Finding a good quality certified helmet can be a hard job. Especially with the sheer number of helmet brands, different standards and prices in the market. To help you find the best and safest helmet for your price, we tested 10 helmets.
To find the best Helmets in India, our testing included:
We spent a day and crash tested 10 helmets.
We had 4 people try out each helmet for comfort.
We analysed ISI, DOT and ECE standards to inform our decision.
We did not pick any half helmets as they are basically glorified hats and are not designed to protect any part of your head.
Here are our best picks.
Best helmet for Bikers
With a dual: DOT & ECE certification, the LS2 was one of the most comfortable and safest helmets in our tests. It had a clear visor with tinted goggles which functions as a sunglass. The helmet kept wind noise in check and was stable at high speeds. Its great performance in all our tests made it a worthy buy even at its price.
Best Budget Pick
Steelbird Air SBA-1
The Steelbird Air SBA-1 was the best ISI certified helmet in our test. This helmet had a strong body shell and had decent stability at high speeds. The tinted visor meant visibility was poor at night. The helmet had good ventilation but gave in to wind noise after 110 kmph. The Steelbird despite its low price managed to do very well in our drop and axe tests.
This is a really long post! Use the links below to jump around.
Why trust us?
We spent around 30 hours analysing and rigorously testing helmets to find the best one for you. We analysed the helmets on various parameters from the comfort to strength.
We assembled a panel of bikers and had them test each of the helmets for its fit and comfort.
We stress tested the helmets by dropping it off a bike at high speed. The helmets that did well in this test were then subjected to an impact test where we hit each helmet with the blunt part of an axe until they cracked.
How we selected?
We shortlisted all the 400 helmets available on Flipkart and Amazon. We chose the most popular ones from these and removed any unsafe half-helmets. This gave us five helmets.
Vega Cliff CLF-LK-M Full Face Helmet.
Studds STS_PRL_BLK_XL Professional Full Face Helmet.
Steelbird Helmet SBA-1 Free Live with Smoke Visor and Matt Finish.
Studds Marshall SUS_MOFH_MBLKL Open Face Helmet.
Vega Cruiser CR-W/P-K-M Open Face Helmet.
Lastly, we added in 3 helmets which were DOT certified and ECE certified to see how they fared with ISI tested helmets. We choose models that were available online easily, cost around Rs. 6,000 and were popular.
Here’s the DOT and ECE certified helmets we tested:
- Ls2 320 Full Face Dual Helmet Outer Clear Visor inner tinted Goggles.
- Thh Helmets Thh Wings Open Face Helmet.
- Axor Street - Octane Dual Visor Designer Full Face Helmet.
We also got two local fake ISI helmets and put them through the tests.
How we tested?
Comfort: Any helmet you get must be comfortable enough so that you don’t start sweating. This requires ventilation. We tested each of the helmets for ventilation, by using them as our daily helmet for a day. We observed the flow of air through the helmet and checked to see if we started sweating. We found that the helmets with ventilation slots at the top were much better for use. This is because the ventilation slots are on top and better pass air flow to your hair. This helps stop sweating at the source.
We had a panel of regular bikers use each of the helmets to see if there were any hidden problems. They checked everything from the padding to the comfort of the strap to assess for comfort. They also checked to see if the helmets stuck firmly on their heads without getting disoriented at high speeds. The vision through the visor was inspected during the day and night.
Open face helmets usually tend to displace at high speeds because of their design.
Lastly, we checked the visor placement, length adjustment of the retention strap and the scratch-resistant of the visor.
Protection: Making the rider feel comfortable is only a small aspect of the helmet. We also tested the capacity of the helmets to withstand various impacts. To do this we worked with Shreyas Krishnan from SKS exotics - a seasoned biker. He dropped the helmet off a bike at 80 kmph, 120 kmph and 135 kmph to see if it could withstand the impact. The helmets were then repeatedly smacked with the blunt edge of an axe until it shattered. We measured the number of blows it took for the helmets to shatter.
The tests were conducted on an empty service road. Keep in mind, that all the helmets that we tested have been certified by at least one regulating body. Our aim in testing was to get some data with which to compare between helmets. We initially had watermelons inside the helmet to see if the watermelons cracked under the impact. However, this proved to be ineffective as the padding under the melons gave way.
The Axor was able to take 22 impacts, Steelbird Air took 20, Vega managed around 11 and Studds took 15 hits.
We couldn’t perform the Axe test on the LS2 helmet as during testing the helmet fell down a ditch and was not recoverable.
The LS2 320 helmet makes for a great choice if you want to do high speed long distance riding where wind noise isolation and good head protection is needed.
A very strong outer shell that provided great protection
Best padding of the helmets we tested
No wind noise at any high speeds
Helmet stuck perfectly on our heads at high speeds
Has foam on the chin guard.
The air vents location is perfectly placed to prevent sweat.
It is an expensive helmet compared to Indian brand helmet but it's worth the spend.
Design & Build quality: Built to Last
The LS2 is built like a tank with a thick outer shell that simply refused to break in our tests.The inner foam lining is very thick which can protect your head at all times.
Coming to the design it looks fabulous with the graffiti and design. We tested the silver and black color helmet, but there is an all black and one orange black helmet too. The helmet has a matte finish to it which can make it slightly slippery when you are holding it.
The LS2 helmet weighs around 1550 grams which comes from the thick outer shell and foam. Even though the LS2 is slightly heavier than the other helmets the weight is not felt at all. The thick padding on the LS2 gave us a very snug fit, whereas other helmets - like the Axor - did not sit as snugly. Even though both were of the same size. Thanks to the perfect fit, the LS2 felt very light.The visor is resistant to scratches which is very helpful. The helmet comes with tinted goggles inside that act as built-in sunglasses during the day. Lastly, the straps too have foam on them and give you a good level of adjustability.
Comfort: Provides good ventilation and yet keeps wind noise in check
There are 3 parameters that determine a helmets comfort while riding; Helmet stability at speed, Ventilation and Wind Noise isolation. It is difficult to get all 3 parameters right in a single helmet.
While an open face will give you very good ventilation it will not be stable at speed and will allow a lot of wind noise. Whereas most Full Face helmets give you good stability at speeds but will make you sweat after long journeys. The LS2 surprisingly manages to do beautifully on all these counts. The helmet has two air vents on top providing you with fresh air at speed which keeps you well ventilated. In addition, there is another vent on the outside of the chin guard area which can be opened or close as you wish. The location of the vent didn’t cause any displacement of the helmets at high speeds. Shreyas, loved how stable the helmet was even at speeds upto 150 kmph. None of the riders on the panel experienced any discomfort while using the LS2. The LS2 320 kept a great deal of wind noise under check while still allowing sounds like vehicle honks to still pass through.
The visor is also clear and can be used during the day or at night. Wearing spectacles under the helmet was also comfortable.
Protection: Dual certified helmet, gets our approval too
The LS2 helmet is certified for both DOT and ECE, but you know us, we don't take anything at its face value. So we dropped the LS2 at speeds higher than 135 kmph. What happened next was absolutely nothing. Unlike the other helmets where the visor shattered, here there were only a few scratches. The helmet hardly showed any signs of damage. We can safely say that the price the LS2 commands is very good considering the safety of it.
Unfortunately, we couldn't perform an Axe test on the helmet as the helmet dropped into a ditch while testing.
With a great blend of comfort and safety, the LS2 makes great sense for people who want a premium starter helmet for long rides. The excellent protection from the structurally strong outer shell makes it an excellent helmet at around Rs.5600.
Best Budget Pick
- A good sunshade visor which protects from glares.
- Sturdy outer shell with great design.
- Well-placed air vents provided
- Retention strap has foam to prevent from irritation.
- Washable foam.
- Whistling sound after 110 kmph.
- Visor has low visibility at night.
Design & Built quality: Comes in 19 different colors and designs
The Steelbird Air helmet comes in a variety of colors and designs. The helmet is available in colors of white, orange, blue, black etc. so no matter which color your bike or scooter they have something that will match.
The outer shell of the helmet had a matte finish like the LS2 which looks great but can be a little difficult while holding. The Visor is totally scratch resistant and it comes with black sunguard visor. Unlike the LS2 which had both tinted goggles and a transparent visor, the steelbird comes only with one tinted visor. This gave us low visibility at night which can be risky. (But you can purchase a transparent visor online for just Rs.199).
The helmet has quality retention straps with foam which helped prevent any irritation. The length of the retention strap could also be easily adjusted. None of the riders on the panel had a problem.
Comfort: Good comfort with decent wind noise isolation
The helmet fit tightly on the top of our head and it had pockets for our ears too. The fit was snug at the top and on our cheeks. So much so that, the panel mentioned that the steelbird didn’t fall off even when the retention straps were off. However, the padding was not as thick as the LS2. The helmet weighs in at 1250 gms, which was comfortable and didn’t cause any irritations but the padding could have been thicker. This could have helped the helmet to feel much better.
The steelbird comes with air vents on top and on the outside of the chin guard. The airflow on the top wasn’t as good as the LS2 but it was sufficient. The vent on the chin guard however was on par with the LS2. Both of these air vents are adjustable.
Shreyas found the helmet was stable up till 110 kmph with almost no wind noise. Beyond that speed there was a whistling sound.
Protection: Extremely well built for an ISI helmet at the price
The Steelbird had a sturdy shell. It didn’t break in our crash test at around 120 kmph. The visor also was intact after the drop, only the outer shell had a few scratches. This is definitely a well-built helmet designed to protect your head.
Coming to the Axe test this helmet dominated all the other Indian brands. It took 20 blows of the blunt end of the axe before giving up, while all other helmets cracked up on the 11th or 15th blow. If you see our axe tests, you can notice that the visors also crack up or detach themselves, this never happened on the Steelbird Air. Another thumbs up to it.
For the price, we feel the Steelbird Air is a good budget option.
An important note on fit
The fit of a helmet is a very important part in choosing a helmet. A helmet that doesn’t fit well can prove to be very ineffective in protecting your head in case of accidents.
An easy way to measure your size,
- Grab an inch tape and have one person near you for assistance.
- Get the measurements for the largest circumference of your head, which should be just above your eyebrows and above your ears.
- Based on the value you get, match it to the helmet size chart available online and check.
Some roadside dealers may say that their helmet is free size, but don’t trust them, measure your head size and then get the size chart of that product and place the order for the exact size of your head.
Prevalence of fake ISI certifications
By now, you would have heard that there are a lot of helmets that are not ISI certified, right? If you think those helmets are dangerous then wait till you hear this. We conducted a study to find the prevalence of helmets that weren’t ISI certified. During our research we found that there were some companies that were stating that they were ISI certified. In reality when we ran their ISI code against the database the BIS website we couldn’t find their CML number. So, avoid these companies:
You should also make it a rule to check the CM/L number of the helmet you have chosen, against BIS’s database.
You can find the complete work we did on this here.
Why others did not make the cut?
Axor full face
This helmet was the greatest competitor for LS2 in all aspects except comfort. The helmet covered the head completely. But when it came to the fit, it was slightly looser than LS2. Both LS2 and Axor helmet size had the same size (58cms) but LS2 was a much better fit. Visor adjustment was very tough, definitely not a one hand job.
Vega Cruiser Open face
Being an open face helmet you get good ventilation but the downside is the ear-paining wind noise that it allows. While open face helmets give you that retro feel the lack of a chin guard puts your chin and face at risk. The visor was also very small barely covering our nose which makes it difficult to ride at even speeds of around 70 kmph with helmet shake creeping in. The helmet also cracked in our drop test and the panel complained of irritation caused by the retention strap.
Studds Open face
Studds had better foam than the Vega. However after 70 Km/hr it starts to shakes and considering it is open face, it’s risky too. It has the same wind noise problem as the Vega open face helmet.The retention strap, the lock was not proper and it was difficult to release.
THH open face
This helmet was a free size helmet we bought this to check how a free size helmet would work. It didn’t work at all. Even though we chose a swize close to our head, the fit was ineffective. After 60 kmph we experienced the helmet shaking. We experienced neck pain when using the THH open face helmet for a long time.
Vega Cruiser full face
The Vega cruiser is a full face helmet with a simple design. We felt the Cruiser could be a decent city helmet, but sadly it lacks proper ventilation and has wind noise creeping in from the sides. The lack of proper ventilation also meant that after long usage the helmet is susceptible to bad odour. The retention strap was also irritating to use. The helmets starts to shake at speeds upwards of 80 kmph which is a little scary. However, the helmet did not crack in our drop test and made it to the axe test. The helmet took upto 11 impacts of the axe before cracking up.
Studds full face
This Studds helmet felt like the improved version of the Vega Cruiser helmet. This helmet had better ventilation than the Vega helmet. Our panel said that after 90 kmph they felt the wind noise plus the helmet shook. The Studds helmet too survived our drop test and managed to take 15 blows (Some deformation started at the 12th blow itself) of the axe. When we were using this helmet for comfort test we noticed that a small part of the chin was seen out, as the chin guard did not cover it properly.
From our extensive testing, we can safely say that the LS2 and Steelbird helmets won because of their good blend of safety features and comfort.
The Steelbird Air is better suited for people who don’t want to spend upwards of Rs. 2,000 on a helmet.
If you are a biking enthusiast who takes long distance rides and hits high speeds then the LS2 320 would be your best bet.
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