Riding a café racer with a modern helmet is just plain wrong. Here’s how to go properly retro.
Vintage style and motorcycles are good bedfellows. From Italian styling to luxuriously reconditioned rides, there’s a raw, utilitarian beauty to be found on two wheels. Superfluity is kept at a minimum, and styles of yesteryear echo a time when motorcycling had an ethos and feel all its own — individualistic and raw with an attitude that was a natural flow out of the two-wheeled renegade spirit.
And that spirit lives on today, as more motorcycling gear manufacturers are seeing value in vintage styling. More than just leather jackets and boots, helmets also imbue riders with retro aesthetics — and modern safety.
So, with all that said: it’s time to let the beard grow out, tune up your sweet little café racer, and get your vintage style ready for a Sunday ride.
The Best Vintage-Style Helmets
Shoei RJ Platinum R
If you want the wind in your face, but you hate the noise and drag, the RJ Platinum R helps by incorporating forehead intake and exhaust vents (which also aid in reducing rider fatigue), along with a removable visor that allows use of a face shield for protection and additional wind-cutting. The profile is enhanced by a ridge at the back, and narrowed temple sections thin it out and even give your goggles a place to rest. It is both DOT and SNELL approved.
Biltwell Gringo S
Though the Gringo S doesn’t have the most flattering name, its ’70s feel — with the kind of striping that makes you feel like you’re watching Soul Train on a Saturday morning — more than makes up for it. The full helmet has a simple, no-nonsense shape but bears a hand-painted finish and an interior lining with hand-stitched diamond-quilted padding. Comfort is enhanced by an Internal BioFoam chin pad. DOT approved.
This dome is the clear bad-ass of the group, looking very much like an extra from Mad Max: Fury Road. But the toughness isn’t all show. It’s a half helmet with a matching adjustable muzzle to keep debris and other road junk off your pretty face. Plus, the muzzle is magnetically mounted, making your reveal or concealment a snap. The matte black composite shell cuts the wind and protects your cranium, and the overall look will scare the dickens out of pretty much everyone short of law enforcement. DOT approved.
The IS-Cruiser takes the basic half helmet and adds a convenient (and protective) visor and a smoked out sun shield, which can slide up or down as needed. This allows open-air freedom, with additional road and weather protection when you need it. The advanced polycarbonate shell is light and strong, and the liner is both moisture wicking and antibacterial. The Darth Vader homage part is free of charge. DOT approved.
GMax GM65 Full Dress Half
The GM65’s clean design and catalog of features make it an ideal half helmet that will keep you cool, protected and vintage stylish. The UV400 sun shield fully retracts and also detaches easily. The helmet comes with a snap in neck curtain, for weather protection, as well as a removable Coolmax liner that wicks sweat like a champ. Internal speaker pockets are communicator ready, so group rides are simple. DOT approved.