I started out on a cheap Zues helmet when I purchased my first Kawasaki KLR 650. This helmet served me well for many years, but the vents never quite worked well. It always felt the same, regardless of whether they are open or closed.
With safety gear, I would always recommend getting the best quality you can afford, but there are many good quality helmets that are very affordable.
Top quality helmet recommendation
The first really expensive helmet I bought was an Arai Quantum-X (see mine in the picture below). I had to choose between a full face street helmet or a dual sport helmet. While we mostly ride dual sport or adventure bikes, and prefer dirt roads, I was testing a lot or road bikes at the time.
So I decided on the Quantum. It is astounding what a difference a good quality helmet makes. The fit is so much better and the pads inside is much more durable than on a cheap helmet. But what I was most surprised by was how big a difference the vents make when you open or close them.
When I open the vent on top, I can immediately feel the cool air rushing over my head and opening the vent in the chin is very effective at preventing the face shield from fogging up.
My wife bought the dual sport version, the Arai Tour-X during the same time (see below).
That’s the helmet she used on our 90-day Cape to Cairo, African bike trip and she said she’ll never ride a bike with any other helmet.
If I had to replace my Quantum today, I’d think no further than the new version of my wife’s helmet, the Arai XD-4. There are nicer color schemes than this black one, but they are more expensive.
Reasonably priced helmet recommendation
If I had to replace my helmet now and didn’t have the cash for an Arai XD-4, I would go for this HJC DS X-1 as a good dual sport helmet as a very good price.
For street riders, I recommend the HJC IS-17. It has a 5-star safety rating by SHARP (the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme of the UK Department of Transport) and won’t break the bank.