Adventure Touring Helmet Guide: Should You buy a Street, Dual Sport, or Dirt Bike Helmet?


2012 Triumph Tiger

By Katy B.

You just bought a new adventure touring bike and you're eager to travel off the beaten path. Now that you’ve got the machine to get you there, you are probably wondering exactly what kind of gear you should purchase. The type of helmet you decide to get will be paramount to your comfort. In the adventure touring segment you’ll see riders wearing many different types of helmets, but the helmet that is right for you fully depends on what kind of riding you really will be doing. The allure of traveling to locations where few people have ever laid tread can be thrilling, but you have to be honest with yourself. How often will you really be riding in extreme off-road conditions?

Where you find yourself acquiring the most seat time will be where you want to think about what kind of helmet best suits your needs. There are three types of helmets adventure touring riders typically wear; full face street helmet, dual sport helmet, and dirt bike helmet. All three of these have upsides and downsides in varying terrain and riding conditions. Let’s review the features and benefits of each style.

Full Face Street Helmet

Street Helmet for Adventure

If you find yourself mostly riding on the highway with the occasional back dirt road a street helmet will offer the most comfort for you. These helmets are made to be aerodynamic at highway speeds, putting less stress on your head and neck. They are quiet and comfortable compared to dirt bike and dual sport helmets. The full face shield will protect you from road debris and bugs flying at you at high speeds.

Compared to dual sport and dirt bike helmets the street helmet won’t perform as well in off-road conditions. The eye port of street helmets are not made to accept goggles, in turn offering less protection from dust and dirt. Although for lonely dirt roads, they will get the job done and keep you comfortable and highway speeds.

Dual Sport Helmet

Shoei Hornet

For the adventure rider that needs the off-road capable helmet without sacrificing comfort on road. While not as quiet and aerodynamic at highway speeds as the street helmet, it’s the perfect middle ground for a rider looking for that all-in-one. Borrowing some of the comfort features from the street style helmet, the dual sport helmet typically comes with vents you can close and a full face style shield. The eye port is made wide enough to accept dirt bike goggles, so when you’re out there kicking up a ton of dust just pop off the face shield and throw on some goggles. The extended visor offers the same protection from the sun and flying debris as a dirt bike helmet but is shaped for aerodynamic purposes.

The dual sport helmet truly falls in between the street and dirt bike helmet. It offers protection and comfort from the best of both worlds for an all-around helmet. The versatile features make it flexible for the rider that does it all.

Dirt Bike Helmet

Dirt Bike Helmet for ADV

True hard-core adventure riders wear dirt bike helmets with goggles for the ultimate performance in off-road conditions. In most difficult off-road conditions, you won’t be traveling at the same speeds as you would on the highway. Making the comfort features street and dual sport helmets offer obsolete in these conditions. Dirt bike helmets are made to breathe. They are very open in style and feature huge vents that suck in large amounts of air. Goggles seal against the riders face offering more protection from dust and dirt than a face shield.

Compared to dual sport and street helmets the dirt bike helmet is not as convenient. It doesn’t offer much comfort in cold weather. At highway speeds the dirt bike helmet will be loud and the pronounced features will cause some drag. For the serious off-road adventurer, this style of helmet will offer the performance that is necessary to tackle the most difficult terrain.


We hope this guide gives you some better insight in what kind of helmet will keep you riding. At the end of the day no matter what kind of bike you ride, you need a helmet that best suits the conditions you will most often experience.

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