Wind noise inside a motorcycle helmet can reach 115 dB or more at highway speeds. Hearing loss can be caused by sounds of just 85 dB or more, so this is a huge problem. Here’s how to fix it with the 5 quietest motorcycle helmets available.
What Makes A Helmet Quiet
Aerodynamics. The easier a helmet slips through the wind, the quieter it will be. Some of the quietest helmets on the market (and the only manufacturer that lists dB figures) are made by Schuberth. They are also the only helmet manufacturer with a wind tunnel in its headquarters. Shoei is probably in second place when it comes to quiet helmets, that company is also heavily reliant on wind tunnel testing, even designing its own rig to move a helmet side-to-side and up and down in the tunnel to accurately recreate real world riding conditions.
Specifically, it’s turbulence that creates noise. That turbulence can be caused by an anything that disrupts the wind flow. Gap in your visor seal? Huge external vents? Air getting caught under your chin? That’s how a helmet gets noisy. It’s also how you make a helmet quiet, by starting with a shape that allows the air to smoothly reconnect behind the helmet, and eliminating those trouble spots. If you want a quiet helmet, look for a clean, smooth aerodynamic shape free of external vents and wings and which features a quality, adjustable visor seal and closes tightly around your neck.
How Do You Make A Helmet Quiet?
Earplugs. If you don’t ride with them now, start doing so. Wind noise induced hearing loss is a real thing (I suffer from it) and sitting in such a high decibel environment for extended periods exacerbates fatigue. Outdooractivityaccessories highly recommends Howard Leight Max Lite earplugs. Buy a box of 200 and stash extra pairs in all your pockets.
Going further, a chin curtain helps, as does a good visor seal. The screws which mount your visor base plate can often be adjusted to find a perfect fit and the Shoei RF1200 innovates with a novel visor location adjustment, enabling you to quickly and easily get a perfect seal. It’s also worth considering a neoprene wind-blocking sleeve which seals the gap between helmet and neck both reduces noise and keeps errant detritus out of your face.
Of all the major helmet makers, only Schuberth lists how loud its helmets are. RideApart’s own wind tunnel is beset by construction delays, so lacking any repeatable, non-variably-polluted objective test method, we’re going to have to bring you anecdotal reporting. These are the five helmets that, in decades of cumulative riding careers, the RideApart staffers report are the quietest currently available.
In designing the RF1200, Shoei set out to minimize the size of its shell, smooth its aerodynamics and ventilation and created that novel visor seal adjustment. All of that paid off in an exceptionally stable, quiet helmet. So quiet, in fact, that if you are riding with the vents closed, you can hear the increase in turbulence as you open each individual vent. That’s a good thing, they flow a ton of air. Fit the included chin curtain, ratchet the visor tight and you’re good to go for hours on end.
Arai Signet Q
Arai’s been talking up its exceptionally round external helmet shapes as a safety feature recently, but what makes much more sense is the benefit a smooth exterior has on wind noise. The sport-touring Signet Q is free of the more race-oriented models’ external ventilation, making this the quietest helmet in their range.
Schuberth C3 Pro
The quietest helmet available, full stop, transfers just 84 dB to the rider at 65 mph. That’s even better than the S2 full-face because Schuberth is able to equip the C3 Pro with a tighter-sealing neck roll thanks to the flip-front design and its greater ease of ingress and egress. “Tubulators” on the visor further reduce turbulence in what’s otherwise a traditional problem area.
HJC RPHA Max
This is the quietest helmet I’ve ridden in, something which surprised me totally as it’s made by a traditionally budget-oriented brand and comes with a price tag of just $464. Again, the flip-front design of the HJC RPHA Max allows a very tight fit under your chin and around your neck and the lack of huge external vents cuts turbulence.
The S2 shares its shape with the C3 Pro, but due to its simpler full-face design requires a slightly looser neck roll, which blocks a little less wind. At 85 dB at 65 mph, it’s still an exceptionally quiet helmet. Something that remains true at extremely high speeds — I wore one up to 202 mph, a speed at which I was still able to hear myself think.
Have you found other helmets to be exceptionally quiet? What noise reduction tricks work best for you?