Too many riders I encounter compromise safety in pursuit of comfort, often wearing inappropriate helmets or forgoing them entirely.
Here are six standout choices for the most comfortable motorcycle helmets that don’t skimp on safety.
Most Comfortable Motorcycle Helmet – Quick Picks
Arai Contour-X Helmet: Most Comfortable Overall
Shoei X-15 Helmet: Most Comfortable Premium Helmet
Shoei J-Cruise II Helmet: Most Comfortable Open-Face Helmet
Street & Steel Oakland Helmet: Most Comfortable Half Helmet
Arai XD-4 Helmet: Most Comfortable ADV Helmet
Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Helmet: Best Value Comfortable Helmet
Comfortable Motorcycle Helmet Reviews
With a handcrafted design that reflects the effort put into this helmet, the Contour-X easily earned my top spot. It has an incredibly tough laminate shell that's still lightweight, and the shape itself is designed to help deflect impacts. This all earns it a SNELL 2020 safety rating.
Of course, the main reason I picked it was the comfort. It has a five-millimeter flare at the base, so, relative to most full-face helmets, it slips right on yet it's still stable. The interior is a soft plush that includes removable and washable cheek pads you can keep fluffy and fresh as well as a neckroll with a wire pocket, so nothing is poking you.
The extensive ventilation also adds to the comfort. The Contour-X has a total of 13 vents, more than I've seen on any other helmet, and they're highly adjustable, so you can get airflow right where you need it.
Finally, the Contour-X is designed to be aerodynamic and even includes a rear spoiler. In addition to helping with your speed and handling, this makes the helmet more comfortable by cutting down on wind resistance and buffeting, which are no fun on the highway.
- Lightweight laminate shell
- Deflective shape
- Neck flare
- Removable, washable plush interior
- Neck roll
- Unparalleled ventilation
- Aerodynamic design
- Face shield is hard to manipulate
The Shoei X-15 is certainly a high-end premium helmet that demands the corresponding price, but with that you get a corresponding level of comfort.
If you frequently ride on the highway at high speeds, you’ll appreciate the X-15’s drag profile. Shoei designed it in its renowned wind-tunnel facility, and it truly decreased drag and lift for a much more aerodynamic and, therefore, comfortable ride.
Other comfort features include the Max-Dry sweat-wicking liner and the enlarged cheek pads. These hold the helmet on your head with more stability while still adapting to your face to avoid pinching or that claustrophobic feel. Like the Contour-X, the X-15 includes 13 adjustable vents.
Not to worry — its protection matches its comfort. Not only does the fiberglass shell earn a SNELL 2020 safety rating, but the emergency quick-release system provides security many helmets lack by allowing emergency personnel to remove the helmet without disturbing your neck.
- Minimized drag
- Sweat-wicking liner
- Enlarged cheek pads
- 13 adjustable vents
- Protective fiberglass shell
- Emergency quick-release system
- Top-shelf price
The J-Cruise II is my open-face recommendation. While open-face helmets are more comfortable in general, this one takes it to the next level. For one thing, it has a lot of ventilation and a multi-piece EPS liner, both of which complement the airflow of the open-face design.
Additionally, the interior conforms easily to the curves of your face without getting loose over time. Plus, the cheek pads feature five-layer construction for a soft, spongy fit.
Some other standout features include integration with the Shoei SRL Bluetooth headset and an easily deployed sun shield. Overall, the sun shield is quite effective and blocks UV rays without interfering with your field of view.
- Top and rear vents
- Multi-piece EPS liner
- Five-layer cheek pads
- Bluetooth headset integration
- Effective sun shield
- Loud at high speeds
- Pinlock insert not included
If you want maximum comfort and don't care as much about safety, a half helmet is your best bet. And with an especially lightweight design and comfortable yet stable fastening system, I suggest this one from Street & Steel.
For the most part, the Oakland is a minimalist helmet with an affordable price that doesn't force you to pay for bells and whistles you aren't going to use. However, it does have one nice feature: the drop-down sun shield. It's not particularly long, but it’s easy to deploy and effectively shields your eyes.
- Low-profile half helmet
- Stable D-ring fastener
- Affordable price
- Drop-down sun shield
- DOT safety rating
- Short sun shield
- No ventilation
- Limited safety features
Off-road and motocross helmets usually sacrifice comfort for utility, so if you want a more comfortable option, take a look at the Arai XD-4, which is an ADV helmet you can use both on and off road. As a result, it's more comfortable, including a comfort liner and five-millimeter peel-away cheek pads that allow you to personalize the fit.
For normal highway riding, you can remove the visor peak, and the shell shape is overall pretty aerodynamic with minimal buffeting. Plus, there are numerous vents at different angles to maximize airflow and prevent fogging.
Finally, the XD-4 is one of very few ADV helmets to receive the SNELL 2020 safety rating. The emergency cheek pad release system improves the safety even further.
- Versatile multipurpose use
- Comfort liner
- Peel-away cheek pads
- Removable visor peak
- Aerodynamic design
- SNELL 2020 safety rating
- Loud for highway riding
- Face shield fogging
Unfortunately, the most comfortable helmets are usually premium models. If you're on a budget, the EXO-R1 Air is probably your best bet, nearly half the price of most of the other high-comfort full-face models.
One of the main comfort features is the AirFit inflation-adjustment system. This helps the cheek pads adjust better to your face. Additionally, the cheek pads are 3D contoured and Kwikfit. They work with or without glasses.
As for shell sizes and ventilation, the EXO-R1 Air is not as advanced as the Arai and Shoei, but it's still on the comfortable side. There are three shell sizes for a better fit, and the ventilation system includes four exhaust ports.
- Great value
- AirFit inflation adjustment system
- 3D-contoured Kwikfit cheek pads
- Three shell sizes
- Emergency-release cheek pads
- Ventilation not especially adjustable
- No SNELL safety rating
What Makes a Helmet Comfortable?
The biggest factor that contributes to a helmet’s comfort is the fit. To some extent, this is your responsibility. You should accurately measure your head and check the manufacturer’s size guide. Additionally, you should make sure the helmet matches your individual head shape:
- Intermediate oval: Most people have this head shape, which is slightly longer than it is wide.
- Round oval: The least common shape, these heads are equally long and wide. Best helmet for a round head.
- Long oval: Some riders have this head shape, meaning it’s much longer than it is wide. Best long oval helmets.
However, there is one feature that will contribute significantly to fit: the shell sizes. Manufacturers usually use the same sizes of shells for multiple different helmet sizes. As a result, the more shell sizes, the more specific and tailored each helmet size will be.
Budget helmets often only have two shell sizes, meaning that several helmet sizes share the same shell. Premium helmets, on the other hand, often have four shell sizes. If you care about comfort, look for at least three.
Interior and Lining
When it comes to comfort, the feature you notice first is usually the interior. It’s what touches your skin and presses against your face. Comfortable helmets feature interiors and cheek pads that adapt and contour to the shape of your face. This prevents pinching, but the helmet remains stable without bumping around.
One ideal feature is a removable and washable interior. Most linings and cheek pads are spongy, but they tend to lose their springiness as they fill up with sweat and grime. By taking them out and washing them, you can keep them soft and fluffy. As an added bonus, you reduce that sweaty helmet smell.
Another big factor in a helmet’s comfort is airflow, especially if it’s a full-face helmet. Ventilation allows air to flow into the helmet and across your head to cool you down and regulate humidity.
Generally speaking, the more vents, the better, and you want them placed around the helmet and as adjustable as possible.
As a general rule, the lighter the helmet, the more comfortable it is, especially if you ride for long periods at a time. A heavy helmet can wear down your neck and shoulder muscles due to the effort it takes to hold up the helmet against the wind. Plus, it just presses down more on your head.
You shouldn’t have to forgo safety to get comfort. Plenty of helmets have the aforementioned comfort features while still providing a high level of protection.
One of the best ways to verify a helmet’s safety is to check its safety ratings. A DOT-approved helmet meets minimum safety requirements, while a SNELL-approved helmet has met especially high safety standards.
Helmet comfort is better reflected by price than most other helmet features. While superbly safe helmets can be found at all price ranges, the most comfortable helmets are almost always premium models.
With some searching, you can find value options that cut down on costs while still providing decent comfort, and I’ve tried to include those in my list where possible.
Staying safe doesn’t have to equal an uncomfortable ride. Many helmets combine high-level protection with enhanced comfort, the best example being the Arai Contour-X. If your budget is more limited, have a look at the Scorpion EXO-R1 Air Helmet