Carbon fiber motorcycle helmets have become the preferred choice among bikers, seamlessly combining high-strength properties with a lightweight design. Crafted through meticulous layering sheets of carbon fiber fabric cured in a mold, they offer a robust and durable alternative to traditional fiberglass or polycarbonate.
But selecting the right motorcycle helmet is no longer a simple task of choosing size and color. In today’s landscape, where technology, design, styles, and safety are advancing rapidly, helmets have evolved to meet diverse riding needs and preferences. As a rider and a seasoned expert in motorcycle helmets for nearly 50 years, I present my today’s top 6 picks for the best carbon fiber helmets:
|AGV Pista GP-RR
|4: XS-S, MS, ML-L, XL-XXL
|RevZilla | Amazon
|Sedici Strada II
|3: XS-SM, MD-LG, XL-3XL
|RevZilla | J&P Cycles
|3: XS-MS, ML-XL, 2XL
|RevZilla | Amazon
|3: XS-M, L, XL-XXL
|RevZilla | Amazon
|Best Urban Commuter
|2: XS-M, L-XXL
|RevZilla | Amazon
|Bell Race Star Flex DLX
|Best Road and Track
|5: XS-S, MS, MD-LG, ML-L, XL-XXL
|RevZilla | Amazon
More on these in just a moment, but before I do, allow me to explain the criteria that led me to these selections.
Key Factors When Choosing the Perfect Carbon Fiber Motorcycle Helmet
Made from a composite blend of carbon fibers and resin, a carbon fiber helmet boasts a unique combination of strength and flexibility. The resin contributes to the helmet’s robustness, while the carbon fibers provide the necessary flexibility and resilience. Yet when embarking on the decision to purchase a carbon fiber helmet, I conscientiously ensure a comprehensive understanding of the available features across diverse models.
Yes, various helmets offer common features such as comfortable padding, efficient EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) liner, and a dependable chin strap, all contributing to the overall suitability, but my discerning focus narrows down to the paramount elements crucial for this specific application. These critical factors not only define the carbon fiber helmet’s functionality but also play a pivotal role in enhancing my overall riding experience.
- Comfort Couture: Determine your head size (Small, Medium, Large). Compare it to the sizing chart on the manufacturer’s website for a proper fit. And avoid excessively tight or loose helmets to ensure comfort and minimize noise and discomfort during rides.
- Head Harmony: I always consider my head shape (long oval, intermediate oval, or round oval). Manufacturers often specify the suitability of helmets for different head shapes, guiding you to choose one that aligns with your unique requirements.
- Carbon Chronicles: Understand the nuances of carbon weaves, with 3K, 6K, and 12K denoting the number of carbon filaments. A higher filament count (12K) indicates a stronger carbon fiber shell, offering enhanced durability and protection.
- Fit Fusion: Opt for a helmet with an adjustable fit system for a customized and snug fit.
- Aero Elegance: Look for a helmet with an aerodynamic design, effectively reducing wind resistance and enhancing overall performance. An aerodynamically optimized helmet contributes to a smoother and more controlled riding experience.
- Lining Luxury: Choose a helmet with easily removable, washable, and antimicrobial liners for hygiene and comfort, allowing you to maintain a fresh and clean interior for prolonged use.
- Silence Symphony: Prioritize helmets with effective sound insulation for a quieter and less stressful ride, especially when utilizing Bluetooth devices. Noise reduction contributes to a more enjoyable and focused riding experience.
- Breathe Breezy: Check for adequate ventilation to regulate temperature during hot weather and long rides. Proper ventilation prevents discomfort and fogging, ensuring a breathable and pleasant experience inside the helmet.
- Weight Whispers: Consider the weight of the helmet, recognizing that lighter options are generally more comfortable and cause less neck strain. I find modular helmets heavier than full-face helmets due to the additional mechanism for lifting the visor.
With these factors in mind, let’s delve into my reviews of the best carbon fiber motorcycle helmets, considering their unique features and suitability for diverse riding preferences.
Top 6 Best Carbon Fiber Helmets
Navigating today’s expansive helmet market presents challenges, and I understand the complexities involved in choosing the right one. In my reviews, I exclusively endorse helmets that I have personally interacted with and tested. My commitment lies in delivering insights based on firsthand experiences, prioritizing tangible knowledge over mere hearsay. The goal is to offer you valuable information refined through time and experience.
Throughout the past five decades, my helmet journey has included ownership of over 100 helmets, along with leading and consulting for renowned helmet manufacturers in over 25 countries worldwide. Starting with the iconic 1972 AGV X-3000, a tribute to Giacomo Agostini “Ago” (a 14-time world champion), to recent acquisitions like the modern 2023 AGV K6 full-face road/street helmet and the cutting-edge 2023 AGV AX9 Carbon adventure touring helmet. And when it comes to the best carbon fiber helmets, my expertise is grounded in hands-on experience with six tried, tested, and trusted options:
1. AGV Pista GP-RR: Best Overall
Often dubbed the “Rossi helmet” for its association with the racing maestro, the AGV Pista GP-RR is designed, developed, and rigorously tested on the track. It stands as my preferred choice for track riding, having conquered the California SuperBike School and Sandy Hook Speedway circuits, to name a few.
Versatility Beyond Limits
Beyond its track prowess, I’ve seamlessly integrated it into road rides, press launches, tests, and daily commuting. I’ve even given its graphics, the AGV Pista GP Gran Premio, in my Maryland office, where I can’t help but admire its intricate multi-color scheme, a vibrant testament to the perfect union of versatility, high-performance functionality, and aesthetic allure.
Weighing in at a mere 1,450g (3.2 lbs.) for smaller shell sizes thanks to the Extreme Carbon shell in 100% carbon fiber, the Pista GP-RR ranks among the lightest track-focused motorcycle helmets available. It outshines competitors like the Arai RX-7V (EVO) by approximately 100g (0.22 lbs.) and closely rivals the Shoei X-15 (known as X-Spirit III in Europe).
Notably, it comes equipped with a drinks delivery system, the IVS (Integrated Ventilation System), a unique feature absent in its main rivals.
Clarity with Purpose
The visor of the Pista GP-RR commands attention with its robust 2mm thickness, providing minimal flex. Pre-installed with a smoked visor (a clear visor is included), the wide and distortion-free aperture enhances the rider’s field of view, a critical aspect for track enthusiasts. The absence of friction or a ratchet on the visor mechanism underscores its race-oriented design, favoring a decisive visor-up or visor-down approach.
While the track environment aligns seamlessly with this visor mechanism, on-road scenarios introduce complexities. The lack of intermediate settings for partial visor openings, common during casual rides, highlights the helmet’s race-centric dynamics. Yet, the centrally-mounted visor latch offers a secondary setting, allowing a 3mm gap for added ventilation.
The Pista GP-RR includes tear-off strips and a Pinlock in the package, catering to serious racers and track-day enthusiasts. While the tear-offs prove useful, they require meticulous installation. The Pinlock performs adequately in most conditions, with occasional fogging experienced during humid track days, prompting slight visor openings.
AGV’s claim that the Pista GP-RR is ‘modeled by the air, to take in the air’ translates to an aerodynamic design focused on minimizing resistance and maximizing cooling airflow. The always-open vents, complemented by well-placed and slightly larger openings, ensure effective ventilation even during scorching track sessions.
Invest in Excellence
Investing in the AGV Pista GP-RR aligns with the principle of acquiring the best helmet within one’s budget. For those seeking a more budget-friendly option with a semblance of the Pista ethos, the AGV K6 S emerges as a compelling choice, offering a striking resemblance at nearly half the cost.
2. Sedici Strada II: Best Budget-Friendly
In my pursuit of a budget-friendly helmet, my criteria have always centered on finding the optimal combination of protection, comfort, airflow, low mass, and overall value. Fortunately, I struck gold with the aggressively styled Sedici Strada II Carbon.
Fully aware that 100% carbon fiber helmets often come with a hefty price tag—ranging from $350 to $1,500 for the AGV Pista GP RR Carbon and even reaching $4,100 for the Arai Corsair-X RC—I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a holiday deal for the Strada II Carbon at $319.99.
Finding the Perfect Fit
Considering my head circumference falls right between Medium and Large (23 inches, 58.45 cm), a common point of confusion, I consulted the helmet sizing chart. Typically opting for the smaller size in such cases, I followed the same approach with the Sedici helmet, and it proved to be the right decision.
The Sedici Strada II Carbon offers three distinct shell sizes (XS-SM, MD-LG, XL-3XL), an improvement from its predecessor, the Sedici Strada, which had only two.
Carbon Weaves at Play
Its weight of 3.16 lbs. on my medium is barely noticeable, thanks to its 6k carbon fiber shell. In comparison to my Scorpion EXO-ST1400 with a 3K carbon fiber shell, the Strada II appears and feels more robust. The difference boils down to the carbon weaves, with 3K and 6K representing the number of carbon filaments. A 3K tow is typically 0.125” wide, while a 6K tow has 6,000 carbon filaments. The higher the number of bundled high-strength fibers, the stronger the carbon fiber shell.
The neck roll padding on the Strada II is both thick and wide, providing a 4-inch wide entry for my wider head. Surprisingly, it smoothly accommodates my intermediate oval head without folding my ears upon entry. A quick side-to-side wiggle sets everything in place, and the ear pocket works seamlessly, avoiding the need for a significant void on each side, a common issue with many tight-fitting helmets.
The interior boasts a smooth-textured, antimicrobial, washable, nylon material adorned with honeycomb patterns and subtle Sedici lettering. The slightly cool touch and mesh on the crown liner’s top left and right sides aid in ventilation and perspiration evaporation.
The inclusion of 5mm strips of peel-away foam allows customization of the liner thickness, reminiscent of Arai helmets, with Sedici’s imitation being a positive aspect.
The quick-release latches function flawlessly, and the visor effortlessly pops off as if spring-loaded when the release arms are slightly shifted. Reattaching is equally straightforward, with no issues of loosening or coming undone during testing.
A Fusion of GT Air and X-15 Flair
And the rear exhaust vent, coupled with the chin bar’s shape, conjures images of the Strada II being the offspring of a Shoei GT Air and X-15 romance. An aerodynamic marvel that complements both style and performance.
3. AGV AX-9: Best Adventure
The lighter the motorcycle helmet, the more it elevates my adventure touring experience—easing the load and relieving neck, back, and shoulder strain. Yes, even a modest weight reduction can make a substantial difference. And as an avid explorer of dirt trails, including those near my home—with the allure of St. Mary’s River Loop—I seek a helmet that wholeheartedly embodies Colin Chapman’s timeless mantra: ‘simplify, then add lightness.’
AGV’s AX9, weighing at a mere 1.365 g (3.0 lbs.) in first shell size and made from 100% carbon fiber, proudly upholds this philosophy. Putting it in the running for the lightest adventure helmet on the market today, rivaling the featherweight 3.1 lbs. Klim Krios Pro.
A step up from the favored 3.4-pound AX-8 DS EVO, which was made of tri composite material (fiberglass, Kevlar, and carbon), the AX9 effortlessly caters to diverse riding scenarios. Whether cruising Ukraine’s M03, the longest international state highway (yes, I own one in Ukraine too!), with the visor and no peak, or seamlessly shifting to a blended peak and visor dual sport riding mode.
It’s just as capable of exploring off-road trails in Ban Khun Chang Kian (and another one in Thailand—feeling the passion?) with the peak, goggles, and no visor. The retractable anti-scratch visor, featuring 100% Max Vision Pinlock® anti-fog technology, grants me a wide view with 190° peripheral and 110° vertical vision.
Aerodynamics in Focus
As far as drawbacks go, my primary concern with the AGV AX9 Carbon is the sun peak, which is approximately an inch longer than that of the Klim Krios Pro and Bell MX9 Adventure. But at 70 mph, the aerodynamic enhancements are noticeable, and the sun peak feels particularly streamlined when set at its lowest adjustable setting.
AGV has ingeniously designed the AX9’s new vent system to be adjustable in three ways: two externally and one internally. On the outer panel, a typical open/close slider provides convenience for on-road use, easily operable even with gloved hands.
Plus, there’s a vent on the inside of the chin bar that can be fully opened, fully closed, or removed entirely for increased airflow. In the closed position, this vent directs airflow exclusively to the visor, a feature you may not often use but could prove useful on the coldest riding days.
A critical aspect for me is the compatibility of a proper adventure helmet with a good pair of goggles. While some helmets excel in this regard more than others, the AX9 meets my expectations, allowing me to comfortably fit my small/medium-sized off-road goggles into the eye-port. Ideally, it also allows me to open/close the visor with the goggles in place—a feature I always appreciate.
4. Scorpion EXO-ST1400: Best Sport-Touring
The Scorpion EXO-ST1400, gracefully tipping my scales at a mere 1,383 grams (3.05 lbs.), redefines the essence of a sport-touring helmet. Its lightweight secret lies in the resin-infused TCT-U 3K carbon fiber construction, seamlessly marrying the agility demanded by sport biking with the enduring comfort essential for long-distance touring. Drawing inspiration from the cutting-edge technology I’ve encountered with the street-riding homologation version of their EXO-R1 GP MotoGP, the Scorpion EXO-R1 Air.
A Nod to Innovation
One standout feature that immediately captured my attention is the inflatable cheek pads, a nod to the iconic Reebok Pump. Cleverly placed, a squishy ball allows for quick inflation, ensuring a snug fit, and a user-friendly push-button release effortlessly deflates the pads. Despite initial skepticism, this unique feature emerged as a game-changer, offering both security and a customized fit.
Cool Comfort for the Long Haul
Transitioning seamlessly to the Kwikwick® III liner, known for its softness and resilience against my not-so-soft beard, it truly impressed me with its effective ventilation. Even after approximately 10 hours of riding, the fully removable, washable, and replaceable liner maintained a fresh feel, with only minimal sweat near the ears where airflow tends to be weaker.
Building on this comfort, the EXO-ST1400’s liner design introduces what Scorpion aptly calls KwikFit® 3D—an intelligent and comfortable spacing for eyeglasses. Putting this feature to the test with my sunglasses, it effortlessly transformed the usual hassle of taking them on and off into a non-issue, seamlessly blending convenience with functionality.
When it comes to visor materials, Scorpion impresses with first-rate optics across the entire field of view, featuring 99% protection from UVA and UVB rays. Both the integrated sun visor and the clear visor provide a 180-degree clear view without any internal reflections or distortion. Adding to the value, Scorpion goes above and beyond by including both the pinlock visor and inserts in the box.
For communication system accommodation, the Scorpion EXO-ST1400 Carbon, just like AGV AX-9, provides ample space for 40mm speakers, and the neck roll and liner make the installation process of my Cardo Packtalk Edge quick and painless.
Continuing the excellence, the outer EverClear™ no-fog treated face shield boasts excellent, distortion-free optics and features Scorpion’s EllipTec™ II ratchet system. While falling short compared to Schuberth C4 or Shoei RF-1400 in terms of overall motion, the “City Position” adjustment adds airflow during my urban riding.
Despite a lock system proving to be a regular annoyance, requiring more force than desired, the cost savings make it forgivable. This minor issue, however, detracts from an otherwise well-designed helmet.
5. HJC F70: Best Urban Commuter
Venturing into the world of HJC helmets for the first time, the F70 caught my attention with its unique blend of communication-ready technology and a robust 100% carbon shell. Designed to seamlessly integrate SMART HJC 10B or 20B Bluetooth communicators, it promises cutting-edge features at a reasonable price for street riders.
Echoes of Streetfighter Sophistication
Upon first glance, the face shield and chin bar shape reminded me of the Matrix Alpha Streetfighter helmet. The F70’s shield has a noticeable slant, adding to the overall aerodynamic profile. While personal preference often leans toward a more vertical shield, the F70’s design doesn’t compromise on compactness.
Prioritizing Airflow for the Open Road
Being a fan of touring, airflow is a top priority. The F70 delivers with two intakes on the chin bar and two on the crown, ensuring good circulation. The MultiCool™ lining, boasting anti-bacterial properties and superior wicking, enhances comfort on hot days and facilitates quicker drying after a ride. The fully washable crown and cheek pads further contribute to easy maintenance.
Balancing Sound and Silence
Removing the chin curtain for increased airflow also slightly elevates the sound level, but it remains well within the acceptable range. Even with all vents closed and the main shield shut, the F70 maintains a quiet profile, comparable to the sport-touring LS2 Challenger GT.
The absence of overwhelming noise, even with vents open, showcases the helmet’s commendable soundproofing. Although I didn’t have the SMART HJC 10B system installed initially, the helmet’s communication-ready nature suggests meticulous attention to soundproofing.
Available in sizes XS-2XL, HJC employs two shells for the F70, ensuring a tailored fit. The smaller shell caters to XS, S, and M sizes, while the larger shell accommodates L, XL, and 2XL sizes. While the XS size may feel a bit large due to the shell size, it’s reasonable to assume that a small or medium size would offer a more proportionate feel.
6. Bell Race Star Flex DLX: Best Road and Track
Always seen the Bell Race Star as a helmet for “racers with a day job,” making it an ideal choice for top-tier protection without breaking the bank. Versatile enough for both daily commuting and weekend track days, it strikes a balance between high-end performance and affordability.
The ‘Flex’ Designation
Safety is paramount, and Bell underscores this with the ‘Flex’ designation, highlighting the progressive layering impact liner. The innovative system combines three layers of impact-absorbing foam—EPS (expanded polystyrene), EPP (expanded polypropylene), and EPO (expanded polyolefin)—working synergistically to mitigate different severities of impact. This approach reduces rotational forces on the brain, akin to the MIPS technology but with Bell’s distinctive touch.
The Virus Cool Jade liner enhances the overall experience, offering a premium feel against the skin. Engineered to withstand challenging conditions, the liner provides a cooling effect, especially appreciated on scorching summer days. But the same cooling effect might be less welcome when the helmet gets wet in adverse weather conditions.
Effortless Visor Swapping
Visor swapping becomes a breeze with the easily depressible buttons on either side of the helmet, making it one of the quickest and most straightforward mechanisms. Opting for the smoke shield, I find it effective in most scenarios, occasionally complementing it with sunglasses for added tint.
Shedding Pounds for Performance
In terms of weight, the medium-sized Race Star tips the scales at 3.4 pounds (1,540 grams), a notable reduction compared to the base model Star’s 3.7 pounds (1,690 grams) featuring a Tri-Matrix composite shell. The carbon-fiber-clad design successfully sheds almost one-third of a pound, a difference that becomes palpable when worn.
Consideration of Noise and Weight
But it’s crucial to acknowledge that the Race Star is marginally heavier (0.1 oz) and 6% louder than the new Sena Momentum, which incorporates a Bluetooth system and battery. The Race Star registers 92.5 dBA, maintaining a quiet profile at 60 mph and receiving a rating of 17.5 out of 20.
While the slight increase in weight and noise may not pose an issue for those accustomed to wearing earplugs (which is advisable for all riders), it’s a noteworthy consideration. Particularly for riders seeking a top-tier race carbon fiber helmet, the AGV’s Pista GP-R, boasting a weight of 1,501 grams for a large size, presents a compelling alternative to the hefty and substantial Pro Star.
I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, and non-profit organizations:
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- AGV Helmets
- HJC Helmets America
- Bell Helmets