Buying a helmet is for some, a fashion accessory, for others a real necessity. And while shopping for helmets, you’ll see a wide variety of shell shapes, materials, graphics and several helmet ratings. For very good reason, because in a crash, the structural integrity and design of your helmet will decide if you walk away alive. You may have poured over hundreds of motorcycle reviews trying to figure out which one to buy next, but have you decided which helmet to purchase? If not, here’s a list of some brands you should consider
Vega makes some of the cheapest helmets on sale. The Karnataka-based company was founded in 1982, and thanks to its wide product range, is one of the largest-selling helmet makers in India. The company has expanded its product offerings over the years, and as of today, also sells accessories like motocross goggles, side boxes and scarves. The pricing is quite budget-friendly. Vega helmets can cost between INR 1,000 and INR 3,000.
Steelbird products are considered robust, reliable and cost-efficient. They were the ones behind the classic golf-ball-shaped ‘bieffe’ helmets we see a lot of seniors wear today. The brand has four product lines – Steelbird, Steelbird Air, Ares and Ignyte. Steelbird is the base brand and makes affordable helmets of half-face, full-face and modular design. Steelbird Air helmets feature a sharp, aerodynamic design aimed at youngsters. The Ares helmets look identical to more rounded, sharp-chin designs from American and European brands. Ignyte is a range of motorcycle riding gear. Prices for all helmets range from between INR 1,000 and INR 4,000. They also offer helmets with hands-free microphones.
Studds is one of the oldest motorcycle helmet manufacturers in India. Did you know that this company sells helmets in over thirty-five countries? They have two product lines – the base Studds and the more premium SMK. Studds helmets can be bought in half-face, full-face and flip-up designs. Out of these, the most popular is the Shifter, which for INR 2,000 onwards, comes with a lot of features like a comfort liner, an inner sun visor and up to five chin vents. Other products in the Studds range vary from between INR 850 and INR 2,165. Studds helmets are on the heavier side, though.
4. Royal Enfield
Royal Enfield also sells a range of motorcycle accessories alongside its two-wheelers. The helmets, while neither as expensive or heavy as their motorcycle brethren, look quite cool nonetheless. The designs are pretty standard, but with one key difference — a thicker inner layer which includes an additional foam shell. The extra foam makes the helmet look ungainly, but it pays off in terms of thermal insulation and impact absorption. Plus, all RE helmets are all-weather, unisex helmets. Prices start from INR 1800 and go all the way to INR 8000. Did you know that RE also makes carbon-fibre helmets?
SMK helmets are actually a premium line of headgear manufactured by Studds, the third in the ‘big three’ of Indian helmet manufacturers after Vega and Steelbird. SMK helmets are slightly more expensive — they start from INR 4,000 and go all the way to INR 10,000. The best thing about SMK lids is that they are all ECE-certified. Along with attractive graphics, SMK helmets also come with pin-lock visors, in-helmet sun shades, lockable air-vents, comfort padding, and an aerodynamic shape. If used well, SMKs should last you at least three years.
Buying an LS2 helmet is actually quite a challenge because the helmet market is full of duplicates. This just goes to show how popular the brand is in India. LS2 has been around for quite some time, and over the years, the company has created an impressive record of making tough, comfortable and safe helmets. Users have lauded the comfortable liners, the easy-to-operate locking mechanisms and the build quality of LS2. The biggest pain that still remains is to differentiate between an original and a fake. LS2 also makes motorcycle apparel, by the way, and has started setting up a number of authorised outlets.
THH is a Taiwanese helmet manufacturer. THH Helmets are nice, rounded and quite comfortable. A big reason why THH helmets didn’t sell well initially because when the company launched in India, one could only buy them online. But now, THH helmets can be purchased at most motorcycle riding gear stores. THH helmets, as we said earlier, feature a smaller, more rounded shell, which makes it easy to store and lighter than most other helmets in the same price range. Users take pride in the build quality and long life of THH helmets. A typical THH helmet will cost you INR 2,500 onwards — but it’s money well-spent. At this price range, THH is one of the safest helmet brands you can purchase.
With MT, you will be entering the world of premium helmets. MT helmets start from INR 4,000 and go all the way up to INR 23,000. The helmets are made from a variety of products, from energy-absorbent thermoplastic to carbon-composites. MT helmets have a large frontal area and a reinforced chin, lending it a sharp, oval, rakish look quite identical to most racing helmets. The helmets are made in Spain and have been used widely in all kinds of motorsports events all over the world. All MT helmets are ECE/DOT rated, and at this price range, these are the only dual-ratings you should be looking at. Users have praised the build quality and comfort levels of MT products. You may experience some wind noise at speeds above 100 kph but be warned — MT helmets are not track-certified. If possible, go for an MT helmet with a double-D ring — they are safer. Some helmets also come with the SHARP rating, and that’s a serious piece of kit, right there.
Sol, also called G-Max, is an American helmet brand that you’ve probably never heard about. Because if you did, you’d think of it as one of the best lids on sale right now. The price band is quite narrow — between INR 6000 and INR 7000. Sol helmets feature good all-round visibility, DOT-approved design, attractive colour schemes and have been reported as extremely safe. The helmets have 19 air-vents and the inner liner is made from cotton, which is perfect for India’s humid weather. The helmets feature an optically-corrected visor that reduces glare, whether day or night. Sol helmets, if maintained well, can last for years, thanks to the water-based paint that does not fade. The shell-size of all helmets is the same, only the cheek-pad thickness differs. So, if your helmet gets loose around the cheeks, simply swap out the pads.
Axor is to Vega what SMK is to Studds. The Axor product catalogue is focused on offering racing-inspired helmets at a budget. As a result, most of their helmets follow a rounded shape, with a wider front end and a cropped chin. The helmets come with ECE 22.05 and DOT certifications. Axor helmets feature a lock strap and can be purchased with anti-fog inserts. Their Apex series is the first of its kind in India to come with a removable rear spoiler — that’s MotoGP-level stuff. Thankfully, the prices are more down-to-earth, with the cheapest one going for INR 4,000 and the costliest one at INR 6,000.
Now that you know about the best helmet brands, select the one that meets your needs and also fits in your budget. But, make sure that you buy one and wear it every time you ride your motorcycle.