If you're only going to wear one piece of riding gear, make sure it's your helmet. The skin on your arms, ass and legs will grow back (it'll be friggin ugly though) but if your noggin takes a good smack 'n drag across the pavement, you likely won't be doing much of anything soon, if you survive. Wear a dang helmet or don't ride. To help make the decision easy, you should get a helmet that you actually like. Make sure it fits right, feels good and looks good.
Full face helmets provide some of the best protection, so I've decided to list them first. In later posts, I'll point out good buys in different helmet styles.
Here are three smart options from good companies.
Bell Solid Qualifier Street Bike Racing Helmet
Bell has been a trusted brand for motorcycle helmets for years. My very first helmet was a Bell and it served me well. While I didn't get into any serious accidents. It kept my brains in my skull the few minor spills that I did take. This particular helmet has a flat black exterior that looks nice, weighs about 5 lbs, is DOT certified and would look great if you ride a sportbike. Even if you don't, it's usually a good idea to have a full face helmet around and at only a little over $100 bucks, you can get a kickass helmet and still have money to pay for gas or other gear.
Biltwell Gringo Full Face Helmet
Into retro style? Ride a cafe racer or a bobber style motorcycle? This helmet would look great with either of those styles of bike. Biltwell makes a lot of retro-inspired products that live up to the brand's name. Modern helmets with a retro look. This particular helmet has an injection-molded outer shell with a hand-painted finish. The inner shell features a polystyrene inner shell and comfortable Lyra liner with foam padding and diamond-shaped stitching. I've never owned one of these, but I have tried them on and I can say that they feel pretty nice and lightweight (3 lbs). Also, these helmets meet DOT standards, meaning you'll be safe and legal if you're required to wear a helmet by law.
Joe Rocket R1000X Lithium Full-Face Helmet
Looking for more of a contemporary look? Joe Rocket has you covered with its R1000X Lithium Full-Face Helmet. This thing is DOT certified, features wild graphics, comes in a variety of colors and is solidly made by a brand well-respected in the industry. The best part about this helmet is that it's friggin affordable. For very reasonable price you can get a kickass lightweight helmet (3.4 lbs) that will keep you safe and looking good. While cruiser riders may look a little out of place wearing this helmet, anyone else won't look bad. With dual density impact absorbing liner and a polycarbonate composite outer shell, this thing is made to keep you safe, too.