Which dirt bike helmet is best?

Dirt bike helmets are designed to keep as much dust and dirt possible out of the helmet when you ride off-road and to quickly remove what inevitably gets in. They do this by circulating the air on an ongoing and thorough basis. This means riders are cooler in the summer but even colder in the winter, because the heat from their heads is vented away.

If you are looking for a dirt bike helmet made by a legend in the helmet industry, take a look at the Bell Unisex Adult Off-Road Helmet.

What to know before you buy a dirt bike helmet

There are helmets made for dirt-biking, cruising, off-roading, motocross, mountain biking and motorcycling. Helmets may be full-face, open-face, half or modular. Making the right choice is easier when you know about the differences among them.

What is a dirt bike?

A dirt bike is a lightweight motorcycle built to handle unpaved areas, rough terrain and any off-road conditions. Dirt bikes have knobby tires and rugged suspensions to handle dirt, mud, trail riding or rock climbing. They have high ground clearance and bigger forks and shock absorbers.

How helmets are built

All helmets are designed to protect the head, whether a football, motorcycle or baseball batting helmet. The ways they do it are different.

  • Outer shell: The exterior of a helmet is usually made of fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber or some sort of shock-absorbing plastic.
  • Inner core: The inner core is typically made of polystyrene or polypropylene foam that compresses on impact at a defined rate. The inner core is designed to absorb energy so your skull won’t have to.
  • Liners: Well-designed inner liners reduce rotational and torsional impact. Liners absorb perspiration and dirt, so they should be removable so you can wash them between rides.

Key design elements

  • Visors: Visors don’t only keep direct sun out of your eyes, they help direct more airflow inside, keeping you cooler on hot days. They don’t protect your eyes, but the elongated peak does provide some protection against debris for your face and goggles. 
  • Chin: The face of a dirt bike helmet is open, but not the chin. This lower part of the helmet shell contributes to the elongated look of a dirt bike helmet and protects the chin strap buckles and connectors from being clogged with dirt and mud.
  • Venting: Venting is the biggest difference between dirt bike helmets and other helmets made for motorcyclists. Air intakes in the front work with vents in the back to move air efficiently through the helmet so it removes as much dirt and dust as possible from around your face.
  • Open faces: Dirt bike helmets need to be well-ventilated. Helmets with full-face shields prevent air from flowing into the helmet. Open faces let the air in so the helmet design can move it through the helmet and out the back.
  • Goggles: Dirt bike helmets are designed to be used with goggles. The goggles should fit snugly against the visor, also called the peak, so they won’t fog up. 

What to look for in a quality dirt bike helmet

Ventilation

This is the most important difference between a dirt bike helmet and all other helmets for bikers and cyclists. The best dirt bike helmets move air faster and more efficiently through them.

MIPS

The letters stand for multi-directional impact system. Simply stated, because the human brain can better survive straight-on impact, MIPS puts two low-friction layers inside the helmet that work together to reduce the rotational forces created by side impacts.  

Comfort

The helmet should fit your head and face and feel evenly balanced from front to back. Your head should fit the inside padding and suspension like a hand in a glove, not too loose and not too tight.

Weight

Materials that provide excellent protection with lighter weights are more expensive than typical dirt bike helmet outer shells, inner cores and liners. 

How much you can expect to spend on a dirt bike helmet

Kids’ helmets can be found for less than $100. Most adult versions cost $100-$300, and some pro versions cost more than $500.

Dirt bike helmet FAQ

Why do I need a special helmet for dirt-biking?

A. The biggest reason is that only dirt bike helmets are built to channel the air through your helmet and vent it out the back, the best way to reduce the effects of airborne dirt and dust. 

How do I know what size to choose?

A. Measure around the widest part of your head, usually just over your ears and your eyebrows. Don’t overlook the importance of shape, because some helmets fit round and oval faces differently even though their circumferences are the same.

What’s the best dirt bike helmet to buy?

Top dirt bike helmet

Best Bell Unisex Adult Off Road Helmet

Bell Unisex Adult Off-Road Helmet

What you need to know: The fully adjustable Flying Bridge visor with intake vents is part of the velocity flow system that provides maximum cooling.

What you’ll love: The shell is lightweight polycarbonate with a MIPS energy management system. You can choose from 40 colors and designs in any of seven sizes of this helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

What you should consider: Some reviewers say the chin strap wears more quickly than it should.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top dirt bike helmet for the money

Best Yema DOT Approved Full Face Dirt Bike Helmet

Yema DOT Approved Full Face Dirt Bike Helmet

What you need to know: Multiple air vents and removable inner linings ensure comfort and breathability.

What you’ll love: The intake and exhaust vents are fully adjustable to create a constant flow of fresh air to keep the rider cool and comfortable. The aerodynamic shell is lightweight styrene with a multi-density laser-cut foam liner, reinforced chin strap and quick release buckle. 

What you should consider: The manufacturer recommends buying one size larger.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best AHR Full Face DOT Approved Dirt Bike Helmet

AHR Full Face DOT Approved Dirt Bike Helmet

What you need to know: Multiple front intake vents and rear exhaust vents move air through the streamlined oval shell to provide maximum cooling.

What you’ll love: The shell is lightweight polycarbonate with breathable, comfortable antibacterial liners, ear pads and cheek pads that are removable and washable. The sunshade visor protects your eyes from direct sun and the chin strap has a quick-release buckle.

What you should consider: Some reviewers say the helmet sizes run small.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.