Modular helmet buyer’s guide for fast-lane flip up full face

By: On: December 20th, 20100 Comments »Updated: October 14, 2012

modular motorcycle helmetWhen shopping for a new motorcycle helmet, one type that often gets overlooked is the modular helmet.  What is a modular helmet?  It is a full face helmet that has a hinged front section that flips open to be like an open face helmet.

Sometimes modular helmets are also called flip-up helmets or flip-face helmets.

Pretty convenient feature, huh?  So, why doesn’t everyone on a street bike wear a modular helmet?

Some riders prefer to have their face in the wind with bugs in their teeth, and so on.  That’s fun for a while, but when you want the extra protection from the wind, cold, rain, bugs or worse, then a full face helmet is the way to go.  A modular helmet is basically a more practical and convenient full face helmet.

Some of the typical draw-backs of this type of helmet for motorcycles, mopeds and scooters are  (and we’re generalizing here):

  1. extra weight due to the mechanics of the hinging feature
  2. extra wind noise due to the seams at the hinged feature
  3. modular helmets are not usually Snell-approved

However, aside from the extra weight, the wind noise and the non-Snell factors are something that many riders are willing to overlook.  For example, half-helmets are incredibly popular in the USA even though they normally have no protection from wind noise and no Snell approval.

Regarding the extra weight that modular helmets sometimes have versus standard full face helmets, many of the modern modular helmet designs today are made of lighter materials than in the past, including hinge mechanisms.

Since the modular helmet is often the helmet of choice for touring riders and commuters, many of the new models now offer built-in communication device features too.  Usually, that means it has a recessed compartment where the device fits into and also a little space inside for your helmet speakers to reside in.

If you spend any time on a motorcycle, it’s very easy to see the advantages of wearing a modular helmet versus a standard full face helmet.

  1. Easier to talk to others – flip open and have a normal conversation.
  2. Easier to have a drink – flip open instead of drinking through a tube or straw.
  3. Easier to cool down – flip open the entire face not just the shield.
  4. Less wear and tear on the helmet’s straps and lining since you don’t have to take it off as much.
  5. All the above combined with the extra protection of a full face helmet.

Who makes modular helmets and how much do they cost versus a standard full face helmet?  Most of the well-known brands of helmets also offer modular versions.  You may not have noticed that because they look just like a standard full face when they are closed.

Here we list a selection of modular helmets that would be worth trying on next time you’re in the market for a new helmet:

AGV Miglia modular helmetAGV Miglia – A reasonably priced modular helmet from this Italian company that has been making helmets since 1948 and had merged with Dainese in 2007.  The Miglia modular is available in a wide variety of colors, including flat matte black.  Scratch and fog resistant polycarbonate face shield can be changed in seconds without tools.  Dry Comfort padding is removable for washing.  The flip up face opens with one hand.  The AGV Miglia modular helmets go for around $179.

Arai Helmets – Arai came out on top again in 2010 in the J.D. Power Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction study.  While Arai does make some super nice full face and open face helmets, they do not make a modular helmet.

HJC modular helmet IS MAX BT for bluetoothHJC Helmets IS Max – Available in two different models and seven colors (model BT is for Bluetooth), the IS Max has a polycabonate composite shell and adjustable chinbar.  Face shield and chin bar open with one hand.  Moisture wicking liner is made from silver antibacterial material and is removable for washing.  Interior sun shield is tinted and operates with one hand.  The IS Max BT is designed for use with Chatterbox XBi2-H communication system and has recessed areas for speakers to be mounted.  List price for HJC IS MAX is around $200-$220.

Nolan modular flip up helmet N103Nolan N103 – Has built-in feature for installing the Nolan N-com communication system.  Dual -action latching prevents accidental opening, but only requires one hand to operate the flip-up.  The retractable sun shield is anti-scratch and anti-fog.  The exterior face shield is optically-correct Lexan, requiring no tools for removal.  Interior has Clima Comfort antimicrobial hypoallergenic liner that is removable and washable.  Flexible guard below the chin helps keep the helmet quiet while keeping out the cold wind.  The nicely padded chin strap also improves comfort.  The Nolan N103 is priced around $400 and comes in 13 different solid colors.  Also check out the N103 Motorrad version available in 6 different two-tone colors for a few dollars more.

modular helmet Scorpion EXO 900Scorpion EXO 900 Transformer – This has a unique air pump system to give a more custom fit.  Cheek pads and neck pad is adjustable to help reduce wind noise.  Liner is moisture wicking and breathable.  Retractable sun shield inside the helmet (via small sliding lever on the outside of helmet) eliminates need for sunglasses.  Optically correct clear face shield and tinted flip-up sun shield is removable without need for any tools.   Available in hi-viz yellow, gloss black, matte black, dark red, silver, and white.  The EXO 900 Transformer sells for around $275.

shark helmets evoline series 2Shark Evoline 2 – The primary innovation on this modular helmet is that the chinbar can flip-up and over the top of the helmet all the way to the back – a total of 170 degrees.  This is one of the only modular helmets that allows you to ride with the chinbar flipped open.

The face shield is also quite interesting in the way it seals out wind and rain.  An internal sun shield flips up or down with one hand via the slide switch on the top.  Padding is removable for washing.  Color choices are gloss and matte black or silver.shark modular helmet evoline-2 While the cost is towards the high end of the modular helmets price range , you would be very hard pressed to find another helmet that has the excellent convenience and the cool features that the Shark Evoline has.

Note that most modular helmets are not intended to be used in the flip-up position while riding.

Shoei multitec modular helmetShoei Multitec – A premium modular helmet, the Shoei Multitec comes with a 5 year warranty while most other brands come with just a 1 year warranty.  Cheek pads and chin strap pads are removable.  Helmet shell is a high-tech design that Shoei calls “advanced integrated matrix plus”.  Slits in the padding help make eyeglasses fit better.  Face shield is actually 3-dimensional in design curved for improved aerodynamics and clarity (most helmets have a 2-dimensional wrap-around shield).  Flip-up mechanism opens with one-hand.  Lower air vent at chin flows air to the face shield to reduce fogging.  Upper scoop-like air vent provides maximum cooling.  List price for the Shoei Multitec is around $495.

Suomy modular helmet D20Suomy D20 – Shell in Lexan/reinforced thermoplastic and is injection molded in Italy.  Fit is customized via different size Coolmax padding to choose from.  Ready for the Suomy communication system for bluetooth, gps, and radio.  Has an internal retractable sun shield. Vents include one at chinbar, one at upper front, and an adjustable rear spoiler to control vent flow.  Shape was developed via wind tunnel testing to reduce drag.  Priced from around $320 for plain colors of gloss or matte black, silver, white or anthracite.  Multi-colors cost extra.

Vemar modular helmet JianoVemar Jiano – If you are not familair with Vemar helmets, the Vemar company began making helmets in Italy in 1987 after many years of working with fiberglass.  Then, Vemar Helmets began as a helmet-specific company in 1992.  Today they are known for Italian design as well as advanced helmet materials including Kevlar, Carbon and tri-composites.  The Jiano modular helmet has a 5 year warranty from date of manufacture, and meets the EC motorcyclist standard.  Mid-oval shape allows for more room at chinbar.  Face shield is 2.2mm thick and is anti-scratch and anti-fog.  Padding has wicking materials to keep the user cool, is removable for washing, and is treated against bacteria, odor and fungus.  Has a retractable tinted sun shield.  Medium size helmet weighs 3.9 pounds, or about the same as a typical full-face helmet.  List price is around $275.

So, with all these great features that a modular helmet has to offer, do you think you’re ready to switch?  The best advice is to try on a few and see what you think.  If a motorcyclist is not comfortable, then they are probably not as safe and confident as they should be.  A modular helmet, like any motorcycle helmet, should fit snug, but not tight to the point it hurts or is irritating.  Buy from retailers that have good return policies, such as ones that we have selected to be affiliated with so that your investment in your safety will be a pleasant experience.  Last but not least, ride safe.

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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