While a lot of cruiser riders are opting for full-face helmets these days—for the sake of anonymity, safety, or comfort—there’s still a major cross-demographic contingent repping open-face helmets. To look the part in photos for a recent comparison ride between a batch of 2018 Harley-Davidsons, I wore an open-face helmet and my trusty pair of Wayfarers. After a day on the road dodging windblast from semis, my eyes were bloodshot and I probably failed to convince anyone that I was a real badass cruiser guy—which is fine because “badass” and “cruiser guy” are two things I’ve never been called.
Maybe I have an oddly shaped head or something (I always thought it was intermediate-oval) because I looked ridiculous wearing an open-face helmet. It figures, considering I’ve never been able to wear any type of hat—baseball cap, beanie, whatever—that doesn’t make my wife laugh at me. I don’t know what it is, but regardless of what I put on my head I look like a bearded cherubim wearing a tea cozy.
Not to mention the obvious sacrifice in protection, I found wearing an open-face helmet made my favorite pastime considerably less pleasant. My face was raw with windburn, my nose was sunburned, my contact lenses felt spot-welded to my eyeballs, and my beard reeked of diesel fumes. Good thing SoCal isn’t swarming with pterodactyl-size bugs this time of year.
As I was gritting my teeth in the wind, I couldn’t help but mentally compile a list of full-face helmets I’d rather be wearing and that would look appropriate in the photos. In addition to considerably improving levels of safety and comfort, any one of these helmets will look great with black denim, raked front ends, and wrapped exhausts.
Racing the quarter-mile is as uniquely American as cruising the boulevard on a hot-rodded Harley. The Simpson Ghost Bandit is a modern take on the drag helmet from the folks who practically created the type. The helmet features full carbon-fiber construction and an incorporated sun visor. At $450, it’s a deal. If you want to go more basic, the Simpson Street Bandit can be had for $300.
Its MX front vent and conspicuous rear venting make it look like a 1980s vision of a dystopian future. That’s kind of the perfect look for a lot of cruisers, right? The helmet features Bell’s MiPS technology to help reduce rotational forces in the event of an impact.
Like every Arai, the Defiant-X is constructed by hand in the Saitama Prefecture factory. Also, like every Arai, its pillow-soft interior alone justifies its north-of-$600 price point. Arai cleverly integrated an internal mechanism to operate the chin vents so as not to clutter its classic lines. The Defiant-X has the most subtle design here, which means it will look equally at home worn by a CVO rider on the street or a Speedway racer slinging it sideways at the local track.
Heck, Keira Knightley wore an open-face model in a Chanel perfume ad (it didn’t even give her helmet hair!). Ruby also makes that other essential piece of protective gear: the silk scarf.
The Castel is a full-face design that features Ruby’s signature spine running down the center of the helmet. It’s available with chrome, leather, or rubber trim. Inside, there’s a lambskin and nappa calfskin lining. Rather than a standard visor, the Castel features a goggle-style, leather-wrapped visor. You know it’s fancy when the spec list boasts that the helmet comes in “a beautiful red Ruby box.” Are you supposed to keep the box, or what?
All joking aside, it’s one sweet lid and I’d love to rock one the next time I swing a leg over a cruiser. At about $1,400 it’s about the price of an AGV Pista GP R, but it will look way more appropriate on a Panhead chopper than Rossi’s lid would. Its circular chin vents give the Castel a medieval look that sets it apart from other retro lids. It’s also available in some really killer paint schemes. If a blue metalflake paint job and leopard print interior aren’t your thing, Ruby has options for those less bold as well.
It’s like a grown-up Erector set. The helmet features full carbon-fiber construction and is ECE certified.
There’s not a whole lot new in the helmet space, aside from tech integration, which not every rider desires. Qwart takes a refreshingly original approach to helmet design. Its modern futurist design is perfect for power cruisers like the Ducati XDiavel or the non-cruiser Husqvarna Vitpilen. We’ll try to get our hands on one soon to give you our first impressions and more information. Prices start at $815.