Modular helmets are motorcycling’s equivalent of the pocket protector: Hugely functional, but undeniably geeky. Tourers, commuters, and law enforcement love them because it’s not necessary to remove the helmet to sip a soda, sneak a snack, or chew out a speeding motorist. In truly hot weather, you can flip them open for maximum cooling. But modulars aren’t without compromises, which include weight, cost, and complexity.
This month and next, we’ll take a closer look at the most popular modular helmet models, beginning this month with over-$300 offerings. More affordable options will be featured next month.
Some notes about testing: The subjective aspects were evaluated back-to-back by a single tester with a size-medium, slightly long-oval head, riding bikes ranging from nakeds to fully faired sport-tourers. Remember that helmet fit is highly variable. We found enough variation among helmets that you absolutely should try before you buy.
5 out of 5 stars
Shoei incorporated all it learned from the Multitec into the recently released Neotec—and it shows. The Neotec (3 pounds, 15 ounces) ticks all the features boxes: Pinlock-compatible main shield, dark-smoke sunshield operated through a simple, non-latching slider, good ventilation, and even a dash of style with a rear spoiler(ette) molded into the composite shell. The fit is “typical Shoei”: tight front-to-rear for long-oval types. The Neotec’s new, CNS-1 shield is taller and wider than the CX-1V on the Multitec, for increased visibility. The shield mechanism slides aft slightly when the visor’s closed to improve sealing; a simple peg retains the “cracked open” feature. A large release button at the front opens the chinbar. It works fine with gloves. It’s a very close call between the Neotec and the Schuberth for features and comfort, but the Shoei’s significant price advantage makes it our pick.
4 out of 5 stars
HJC RPHA Max
HJC’s RPHA Max tipped our electronic scale at 3 lbs., 8 oz. (lightest of these five), but it seems to carry its weight so low that it actually feels lighter than that. The balance of this helmet is terrific, and the styling is less dorky than some. The fit is a solid medium, with very slight front-to-rear tightness, and the interior liner is plush and comfortable. HJC includes a Pinlock-compatible shield and a clear anti-fog insert that work very well; the only optical gripe is the shield’s beveled edge that can come into your field of view when it’s cracked open slightly. The light-smoke internal sunshield is operated with a slider over your, ah, fontanel. It’s harder to operate than a rim-mounted slider, and you must find the small release button to retract the shield. This quirk, and a pair of wind deflectors (one in front of your nose, the other below the chin) that won’t stay put are the Max’s only real shortcomings.
5 out of 5 stars
Schuberth C3 Pro
You’d expect the most expensive helmet to feel rich, and the Schuberth does. The interior is plush, and the shield and chinbar mechanisms work with a precise, (dare we say?) Teutonic feel. The fit is very good for a long-oval head, and savvy aerodynamics make it the quietest helmet of this group by a substantial margin. Notably distortion-free, the main shield incorporates Pinlock posts and an anti-fog insert is included. The dark-smoke sunshield, activated by a lever under the left edge of the lower rim, isn’t anti-fog treated (for better clarity). The chinbar latch is small but has just enough lip to be easily found in gloves, and it’s good that you press it in the same direction as opening the chinbar. We appreciated the ratchet-type chinstrap latch swathed in soft fabric that keeps it from digging into your neck. Schuberth also sells a Cardo-compatible communication system that fits totally inside the helmet. A fantastic, light (3 lbs., 10 oz.) effort at a top-of-the-heap price.