler days.
To back up the helmet’s tough exterior, AGV has developed a quintuple-density EPS liner that exceeds both ECE and DOT standards. The AGV K6 is available in a series of basic colours, including a very attractive primer grey—or, if you’re looking for something ostentatious, check out the striking AGV K6 Secret colourway.
Features: 4 shell sizes / featherweight construction / 2.95lbs
The Shoei EX Zero flew in under our radar around 12 months ago with a somewhat limited global release. The road-going MX-esque helmet joins the likes of the Bell Moto 3 and DMD Seventy Five in the styling department but goes a step further with additional features.
This racing stripe version of the EX-Zero is named the Equation TC10 and is easily our pick of the bunch when it comes to colours (yes, we like our racing stripes).
The EX-Zero utilizes Shoei’s tried and tested AIM shell and multi-density EPS liner combo for excellent levels of protection. A set of aggressive-looking vents in the chin bar provide additional airflow—although getting air won’t be an issue as there’s no visor.
Designed to be worn with either riding glasses or goggles, the EX-Zero is better suited to warmer riding conditions. All this sounds very much like the Moto 3 offering, but where the EX-Zero excels is in the addition of an integrated visor that drops down from within the shell.
This means if you start your ride during the day in tinted lenses, you can swap them out when the sun goes down for the internal visor and still keep your eyes safe from road grime. Shoei also offers a tinted option for the integrated visor if that’s more your style.
Features: integrated dropdown visor / Shoei safety tech / super light construction / 2.75 lbs
Bell makes this list once again, with a helmet that screams retro café-racer cool from every detail. The design harkens back to the classic auto racing helmets of old, but the tech in this excellent full-face helmet is thoroughly modern—no doubt about it.
A dual-paned ProVision face shield prevents you from having to mess around with insert lenses, and speaker pockets are included for riders who want to install communication devices. The Eliminator makes the grade when it comes to safety as well—it’s DOT and ECE approved, as well as eyeglass-friendly for riders who need to wear their specs.
And did we mention how freakin’ cool this thing looks? Those subtle colors outlining the carbon portion of the shell are just the kind of small-but-meaningful details that take a retro helmet from good to great.
Features: subtle retro styling / DOT and ECE approved / speaker pockets / dual-paned ProVision face shield
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.
Shoei JO Sequel
Want the freedom of an open face helmet without the inconvenience of goggles or a snap-on shield? Shoei has you covered. The Shoei JO Sequel helmet comes with a goggle-inspired, three-position drop-down visor that puts you in total control of how much your face is exposed to the elements.
Of course, having a visor permanently attached means you’ll get more wind resistance when it’s flipped up, but at least you have the option to cover up whenever you choose.
The shell of this helmet is made from Shoei’s Advanced Integrated Matrix (AIM), which makes it lightweight but incredibly resilient. The JO Sequel also features a dual-layer EPS liner designed to offer protection while improving ventilation. Finally, to ensure the best fit and look, Shoei produces the JO Sequel in 3 shell sizes.
Another helmet on this list with a somewhat goofy name is the Arai Classic-V Groovy. At a touch under $600 USD, this open face helmet is among the most expensive in this category, making it a hard purchase to swallow when you consider its lack of a chin bar.
However, Arai is known for creating a quality product—and the Classic-V certainly fits the bill. The Classic-V utilizes the same shell design you’ll find in Arai’s thousand-dollar X Series helmets.
Arai recognizes the need for ventilation in open-face helmet design, so the Classic-V has a hidden ventilation system built in. A one-piece multi-density EPS liner absorbs hard knocks, and it’s wrapped in an anti-microbial liner.
Aria offers customers the option of adding a snap-on visor, and there’s a clasp at the back for holding the strap of your goggles in place. The Arai Classic-V Groovy comes in Groovy White, Groovy Brown Frost, and Groovy Tan Frost. Each helmet is finished using a retro-looking faux leather edge with contrasting stitching.
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
Yes, there’s a lot of Bell on this list—but we could hardly include the Bullitt in the full face helmet category and then snub the 3/4 shell Custom 500 when it came to open face offerings. That’s because Bell has done its utmost to dominate the open face helmet market with the Custom 500 series.
This is a beautifully simple helmet that doesn’t attempt to be anything more than it is. The Custom 500 features a sleek fibreglass shell backed up by a multi-density EPS liner.
Despite the affordable price point, Bell hasn’t scrimped on materials. The plush quilted liner is made from an anti-bacterial material and there are leather accents both inside and out.
That brings us to this particular design: the Carbon RSD Checkmate. Boasting a vintage-inspired checkerboard pattern on the shell, this helmet is begging to be paired with a set of goggles or one of Bell’s visor options so you can turn it into the quintessential cafe racer brain bucket.
Features: suede interior liner / integrated 5 snap pattern for aftermarket shields and visors / DOT certified
Can’t decide whether to buy a full face or open face cafe racer helmet? These modular solutions offer the best of both worlds in a thoroughly retro styling package.
Simpson Mod Bandit
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.
Roeg Peruna Oompa Orange
Roeg is a motorcycle lifestyle apparel and riding gear brand from the Netherlands. As they put it, their products are inspired by “the custom motorcycle industry and other adventurous outdoor activities”. Amongst their range, you’ll find the MX-esque Roeg Peruna helmet.
What separates the Roeg Peruna from its MX-styled competitors is its styling twists. Take, for instance, the helmet’s snap-fit visor. Rather than the opaque plastics used by other brands, Roeg has utilized transparent plastic to create stylish sun visor peaks in a variety of bold colours. The Peruna’s viewport and chin guard are uniquely shaped, and the helmet is devoid of any vents, leaving the shell strikingly simple.
As for safety, the Peruna offers ECE rated protection. The Roeg Peruna comes in a series of pattern free colours with the extra loud Oompa Orange being our pick of the bunch.
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.