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Sure, you could always just throw on a motocross helmet, strap on some goggles, and call it a day, but if you’re planning on embracing the true dual sport lifestyle, what you want are true dual sport helmets.
Dual sport motorcycles wear a lot of hats: They make great grocery getters, they’re a ton of fun in the twisties, and they’re an absolute blast to travel on.
What sets a dual sport helmet apart from the pack, however, is it’s dirt-worthiness, and when we say dirt, we mean all kinds of dirt. Whether you’re flying down gravel roads, cutting through your favorite WMA, or tackling enduro trails, these bikes will take you there.
Off-roading can be a particularly hot, sweaty, and dusty pursuit, however, and a standard street helmet just isn’t the right tool for the job. The best dual sport helmets keep the air flowing, give you unmatched visibility, and are goggle friendly to some degree. Here are our favorite lids that check those boxes.
Best Dual Sport Helmets
1. Klim Krios Pro
Of all the dual-sport helmets we’ve tried, we’ve probably put more miles on Klim’s Krios series than any other. The Klim Krios Pro is our favorite in the Klim lineup, and if do-it-all performance is what you’re after, it’s a tough one to beat.
Our favorite part of the Krios Pro is undoubtedly its featherlight weight of just 3.3 pounds. Klim achieves this feat through the use of a distinctive wide-weave carbon fiber shell and a lightweight but extra-protective Koroyd layer in place of your standard EPS foam.
The result is a streamlined lid that’s largely fatigue-free without sacrificing safety (it’s both ECE and DOT certified).
Other high points of the helmet include its slick magnetic Fid-lock strap system (you can take the Krios on and off with gloves on), a Pinlock-ready visor with photochromatic Transitions technology (no sunglasses needed), and a vastly improved ventilation system over the original Krios with multiple levels of adjustment.
This is easily in the running for the best of the dual sport helmets on the market, but there’s just no ignoring the Klim Krios Pro’s $700+ price tag. Granted, you’re getting a LOT of comfort, technology, and performance for your money, but it can be tough to justify the cost compared to our other top picks.
For many, the choice depends on how much you value the Transitions visor, which is included in the cost of the Krios Pro, but is typically a $150 upgrade anywhere else.
- Lightest helmet on our list
- Upgraded safety and ventilation
- Glove-friendly Fid-lock strap system
- Most expensive helmet on our list
- Value dependent on Transitions visor
2. Bell MX9 Adventure MIPS Dual Sport Helmet
We’ve been running the Bell MX9 Adventure MIPS for the past year or so, and it’s easily one of our favorite dual sport helmets on a budget. A helmet this good for just north of $300 is a rare breed indeed, and the amount of features Bell packs into the MX9 Adventure is impressive.
First and foremost, the MX9 Adventure is based on the MX9 motocross helmet, and as you might expect, that makes it fantastic in the dirt. It flows a ton of air, fits goggles with the visor up or down, and is surprisingly lightweight for a polycarbonate shell at just 3.7 pounds.
It’s also a surprisingly safe helmet for the money. The Bell MX9 Adventure MIPS incorporates a MIPS slip plane underneath the comfort liner, which reduces rotational impact on your head in the event of a crash. It’s an added layer of safety without added cost, which only adds to the original MX9 Adventure’s outstanding value.
Our main complaint with the Bell is that it’s arguably the most dirt-biased dual sport helmet in our lineup, and as such, it’s not particularly well-suited to highway use. Yes, you can absolutely throw the MX9 Adventure MIPS on and drive across the country, but you’ll want to know what you’re getting into.
First and foremost, it’s easily the noisiest helmet on our list. Riding with the visor down helps cut back on the decibels, but you’ll still get a fair amount of road noise coming in through the bottom.
Second, the peak isn’t particularly aerodynamic, and you’ll feel it catching the wind at highway speeds. Bell made it easy to remove the peak by hand (no tools required), but it’s kind of a drag to have to stop and convert your helmet between off-road sections.
- Great helmet at a great price
- Stellar for off-road use
- MIPS technology for added crash protection
- Peak catches wind at highway speeds
3. Arai XD-4 Dual Sport Helmet
We can’t talk about dual sport helmets without mentioning the grandfather of them all, the Arai XD series. Arai invented the dual sport helmet in the early 2000s with the original XD model and has been steadily developing and improving it ever since. The Arai XD-4 is the fourth iteration and is easily the best one yet.
This helmet truly lacks nothing and feels just at home in the dirt as it does on the slab. It’s got the same adjustable temple and cheek pads that Arai’s street helmets are known for and feels just as comfortable once the thickness is dialed in.
The peak is removable, but honestly, we’re not sure why you’d want to take it off considering how smooth it is at speed.
Airflow is top-notch (even the face shield is ventilated), and the Arai breathes well even in the most strenuous off-road conditions. For your money, you’re also getting Arai’s trademark Super Fiber shell, which is handmade and keeps the weight down to a respectable 3.6 pounds.
American versions of the Arai carry a Snell M2020 safety rating, while Euro versions are ECE approved. Both include Arai’s emergency-release cheek pad system and are some of the safest helmets on the market.
There aren’t really any downsides to this helmet unless you’re splitting hairs compared to other models. It’s a tad heavier than the Krios Pro above, but it’s also a tad quieter on the highway. It’s a tad lighter than the Shoei Hornet below, but a little louder on the highway.
They all work great on and off-road though, so we consider the Arai as a smart compromise between the two.
- Adjustable cheek pads give an incredibly comfortable custom fit
- Fantastic ventilation on and off-road
- Top-tier safety features
- Not quite as roadworthy as the Shoei Hornet
4. Shoei Hornet X2
Dual sport riders are often torn between the Arai XD4 above and the Shoei Hornet X2 seen here. We’ve put countless miles on both helmets, and unfortunately, we can’t confidently say one is better than the other. They’re both absolute home runs for this type of riding.
Where the Shoei Hornet X2 truly outshines other dual sport helmets on the market, however, are its road manners, so we’ll start there. This is easily the quietest helmet on our list. We’ve owned some pretty plush street helmets that are louder than the Hornet, and that’s a serious accomplishment.
The fact that the Hornet also happens to be a great helmet for off-road use is what makes it worth the asking price. Its sun peak is aggressive yet stable at speeds, its visor works flawlessly up or down with goggles in place, and the ventilation system works well in any condition.
We’ll also point out that Shoei offers the Hornet in four different shell sizes, so you’re all but guaranteed to find a size that feels custom-tailored to your melon.
Similar to the Arai above, complaining about the Shoei Hornet X2 just feels wrong, but there are a few differences worth pointing out. The first is that while the Hornet certainly doesn’t feel heavy, it does weigh in at nearly 4 pounds, making it the heaviest on this list (extra material = extra quiet).
It also doesn’t have the same degree of ventilation as the XD4 or Krios at the chin, so while it still works great off-road, both the Arai and Klim have a slight advantage in technical terrain when you’re throwing your body weight around working up a sweat.
- Quietest helmet on our list
- Four shell sizes ensure a fantastic fit
- Best dual sport helmet for highway use
- Heavier than the competition
- Not quite as dirt-worthy as the Arai XD-4
5. Scorpion EXO-AT950 Dual Sport Helmet
The team at Scorpion has a well-deserved reputation for making quality motorcycle gear on a budget. The Scorpion EXO-AT950 is their take on the ideal modular dual sport helmet, and in typical Scorpion fashion, it brings a ton of features to the table at a killer price.
The first and most obvious selling point here is the EXO-AT950’s modular design, and believe it or not, the Scorpion is actually our favorite modular dual sport helmet at any price.
That includes helmets like the similarly-frugal Fly Racing Street Odyssey, but also heavy hitters like the Schuberth E1 Adventure, which sells for more than double the Scorpion’s asking price.
For your money, you’ll also get a surprisingly comfortable and quiet helmet. The Scorpion isn’t quite on par with something like the Shoei above, but it’s significantly quieter than the Bell MX9 Adventure for roughly the same price.
Scorpion also throws in a drop-down sun visor at no extra charge, which makes the EXO-AT950’s sub-4-pound weight that much more impressive.
We definitely feel that this dual sport helmet leans more toward street use, and all of our complaints really stem from its performance off-road. The first thing we noticed is that while ventilation is suitable for street use, it’s not quite up to par for sweaty off-road work.
We’ll also point out that while you can use goggles with the visor in place, there isn’t actually enough room to close the visor over goggle straps, so you lose a little versatility there.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the Scorpion is the only helmet on our list with a simple DOT safety rating. Granted, that doesn’t necessarily make it less safe (they probably just didn’t want to pop for the extra cost of a European certification), but we’d prefer to see an ECE and/or Snell certification here as well.
- Good quality at a great price
- Modular design
- Drop down sun visor
- Venting is just ok
- Can’t close visor with goggles on
- DOT-only safety certification
6. AGV AX9 Helmet
AGV launched the AX9 back in 2019 as a long-overdue update to their beloved AX8 dual sport helmet. The helmets look similar, but a close inspection of the AGV AX9 reveals a pretty extensive overhaul.
AGV’s main focus with this lid was to improve its on-road manners without sacrificing any of the dirt-worthiness that the AX8 was known for, and they did a pretty damn good job in that regard.
The AX9 sports a redesigned peak that is much more aerodynamic at highway speeds (it’s also adjustable and/or removable without tools), a redesigned head shape that’s more oval/less round (which makes it a better fit for most riders), and a much more comfortable lining that’s well suited for long days in the saddle.
This dual sport helmet also feels nice and light on the head at just 3.7 pounds (size large), but it’s also available in a full carbon fiber version for a few dollars more which shaves the total weight down to 3.4 pounds (and looks absolutely menacing, FYI).
AGV also put serious work into the ventilation of the AX9, which now sports a five-vent system with a particularly unique chin vent setup.
Out of the box, you’ll find a fairly standard-looking chin vent, which is both internally and externally adjustable. If you want to convert the AX9 into hardcore off-road mode, however, the vent pops off entirely leaving a massive motocross-like opening at the front for maximum airflow.
Our main complaint with the AX9 is that while its road manners have vastly improved, its visor sacrifices a little dirt-worthiness in our book. You can still wriggle a smaller pair of goggles into the AX9’s eye port with a little work, but the opening with the visor on is much narrower than other helmets on our list, so you’ll likely want to pull it off entirely for goggle duty rather than try to work around it.
- Great option for more road-oriented riders
- Fantastic adjustable ventilation
- Lightweight, aerodynamic, and comfortable for the long haul
- Narrow visor opening isn’t great for goggles