5 Quietest Motorcycle Helmets

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5 Quietest Motorcycle Helmets

Shoei RF1200
Shoei RF1200

Shoei RF1200

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 Signet Q

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
Schuberth C3 Pro

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
HJC RPHA Max

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 $420. 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.

Schuberth S2
Schuberth S2

Schuberth S2

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?

  • KeithB

    “Earplugs. If you don’t ride with them now, start doing so. Wind noise induced hearing loss is a real thing ”
    This is THE most important thing to take from this article!
    As a professional sound mix engineer, I take protection of my hearing seriously.
    Schuberth S2 and custom 20db ear plugs even when behind a touring windscreen.

    • Justin McClintock

      Indeed. I don’t typically wear anything in my ears when commuting because I never venture off surface streets and rarely exceed 50 mph (and only for short spans even then). But for those days riding up in the mountains, I always have something in there. The difference in sounds between 40 mph and 70 mph is staggering.

      • JimMac

        I’ve been wearing Howard Leights while commuting and I find them almost too effective–it’s difficult to hear anything at all and I feel strangely isolated. I certainly can’t hear anyone talking to me with the HLs in and helmet on…

    • Strafer

      Haven’t seen much out there in terms of moto helmets with active noise cancelling tech
      It seems to me it could work well
      The advantage being the ability to flip it off when you want (or auto shut off when ambient noise is low or speed is below a threshhold) – (need to hear as much as possible in the city)
      Of course i already have too many things that need a charge / batteries so for me the best idea is to implement it into some kind of device such as Nuviz so i just have to charge up one thing and it has almost everything i need ie: gps navigation / noise cancellation / music / intercom / dashcam / clock / etc.

      • Gonfern

        I’m not sure you want noise cancelling technology in helmets and they cancel ALL noise. While with good quality plugs, the road and wind noise are absorbed, but frequencies like car horns, screeching tires or even your buddies voice at a red light will make it through pretty well.

        • Tom Gabriele

          ANR only removes the repetitive/constant noises by analyzing current noise and reproducing inverted sine waves. Basically, it adds opposite noises to make it seem quieter. So it will cut back on wind/exhaust noise while the car horn/screeching brakes/shouting motorist will be heard even easier.

          • ACynicIAm

            I’ve been experimenting with Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise reducing earbuds. So far, in my C3 helmet, it has been a very good experience. Don’t need an audio source, just turn them on. Important sounds like sirens and other traffic noises can still be heard but a a much reduced level. Getting used to the sound isolation is a bit disconcerting at first, though.

    • christian lacasse

      Hey Keith, how about these Shure custom molded in-ear headphones plugged into my SENA bluetooth system, for phone, GPS, and music?
      I mix sound too and try to keep my ears alive, and hate bad sounding, badly EQed, weirdly located buttons…

  • AZCreeker

    +2 on the earplugs. I use Mack’s “Ultra Soft Foam Ear Plugs”, you can buy a 100pair pack at Target… the softest I have found so far in regular stores.
    As far as helmet, the Shoei Qwest is also recommended often on expert reviews.
    Lastly, its always good to buy at a place that either allow you to try the helmet on your ride or has a regular return policy.
    Heads are all different and what fit one might not fit another one. This could results in different air turbulence.
    Also to take in consideration is the riding position and the kind of windshields, all of these influence the noise/vibrations/ turbulence.

  • Steven Mansour

    What about wearing earplug headphones instead of earplugs? In states or provinces where there’s no legislation against it, is there really that much benefit to get earplugs if you already have in-ear headphones? I get more engine noise than wind noise as it is.

    • Generic42

      As long as you have something cutting the outside noise and you aren’t cranking the headphones to compensate they work well. Just make sure you can hear emergency vehicles, etc.

  • phoebegoesvroom

    I used to wear a Shoei RF1100, but I replaced it with an Icon Airframe. Not only is the fit better, but it’s quieter as well. I also always wear earplugs anytime I ride (or use power tools, etc). I wouldn’t be able to stand the wind noise otherwise; it’s like torture to me. My ears are kind of sensitive, I guess.

    • AZCreeker

      torture is correct!

      Even if one can take the wind noise at sustain highway speed, there will be repercussions = Tinnitus!

      Tinnitus is one of the worse thing ever, and there is no remedy apart from getting use to it:

      http://www.hearinghealthfoundation.org/tinnitus?gclid=CJPZtOad_rsCFdNrfgodjAgAKQ

      • phoebegoesvroom

        Yeah, I learned my lesson from my dad who has pretty severe hearing loss now due to never wearing any ear protection. I’m very safety oriented, so I always wear eye protection, gloves, and hearing protection when doing mechanical work or using power tools. I’ve always worn earplugs while riding. I don’t know how people can ride without them!

  • Clint Keener

    I like the blue hearos ear plugs. They puff up faster to seal nicely in your ears. I found some that are quieter, but are a pain in the butt because they take forever to seal properly.

    My Shoei GT-Air is pretty quiet. Love it.

    • DerekB

      I’ve found my gt air to be exceptionally quiet

    • skeelo221

      These are my favorite. I bought a lot of them.
      I like they are packaged individually which makes them nice to travel with.
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002YK9YG

    • Larry

      Love the GT-Air, last fall I finally replaced my RF1000, already a quiet helmet, and can’t believe the difference. It’s definitely harder to get on with the smaller opening, but worth it for the serenity.

    • Ceol Mor

      I must be one of the few to find the GT-Air a loud helmet. I purchased the GT-Air to replace an aging Arai Profile and was displeased with how much louder it was compared to my previous helmet. I’ll be returning to Arai when it’s time to replace it.

    • Generic42

      Try these plugs, once you find the right fit they are amazing. Just get the sample size pack and share with friends.

      http://www.earplugstore.com/heartech-silentear-clear-trial.html

  • MikeT

    From the looks of it, graphics play a large role in helmet noise, So stay away from AGV.

    • ThinkingInImages

      My AGV is white, all white. I guess that’s why it’s quiet.

      • Glenn Rueger

        White helmets save lives. And hearing too I guess.

  • Adan Ova

    I thought it was the 5 quietest motorcycles. I came here to read about motorcycles that don’t make much noise… =/

    • Tom Gabriele

      On that list, we have the playground staple motorcycle-on-a-spring, although noise production does increase without regular maintenance and oiling. Second is the pay-a-quarter-to-ride motorcycle machine in front of your local grocery store, although the sound system cannot be turned off.

  • Gonfern

    The Arai Q is QUIET??? compared to what, sticking your head in an amplifier at a Metallica concert? I have the RX-Q, which is the same basic shape and on my naked Street Triple, it is deafening without plugs (which I always wear.) My Nexx Carbon though, is not only stupid light, but also twice as quiet (still wear plugs though). I love Arai, always have, always will. Ive owned the old Profile and Corsair V and they were all great, but quiet is not something I would use to describe any of them. I now use the Arai for track days or when I have a fairing, and use the Nexx for its light weight, quietness and insane peripheral vision on the street.

    • Stuki

      The only time the SIgnet Q is quieter than other helmets, is when the wearer has a head shape that allows him to use a smaller size Signet Q than another brand. I know a guy who needed an XL in chubert S3, causing it to flop around and be noisy at the same time; yet can squeeze himself into a medium SIgnet Q. For him the Signet is quieter.

  • HD19146

    The only difference between an Arai Signet-Q and RX-Q is the internal fit. Other than that, they are exactly the same.

  • Zamboni9

    I’ll be interested to see how quiet the Voztec Rear Entry helmets will be when they come to the USA. I got to try a prototype on last year and they seal almost completely around the neck. http://www.voztec.com

  • kent_skinner

    Is anybody aware of something like the windjammer that doesn’t have a two week shipping time?

  • http://cartisien.com/ Jeff Witters

    +1 on the windjammer or at minimum a chin curtain will really cut down on the noise. Ear plugs are the best though.

  • JeffN

    How big of a part does a particular motorcycle’s aero play into the noise factor? I just got a KTM 1190 Adventure R and at freeway speed my Schuberth C3 (not pro) is mind-numbingly loud which I was blaming all on the bike’s windscreen until i wore my $300 Scorpion helmet and the noise/buffeting was an order of magnitude better. I’m gonna tape up the top of the visor and other areas to see if i can isolate the problem but it’s a total bummer i can’t stand my spendy new helmet. :(

    • Michael Howard

      HUGE. Rating a helmet’s quietness in free-flowing air is great but as soon as you put it behind a windscreen and disrupt that flow in some way, suddenly the noise factor becomes linked between the helmet and that particular bike. The quiestest helmet made might be noisy when worn on a certain bike while a not-so-quiet helmet might actually be quieter on that bike, depending on how/where the wind hits the helmet. Where the rider’s head is positioned in the airflow also makes a big difference.

    • ThinkingInImages

      If you move closer to the screen does the buffeting change? Then it could be the screen is not quite right for your height and seating position. My Schuberth was very stable and quiet.

      • JeffN

        not really, but if i tilt my head so i’m looking down at the gas tank it improves a lot. if i duck down and get well below where the airflow cutoff is it’s better. I realize the right screen can make the difference, I was just surprised that the schuberth was so much worse compared to the scorpion in the same circumstances.

        • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

          sounds like the airflow is catching the underside of your helmet unless you tip your head forward

    • 80-watt Hamster

      What Michael said. With an RF1000 on my Versys, any screen configuration I’ve tried means I must live with noise, buffeting, or both. Hop on a Street Triple, however (or stand up on the Kawasaki), and all problems miraculously vanish.

  • ThinkingInImages

    Great article, Wes. I’ve had some pretty bad helmets – for a very short period of time. I’ve discovered a few things over the years: a modular is quieter because it closes the neck opening. Vents are nice, but too many can let in noise. How my jacket fits, the collar, and the surface of the jacket can sometime direct the airflow up under the helmet – the smoother the jacket, the better. I wear a neck tube to close up and smooth the neck area. A helmet that works when sitting bolt upright, can be miserable when leaned over. A bad windscreen makes bad noise (and airflow). None of this is a rule. It’s what works for me.

    A lot of it is conditional – but the message is important. Protect your hearing.

  • Kevin

    I went from a Shoei Multitec to a Schuberth C3 Pro (hitting the final “Purchase” button on Revzilla was sweat-inducing, it’s definitely spendy), and not only is the Schuberth significantly quieter but you realize immediately what the extra money is buying you. Quality everywhere–materials, assembly, texture, you name it. The mechanisms all operate luxuriously, fit absolutely snugly, and just seem like a BMW to Shoei’s Chevy. And I’ve bought three Shoeis in a row, I love those guys, but the wizards at Schuberth really know how to build these things as small, light and quiet as they can get them. I rode a day in the Shoei because I still had my camera mount on it, and by the end of the day the extra weight was telling on my neck and shoulders. Oh, and I looked like I had a huge black ball on my neck. That Multitec is huge compared to the C3.

    The Shoei ventilates much better, by the way. That’s the compromise, but that’s the only one besides price.

  • Mor Deth

    My RHOK helmet is more quiet than my SHARK or SHOEI helmets.

  • Generic42

    Personally I ride with Heartech Silent Ear plugs – They have one of the highest NRR numbers for an in-ear plug you can find, all day comfortable and they clean up easy.

    http://www.earplugstore.com/heartech-silentear-clear-trial.html

  • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

    Sticking things in my ears for riding does not seem to be a good, healthy long-term approach but I entirely agree, hours of highway-speed wind-noise are dangerous to your mental-health. My ideal solution wasn’t discovered until I had to ride home at night from a mountain ride and it was easily 20deg colder than the 50F during the ride out there during the day. I suffered through the wind-noise going out there because I had my face-shield open for much of the ride at relatively-low speeds on winding 2-lanes. Coming back at night I just wanted “highway” and “high speed” and I just could not do that with the temps down so low. It was just too frigging cold and too much air was seeping through my helmet, even after sealing all the vents on my fullface (and trust me it was NOT a night for riding with an open-face helmet). I had to find a way to kepe the air from whistling through my helmet, even the little bit of it that remained after closing all the vents. The solution? A shop-rag stuffed up next to each ear, to seal the gaps along the sides of the head.

    Believe me, they do the job, and they do it well.

    It’s like, “…oh. Ok. That’s cool.”.

    Like night and day, man.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Or, you could try earplugs. They’re cheap, comfortable and actually, you know, designed to reduce noise levels.

      Oh, and maybe riding gear woulda helped with that cold.

      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        cept earplugs go in your ears.

    • Stuki

      Well, at least noone’s gonna accuse you of being a poser, out to look cool, when you cruise around with shoprags sticking out of your helmet……….. :)

      • IAmAConservativeICannotBeWrong

        when it’s cold enough I usually ride with a ski-cap on inside my helmet and that alone makes a big difference in wind-noise

  • atomicalex

    I grab the orange 33dB plugs from 3M in the bulk bags at Home Depot and stuff little snack-size zipper bags of them everywhere – every jacket, every piece of luggage, etc. Maybe not the absolute best, but cheap and darn good. Also, I notice that over time, my RPHA MAX is not quite as quiet as the first day, but this may be because I actually notice the noise more now than when I was wearing my old (loud) IS-16.

  • deckard

    Quietest helmet ever: Schuberth S1-Pro

    Not sold in the USA, so I’ve had 3 shipped over from Europe. Yes, they are that quiet.

  • dougphoto

    My bell helmet is pretty loud. So I always wear ear plugs. Recently I got some air buds headphones. They are headphone where the part you put in your ear is made out of the same foam as ear plugs so you get a nice tight and quiet seal in your ear. And they are only like $40. Audio quality is just ok. http://www.air-buds.com

  • BenCarufel

    I’ve come up with a system that works really well for me…on shorter rides when I don’t need to hear music, talk to another rider, or answer a phone call, I just use orange foam Howard Leight earplugs.

    On longer rides where I want the above, extra features, I had my Scala Rider G4 modified with a headphone jack instead of the in-helmet speakers. I use a pair of Etymotic MC-5 headphones with Comply T-100 replaceable foam tips. That way I can listen to music, talk to another rider via intercom, talk on the phone, give the iPhone voice commands, etc., all without having to strain to hear the in-helmet speakers that came with the G4. If I want peace and quiet, I just mute any sound and it’s like having the foam earplugs in.

    Really, really happy with this setup.

    • Adam E.

      I actually find that fitting the speakers for my Sena SMH10R, wearing earplugs, and turning the volume up higher to compensate actually results in better sound quality than listening without earplugs at a normal volume. I haven’t found any in-ear headphones that block noise as well as Howard Leight earplugs, either.

  • José Miguel Ferreira

    on the Schuberth C3 Pro it says:

    “The quietest helmet available, full stop, transfers just 84 dB to the rider at 65 mph.”

    but on the HJC RPHA Max it says:

    “This is the quietest helmet I’ve ridden in”

    What does this mean?